Have you ever considered selling on Amazon? Or are you currently selling there, but results leave much to be desired? It can be enormously disappointing when sales are scarce. But don’t let your head drop. Focus on the solutions.
To help you with the solutions you need, Fernando Campos, co-founder of MarketplaceOps, a leading Amazon strategy firm that delivers growth for best-in-class CPG brands, joins us in the next episode of The Physical Product Movement Podcast.
Fernando reveals the five mistakes brands make that keep them from capitalizing on the Amazon opportunity and shares the top winning strategies brands use to grow on the platform.
Fernando was an amazing guest, and I am convinced you will find his advice extremely valuable in moving your CPG business to the next level.
Listen on Apple Podcasts here or Spotify here.
Ken: Welcome to the Physical Product Movement, a podcast by Fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Ojuka.
Ken: In today’s episode of the Physical Product Movement Podcast. We dig into everything about Amazon with Fernando Campos, co-founder at MarketplaceOps, a leading Amazon strategy firm that delivers growth for best-in-class CPG brands. We discuss the pluses and minuses of selling on Amazon. The winning strategies brands are using right now to grow on Amazon, despite its saturation, and competitiveness.
Ken: We discuss the characteristics of products that do well on Amazon. And the critical first 90 days of a product launch. And also we talk about the five mistakes brands are making that are keeping them from capitalizing on the Amazon opportunity. If you’ve ever considered selling on Amazon or are currently selling on there with less than stellar results, then don’t miss this episode. Fernando knows his stuff and was a fantastic guest. Enjoy!
Ken: Alright. Hey, Fernando, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing, man?
Fernando: Doing well, Ken. Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah, man. I want to hear about MarketplaceOps and what you guys have been up to. I’ve been following you a little bit on social media and so you guys are doing a lot of cool things and I think the audience will really benefit from this conversation.
Fernando: Thanks, man. I appreciate it.
Ken: Yeah. So, you know, we like to start off with, with a quick quote, you know, maybe something that gets you out of bed or inspires you. It hasn’t been impactful to you. Do you have a, do you have a quote in mind?
Fernando: So, yeah, I spent a lot of time thinking about this one. So actually one of our company values is being 1% better every day.
Fernando: And I think that has really impacted me. In a lot of different ways of mindset both stemming from my business partner and I, and hopefully that kind of permeates through our company culture, but I think, yeah, when I want to take a step back and just kind of look at our organization, we’re definitely.
Fernando: Yeah. We don’t accept the status quo. We’re constantly tinkering, finding new ways to improve, try new things, new strategies in terms of what works on Amazon. And I think that’s been, yeah, probably one of the, I guess, like mottos or quotes that I live by.
Ken: Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah. And it’s so practical to, you know, I think a lot of times, you know, think about the new year’s resolution thing, where you set a whole bunch of these really crazy , cheese cheatable goals.
Ken: And, you know, by the end of January you’re, you’ve given up. But the approach of just taking it, you know, a day at a time, and just trying to be just a little bit better every day, I think can compound overtime.
Fernando: Exactly. Yeah. That’s exactly how we think about it. It’s just like, yeah. If you can just get, you know, make a slight improvement every single day, you’re just kind of taking some time to kind of sit back and think about how you’re doing things.
Fernando: Is there a better, faster, more effective way of doing things or even just like, you know, how I communicate or how I provide, like feedback doesn’t even necessarily have to be like kind of execution type of work, but yeah, just how I show up for the team or how we show up for clients. All of that, I feel like it’s constantly an iterative process.
Fernando: And I think as long as you know, that, like, you know, it’s a part of a journey and you’re not really trying to focus on a finish line then. Yeah. There’s always so much like room for improvement
Ken: Right. You know, and it’s kind of a very sort of marketing centric view too, because a lot of marketing, especially, you know, I think you can look from the outside and you can think, oh, these guys just woke up in the morning with some great marketing idea and, you know, took it to market and it was a smash hit.
Ken: But typically when you actually look behind marketing campaigns, they’re just these tiny little tweaks over and over again, that make it so that a campaign actually works.
Ken: I definitely want to dig into that a little bit because you guys obviously do that on Amazon and help people with Walmart. And you know, so I think that will be good for the audience, but I’m curious if you have an example of like, you know, maybe some of these tiny tweaks that you’ve done in your life that you feel have really kind of paid dividends over time.
Fernando: Oh man. So many. I think that, yeah, one off the top of my head. So going back to the feedback one. So I think actually I learned this in couples counseling with my fiance which is really interesting. It’s like, yeah, when you’re providing feedback you know, it’s kind of slowing down and then, you know, using like, okay, I felt this way, or this is like how I re so you’re kind of making it like, you know, more I-statements versus like you statements, you know, to, oh, you did this. And I think by slowing down, so like, you know, if I talk normally fast, I’ll kind of slow down to maybe a 50% and then just really think about making sure that I’m using the I statements, but then also just how I’m framing things.
Fernando: And I think that just helps so much in terms of getting your message across, because obviously if you’re slowing down your speech, then it’s like, you know, it’s you’re a little bit more serious around the conversation. And then, so. What I’ve seen is just that the message is just like a better lens.
Fernando: And so that kind of translates when I’m giving feedback to colleagues and things like that. But, and then often like as a kind of finish up with the feedback, then it’s like, okay, let’s work on this together. You know what I mean? So again, like not using the “You” statements or like, you need to do this or you need to improve here, but it’s more like, okay, let’s work on this together.
Fernando: Like, what do you think about this? And then, it’s more of a collaborative effort. And so that’s like some of the slight changes, like just in terms of how I phrase things that have, I think, improved over the years and other things it’s like, yeah, we’re really big into coaching. And so, we’ve had
Fernando: a few different CEO coaches over the years. And then like with the last one, he’s like really a big part of the organization. He coaches all of us, pretty much like our senior managers and above and then we’ll meet with them once or twice a month. And then, just kind of go through anything, whether it’s like, you know, helping them with providing feedback, whether it’s like, you know, kinda like strategic planning, like all of that kind of stuff.
Fernando: And we have like a really seasoned coach that you know, they are connected through YPO and yeah, I mean, it means it’s been really transformational because naturally he has so, I guess it’s a wealth of knowledge in terms of how to make really effective leaders. And it’s been really helpful for all of us again, trying to become better every day.
Fernando: Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, let’s hear a little bit about you. What’s your background? Where are you from? Where are you at now? And then hopefully that leads us into MarketplaceOps and you can tell us all about that.
Fernando: Yeah. Yeah, so I grew up in San Francisco, we were born and raised. And then I ended up being in LA for college and that’s actually where my business partner yeah, like best friends from college and we’ve yeah, we actually just, we had a lot of fun
Fernando: we’re in the same business fraternity together. We partied together. And so the natural evolution was like, after a few years of working, we were like, oh, well, we’re friends. Like we enjoy each other’s company. Why don’t we start a business together? But yeah, I mean, I started, I guess my career in finance personally hated it.
Fernando: It wasn’t for me. And so yeah, I kind of interviewed with like every single company, like, not really figuring out what the right fit was specific for me until I kinda realized, like, I think I want to start a business and so yeah, interviewed with a bunch of like tech startups in LA ended up joining one really early stage probably employee number 15, like on the sales team at a company called Betterworks.
Fernando: And I mean, we were making pennies like 20 to 25 grand a year cold calling restaurants. It was brutal, but like, you know, really developed thick skin and it helped us so much, I think in terms of, yeah, learning about scaling businesses, hiring, creating a great company culture of the company didn’t end up doing well.
Fernando: And then yeah, basically the company kind of imploded both my business partner and I who had joined there at the same time, went off, did our own thing for about two years. He joined a company called TaskUs which is a credible story. Like they ended up going public last year based out of LA then
Fernando: yeah. And then I joined a company called any perk as employee number two is a OYC company kind of doing employee perks out of San Francisco. And then yeah, it helped scale that team. And then, yeah, after two years we kind of came together and then, yeah, I decided to get into e-commerce and so, yeah, we’ve been selling on Amazon since 2014, so it’s been about eight years now.
Fernando: And then yeah, we’ve built a bunch of brands. We sold them and then we now obviously manage a lot of like, CPG brands and direct to consumer brands and helping them with their Amazon strategy. But yeah, it’s been kind of a whirlwind.
Ken: Okay, cool. It looks like you’ve built some tools along the way.
Ken: Like Pixelfy how does that fit into the story?
Fernando: Yeah, it’s a great question. Yeah, I mean, in our for sure. In our earlier years, we were kind of, we were taking on a lot of different, like kinds of projects now whereas we were a lot more focused. But I think, yeah, basically we got an opportunity to partner with another good friend entity, Blue Tran, and kind of build up like our personal brands
Fernando: within the Amazon space. And so we’re kind of doing a very like foundational course and helping newer Amazon sellers. And then you know, it’s a great business, but, and then as we started realizing like, okay, This ecosystem is getting bigger and bigger. Naturally there’s all these tools coming out, whether it’s like Helium 10 or Jungle Scout, Viral Launch.
Fernando: And then you know, my partner Anthony saw the opportunity for a kind of a link shortening tool within the Amazon space. And that would basically allow you to super URLs which would help you rank products that help you pixel your audience, stuff like that. And no one had really done it specifically for the Amazon space and some of the more advanced digital marketers within the space we’re using other tools, like kinda more like affiliate tools and then kind of trying to tinker with them to make them more audible to the Amazon space.
Fernando: And so, because we’d already built up our personal brands and then naturally like economics. You know, software SaaS is pretty incredible. Then we decided to kind of, kind of shift our focus from like the kind of course kind of personal brand side, more towards Pixelfy. Yeah. And then we ran that for a few years and then yeah, we were very fortunate and we’re able to sell it actually last year at the beginning of last year.
Ken: Yeah. Cool. Cool. Are you still involved with that company at all or is it just completely hands off after the sale.
Fernando: Yeah. I mean pretty hands. Yeah, we’re pretty hands off. Yeah. I mean, we did a little bit of a transition for a few months. Just kind of, you know, providing like the product roadmap and everything else. But now, part of the attractiveness of selling the business was that we wanted to be able to really focus on the agency and not have as many shiny objects, if that makes sense.
Ken: Sure, sure. So it sounds like you’ve built a lot of brands you know, different products on Amazon. I’m curious if we can maybe dig into one of those and talk about You know, just kind of the whole journey. Right? So, you came up with an idea for a product, you know, where that idea came from. And then what were the first things you did to actually get, you know, get it off the ground and get going. So do you have one at one of your brands that you think you could tell the story behind?
Fernando: Yeah, of course. Yeah. So, Medchoice is one of the brands that we help incubate and scale. And so. It is correct. And so, yeah, I mean, some of the thought process around it was, yeah. I mean, we love the idea of consumables in supplements naturally. You know, you can spend more acquiring customers, but then naturally you know, supplements, you reorder them pretty quickly. Like, you know, often every 30 days versus other products that duties maybe not as frequent sometimes. And so. Yeah we’d managed some clients that were in supplements and we knew that the volume was high, if you could design the right product.
Fernando: And so like, you know, if you think about like back in the early days of Amazon, maybe like 2014, 2016 from at least from when we started, like, you can basically launch anything, get reviews and the product would do well now it’s a lot more saturated. And so you have to really understand the platform a lot better, especially in more saturated categories
Fernando: like supplements. And so you need to figure out ways to kind of create more of a blue ocean strategy and really differentiate. And so, you know, one of the ingredients that we were really looking at was tumeric and just naturally knowing what it’s like, it’s got a ton of keywords, a ton of misspellings, tons of volume.
Fernando: And so we were trying to think of other ways that we could differentiate that product. And so, yeah. Ideas were okay. Well, a lot of people add bioprint and so that helps with absorption. So that’s like naturally something that we want to do, but then only the concept was, well, what if we add in you know, so like one of the main benefits of turmeric is kinda anti-inflammatory like properties and then say, okay, well, what if we think of other ingredients that, you know, also have the same properties and then make it like a more differentiated product than what’s out there. And so, we noticed that sometimes too much was blended with ginger. So that’s like, that makes a lot of sense. So we’ll do these turmeric, ginger, and bioperine. And then the last degree that we added was garlic also had anti-inflammatory properties.
Fernando: You know, overall it’s like a good, like, you know, health ingredient. And then, we worked with some formulators to kind of design that product. And then, yeah, I mean, naturally, you know, we have, we really understand how to like to launch first of all on Amazon. And that’s probably like one of our strongest skill sets.
Fernando: And so we’re like biggest differentiators. And so yeah, when we brought that one, like the market we launched in probably late 2020. And yeah, I mean that product just like the single SKU between one pack and two-pack is probably doing around 300 grand a month. Now and it’s kind of a combination of, obviously we spend a lot of time on Amazon, like understanding, like what works and what doesn’t, but, and then also just having the marketing power, like firepower to be able to like, get it to the front page of like naturally to some of those like bigger keywords, like tumor capsules and stuff like that as well.
Ken: Sure. Well, yeah, that’s an incredible story. And obviously you know, it’s done well. I’m just trying to understand a little bit of the product’s strategy. So have you launched additional products under the same brand or have you tried to just keep it pretty streamlined?
Fernando: Yeah, it’s a good question. So yeah, we added a second product, probably in like Q2, Q3 of last year. And so we did a sleep formula. And then yeah, kind of similar strategy, like looking at like, you know, what the other sleep formulas are out there looking at which ones were blends, which ones who likes low ingredients, which ones were doing better.
Fernando: And then, so yeah, again, like the way that we differentiate it was we saw a bunch of different sleep formulas, how to kind of like seven, eight different ingredients, whether it was like valerian root, or chamomile, or passion flower. And we’re like, okay, cool. Like those all look great. But like, we actually take melatonin if we’re having problems sleeping and then so it’s like, okay, well what about adding that in?
Fernando: And then naturally, like, that’s a pretty big keyword on Amazon, naturally keyword volume is a huge part in terms of how we think about product selection or probably development. But then it’s okay. No one’s done this yet. We feel like this is intuitive, like, it makes sense.
Fernando: So yeah, that’s kinda that was like the first product and now we’re working on we’re starting a third one as well. But yeah, we’ve also leveraged like an influencer. Who’s also like, an investor in that brand. And they have a really strong following and like yeah, a lot of like raving fans.
Fernando: And so that’s been really helpful in terms of getting that early traction as well. But yeah, those are some of the things that we’ve done to scale at our interest
Ken: okay. Yeah. Very cool. Yeah. It’s always interesting to dig into, you know, a specific example, you know, and with Medchoice, I think it’s interesting that, you know, obviously, you know, it did well pretty much right away is what it sounds like.
Ken: And you’ve been, you know, building that brand. A lot of people would have made the choice to then branch out into, you know, 5, 6, 10 different products under that same product line. That’s the strategy that, you know, obviously you see everywhere. You know, to me, I’m still curious why, you know, only have you launched just the sleep formula and, you know, I’m guessing it has something to do with just really focusing.
Ken: You know, and really kind of, you know, putting all your firepower behind, you know, one or maybe two, two different products. But I’m just curious how you think about that, right? Why not, you know, expand the line even greater, right?
Fernando: Yeah. It’s a good question. Yeah. I mean, yeah, I credit my business partner for this.
Fernando: Yeah. I think my tendency is kind of like the spray and pray as well. We call it our old home and kitchen brands that we scaled in the past was kind of more like that strategy. And so we had 250 SKUs you know, we were doing probably about like 30 million a year on those, but it was such a pain
Fernando: to manage. Nationally there’s so much like supply chain inventory planning, especially because it’s being sourced all from China. And so, yeah, it’s just like, you know, a lot of SKUs and, you know, some more massive, like doing a million a month, but then there’s like, there’s a long tail of all these SKUs doing like 10 to 20 grand a month.
Fernando: And then we just realized how difficult it was for frame planning in terms of like brand managers and all that kind of stuff. And so we know as we were starting yeah, more on the supplements, I, we were kind of thinking about like, okay, well, you know, I will, don’t touch supplements because it’s too saturated, but you know, we’re confident in our ability to create products here, but, and then it’s like, okay, well, hey, what if we just kind of shifted the strategy?
Fernando: We’ll just spend a lot more time on product development. We’ll spend a lot more time in terms of like, of like really like making sure that the launch goes well, but like can, like one of those products, you know, generate the same profit as whatever 20 or 30 of those like old SKUs and then obviously a lot less work.
Fernando: And then there’s all this. You know, your faster cash conversion cycle is naturally by making the products in the U S and stuff like that. And so that was like a lot of thinking. But yeah, I mean, yeah, a lot of it was just like, yeah, simplicity. And then also, I think if you ‘ve seen a lot, we will try to do like.
Fernando: Well, expanding really quickly which can work depending if you’re really good at driving like off Amazon, you know, paid ads. But I think for us, because we’re really hyper specialized on Amazon, that’s like our bread and butter, then it doesn’t make as much sense cause we need to like, make sure that each product really likes sticks and hits like kind of like the targets that we have set out for it.
Fernando: And so that’s kind of been our approach.
Ken: Okay. Yeah. And obviously just the simplicity, like you said, but you know, when it comes to supplements and in most manufacturing, you just benefit from, you know, just being able to buy bigger and bigger volumes, which brings your costs way down, you know? And that’s huge.
Ken: Yeah, that’s interesting. What you know, so if you were, let’s just say that, you know, you’re listening to this podcast and you’ve been considering launching a physical product. You know, you’re, you want to sell something, you hear Amazon’s, you know, blowing up and only getting bigger and bigger, and there’s still lots of opportunities.
Ken: What would you think about it? You know, what are some things that you would consider and make sure you have covered, you know, before you launch your product?
Fernando: Yeah, that’s a great question. I would say the first piece is determining, if you’re going to do it on Amazon, then determining that there’s keyword volume for the product.
Fernando: Yeah we’ll talk to a bunch of clients and our potential kind of prospects and a lot of the time they’ve really cool, innovative products, but it’s not one that just people are really aware of yet. And so because of that, then it’s maybe not the best product to start off with, on Amazon just until. you’ve built more awareness around what the product type is, because like, yeah, I mean basically 78% of searches on Amazon are actually unbranded, right. So it’s like, you’re looking for whatever, like, yeah, again, going back to the same example, it’s like the turmeric capsules or, you know, calcium supplement, whatever.
Fernando: But you don’t have a specific brand in mind. And so like if people aren’t necessarily using that, like those keywords to like, search for like the product that you have then, then yeah, just naturally it’s harder to scale an Amazon until you’ve really built up brand awareness. But on the flip side, you also don’t want to do what we call a me too product.
Fernando: Like you don’t want to do like, whatever, like a 60 count of like calcium tablets. And there’s like a million brands that have done that before you I’ve got like five, 10, 20,000 reviews, because, and then like, even if you get to like a hundred reviews, let’s say by month two, then like there’s still no incentive for someone to go and purchase yours when there’s like someone with like a better offer.
Fernando: Right next to you with like 20,000 reviews. And so I think you have to find a balance between like, understanding why, okay. There’s enough keyword volume here. Then to like, my product is really differentiated and is ideally like a better offer than what. You know, existing more there it’s like something simple, like, you know, you’re doing a two-pack or you’re adding in more ingredients or you’re adding more capsules or just like yeah
Fernando: making the product different in some way I think is definitely crucial to be successful today. Because again, it’s just so much more competitive on Amazon that you just have to find a way of standing out and then. I think like the last two pieces.
Fernando: I mean, obviously the margins are huge. So like, you know, we, we kind of measure everything based on my contribution margin. So ideally you’re at like 20% or greater I would say after advertising storage and, you know, COGS naturally FBA fees and referral fees. But, and then also the last piece that I would really be thinking about is like, okay, How can I make this product really stand out on the search results?
Fernando: So whether that’s using my bright colors, or if everyone’s doing whatever white bottles you do, like a blue bottle or green bottle, because you’re doing something plant-based. But just like things like that, that naturally will pull the consumers, like eyes towards your main image, because if you can drive a higher click through rate then you know, naturally you’re probably going to sell more. You’re going to rank better on Amazon. And so, yeah, like testing A/B testing, your main image is a huge thing as all part of our process where we’re always iterating with our design team. But yeah, I think those are some of the big things that we’ll be thinking about.
Ken: Okay. And then obviously you’ve worked with a lot of people. What are some of the mistakes that you see other Amazon sellers making, you know, what are some of the things you’d avoid?
Fernando: Yeah. Good question. Yeah, I would say the first one is kind of just listing the product and then kind of, just wanting to be there.
Fernando: But not really focusing on it and like, and really launching the product well, like now again, you mentioned that it’s more saturated, so you kind of want to think about Amazon, similar to how you would think about a Kickstarter campaign. Like you would have just launched a Kickstarter campaign and be like, okay, I’m gonna come back to it in 90 days and see how it did.
Fernando: So Amazon’s kind of the same way is that, come out of the gate, really strong, like showing sales, you know, getting reviews, attention to it because Amazon has like what they call like a honeymoon period. It’s arguable how long that is. But like, most people think it’s around like 60 to 90 days, but basically in those first 60 to 90 days, Amazon is determining like, okay, does this product, I belong on page one or on page, whatever 20.
Fernando: And so you kind of want to come out of the gate with an increasing amount of sales, but you want a consistent, like sales every single day. Whether it’s from your email list or friends and family or whatever. But you want to be consistent again, like for those like 90 days, that’s like the easiest time
Fernando: to launch a product and get it again, rank on those unbranded keywords. So I didn’t, that’s like probably the most common mistake that you see is like, oh yeah, like we’re gonna launch this, but we’re going to do Shopify at the same time. And then we’ll come back to the Amazon. So I would say that’s like one piece. I would say like the second piece probably.
Fernando: Yeah. I mean, maybe not perfecting the product, like before you go live. So, you know, there’s certain products out there they are just gonna get great reviews, like four and a half, five stars. There’s other products that, yeah. Maybe it’s more subjective. Yeah, like sleep, for instance, like sleep is kind of subjective in terms of like, it works for some people doesn’t work for others.
Fernando: And so, you have to know that going in, but if you kinda come in on Amazon, and your product isn’t really perfected. Like, you know, reviewers can be brutal and you’ll end up with like four stars and we’ll typically see like a 20 to 30% difference in sales just by having that extra house stars between four and four and a half or four and a half and five.
Fernando: So yeah, I think just like, kind of really thinking about those things just cause like yeah, I think again, reviewers can be really brutal. And so there’s little things that you haven’t figured out, like in terms of packaging or price, not breaking or something like that, then. Yeah. It might not be the right time yet.
Fernando: Oh yeah, supply chain. You don’t want to run out of stock because Amazon can penalize you for that too. So all of those things, I would definitely make sure to have a kind of nail down before going on Amazon. Just cause yeah, like it’s hard to come back from that. If you’re like a four-star and you already have like a bunch of reviews, oh yeah.
Fernando: I wouldn’t do vine also unless you have your a hundred percent sure. No, one’s in review this poorly. I would not do Amazon buying because those reviewers are pretty brutal.
Ken: Yeah. And that’s when they send your product out to two people to get reviews.
Fernando: Exactly. Yeah. You’ll send like, send it out to like 30 people and they’ll kind of trickle over like a year.
Fernando: But yeah, I should have just talked to someone recently and they’re like, oh yeah, like we just tried vine, you know, Can you get out of it, like, you know, just kind of knowing that the product was going to have these kinds of subjective, like reviews. And then, you know, I talked to her a little bit afterwards and she was like, oh man, I wish I would’ve talked to you before, but yeah.
Fernando: I mean, it ended up being, she got, I think she ended up looking at it. I got a three and a half you know, from those early reviews. And then you know, that’s like a death wish, I guess, on a new listing. And so, yeah, often, it’s just easier just to move the inventory, relabel it, and then relaunch it without vine.
Ken: Okay. Yeah. Got it. Any other tips, you know, about Amazon, you know, that you think that people need to consider when launching on Amazon? And then, you know, after that, I wanted to switch gears and just talk briefly about Walmart, because that’s one of the other opportunities that you guys help people with.
Fernando: Totally yeah. I mean, I think the other one is like, yeah, I really, and I touched on this a little bit, but it’s real. You know, A/B testing your main image. So that’s like one of the things that we do a lot is that we’ll we’ll leverage like our like proprietary tool, but but there’s a lot of out of the box tools, you can do this with, but like, you know, you’ll take your main image and then grab like two or three of your main competitors.
Fernando: And then run it through like an A/B testing tool, like PickFu is one for instance. But, and then what you’re doing is you’re getting thinking of it as like an online focus group. And then you’re getting real buyers in the US with Amazon accounts to basically figure out, like to vote which medium or they like the best and then they’ll actually provide feedback.
Fernando: And then so, that is really helpful for us in terms of like, okay, well, what benefits you know, really resonate with customers you know, what texts do we need to make bigger? Like, are there ways that we can really optimize the medium, just to where again, we’re driving that higher click through rate.
Fernando: Which is huge. Yeah, one way that we did it, which I thought was cool, was one of our clients was like, hey, we had this idea for a product. We’re not really sure if it should be. If we should do an organic certification, like a vegan, or if we should just do like a regular, like vitamin D3 and we’re like, okay, cool, let’s test that. And then, so what we did was we came up with three mock-ups for the main image and we set it at different price points based on. The COGS of the product. So it was like, I think it was like 20 something like 22 bucks for the organic 22 bucks for the vegan and then like 20 bucks or 19 bucks for like the regular just D3 without any of the certifications.
Fernando: And then, so we just ran through the tests and our guests originally thought that vegan would have the highest click through rate, but ended up being like the organic one. And so like little, like, kind of data-backed insights like that. I think it was really helpful to kind of identify like, okay, this is more in demand. And yeah, so they ended up launching their organic version. Yeah, that’s kinda like some of the things that we do.
Ken: Yeah. Interesting. I mean, I think that goes back to your quote, you know, about improving little by little, every day, you know, something like that, right? Like that, choosing to go with the organic route won’t necessarily ensure that you’re going to be successful, but it’s one of those little things that just helps, you know, helps with the success of your product launch and for your business.
Fernando: You got it exactly.
Ken: And one of the companies that you’ve worked with helped them with their Amazon was IQBar, you know, and it looks like you guys have a case study on your website about it. If people want to read about it you know, what are some of the things that you helped them with?
Fernando: Yeah. I mean a lot of different stuff. I mean, we naturally like working with them really closely. I mean, they’re a great company by the way. Yeah. I love the products and everything, but I think, yeah. I mean, like, is it the little things I think from what I remember. In the beginning, they actually weren’t doing the automated, like rating requests.
Fernando: And so I think that was an easy way for them to drive up like the reviews really quickly. And so, because they were already doing pretty well and they were already around like the number 10 protein bar give or take when we started, but we were able to actually get more reviews and then therefore get to like, I think number five.
Ken: And then search results. I mean, that’s massive. Yeah, exactly. That’s huge. And we had Will Nitze on the podcast. He talked about his company and how he started you know, we chatted a little bit afterwards. He’s a great guy. I really like the company.
Fernando: Totally. Yeah. So I think, yeah, he’s great.
Fernando: I think another thing that we did was we launched like a kind of a sampler pack. And so, I mean, and especially for IQBar, because, you know, they have obviously different flavors. And so if you’re kind of new to the brand, you’re not necessarily sure. Like, okay, well, do I want chocolate sea salt?
Fernando: Or do I want this one? And then, so what we did was we launched a sample pack where it’s like, you know, seven, seven bars, all sorts of flavors. But, and then part of the advantages within the grocery category, if you’re under a $15 price point, then you actually get a discount on the referral fees.
Fernando: It’s not massive. It’s like, you know, it’s giving a 7% discount. So it goes from 15 to 8%, but it’s still helpful. And then, we basically launched that product, which does really well. And then, it’s great for people new to the brand to be like, oh, okay, I’ll order this one first. I Figured out that blueberries are my favorite.
Fernando: And then I can like, you know, reorder and then just buy only blueberries, if that makes sense. And so just like little ways of like creating better offers like, or, and in differentiated offers so that like, you’re kind of, you know, both helping, like returning customers naturally on Amazon, but then also like, although new ones, you know, are kind of evaluating you against like the other, you know, kind of keto protein bars.
Fernando: Yeah, I think with some of the cool things that we did, yeah, I mean, naturally again, we’re really strong at launches, so yeah, every time we wanted to launch a new product. I know what it’s like, especially when we’re really strong. But yeah, I mean, it’s like the everyday things, whether it’s like, you know, kind of managing their advertisers for hygiene and figuring out again, like how can we optimize, make them you know, increase sales or drive more profitability and things like that.
Fernando: Those are a lot of the big things that we’ve been doing with them.
Ken: Nice. Okay. Let’s switch gears just quickly to Walmart. I’m sure that’s one of the other, you know, ways in which you can help CPG brands. You know, how is that different from Amazon and what, you know, what are some of the opportunities there?
Fernando: Yeah, so Walmart is great, you know, a lot of ways where it’s definitely like the number two marketplace. So, if you’re trying to diversify off Amazon, it’s probably your best bet for a lot of, for a lot of brands, the challenge, or actually I’ll just go through the pros first. The upside is that they’re a lot more lenient in terms of like the strategies cause I mean, it’s just, it’s a morning. Marketplace. So they don’t have the same sophistication that Amazon has now in terms of doing search, find, buy, which helps you rank or like, you know, purchasing reviews, like all that kind of stuff there. They’re just a lot more for giving because I think they’re just trying to attract sellers to be honest.
Fernando: The downside. Is that like Amazon just outselling them by an incredible amount? And so when you look at like our brands across everyone that we work with, you’ll see, it’s kinda like almost like a 20 to one ratio. And so give or take, you’re selling 5% on the high side of your Amazon sales.
Fernando: So again, even if you’re doing. You know, a hundred K a month and, you know, you can expect to do about five K on Walmart. And so yeah, you’re diversifying, but it’s not really that meaningful, unfortunately. But but yeah, I mean, that’s kind of like some of the pros and cons I’ve, everyone’s you know, within the community is kind of rooting for Walmart, hoping that they become bigger and actually so you kind of decrease your dependency on Amazon, but yeah, truthfully it’s just like there, it’s just really far behind right now.
Ken: Sure. Yeah. And, you know, you touched on some of the cons of a Walmart. What about some of the cons of you know, the Amazon approach, right. Why wouldn’t someone want to sell on Amazon or what are some things to watch out for?
Fernando: Yeah, it’s a great question. So I think the most common fear that people have is all like, okay, Amazon’s going to steal your product idea and then go make it, which is definitely possible obviously. But I think it’s kind of like similar, like, you know, you run a tech company, you know, like how, like kind of the early stage entrepreneurs, like they’re know, trying to talk to people, meet investors, but they’re like, oh, well, before I meet with you, can you sign an NDA? That same kind of concept.
Fernando: No, I’m an investor. Like I’m not going to send your NDA. But it’s kinda the same concept. It’s like, you’re kind of protecting nothing, if that makes sense. And so, yeah, I think it’s more important to like to build a business on Amazon, or if that’s the right channel for you and then build IP or build a community, build raving fans that obviously like Amazon’s not gonna be able to replicate as well.
Fernando: So I think that’s probably the most common one that you hear. But I mean, there are downsides that they’re so big right now that, you know, they’ll take a listing down strategy if there’s any question and then ask questions later. And so, that can just mean that, you know, competitors, we’ll, you know, upload CBD into your backend keywords, which is crazy.
Fernando: It’s like, it’s amazing that this still happens. Or like they’ll put like sex toys that actually in your keywords. And then Amazon’s bots will see that in your backend keywords and then take your listing down because it’s not for an adult. And so it’s kind of crazy that you can still kind of do that. But it happens all the time.
Fernando: And then, so like, those are some of the challenges, like, and then just, there’s like little like technology things that can be really frustrating, whether it’s like, you know, you have all your variations on one listing to combine the reviews and because it’s a better customer experience because like, maybe it’s a bunch of different flavors of the same product, but, and then they’ll just like split it for whatever reason into like a different listings.
Fernando: So then it’s so all the reviews are like, you know, separated stuff like that. And then you have to kind of call in and wait for hours to get that kind of combination again. But I mean, overall, like when you really think about like the challenges of building your own brand, like through Shopify and your own e-commerce website, like it’s an Amazon really removes so many of those hurdles, whether it’s like obviously the fulfillment side, because they have FDA, you know, optimizing for high conversion rates because, you know, we’ll often see like 30 to 40% conversion rates on our listings because it’s Amazon.
Fernando: But if you’re like, you know, more of a direct to consumer company, you’re probably looking at whatever, like two to 5%. Right. So, multiples are different. And just Amazon customers have buying intent. You know what I mean? Like they, you have your, I mean, you have your address saved, your credit card saved.
Fernando: It’s just so easy. And so, you know, while you do pay, like, you know, a pretty meaningful percentage to them. I think it’s a phenomenal way to CL and then, like you mentioned earlier, like, you know, you can get economies of scale, you can drive your COGS down and then therefore it starts the flywheel of building your brand. And so I think it’s a phenomenal channel. But there are obviously little headaches that come with it.
Ken: Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Well, we’ve been going for a while. Let’s start wrapping things up. Before we do, just tell us about what exactly you do right with MarketplaceOps, you know, and if somebody wanted to get a hold of you and work with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Fernando: Yeah, thanks, man. Yeah, I mean, so we love working with brand owners and helping them scale on Amazon. Yeah, in terms of what we do, we kind of act as an outsourced chief, Amazon officer, if you will, with obviously like an entire marketing, supply chain, design team to really focus on the Amazon and Walmart channels.
Fernando: And so, Yeah. I mean, I, we kind of, we take care of it like full brand management. So everything that I kind of mentioned and touched upon whether it’s design, launching, advertising, inventory, forecasting, you name it, our team would take care of clients. But yeah, I mean, if anyone ever wants to reach out, yeah. Feel free to check out our website or you could reach out to me at fernandoatmarketplaceops.com and be happy to have a conversation and at least point you in the right direction. If it’s not a good fit.
Ken: Okay. Awesome. All right, well, let’s wrap up here with a quick fire round about four questions for you. What’s one tool or resource that you feel has helped you the most in your career?
Fernando: Oh, man, that is a good question. You know, I would say there’s so many, but I would actually go back to like the Four Hour Work Week book. I don’t know if you’re different, yeah. But I feel like that was just such a. Like a game-changing book for its time in terms of just showing me a different way to live.
Fernando: And I feel like that has been probably the most impactful yeah, just in terms of like, yeah. Entrepreneurship and lifestyle design and just like starting a business. I really was going down. I think the path is like, you know, working in finance for 20 years and then hopefully, eventually maybe starting something until he wrote that book and then kind of gave me permission, I think, to think a little bit differently. And so, yeah, I think that was a big one.
Ken: Yeah, that’s awesome. And my next question is actually about a book, you know, about one of your favorite books that you can recommend to the audience. But I love the Four Hour Workweek and I’ll be honest. I kind of took the same thing away as well. And it kinda hit me at a time when I was making some of those career decisions.
Ken: So it was perfectly timed for me. What’s another book that you’d recommend to the audience?
Fernando: Yeah. I would say Traction is probably one of my favorite books now. I would say if you’re more than like five or more employees, I think it starts to make more sense. But yeah, I think Traction, they kind of pioneered EOS or which is kind of like an operating system for how you run your business, whether it’s like how you run your meetings, like, especially your like strategic media meetings or your level tens, how you report on like scorecards, how you like set initiatives. All of that is something that you don’t really learn in life, at least in my undergrad business degree. And so I think that has been really transformational in terms of just like, yeah, how do we get everybody aligned and focused on the right things?
Fernando: And then how do we report on it and make sure that everybody’s on the same page because, I think again, like sub four employees, it’s really easy. Everybody. It’s like a family, and everybody’s on the same page and kind of, you’re a little bit scrappier, but now that we’re at 70 employees, it’s a lot harder to make sure that everybody’s rowing the right way and focusing on the right things.
Fernando: And so, yeah, I would definitely recommend Traction.
Ken: Okay that’s Traction. Get a grip on your business. Is that Gino wickman? That’s the author.
Fernando: You got it.
Ken: Awesome, next question. What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to your 21 year old self.
Fernando: Oh man. I would say learn to take risks, now. Because it only gets harder as you get older. Yeah, I mean, my business partner and I both like credit, like joining that first startup and I take, you know, taking the a hundred percent commission sales role making like finance 25 grand a year was great because you know, it really pushed us in terms of getting out of our comfort zone. But you know, when we left corporate jobs, making a lot more to do during this early stage startup, like that was obviously a huge decision, but we did it when we’re like, whatever 24. And so it was a lot easier there because we didn’t have families.
Fernando: We didn’t have a lot of responsibilities. We didn’t have a lot of overhead. But then when we ended up quitting and starting our company, it was a lot easier because we’d already done it once, you know, we’d already made like, you know, kind of sacrificed income to like for the long term. And so yeah, it just became easier and having seen friends do it much later in life, you know, you just have. Well, you know, nicer apartments and you have car leases and you have all these things. And we’re like, when you’re 21, if you use to drive, you just go live at home. Right. Like in, just like, hang out with your parents, you get free food.
Fernando: Like, and we kind of knew that, like that was like in the back of my head, that’s like the worst case, but like, yeah, I think. Yeah, that would be my piece of advice. And just, I mean, just like, if you want to do it, like just doing it, like we drove for Uber, like in our early days, just to like, not to keep reinvesting into the company, not taking distributions, but like, I mean, now I’m so thankful obviously like an obviously, you know, it worked out, but yeah, I think just having that, like focus on her goal, like in a long-term view is really.
Ken: Cool. And who’s one person in your field of work that you would love to take to lunch, and maybe this is another entrepreneur that you look up to and another brand you know, somebody that you’d love to take lunch to?
Fernando: Oh man. Actually, I don’t really know who it is, to be honest, but I’m always amazed by Goli, like the brand, like the gummy manufacturers. I would love to take the CEO or the founder of Goli to lunch. I’m just always amazed by that brand in terms of like, how they were able to scale to such a massive size with such limited SKUs and like, you know, I feel like they just did everything right.
Fernando: And so, yeah I’m always just like, it kind of inspired me. And I heard the story recently about how they kind of got their start on the Ellen show, but like just cool things like that, yeah, I would love to learn more about them.
Ken: Yeah, well, awesome. Fernando, you’ve been a great guest. I think that I particularly liked the actionable, you know, applicable things that people can do and kind of take from this interview.
Ken: Again what’s the best way to get ahold of you if somebody wanted to, you know, to check out what you guys have to offer and you know, maybe just to throw some questions at you what’s the best place to, to get a hold of you?
Fernando: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Thanks so much. But yeah you can email me directly at.
Fernando: marketplaceops.com And then I forgot to mention that we put together a few resources, like for the fiddle community. So everything from a product launch list to how to optimize your Amazon PPC campaigns, creating high converting listings, and a bunch of other e-commerce trends, things like that.
Fernando: And so if people want to go download those for free, like on our website, you can just go to marketplaceops.com backslash fiddle. And then you get all those emails over to you.
Ken: Okay. Awesome. Well, Hey, I’d love to do a follow up, you know, and maybe dig a little bit deeper into some of these topics, you know, so for instance, the whole supply chain thing, I think could be a whole episode on its own.
Ken: And I think that’d be really helpful to CPG brands. So we might be reaching out to you to do that. I think it’d be awesome for the audience.
Fernando: Yeah. We’d love to anytime, man. Thanks so much for having me, Ken!
Ken: All right. Hey, can you take care! Appreciate it.
Ken: The Physical Product Movement podcast is brought to you by Fiddle to find out more about Fiddle and how our industry leading inventory ops platform is giving modern brands and manufacturers full visibility into their inventory and operations visit fiddle.io, and then make sure to search for Physical Product Movement and Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, or anywhere else podcasts are found. Make sure to click subscribe. So you don’t miss any future episodes on behalf of the team here at Fiddle. Thanks for listening.