Discovering your sweet spot has the potential to transform your life. Just ask Carlos Alvarez, an “elementary school dropout” and host of the Amazon podcast, Wizards of Amazon. After 15 years in e-commerce and over $100 million in gross sales, Carlos is sharing his secrets for success, breaking down the pros and cons of wholesale versus private label, and reminding us that Amazon can be lonely, so it’s important to stay connected.
From Dropout to Millionaire
Never let your setbacks set you back. Carlos is the embodiment of that sentiment. By his late twenties, he was a high school dropout watching his friends succeed in the “adult world”. After discovering eBay as a way to side hustle, he fell in love with everything e-commerce. From the smell of the tape (yes the tape) to the shipping process, he was hooked. Eventually, his online hustle out-earned his delivery routes.
From selling live insects online to scaling his wholesale business, for the first time in his life, Carlos felt validated in his e-commerce abilities. While school and white-collar jobs may not have been the right choice, choosing to go all-in on a skill he stumbled upon truly changed his path.
Private Label vs. Wholesale
Although he has a passion for both, Carlos recommends everyone starts with either wholesale or retail arbitrage. As host of the largest Amazon seller meetup group in the world, Carlos talks to many private label sellers, and approximately 40 to 60% don’t know the Amazon basics.
Aside from being the lowest risk model, wholesale (and retail arbitrage) teach you the Amazon ropes so you’re prepared for the big leagues of developing and launching a product. Not to mention, with wholesale, you have the power to double your profit margin in a shorter window. With private label, longer turnaround times make this more difficult, if not impossible.
Wholesale Private Label Hybrid
An entrepreneur at heart, Carlos loves to explore new ideas. For example, his close friend came up with a wholesale-private label hybrid. The concept? If a brand already has exclusive sellers, work with them to create a new product. Working with brands to develop a variation or simply boost the rank on a standalone product is a way to work around exclusives. Also, you’re automatically working with brands who know enough about Amazon and are respectful of Amazon sellers if they’ve got exclusives to begin with.
The Power of Meetups
Finally, you learn invaluable knowledge and genius tips just by meeting other online sellers. But selling on Amazon can also get incredibly lonely. Having a group keeps you motivated when it feels like you’re shouting into a computer screen all day. If you’re looking for groups, head to meetup.com and search Amazon, FBA, or other key search terms. And if you can’t find one within 10 miles – start one! When you stick with it, you’ll be amazed at the connections you can build.
Hopefully Carlos’ story inspired you to stop making excuses and start launching the business of your dreams. Check out his podcast here and access one free month of recorded Amazon meet-ups here (use the code ENTADVNTRTOD).
Happy selling everybody.
Resources From This Episode
- Wizards of Amazon
- Amazon Group Chat
- One Free Month of Video Vault (PROMO CODE – ENTADVNTRTOD)
Outline Of This Episode
[00:17] Todd’s introduction to this episode
[02:09] Carlos’ story
[19:01] Wholesale vs. Private Label
[25:37] The wholesale-private label hybrid
[34:35] Meetups 101
[55:16] Todd’s closing thoughts on this episode
Just Amazon wholesale is such an amazing opportunity for anyone that wants to sell. I mean, Oh man, you don’t even have to put in a lot, man, if you just it’s some it’s some life-changing empowering stuff, money systems. It’s just, I don’t know. I geek out about it. It’s an amazing model on Amazon.
Welcome fellow entrepreneurs to the Amazon Seller School podcast, where we talk about Amazon wholesale and how you can use it to build an e-commerce empire, a side hustle or anything in between. And now your host Todd Welch,
What’s going on everybody. Welcome to episode number 57. And today we have Carlos Alvarez on the show. He is the host of wizards of Amazon podcast, and also has a giant private label and also wholesale business. And today we’re going to be diving into the differences of Amazon wholesale, which one should you start in? Where should you go? And we also talk about the loneliness that you can have when you are in e-commerce is just staring at a computer screen all day and how you can connect with other sellers. So stay tuned for this episode, if you want the show notes, amazonseller.school/57. And without further ado, let’s go ahead and dive into this episode.
All right, well, I got Carlos Alvarez here. He is coming to us from the wizards of Amazon podcast. If you’re not already listening, definitely check it out.
It’s one that I subscribe to and listen to as often as possible wizardsofamazon.com/podcast for that. But what’s really cool is he is a FBA seller. He does the private label and a little bit of wholesale as well. So I think we’re going to have a good conversation today about the differences between wholesale and private label, but then also how you can connect with other sellers because it can be rather lonely when you are selling on e-commerce and you’re sitting in front of a computer all day. So, Carlos, I really appreciate you coming on the podcast. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into this crazy world of Amazon?
Absolutely. Thank you so much for mentioning wizards of Amazon podcast too. And for having me on the show, I feel blessed.
As you mentioned, my name is Carlos Alvarez. I’ve been a full-time Amazon seller for a little shy of 15 years. 85% of my business is private label. 15% of it is wholesale. Kind of like my origins or the, I guess the boring origin story. There is my upbringing. I’m an elementary school dropout. I eventually went and got my GED or general equivalency diploma around, I think as soon as I turned 16, which was the minimum you need it to be. And I dabbled with a few classes in college, but I just, I don’t know, not, I think college is awesome, but maybe I just, I wasn’t, it wasn’t right for me at that time. And I just was a professional screw up. Like I just did everything wrong as a kid and as a young adult and just kept doing that.
And then I found myself in my, you know, late twenties and my friends, they had these jobs that had 401ks associated to them and they were going on vacations and they were living on adult, like, I guess what you would the stereotypical adult life. And I was rushing through traffic, holding down a job as a Publix dairy clerk selling cigars, delivering subs and just doing all kinds of hustles for my expensive ex-girlfriends. So like what you would imagine an elementary drop elementary school, dropouts life look like my side hustles though, to kind of bring this into the show is what changed everything? I discovered eBay probably 18 years ago and I just found something random around the house to try to buy some shoes from my ex and I listed on eBay and sold immediately the entire processing of packaging, something and shipping it was just nowadays I look at it and I’m like, man, there’s gotta be, everything would be a more effective use of my time, but doing that.
But I just loved it. I really did. I just had a great time doing it. I loved the sound of the tape. I loved every the smell of the boxes. I loved everything. So I want,
I love the sound of the tape. I don’t think I’ve heard that before.
Yeah. I, I love everything about it. Like I felt connected and then I got a good review. I just kept communicating with the buyer after they purchased. I was just so happy to know this person and I kept getting sales and then I kept feeding the beast, so to speak. I kept going to garage sales. I finding stuff around the house and selling on eBay to the point where I’d make more than my sub route. And then I drop my sub delivery route. Then I would drop my dairy clerk route. And then I found myself doing this thing full-time but I didn’t know what this thing was.
I want to say this cause this is important for the next part. Otherwise everyone will probably think I’m just a nut, but like, I, I was completely like ashamed of what I was doing. My ex was ashamed because that many years ago, e-commerce Amazon, eBay was not really seen as an adult, like path to, it was a very juvenile thing. It was not longterm success. You know, your significant other didn’t look at you like, Oh, this is what financial stability look like. And I didn’t feel that way either. It’s not like I knew it and I was just banking on it. I was just making ends meet. So my friends and family saw that I was doing something that was successful. I was starting to hear the word marketer e-commerce entrepreneur, and I loved it. I had a really good ring.
And finally, I know when someone comes up to me and says, Hey, what did you do? I didn’t have to dance around that. I could just like marketer, that’s noble entrepreneur. That’s noble. I could just say it. So it felt very good. They, they pulled money together total of $81,000 and they invested it in me. They loaned it to me, which is critical. And the product I had at the time that had the highest profit margin does I’m doing heavy garage sales at this point, storage auctions and anything I could randomly get my hands on at a store and they’re like, scratching debt area. I’d make a deal with them and flip it. But the only item I had that was really replenishable was this adult novelty product, this little ring that a guy puts on and I was getting it from China like early stage Ali-Baba type stuff, and I’d get them for say 81 cents packaged and everything.
And then I’d sell them for 20 something dollars on eBay. And when I got the $81,000, I was like, man, I’m buying $81,000 of these rings. Right. And my supplier guy named Elvis, he went by the name of Elvis at pleasure. Chest factory still exist. He said, we don’t have that much in stock in my ignorance. I thought you’re a factory. You must have like corridors of boxes of this stuff, just waiting to ship. And obviously that’s stupid. That’s not true. So I got and I went and found another supplier on Alibaba that had it in stock, his name Uzman Sesei. And I sent him the money and he stole everything from me. So I didn’t want my friends and family like being broke with something I was accustomed to, but I don’t want my friends and family to start looking at me again, like, Oh, you know, Carlos f-ed up again.
You know, there he goes again. Like, I didn’t want that. I wanted to continue. You know, being seen as that entrepreneur, I wanted people to come to me and say, Hey, I want to make a few bucks for the summer. Like, what do I do? So I didn’t tell anyone. And I tried to sell a few random things around the house. Two of those things was a Burmese Python and a Colombian red boa that I had. And I take them to a reptile store in pillowcases. And the person in front of me is paying $25 for 50 live 50 live worms. And I thought, man, I’ll dig my tail off. Like I will dig all day. For that, like I’m a hard worker. So I wound up going to a public library looking for like, where do worms live? I think, or something like that.
And I continued researching that and I found an article by zoologist saying that the herpetology department could save a lot of money in the zoos if they bred live insects, instead of buying them on the private market. So I started breeding live insects. I mean, there’s a lot into breeding, live insects. So I’m fast forwarding here, but fast forward, a little shy of a year, and I’m doing this in my house. My ex has left me like, you know, a labyrinth of bins full of insects breeding and making noises in the house was the last straw. So she’s gone and code enforcement knocks on my door at this point, I’m between like 3.5, 4 million crickets. And I got feeder warms, super warms. And when those crickets make noise, like I’m in a residential area, like it is bad. So I bluff code enforcement. I’m saying it’d be like an agricultural disaster if I just dump these insects out, like around the house.
And I find a friend who gives me his warehouse rent free for three, four months for half of it. And I move all of them there the next day and continued breeding them selling live insects online on eBay and Amazon that I was breeding. Fast-Forward another nine months of me doing just this living in my warehouse, literally living in my warehouse. And I get approached by a company to purchase my company for a $2.6 million. So I wind up selling this inset company for $2.6 million. I started partying for like a year in Miami. My never had money, no sense of finance and single. And everyone’s wants to be friends with me. And someone pulled me to the side and said, look, this time, next year you will be broke. And I didn’t want that ever again. So the only thing I had ever had validated in my life that I was good at was selling on eBay and Amazon, especially Amazon.
And I said, well, let’s, let’s do this. So I started, I didn’t even know the name was wholesale. I would just called it reselling, but that’s what we’re talking about here, wholesale. And I started a wholesaling business and to sell on Amazon. And I started a private label business selling beverage chilling devices. And since then, my businesses have grown. I’ve not always understood cashflow. So maybe it was just this ballooned gross number. And we’ve learned a lot. I am my business partners. We’ve learned a lot along the way, and we’ve grown our wholesale and Amazon side of our business in parallel, sort of over the last 15 years to the point where three years ago, we finally did a a hundred million in gross sales on Amazon. And then this year of COVID, I guess is the only podcast where someone can brag about how great they did during this horrible time. It looks like we, when the dust settles and we figure out the numbers, we may have hit 170 in a single year. So 170 million. Yeah. So I just, it’s been an amazing journey and it’s still going on, I’m pinching myself, but that’s my long-winded intro.
Yeah, that is awesome. I’m not quite sure where to start with all of that. That was a pretty amazing journey. I mean, to go from, you know, high school dropout to, and thinking that you’re basically got nothing, you’re worthless to $170 million in sales and somehow selling insects for two and a half million in between. There is pretty awesome. I don’t think that’s a path that probably anyone has ever gone down before.
Nobody that I know that’s the brand that I’m open about because when my non-compete ended, I started again and now the insect business is my highest grossing business actually on Amazon. So go figure,
Speaking of insects, I actually have right over here, a some carpenter ants Cool. Yeah. He has a few little workers and some eggs and stuff. So I’m kinda into that stuff a little bit, obviously not on the level that you,
What do you have? an Ant Farm/ You got cut out a second ago. It was an, an farm and you have a, what are you feeding him too?
Farm it’s carpenter ants. One queen and four little soldiers she has, or a worker and some eggs that she’s laid as well. So
That’s fascinating. I guess we’re the only time, I don’t know anybody else that would be fascinated with that kind of stuff. I didn’t even know we had that in common.
Yeah, no, I liked it as you know, I had the uncle Milton ant farm when I was young and it kinda disappeared like most kids and just, I don’t know how recently I stumbled across the website, antscanada.com and started reading about it. And I found out that you could actually buy a queen ant right here, where I live in Utah. They’ve got this, this website with farmers of these ants all over the country. And I’m like, well, that sounds like fun. Start a new little hobby. And I went on and grabbed one. I want to check it out. Yeah. Kind of interesting. I’ll have to throw a picture up here on the YouTube version so people can see when we send this out to youtube but yeah, very interesting that you sold insects and things like that. And that journey from eBay to Amazon, are you still selling on eBay?
Were there I might mean, no, my heart is still with eBay, just because even though the lion’s share of my online revenue or, or any of my revenue, my lion share comes from Amazon. I feel like they, the relationship is different. Like, I feel like E-bay cares about me and I feel like Amazon will, like, I guess stay with the ants. They would squish me like an ant in the pro just, they’re not going to give me any thought, but the traffic is there. The ease of purchases there and eBay is as much as I’d like them to be. The one podcast is about they just, I don’t know, it was like an exercise and how to best self implode. I don’t know. It’s frustrating. So I’m there, but nothing of note. And we recently sold a business that had our largest eBay business as part of it. So yeah, so, I mean, I’m, there. Yeah,
Same here. This, if for 2020 I’m going to finish the year on Amazon, just under about 1.4 million in sales. Nice. Ebay, I use a program called Joe Lister to get from Amazon over to eBay and eBay. We did a little over 30,000. So it gives you kind of a comparison that definitely the traffic numbers are not there, but I was going to say the same thing. So it’s funny that you say that, that I feel like eBay is a lot less to worry about in that they’re not going to just like shut you down. Like Amazon does they care about their sellers a little bit more and they’re less restrictive and apt to just like squash ya. If they, they think you’re doing something wrong,
Hundred percent agree.
I think Amazon, the, you know, a lot of people get afraid of that. So I don’t want people to be afraid of Amazon. I think as long as you’re trying to do everything on the up and up odds are that you’re going to be able to figure everything out with Amazon. You might get shut down for a period of time, but if you’re doing everything legit, you should be able to get your account back up and running. So I don’t want people.
Absolutely. I mean, things are better than they’ve ever been on Amazon and they’re getting better by the day. I mean, things like for us like transparency project zero you can get unsuspended now that used to be like an email and you were just that’s it, there was no plan of action that you could submit. There was no Amazon lawyers that you can go to, even if you’re in the right, like there was nothing. Yeah.
Definitely come a long way. And for all the trash we like to talk about Amazon. There’s really no other platform that’s even comparable in terms of the ease of listing products and getting things for sale. And like you said, the systems have come a long ways. I mean, if you ever sell on Walmart, I mean, its like the stone age compared to what Amazon’s platform is right now.
Yeah. Yeah. I agree. A hundred percent equally. So with Amazon support, which everyone gets frustrated with and it’s like, yeah, you can complain about that. And so you have an issue on overstock or with target or, or Walmart, and then try to reach out to support.
Yup. A hundred percent. E-Bay support is pretty good though. They are, the few times I’ve had to reach out to them. They’re very nice and seem to be very knowledgeable, especially compared to Amazon’s support, at least the first level.
Yeah. Like would love to keep that On eBay and then somebody, I guess, by eBay and then get rid of everyone else. That’s kind of like, let’s just like freeze in motion and not do anything worthless. It’s like, it’s kind of like they stopped in time.
Yeah. It definitely, I feel bad about that. Ebay has fallen so far. I mean, they still are the second largest e-commerce seller. I believe last I seen, but it
Is a, there is not a close second
Now they’re like eight or 9% and Amazon’s like 50.
Yeah. And I don’t, and I don’t think they’re like trending in the right direction either,
But I feel like they so easily could turn it around if they had someone to steer them in the right direction. I don’t understand why they don’t do it, but it is what it is. I don’t either. Let’s dive into the private label versus the wholesale, since you and I are kind of reversed. You’re super majority private label, a little bit of wholesale. I’m super majority of wholesale, a little bit of private label. What are your thoughts in terms of people who are maybe looking at getting started in private label and wholesale, do you have one recommendation over the other?
My personal recommendation, really? I absolutely love private label. It makes me tick. I love the, I love the challenges, the creativity, but my advice is really the complete opposite. I would say to everybody in the private label community in the sense that I highly recommend anyone that wants to do private label does not start with private label. It’s really not, unless you’re, you know, loaded with cash, working an amazing job, and you’re trying to get something to beat the standard and poor, and you’re going to hire an agency and, you know, and you get with the right people. But short of that, which is the other 99.9% of the people it’s just, it’s very complicated. Yes, for me, it’s, it’s simple. I could sum it up in a few points, but it took me a long time to do that. And there was a lot of moving parts, much, much less moving parts than the other Amazon models.
So I would suggest if someone was going to start that they would start with arbitrage and or wholesale. I default to say, Hey, start with wholesale. Just because I don’t, I have some friends that are just addicted to the chase on arbitrage, but I just, for the life of me, I can’t really wrap my head around being the most effective use of time. I don’t like personally not the brand, not knowing that I am a reseller of their product and is okay with it. Not like I will let go. Like they want me there, like, that’s what I’m going for. So I don’t have that relationship component, which is the most important component for me with wholesale. I don’t have that, that doesn’t exist with arbitrage. So I would say wholesale to start for sure.
Yeah. I think there’s definitely a lot less stumbling blocks getting into wholesale, then private label, for sure. There’s less moving parts that if you don’t do them right, you know, you’re going to fail in private label, essentially where in wholesale you can, you can trip and stumble a lot more and still kinda keep moving forward. I do like to recommend you know, people do like a little bit of retail arbitrage just for the fact that you can, you can learn how to put a sticker on a product and how to make your first shipment without any risks. Right. You got to Walmart clearance aisle and pick out a few items, even if you don’t make any money and just learn the Amazon system and then kind of switch over to wholesale from there. And, you know, maybe do the private label. I like doing wholesale. I enjoyed I’ve, I’m becoming successful at it. But there is something about private label that draws me. And I think you touched on it, the creativity of it, you know, creating your own thing. There’s definitely a draw that can kind of pull you in on that.
Yeah. It’s, it’s amazing. And you’re a hundred percent in control of the growth. So it feels more of a like you’re yeah. You’re building your own property. You’re building your own asset. It’s, it’s amazing, absolutely amazing. But in the Amazon world, if, if I wanted to say, Hey, I want to double the sales and may maintain or try to maintain the profit margin on my private label side of my business in one year. And I can’t, I couldn’t do that. Yes, I’m at a, much larger scale than, than most of the people I know, but, but still like, even at half that, because the turnaround times from, you know, a lot of my products besides the live insects are in the, I like doing the opposite of what everybody suggests. So everybody says don’t sell fragile items, don’t sell heavy items, don’t sell.
So I’m all over that. I want like a fragile, heavy oversize item and I’m all over it. You know? So the majority of my items though fall into like the glass ceramic stone, where porcelain and margins are massive, but for most products in China, like I put an order in and let, and let’s say this, isn’t your first order. Like, this is just, you’ve already got through samples. Like everything’s ready to go. I placed an order 60 days, it’s ready. Two weeks to connect to a boat outside of COVID otherwise much longer, like two weeks to connect to a boat. 30 days on the water, seven to 10 days to clear customs and two weeks to get to Amazon. We’re at 120 days. And this is to get, this is to get the first round of items. I’m now going to do a launch, which is, which is getting more and more, which is another amazing, exciting area of private label, but it’s very, very involved lots of moving parts.
I’m going to do all that and I’m going to reorder, but say, we go to the same time and that’s 240 days. Like our year is almost gone. And now on wholesale, if I said, look and 15, I mean, I’m not a small wholesaler, even it’s small percentage versus the rest of my business, but 15% of what I do on Amazon, but fairly large wholesaler. I could double, like if I wanted to put the resources and said, Hey, I want to go from 15 to 30 million in gross sales on on wholesale this year. And this is the plan I could do that. Like, I totally could do that. And I would, I would do some really, it would be a really some lucrative damage along the way. I would really have to scale my teams and my processes and like, but you know, we could do that. So that’s very, very attractive for wholesale. I’d also have to say that wholesale is responsible for my successes on the private label side, because it allowed me to sort of fund a lot of creative ventures that I took that short of that money machine going on on the wholesale side of my business. I don’t feel I could have funded.
Interesting. Okay. Very good. Now, are you for your private label products, are you drawing from the wholesale at all? Like you’re selling wholesale products and you’re seeing an opportunity and then making private label products or are they completely separate niches?
I’ve never done that. Yeah. So they’re completely separate of my godfather and my son, my best friend. He’s an Amazon seller, his name’s Ramon Gonzalez. He’s he’s in the Amazon space. He’s just starting. I think his model is identical to what you described as far as like a small sampling of private label and you’re feeding that, but the majority is a, is a lucrative amazing wholesale business. So he said something called wholesale PL hybrid. And I heard him talk about it a little bit and I’ve put a great deal of brainpower towards that. And that’s, you know, how many, how many pulse sailors have I approached that we’re selling a let’s, let’s just say a fancy sunblock, like native, tan sunblock type of thing. Right. And they had two sizes and they were locked into this amazing arrangement with some resellers that, you know, they were just like, you know, sorry, we have enough people.
I could look at that now and say, look, I want to pay to launch with you for your brand, a travel size, one of these. And I don’t want to resell on those other listings, but I just want to add this as a variation on this family. So I know how to rank a product from nothing. So I could do that. Or I could say, man, you know, I’ve, I feel like I want to launch a private label product, which I wouldn’t, because I launched things I’m passionate about, but like, I want to launch it. I’ll say I was passionate about the beach and a dark tan. I could say, Hey, Hey guys, look, you already have all of your certifications. You already have the factories in the quality controls. You have an amazing brand. I want to white label this with you. Like I want to get in on a, on a lower MOQ that I couldn’t get on my own and I want to buy it through you and your factories. So those are two options that I’m really exploring ever since, you know, Ramon really turned the light bulb on for me for that. And we’re, we’re calling it PL wholesale hybrid.
Interesting. So yeah, the, the white label, I’ve definitely looked at that. The first part of what you were talking about there, it almost sounded like you, you were saying you’re going to work with the brand and create a new product under their brand and attach it as a variation, like a travel size or something like that. Sure. Did I catch that right? Yeah.
Yeah, absolutely. Because I mean, there’s, there’s established, but it was attractive enough for me to look at that per you know, that family of variation detail page for me to attempt, they want to get an account. So I feel like the eyeballs and the traffic and the quality of the listing must already have is there. So why not? You know, you didn’t say by you telling me that you already have the amount of sellers you want lets me know, you know, a, you understand the power of Amazon and B that you understand the power of a relationship of working with someone that knows what they’re doing on Amazon. So I fit both of those. You also are going to respect the sales and the territory of your resellers. I love that. That’s a huge plus for me now, how can we do something that we do all that?
And I’m thinking a variation would be great or it doesn’t have to be a variation. It could be a standalone listing. I can rank a product, not a problem. What I believe will happen is when I’m selling on this variation, or I rank this whole other product they don’t have, and I’m telling them like, Hey, look, you can sell this everywhere. All I’m asking for is like maybe exclusivity. Just like you’re giving to these other resellers on, on Amazon, us, you know, maybe Germany, Japan something like that. Like that’s, I’m asking for that for two years and let’s play. I feel like if I did that and I successfully was ranking these products and they’re like this, person’s adding to our catalog, he’s breaking into new markets. Why don’t we let him also resell this product? Like, because these other guys are doing what for us? That’s the thought, that’s the plan
For sure. Yeah. I definitely liked that idea on the white label as well is really interesting. And if people aren’t familiar with the term white label, it’s basically taking someone else’s product and then putting it in your own under your own brand or your own packaging or something. Yeah. And that’s, that’s one thing I’ve been looking at a lot too, because the, some of the niches that I sell in, in wholesale, I see these products they’re selling really well. The listing is horrible. There’s very little competition and I’m like, I could so easily just create this product, improve it a little bit, put it under my own brand and probably take over that area pretty easily. So you see a lot opportunities like that in the wholesale world that I think, like you said, if you start in wholesale, there may be eventually want to go to a private label. You’re going to see a lot opportunities by going that route.
Just Amazon wholesale is such a, an amazing opportunity for anyone that wants to sell. I mean, it’s what you’re going to put in some work. And if, if, if being told, no, just crushes you, this is not for you, but if you just, Oh man, you don’t even have to put in a lot, man, if you just it’s, it’s some life-changing empowering stuff, money systems. It’s just, I don’t know. I geek out about it. It’s an amazing model on Amazon
For sure. Yeah. I agree. A hundred percent. And like I said, a lower risk than going into private label, especially starting out the odds of failure in private label for product is a lot higher than wholesale since we’re selling products that we can see the history of.
Yeah, there there’s way too. I don’t know the percentage, but my gut wants to say like 40, 50%, 40, 50% of private label sellers in my opinion, get into private label. And they, I have the meetup group, which would you spoke about earlier largest Amazon seller meetup group in the world, 16 events per month. We’ve been virtual during the pandemic, but we still had the events when we go back to in-person Saturday. But I meet a lot of people of all seller levels of all this. Isn’t a private label meetup. This is an Amazon seller meetup. So all models, I see everybody and I’m safe. I’m going to say 40 to 60% of private label sellers that I know they’ll come up to me and say something like my product gets here in two weeks, meaning it’s on the boat. And it’s getting here in two weeks and they’re asking me like, what barcode is it that I need like GS1 at like what’s.
And then I’m thinking you placed an order in China to launch a product on Amazon. And you don’t know what the FBA acronym means. You don’t know barcodes, like you don’t know labeling, you don’t know how to create a shipment. I find that to be the height of being irresponsible and doing arbitrage first and wholesale or whichever one get to a level where you understand what’s going on. So yeah, I it’s, it’s nuts, absolutely nuts. Like dont order $30,000 from China and then like, wonder how to ship it.
Yeah. Yeah. you know, private label is, is like the sexy way to sell out there that everybody is trying to sell courses for other people to do. And it’s a lot of fun, but with everything it’s hard, you know, everything is hard work and you’ve got to figure it out. So starting in like retail arbitrage or wholesale, I think just really makes things easier for a lot of, in a lot of ways. And if you want to graduate to the private label at some point you know, you can try it out and not take quite as big of a risk if you’ve already got a decent business going in wholesale. So let’s switch gears a little bit, Carlos and talk about your in-person meetings and things. Cause that’s one thing that you’re really known for is connecting sellers. And I believe correct me if I’m wrong, but you have one of the largest there, if not the largest meet up groups for Amazon sellers, right?
Yeah. It’s the largest Amazon seller meet up group in the world. And we’re about to be, it’s the only vanity metric I care about. Like, I don’t care about followers or like how many other like, but my vanity I’m super proud of this one, but the second we’re about to double the size of second place. So I guess we’re taking on like the whole Amazon first place, eBay second place, like second place is, is not closed, but four and a half years going on four and a half years 16 events per month. In-Person Amazon events. Topic-Based no repeats, high quality, 100% free. The, as a matter of fact, it is prohibited to sell in the group unless you’re an external speaker. If you have a speaker that we flew in and stuff put in an Airbnb and they’re presenting, then there’s another wholesaler who had had a podcast.
I don’t think it’s around anymore, but it was Dylan Carter. I remember Dylan. We had Dylan come down from Jacksonville and we put them up in an Airbnb presented. Obviously, if you’re coming down to present, you can mention your offering or your course or your tool. But outside of that, including myself, there is no selling allowed. So it’s sales free 100% free and we monetize it by, we record the events and now all of those events and workshops, people can access the recordings, whether they attended or they’re not local. And that’s why they’re doing it at meetup event, recordings.com. So I think it’s like 20, 30 bucks a month and you access everything. But it’s, it’s wound up being the most lucrative free meetup group in the world. And that, from that angle like you mentioned, I just get to meet a lot of amazing sellers from, from all different kinds of levels.
And it’s, I’ve been blessed. I have to say it sounds cheesy, but the biggest growth opportunity growth area that I have in my businesses over the last four years for Amazon has come from our Saturday morning events. Well, Saturday afternoon 1:00 PM. And that is from one to 2:00 PM on Saturdays. Before we get in our two to three 30 topic of the week section, we have a beginner hour and you would think selling for so long that I would just delegate that off. Or I would be like watching paint dry, but what’s happened is it has really allowed me to be, I don’t know, you’ve been selling for a while. Like when’s the last time that you looked at an, a new Amazon seller account that just opened the dashboard, doesn’t even look the same. Like there are steps there that didn’t exist when I opened my account.
So I get asked questions in the beginner hour and or somebody will tell me, Hey, I’m doing this. I’m like, you can’t do that. That’s not how that works. And they’re like, yeah, that’s what I did. And they show me and I’m like, that’s freaking genius. Like, you know what I mean? Like, why did you, why were you even thinking that way? You know what I mean? It’s, it’s insane. So ton of growth opportunity from that, obviously anybody, any of your listeners that are in South Florida, that’s easiest way to connect with us. And I guess be part of the community is that we have a, we have a chat group, a telegram chat group, which is a hundred percent free as well called Amazon group chat.com and just jump in there. And we’re constantly like posting the events. Our first live event of the year is this Saturday. So I’m stoked. Nice.
That’s awesome. Yeah. And before we started recording, we were talking a little bit about the group meetings that you do and how important that is as an e-commerce seller, because you know, it can get rather lonely, just staring at your computer all day. So connecting with other people is super important. How did you grow that group? Cause I’m actually looking at doing a meetup here in Utah. There’s, there’s a dead Amazon meetup that no longer does anything. So I’m looking at starting my own if people want to connect with other sellers in their area how do you recommend going about that?
Easiest way meetup.com. I mean go to meetup.com and then just search for things like FBA e-commerce Amazon seller. I would even search eBay if you’re not interested in eBay. Cause some of these groups that may have been around a long time, the title of their group was eBay, something. And then they amended it later on to say other stuff, but in search it says eBay, but search that in meetup.com and put like a five, 10 mile radius around you or whatever, you’re willing to go drive to a meetup event and put that a mile radius. And look, if one does not exist, just create one. I think I pay a hundred bucks a year, a year for me to be able to have that group on meetup.com. So that would be the easiest way to find out if one exists in your area.
If it doesn’t exist, I would get extra excited. I would also say that I tried a while back and I still have it. So I mean, if you are interested or anybody listening to this is interested, I wanted to start a meetup group. I wanted to create a WhatsApp chat group of nothing but Amazon meetup organizers. And it wasn’t to sell anything. It was more for like support amongst all of us because it is a bunch of work doing that. So to answer your question though, I started the group, I used to meet weekly, biweekly with a group of friends and we started selling around the same time and it grew, we grew as, as sellers and we benefited a lot from that, but it really got, they really got a little stale. Like we’re telling that you’ll fish stories that your fish was this big.
And then ours was twice mine’s was twice. And this one is three times. So we wanted to get some fresh blood in there. And I’ve used meetup.com as a, as a little bit something to like launch actually as part of my launch plans for private label products for that, the respective niches and I was familiar with it. So I’m like, okay, I’ll start a meetup group. And I started it and I started picked a coffee. I think a Starbucks close to my house. That way if no one showed up, I would not, you know, do a long walk of shame back. Right. But I’ve had four people show up on the first one. And then within the top 10 meetups, first 10 meetups, I think I had like five or six where no one showed or one showed and I just stuck with it and I would do little tricks.
Like I would always post the next event so I could reference it in the follow-up email. There was some times where, I mean, if anyone’s watching this, this is a video, it can be a video of this too coming up. Yeah. So I’m here doing a selfie for anyone that’s sitting to audio. So I’ll turn around and I’ll do like a selfie and the people kind of behind me at the Starbucks, you can’t tell that they’re really not with me. Kind of looks like maybe they’re a part of the meetup group and they’re at table. And then I would share these pictures and post them in the meetup groups. So people can look at this and say, yeah, and you know why there was only three RSVPs and maybe nobody showed while it looks like everybody did, like this is happening. I would do, I would do stuff like that.
And I just stayed consistent. I stayed very calm, very consistent way that I thought about. What’s a good time for this to happen for most people, whereas a good location for this to happen that everyone feels comfortable with. And then I was really clear on my why, like my initial, why was I wanted to write a book about Amazon, which I still haven’t done. And I was like, I want to write a book and yes, I’m giving you guys all this free content when I’m, when this book comes out the whole, I, I see you have a Gary V book behind you, but I’m referencing now like jab jab, right hook. So it’s like, look, my jabs, this is the free content. I’m going to give you every day. Like, I’m going to give you everything. Like whether you’re a paid consulting client of mine or you’re here for free as a newbie, it’s going to be the same advice, everything I got.
But when I put out this $10 book, I need you to buy it. Like no discounts. I want you to buy my book. That’s how I want you to support me here. That’s going to be my right hook. So I wanted someone to do that. And then I wanted to, I’ve always wanted to get into events. So I wanted to create like an annual e-commerce event like a massive something on the scale of like traffic and conversions or social media marketing world. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I did start an annual event called online seller cruise, which our cruise this January 31st is canceled, but annually, we go out as a bunch of sellers on a cruise ship and we have a lot of events. So that was my why. And that’s kind of like how I did it and why I did it.
All right. Very good. So pretty much just keep going and go on. And that snowball just eventually started growing by word of mouth more than anything.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I guess it does have to do with your area too. Like if you’re, if you’re living, there’s an area called Caravel in Florida where I think it’s like population 500, like your area does matter. I’m in Miami, Florida,
But some of the
Best, like we have a, we have 140 plus people attend our events, like, and not all of them, but a good bit of them. Some of the best events I’ve had though, where it was a lot of great takeaways. It was like six to 10 people. Like that’s, that’s an amazing event.
Yep. So, and as you’re growing or as you’ve grown, you said you’ve been flying people in and things like that. Where’s the funding for that coming from?
Well initially when I was thinking of recordings and you know, people can get a recording for some high quality content which needs post-production and there’s costs with virtual assistants and team members. But I looked at it and was like, wait a minute. Like we have 500 people paying 20 bucks a month for this, right? Yes. Post-production and a lot of other stuff, but I could quadruple that if I increased the quality even. So we sat down with him, I say, we sat down like, it’s this massive team, but it was like my wife and I, and my wife. And I’m like, babe like, look, I want to fly this person in. They want, you know, flights, Airbnb, they’re willing to not charge me, but everything else is going to run me like 600, 700 bucks. And she’s like, well, we can’t just keep doing that.
And it was like, well, I have a hunch that say, if I flow, you flew you in and you are going to teach like a workshop on something that someone could execute on in their wholesale business and be profitable in a month. Now how many more people are going to sign up for what we call it, the video vault like how many more people are going to sign up for our video vault to access that. And how soon does that pay for my flight and Airbnb and all that, that I put up that that’s, that’s how I do that. And it’s worked out great in the beginning. Yes. I put out I wasn’t flying people in every week. I do most of the presentations, but now, now we could, we could fly someone in every week because it could make sense.
And it’s a flywheel. It really just is. It’s like, it just keeps and I don’t know everything. Right. my wife thinks I do, but like, I don’t know everything. So, you know, there’s some speakers that it’s really cool to hear them on a podcast and see them on a Facebook live or watch their YouTube video. But it’s totally different to say, Hey, look, I want you to come in here and teach a workshop to my meet up group. And I’m not talking about a regurgitated webinar or something. You’ve done nine times on a podcast. Like, I want you to come in here and like, this is the structure I’m looking for. I get to learn too. So it’s it’s a, win-win win. Excellent.
Now do you think it’s important to stay in a particular niche, like an Amazon sellers group, or would it be better to be more general? Like an e-commerce?
I did not want to do an Amazon seller meetup group because I find why Amazon is amazing. I find it too limiting. I I’m coming across something like this on, I actually, I’ve never mentioned this out loud, but I have the wizards of Amazon podcasts. And so far I’ve heard nothing but praise about it. I love it. So anyone who listens to it, you know, definitely listen to it. I give it my all. But I’m considering a rebrand I’m considering wizards of e-com because I have a location that I opened called wizards of e-com because it would allow me to be broader, but I could still, if I wanted every episode I could be about Amazon. So the reason I wound up making the meetup, Amazon specific is that my concern, if you get 10 people to show up for an Amazon event, and then next week you say, you’re talking about Shopify, and these are people that you just gave advice to on starting arbitrage.
How relevant is Shopify to them at that point? And then are you providing the best value to your group? So I needed a, there needed to be a focal point. So for it’s not that I don’t think multi-channel and I’m being broad on e-commerce is a, is a bad thing. I don’t think it’s bad. I think it’s great. But for your group, you need to focus. So me four and a half years later, we’re still Amazon focused and we’ll have a, every six weeks, a multichannel themed meetup event. So everyone knows ahead of time coming into here. Like, Hey, look, this is where we go. This is where we get a little weird where this is, where we’re going to go into the weeds. But I would definitely pick a specific topic.
Okay. Very good. Well, now we you mentioned the Amazongroupchat.com. Give that a little bit more exactly what that is.
Yeah. shockingly, a lot of people don’t like Facebook, like we have a Facebook group wizards of Amazon, but the more people I meet in the meetup group, they would say something like how do we stay in touch? And like join the wizards of Amazon Facebook group. It’s amazing. And they would say either like, I’m in too many groups or, Oh, you don’t have Instagram. And I was like, really? Who does Instagram? Right. So then I wound up creating this Instagram, but I’m not an Instagrammer. So like I have resources going into it to build it, but it’s not like my natural thing. So Instagram also doesn’t do a good job of letting you create like a community to chat in real time. So I was like, okay, a good third of my group doesn’t want to communicate frequently on Facebook. They’re right. That a lot of the posts get throttled and they don’t even see them just based on Facebook’s algorithm.
So what can we do that everyone, if they wanted to, could be in a group and get real time notifications. So we used WhatsApp problem is WhatsApp is also owned by Facebook and could throttle, but it caps the amount of members in a group to like 300. The other one is if you share the link out, at least once a week, somebody is going to get a hold of it that just wants to post porn inside of your WhatsApp group. And you can’t get rid of them because the links out and that’s the link to the group. It’s like permanent. So we spent a lot of time figuring out, you know, what is another place to do this? And that checks all the boxes of what’s app and social. And we were between telegram and discord. Discord really brings out like there’s some, there’s some shady stuff on discord.
Plus it didn’t seem very user-friendly to most people when did a poll on pick Fu actually. And then we wound up going with telegram and tell her I was a hundred percent free, I think 200,000 people per group. And if we break that number, that’s just a good person to have. It’s a good problem to have, but 200,000, it has all the features of WhatsApp and there’s audio, there’s audio rooms, just like clubhouse. There’s video, there’s files, there’s everything you’d want in the Facebook group. So it’s also 100% owned by you in the privacy. Like they pride themselves on privacy. Like certain countries don’t allow them because their privacy is like, no, we’re not turning over records to you. It’s worked out great. Everyone’s loved it, loved it, loved it. But it’s what happens is when someone goes to Amazongroupchat.com, they join there’s two steps.
One of them shows you how to download the app telegram app, which is on mobile and desktop. And then once you’ve done that, you go to step two and step two will then take you toward, now that you have the telegram app, it’s going to open up with the link to the group, and it’s going to take you to a group called wizards of e-com. And that’s kind of like the hallway, because what was happening is if it sends you straight to wizards of Amazon chat group, people were going in there whose names, or like T-Rex bunny with no profile picture. And we’re like, nah, dude, if you want to be a lurker, go to Facebook. So what we do is in wizards of e-com you get there, you get an immediate announcement when you jump in. And it lets you know, all of the current groups that we are allowing people to join, which is like our, our used book club, group chat group the China trip our wholesale chat group just like all these different groups. And then you need to read the rules, which is update your profile picture and do a brief intro. And when you do let us know what group you want to be into, and then an admin adds you to that chat. I will warn you, anyone that joins you need to turn the notifications off because it is an extremely active group. And if you don’t turn the notifications off, you’re going to be like no way these guys suck. Like this is killing me.
Very nice. That’s awesome that you’ve built that up outside of Facebook. Cause I’ve, I’ve heard that same thing. So many people don’t want to use Facebook. It definitely is not the best platform for communication anymore. You don’t see a lot of things. So Amazon group chat.com, I will definitely have to join that. And then for the Amazon video vault you mentioned that you’d give our listeners one free month of that.
Absolutely. Yeah. I can give you about getting that. I can give you the, let me think of the easiest way to do this. So I want to tell you a code right here. And then my team member, who does the code tells me, Oh no, it’s four letters, not seven. And then that doesn’t even valid. So
That’s fine. We can throw it in the show notes and people can grab it there. What’s the website for that again?
Its meetupeventrecordings.com like that’s the memorable one. And then it’s going to forward you to wizards of amazon.my kajabi.com blank. So meetupeventrecordings.com is the friendly URL. And then it just takes you to the, you know, a video of me talking about what’s in it. You can check out what is it? Yeah. It’s $30 a month, but I’ll give them, yeah, I’ll give you a code by midday tomorrow. Does that work?
Yeah, that’ll be perfect. We’ll throw it in the show notes and we can put it on the screen or right up here as well. So people can use that to get a free month and they can binge on some Amazon training videos if they like.
Yeah, definitely. And we got a lot of other stuff coming out. Like we have some courses coming out that will be included at no additional charge in this video vault membership. So love it.
Awesome. Well, Carlos, I really appreciate it. We’re coming up on an hour here and I think this has been a fantastic episode. Any last things that you want to say before we wrap up?
I mean, I just, I can’t, I can’t tell you, I’m beyond grateful to be on your show. I hope we can collaborate on some cool stuff and in 2021 and anybody I’m an open book, anybody that wants to reach out and has questions or anything like that I’m pretty accessible. So anywhere on, on, on social media, wizards of Amazon yeah, that’s it just thank you so much for allowing me on your show.
All right. Awesome. Yeah. And I would love to, to work together on whatever we come up with. So I look forward to that. But again, appreciate you coming on the show and until next time have an awesome day.
Yep. You too, man. Everybody bye-bye
All right. So there you go. A really good episode with Carlos. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did that guy is an extremely hard worker. It seems like he’s got tons of things going on and being very successful at them. And I think it’s really cool that he was a high school dropout and a lot of people would let that hold them back. And instead he pushed forward, turned himself into a success and just showed a pathway that even if you were not successful in school, you can be successful in e-commerce and in business in general. I think that’s a really important point to take from this episode, along with everything else that we talked about. So make sure you head on over to amazonseller.school/57 for the show notes and all the links, as well as that discount to the video vault that we talked. So with that, this is Todd Welch with the Amazon Seller School signing off happy selling everybody.
This has been another episode of the Amazon Seller School podcast. Thanks for listening fellow entrepreneur and always remember success is yours. If you take it.