HOOK, LINE AND SINKER
Owen McGarvey, Managing Director of VisionOneGPS talks about how he was inspired by a quote from an importer from Sydney to start up his own business selling GPS Trackers on Amazon, and the lessons he has learned along the way.
Inspired by a simple quote from Sydney importer who made his millions back in the 90's, my entrepreneurial curiosity was brought to life with a few simple words. When asked why after 20 years of importing, why he continued to do it, I didn’t expect that his answer would release a desire in me that couldn’t be put away again. He said “I’ve learned so much in 20 years. Unlike years ago where I handled all the products, now I don’t see the product, I don’t see my customers, money just shows-up in my bank account”.
While the comment was a bit crass and made light of his ability to make money with little to no effort, he was intentionally referring to the growing trend of drop-shipping and international product fulfilment channels like Amazon.
The Amazon Factor
Within a fortnight, it felt like I had read everything there was to read on the internet on how to start an instant, profitable Amazon business without the need to touch any products. Could it be so simple? Just order some samples through Alibaba, place an order and ship it to Amazon in the USA, and for a few dollars of your sale price, Amazon will label, store, sell and do all of the postage and handling for you. In return, your products get an international buying audience of 250-300 million people in the US alone. Just getting a fraction of a per cent of these purchases was an amazing prospect.
As it turns out, it can be this easy….so long as you do your research, follow the ‘recipe’ for selling on Amazon, and don’t lose momentum.
Research, Research, Research
There are dozens of people out there who will sell you on the ‘real’ way to make money through selling on Amazon, but to be honest, it takes a bit of patience and confidence to get things working for you. Once you get going, everything seems to get easier, but you need to be well-informed from the outset. My advice would be to start with one product that you can relate to, or that have an interest in. Research everything about it. Google competitors, similar products, retail pricing and look at new products to see if your product will stand the test of time.
The Golden Goose
It took me a week to convince myself I had found a good product. It was a cellular personal GPS tracking device that was designed with children and seniors in mind. There were hundreds of different types to choose from, but only one that came with a separate recharging docking station, which gave me a unique selling point. It came in four colours and the price-point gave me a 100%+ margin. Nobody seemed to be selling it on Amazon, so I decided to buy thirty-five as a modest investment to sell over the 2015 Christmas period.
The Chinese manufacturers were good to deal with, and that was also a consideration in my selection process. They shipped my products on-time and they got to the Amazon US Fulfilment Centre within a week. I followed the instructions set-out by Amazon, created a product listing and waited. Three weeks passed and I had sold only two units. The fortnight before Christmas seen another five purchased, but my confidence began to waver. Naively, I had thought it was going to be an instant winner. January hit and saw sales and page-views die completely. February produced another few sales, but I had enough of seeing sales trickle-through at a snails pace, so I started reading more about Amazon Paid Advertising…..and that’s when the game changed!!!
Emulate The Success of Others
Even though I considered myself to be well-informed, there was always something new to learn. Look for blogs about success stories and see if anything stands out. When I did this, the apparent success of Amazon Paid Advertising seemed to be key to increased sales. I also designed new product images and learned to build better keywords into my product listing. In March 2016, I launched my paid ads and sold my remaining stock in a matter of days. Excited, I quickly ordered another one hundred units, and within a fortnight, was back selling again. Because of the time difference between Australia and the USA, I would awaken each morning to an account balance that defied belief. It was exhilarating and empowering. In the months that followed, hundreds of units had been sold and my brand (VisionOneGPS) was featured in international product reviews for the Top 5 GPS Trackers on the market.
Stay the Course
Two years on, looking back, it wasn’t always easy and insanely profitable. You need to expect and prepare for the bumps in the road. There will be quiet periods, competitors that edge-in on your market and drive the price down, reviews that come from jealous sellers or irrational customers that will ‘taint’ your product and experience, and in turn, this will affect your product sales. Focus on the big picture, focus on a year of sales, not month-to-month. Let your brand build and mature. Diversify your product if you can. Mix it up a little…..but stay the course and believe in your product.
Today, as I write this blog article, I am transforming my VisionOneGPS business from an international retail model to a wholesale model. I have thousands of customers spread across 56 countries, and several commercial clients that purchase from me regularly. I have purchased my own tracking platform and can now offer white label tracking solutions to anyone looking to start their own tracking business, and I am moving into a fee-for-service offering where I also supply the SIM cards and tracking access to all customers for a monthly fee. It has taken me over three years to get here, and I still have challenges. I still have cash-flow issues, dead-periods that make me consider packing it all in, but I know starting this type of business is a process, and that I need to believe in my products and in myself.
In 2015, I let my curiosity take me on a journey. I took calculated and well-informed risks, I did my research, and I wasn’t afraid to fail. I am still learning. Each day brings a set of new challenges for me to overcome, but I continue to learn, so I can stay ahead of my competitors.
I do all this in my spare time, in the evenings and weekends.
I still have a typical 9-5 job that has nothing to do with my GPS business, but hopefully one day I won’t need to rely on this. It really truly is a passive income, well, semi-passive at least. It takes dedication and commitment, but the reward can be amazing.
Let your curiosity roam free and see what’s possible. Be bold with your ideas. Take chances. Be a leader and show yourself what’s possible if you apply yourself.
Managing Director - VisionOneGPS