Ep. #782 - Expanding Your eCommerce Business
Covered In This Episode
How can you expand your eCommerce business? What steps should you take?
Andrew Morgans and Andy Hooper, both Amazon eCommerce experts, talk about growing an eCommerce business. They also discuss the hurdles you’ll no doubt face along the way, along with steps to take to help your eCommerce business grow.
Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode now!
- Andy Hooper’s background (3:38)
- From selling on Amazon to 3D printing to eCommerce (9:15)
- Problem-solving and work ethic (17:06)
- Learning to delegate (19:37)
- VAT (26:24)
- Having passion (31:03)
- 1st step: Market Research (33:29)
- 2nd step: Product Sourcing (36:52)
- 3rd step: Compliance (40: 17)
- 4th step: Marketplace Launch(44:42)
- 5th and 6th steps: Third-party logistics, Warehousing, Promotions (45:49)
- 7th step: Growth Phase(49:07)Wrapping up (52:10)
- Wrapping up (52:10)
What is interesting is people will follow when they’re inspired. There’s a real difference. And it doesn’t matter where you are in your journey. You know, whether you’re still at school listening to this, right, you’ll, you’ll be inspired and follow the teachers, they’re engaging to inspire you.Andy Hooper
I guess I’m saying this to encourage anyone that’s out there, that’s trailblazing, that’s trying a new thing that hasn’t been done. The real skill here is problem-solving and work ethic. Really, you know, you come into a problem, you know, if you can repurpose the skills you learned before even better.Andrew Morgan
The markets are changing all the time, you know, the attitudes are changing, the perceptions are changing, the regulations are changing, and what works one day might not work the next day, and vice versa, be adaptable.Andy Hooper
Plus, take a look at all of our Startup Hustle podcast partners. They offer services that your business may need to capitalize on.
Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 0:01
What’s up, Hustlers! Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology. Here today as your host for Startup Hustle, covering all things eCommerce and Amazon entrepreneurship. Today, we’re specifically talking about expanding your eCommerce business. It’s going to be a great episode. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is supported by Compiler, an original podcast from Red Hat discussing tech topics big, small, and strange. Compiler unravels industry topics, trends, and the things you’ve always wanted to know about tech. Through interviews with the people who know it best, learn more about Compiler at RedHat.com or by clicking the link in our show notes. I honestly, I don’t always get a chance to check out everything, including our sponsors, but I have actually listened to every episode of the Compiler podcast that they’ve released so far. It’s cool. It’s a cool format. It’s full of great information. There are absolute experts on the call. Honestly, I’m like, how do they not let these people talk the entire time? That’s how great some of, you know, the content is on the podcast. I encourage you to check out Compiler by Red Hat. Thanks again to them for putting on our episode and getting more eyeballs and ears listening. I think it’s going to be an awesome episode. Without further ado, this is a new friend of mine, a colleague. We don’t consider each other competitors. But we’re in the same game with the same passions. And I’m excited to bring him to the table. So from Global E-Commerce Experts Andy Hooper, welcome to the show.
Andy Hooper 1:27
Hey, Andrew, thank you very much for having me on. I’m excited to be on. So thanks for having us.
Andrew Morgans 1:31
Yeah, I’m glad you’re here. I know you. You left the house and come back to the office to make sure we could get quiet for this podcast. You’re across the pond, so to speak. And in Europe, so few hours ahead of us, I really appreciate you taking the time to, you know, share some value with any of our listeners today.
Andy Hooper 1:49
No problem. No, I’m excited to do that. It’s one of those sorts of things that you people often ask about. And then they sort of start talking about it. And the more you ask questions about what we do, sort of the deeper the knowledge gets, and people start going, wow, there’s a lot of information there. So it’s great to get on this sort of thing to sort of really dispel some of the myths and talk to legends like yourself about, you know, your experiences as well because that’s hugely valuable for everyone listening.
Andrew Morgans 2:16
Yeah, we’re gonna have some fun today because one, we’re both named Andrew. I used to go by Andy when I was younger, I’m Drew now. Just kind of like reinvented myself in my 20s. But, you know, we’re both Andy’s. We both love eCommerce, and we both love Amazon. You know, we’re both in this game. I think that’s fun. And something new for me, maybe the podcast has brought some of it, but also just, you know, the growth, whether it’s internationally or just the growth around eCommerce and Amazon has really created more networking events, the last year, so just meeting other colleagues, other agency owners have been super enlightening for me, not because of competition, because there are so many brands that need what we do and so many places to go with it. But more so, just what are the other experts doing? You know, what are some people doing that, I don’t know about you, don’t know what you don’t know. And you know, kind of that thought process of iron sharpens iron. So I’m excited to get into it. Um, I love starting the beginning of the show, getting to know a little bit about you, instead of just getting into the title and, you know, everything that our businesses do, but for our listeners, you know, this is a podcast by founders for founders. Okay. So that’s the kind of context that we tried to approach the show. Let’s talk a little bit about Andy, like, how did you get your start? Were you always an entrepreneur like from a child? Or is it something you kind of like, came across that accident? And you know, how’d you get involved?
Andy Hooper 3:38
It’s an interesting one. I think when I was when I was a nipper a kid, I definitely had that ability to be able to think, oh, yeah, I remember being at school. And, you know, my mom would go to the local cache and carry and buy loads of you bits, and then I’ll take them to school and sell them. And I would sort of flip stuff. I’d do garage sales, or, you know, car boot sales, or whatever it happens to be, I was always sort of trying to make cash, you’ll get a noose around the second news, newspaper, and within a second newspaper around, I was always looking at ways to bring in extra cash. And from you from probably about 10 or 11. I was finding ways of earning snippets here and there, so I guess I’ve always had that in me. If you’re like, then you know who in the UK, it’s, go get a nine to five, go get a job. You’re not successful unless you’ve got a job. And, you know, like most entrepreneurs, or business owners, I was told, you’ll never get anywhere. I was sort of the Joker in class. I did okay at school. I you know, I didn’t really excel. I liked working. I didn’t really like education. And when I left school, I went and did various bits and bobs. I worked in retail. I worked in our warehouse in the retail world in a large department store here got into sales then I follow my passion, and everyone should follow their passion. So that point, I then went into sailing around the world. So I, I’m a sailor, I’ve been a sailor all my life, and I went into sailing and windsurfing in most parts of the world.
Andrew Morgans 5:20
Like, like, like you are the skipper of a yacht or like helped me understand sailing.
Andy Hooper 5:25
A little bit smaller than that. So little dinghies, small dinghies, and wind surfboards. My job was to bring people on holiday, teach them to sell, teach them to win surf, and get them learning how to do it and then to an advanced level to Barry,
Andrew Morgans 5:39
Are you in the UK at this time?
Andy Hooper 5:41
Well, most of it wasn’t in the UK, a lot in Europe, bit in the Middle East. But in India, sort of all the way around the world, Egypt, been in Africa. I knew it. Do you know what it gave me some really amazing coaching skills, the ability to coach people and develop
Andrew Morgans 5:58
all different types of people.
Andy Hooper 6:00
Exactly that. Then I thought, well, I better come back and get a job. And I bet a year I can’t really do season after season after season. And in fact, in my last season, I was running a windsurf and kitesurf school in Egypt. And we had a target to sell additional things. And I went and got both shots made, there was a local person coming back to that, you know, like the centers, but I went to all these boardshorts designed, and we sold them to the to the punters, it was amazing. So that was great. I think I still had that there. And then I got back, I got a job. And basically, my job was to get more people into sailing, I was working for the governing body of sailing here in the UK, British sailing is is renowned for being the best sailing nation in the world just like to get in there. But on top of that, the job was about getting more people into the sport. And over that period, I did that role for nine years. But over that period, that’s when that fire started to come back.
Andrew Morgans 7:03
If you can convince people to get into sailing, you can maybe convince them to get into anything, or at least like you’re like, that’s what I actually like. I like sailing, but I also just like what I learned while I was convincing people to like sailing.
Andy Hooper 7:16
Yeah, it was well, you know, I absolutely 100% loved my job. Like if it was just about the job I would never have left. But you know, I got married, I got kids, I needed some extra cash. I’m like, How do I make extra cash? And paying for my house. I need to start developing this a bit further. So what do I need to do? Excuse me.
Andrew Morgans 7:40
I want to say I want to pause right there. I’m gonna let you catch your breath. Yeah, there’s something you said like kind of in your storyline. And I like to point out the similarities between founders and entrepreneurs. Like, you know, we have different paths, and you feel so alone as a kid, I think against society or whatever. But honestly, a lot of entrepreneurs and founders have the same exact story in line. You know, for me sailing was being in a band and touring and playing music, writing my own music, playing cover shows for four hours at a bar of my favorite 90s to make money, you know, to pay for my tour and things like that. And I was I loved what I did, I met a girl and wanted to be able to take care of them. And financially being in a band was fine for me, but it wasn’t fine for anything more. Right. And so, you know, you can see the similarities between them. And one other thing I would say for anyone like, you know, a younger person may be tuning into the show. I lived in Africa, grew up in Africa, moved to the US at 16. I didn’t do well in the school system for a number of reasons. Because I like to work. And because studying didn’t make sense to me if they’re just going to teach me out of a textbook. Like if the teacher actually had experience, I feel like I paid attention, and I could listen to stories, but I’m a hands on learner. And so, you know, I always thought I was a bad student until I started studying what I actually was passionate about, you know, and that’s when I found eCommerce and went all in because I was like, actually, I’m an amazing student, if I’m inspired by what I’m studying. So it’s just, it’s just finding the right thing. Okay, so catch your breath. Yeah. So back to it.
Andy Hooper 9:15
Yeah. So, at that point, I started thinking about what can I do to earn extra money, so I started flipping stuff on eBay. We were doing car boot sales. It’s been like a garage sale. You know, I started selling stuff on Amazon. I started looking at
Andrew Morgans 9:29
so arbitrage buying from garage sales and selling it on Amazon or where were you sourcing?
Andy Hooper 9:33
No, I was sourcing. I started with silicone watches. You could buy there was this big fad, I don’t know 12, 13 years ago, silicone watches you could buy them from China very, very cheap. They come over and they’re released. You just don’t need they literally just fit a feed on your on your arm. So start doing that. We did. We looked after people’s dogs when they went on holiday and earn cash that way. Basically, anything I could do to earn some cash, you know, some additional cash. Then I was my cousin’s wedding and my dad, my dad was photographing my cousin’s wedding. And I was like, I like taking photos. I’ll help you. So that I then, then I took some nice photos, a friend said, I, I saw those, because you photographed my wedding as they are, yeah, sure. I was like. I can make some extra cash from this too. So then did wedding photography, the wedding photography then gave me an excellent income. And I built that up as my second income, that gave me enough money for a deposit on a house. And it also after that, then gave me enough money saved up to be able to set up to leave work and set up a business. And I then set up a 3D printing scanning business. So I love a 3D scan you. And on that 3D scan, I would then print you. So when you get married, imagine getting married, you have your photos, and then you get an ornament of you on your wedding day as well. I mean
Andrew Morgans 10:59
I’m picturing like a cake topper, but maybe not.
Andy Hooper 11:02
And we did hundreds of cake toppers. And off the back of that also set up a sports consultancy where we support and help people coming back to my sports roots. But the reality of all of those was, is they weren’t scalable. And, you know, the market, although was great, wasn’t really where I had visions, you know, yes, I could earn really good money on my own. But it wasn’t something necessarily I was going to be able to bring mass people in. It wasn’t something that was going to be able to, perhaps give me a good exit at some point. So I was looking for something that I could scale and grow. And that’s when I started. 3D printing is a massive market. Now, you know, there’s lots going on in that 3D printing, but it’s not mass market. It’s still very, very niche. I’m like, well, that’s great, but it’s not there. It’s not going to be there for another 10 years. So whilst on it, then I was like, Well, hold on. I was flipping stuff on eBay and Amazon and I was doing that. Let’s start doing a bit of that again. So I started doing that. And then I started working with somebody else and doing some consultancy for them. And they sort of idea came that well, actually this eCommerce thing, how can we expand sellers from the States, typically, to Europe, they were an accountant. I had this idea. We started moving these ideas around. And before you know it, this global eCommerce expert’s idea sort of came out of the ground.
Andrew Morgans 12:30
What year was this? What year was this?
Andy Hooper 12:32
So this was 2016.
Andrew Morgans 12:34
Okay, I love it. I just like a little bit of timeline as someone who has been in space a long time. I’m like, Okay, what was happening at that time? You know, like, what was the craze? What was the boom? What were the features available? I got involved in eCommerce in 2012. Okay, so a start up like car parts online eBay like yeah, you know, it’s not kind of the same time it was really like 2015 I feel like which is was like the glory years of Amazon when they released advertising. And it was, you know, so cheap. And can remember, even at that time, like expanding a brand to Europe, it was like the global EU at the time, like, which in my mind was crazy. Like I’m taking a brand International, what do I even know what I’m doing? It’s something that comes to mind. And I can’t help but point out here I just like pointing these things out is like, you know, when I was in a band for four and a half years touring, I was creating, album covers, writing, music, booking shows, booking tours, coordinating with other bands, communicating at the show, I’m selling, you know, I’m selling we have to perform in order to be able to come back. There are so many aspects, you know, then I’m a bartender, that I’m a security guard. And I’m a landscaper, that I’m a warehouse worker, I’m a worker like I’ve always said, I’m a blue-collar guy in a white-collar world.
Andy Hooper 13:48
And all of those things, those skills you learn whether it be you know, want to learn, you’ve probably learned Photoshop, website design, you know, video skills, audios, like everything, you’ve gone How do I do that? I can’t afford to do that. Hold on a second. Let’s go to YouTube, right? Everything is on YouTube. Everything you need to learn is there. You see, you start, as you say, earlier, you start educating yourself. And that’s when you fall back in love with. Ah, like the photography thing for me was the bit where I was like, Well, I want to be a wedding photographer. Okay, how do I do that? What do I need to learn right camera? That’s easy. I go and take hundreds of photos, learn was rubbish, start you and tweak them and tweak them, tweak them. Go back to YouTube. Oh, how’d you do this is all there and all of a sudden you start educating yourself and you realize that that education piece isn’t about Maths, English and Science and History and Geography. All the stuff that you unless you’re into it is pretty dull. Like to me history. I don’t about if many food here at you, entrepreneurs, founders, business owners. What’s happened in the past is in the past is no relevance whatsoever. Other than history does repeat itself. But like, that’s all you need to know, the history app is gone. What do I need to know? I’m too busy, busy going, what’s going on over there? Let’s go. And I think a lot of people feel a school or that and they don’t fall into the new teachers that are then like, we all make nothing of yourself, because you can’t educate yourself and you can’t vote
Andrew Morgans 15:24
You can’t follow. You know, sadly, not all of us are followers know, right? I can follow in certain aspects. But in others, I need to lead like, you know, it just depends like, for me, I was working under leaders that didn’t have my vision, like I was passionate about eCommerce, they needed to go to a conference that didn’t exist yet, in order to be told that eCommerce was the thing or Amazon was the thing, then they come back from the conference and be like, Oh, well, I’m like, I know, I’ve been passionate about this for three years. Now. I’m behind the curve. I’m trying to be the best in space, bus, and industry. And I can’t even get, you know, my boss’s to pay attention to what I’m trying to say. Because I had no, I had no platform to speak from, right? It was just a passion. And it was just like, I know that this is a big deal. And I had to just go like, it wasn’t like, oh, well, this is how we’ve done business in the past. Right. So like I you know, I don’t know about you, but the brands and manufacturers, we thought, well, this is what we’ve always done. This is, you know, this is the way that we do wholesale. Well, what about Sally and accounting? And what about, you know, Bill in sales, he’s going to be upset if we start selling on Amazon, because he’s selling to 10 resellers that are all selling on Amazon, you know, the conversation goes, well, maybe there’s a new way of doing it. You know, and let me let me talk about a new way of doing it.
Andy Hooper 16:36
What is interesting is people will follow when they’re inspired. There’s a real difference. And it doesn’t matter where you are in your journey. You know, whether you’re still at school listening to this, right, you’ll, you’ll be inspired and follow the teachers, they’re engaging to inspire you. You’re you know, I can remember my physics teacher, he inspired me not because I liked physics, because he took us on trips that took us walking up mountains. Like that was inspiring, not
Andrew Morgans 17:06
Because you’re a doer, you’re a hands-on worker right? There, we’re not all the same students, right? So some of us are doers. So for me, I had a history teacher that actually went to Egypt, that like went to these places had pictures in the lessons of him, like in these places, and so he’s talking to me about them, you storytelling, um, captivated, I could have repeated everything he said in class. The next class is math, reading out of a textbook, you know, like, it’s not practical applications, anything, and I’m just, I’m the worst student ever, you know, is literally the difference in style. But I had this teacher saying the same thing. You know, like, I didn’t test out that smart. yet. I’m leading an AI self-proclaimed this, but like leading industry in eCommerce and Amazon in regards to my team and what we’re doing, there’s not a lot, there’s maybe 200 of us, Andy, as far as, like, Amazon eCommerce agencies in the world, maybe 200. and way less of those that are actually efficient, and, you know, good. You know, and so it’s like, to me, just a big mindset thing. I guess I’m saying this to encourage anyone that’s out there, that’s trailblazing, that’s trying a new thing that hasn’t been done. The real skill here is problem-solving and work ethic. Really, you know, you come into a problem, you know, if you can repurpose the skills you learned before even better, right, which is okay, I learned Photoshop, I learned photography, okay, you know, for me, it was like, fashion. Just like my, I grew up with sisters, I grew up around the world, like, you know, it was a way of what’s the word I’m looking for here, like my brand, you know, this is a way of life, expressing myself. Thank you. So I was looking for as a way of expressing myself, well, if you have good taste in fashion, and understand how colors go together, and things like that, well, it’s not that hard for you to see a, you know, a bad Amazon listing, I’m making a comparison here. These colors don’t go together. And this just doesn’t look feel right. Like there’s something else. You know, we need to make this like, really jive and like, you know, feel like there’s cohesiveness across the brand. And you don’t have to be a genius to do that. Right. And obviously, those skills grow as you get experience under you. But for me, it was some of those talents I had that I thought were just side jobs or hustles, or passions or hobbies, I’ve really turned into any commerce you need a whole lot of skills like, you know, you know, you need logistics, you need math, you need like, you know, the ability to research you need to be able to write well, you need like so either you build a team, you hire an agency like one of ours, or you know, you need to dabble in all those things kind of to be successful. I don’t know. I just get excited about it.
Andy Hooper 19:37
I think that the typical entrepreneur that I certainly come across in the eCommerce world is here; they started on their own, and they’ve developed and built a brand. They’ve done a bit of everything like we’ve just discussed, you know, they’ve done a bit of everything. And actually, they get to a point where they still want to do everything but realize actually, what are these I don’t like, who can I get rid of these to, and how quickly can I get rid of them to other people because you can get to a busy q4, you know, we’ve just come out of q4. And you come out of that, and all of a sudden you realize that was crazy. I’m not doing that again. You know, there’ll be people listening to this, they’re still picking and packing in their garage. Realizing, thinking, I can’t do that ever again, like, I spoke, I spent every waking minute doing that. And then they’re like, Okay, I need a three pill. And then there’ll be other people that are thinking other things, you know, there’ll be like, You, I didn’t quite get my ads drilled, and I need someone to do my ads, or, you know, actually, how do I expand my brand? Now, you know, I’ve had an epic, q4, what I need to do to take it to the next level, what are the products that I need to bring so many different things? But as entrepreneurs, we try and do. We want to learn how to do everything, which is amazing. But at the same time, we’ve got to be able to release some of that and give that to other people. So for people who haven’t got there yet, the reason you haven’t got there is because you haven’t taken action yet. Like yeah,
Andrew Morgans 21:00
or you’re taking too much action yourself and not delegating or not leading or not managing. Yeah, right. That can be the same case. And, you know, it’s something I’ve been focused on, something I knew as I’m still young, okay, but like something I knew, even when I was a little bit younger, was scaling is the number one reason why businesses fail, cashflow and scaling. Yeah. Okay, if those are the issues, those are going to be my primary focus way before I’m trying to scale or have cashflow issues. That has been my focus so that when I get there, I’m not doing what everyone else has an issue with, just because this is my problem right in front of me, doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about scale, I’m not thinking about how do I get myself out of this role? Like for me, okay, a reason for us to partner for example, is like, I hate paperwork in the nuances detailed nuances of like that, and, you know, getting an NRI with Canada to export, you know, export goods and some of that stuff that goes into expanding internationally. And you’re we’re gonna we’re talking about expanding your eCommerce business kind of bringing it back. Yeah, that stuff I hate, right. So I’m just not good at it. Right. So a move for me, even as a company, owning my own agency in my life does the same thing. I might hire an agency that specializes in Amazon, Japan, or Amazon Europe, or, you know, that’s their specialty, they help you walk, walk you through all that process. And, and, you know, get someone to understand the market that’s great at that, that that’s their thing, that’s their jam, and partner with them to get it done. And something about being a good leader is understanding what you’re great at what you’re not. And, you know, plugging those holes and in some ways, I wish like, I wish my team could do this, I don’t have to pay this outsource firm. Well, they can at this point, you know, so you got to do what you got to do. I want to bring this okay, I want to get into the details. I know you have a step a process for, you know, expanding brands, you know, taking them to the next level, I want to get into that step process and make sure we give it enough time. Before we do I want to give one more shout out to today’s sponsor for our episode of Startup Hustle. Today’s episode is supported by Compiler and an original podcast from Red Hat discussing tech topics big small and strange. Like I said, I checked out all of their episodes. One of the last ones was how our tech hubs are changing, you know, today, and they talked everything about from gentrification to, you know, taking cities that aren’t on the map and putting them on the map to bringing in talent to cities that weren’t there before. You can learn more about Compiler at Red hat.com or clicking the link in our show notes. I’ll have a link link to the sponsor as well as to everything end here as we’re wrapping up, okay, so to the next stage of this, because I could just keep talking about mindset in like, you know, how you get good at this, or eCommerce, because it’s something that, you know, when I got started in this space, there wasn’t even YouTube videos. Sure, there was YouTube videos, the look at Photoshop, or some of those things. But there wasn’t YouTube around Amazon, really, it was wholesale, it was arbitrage. It wasn’t things like brand Registry, or map pricing or reseller agreements or international expansion, no one was doing anything like that. So it really was not looking to the past or history to show me what to do here. But really just trying to figure it out myself, you know, and that’s why I think we bring so much value is the ability to do that. Let’s talk about your process. They’re global eCommerce experts. What does that look like to take a brand internationally or to expand like, if a brand comes to you, let’s say they’re already launched in the US, or let’s say, let’s say they’re already launched in the US, or wherever they are in the world. They’re launched there. They’re saying, Andy, we’re doing a decent job here. We don’t know. We don’t know. We’re doing a decent job. We feel like the next opportunity for us, you know, from everything we’re reading whatever is to go to Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia. We don’t know exactly what should be next. What should we expect as a brand or a manager or a seller to need to jump through? What hurdles should we need to jump through what should we prepare for to expand?
Andy Hooper 24:52
Yeah, I think, I mean, we’ve over the years, we’ve expanded 1000s of brands now. So what we’ve looked at is over you. We’ve refined this actually this. This was a six-step process last year. Unfortunately, we’ve made it a seven-step process. But that’s life, isn’t it? You know, a bit we’ve learned over the years, we’ve refined it, because it’s an ever-evolving process. Because what happens is, is regulations change, and you’re the market changes. And we’ve sent about YouTube videos, you know, in the early days, we’re all trailblazing this because this is this is new, you’re we’re learning this, we would go and find finding out all this information, and basically making it because how we started was, you know, we were doing you VAT, and we started with warehousing really helping clients, and people come into saying, We’ve got this problem. Being the entrepreneur I am, I’m like, Well, I think we can solve that for you. Because I know so and so on. And so and so. And before you know it, you’ve done that so much that you’ve identified what those crucial steps are,
Andrew Morgans 25:54
and everyone has to go through
Andy Hooper 25:56
That everyone has to go through. And of course, now what’s happening is people are coming to us and saying, Well, how do I expand and we’re like, Well, here’s the steps, because if you want to successfully expand your brand, you know, there’s a number of different ways you can go and, and this seven-step formula really could be used if you’re going to Europe, to Japan, to Australia to Canada, so what I’m gonna do is give this all seven steps, if you like, now, we really focus in and hone in on Europe at the moment, you know,
Andrew Morgans 26:24
okay, so real quick, just because not all of our listeners are Amazon, you know, focused. Listeners, you know that from all over, you mentioned VAT and warehousing, I’m not sure that our listeners know what that is. So can we just break that down real quick as we can.
Andy Hooper 26:39
So when you are expanding to a new market, there are lots of different things you need to consider, you need to make sure your product is compliant, and your business is compliant. So if you take the business side of things, you know, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got VAT is value added tax sales tax to Nexus think Nexus, if you’re listening from the States, you know, and you know, think Nexus instead of your all the different states, you’ve got, think of VAT and all the different countries there are. Okay, so So it’s exactly the same headache with Nexus as the VAT. It’s just a slightly different way of looking at it. And, you know, the so that’s what VAT is, then you’ve got product compliance. So there’s, there’s a whole host of different things, and in different places, it’s not VAT GST, you know that there’s just slightly different wording, depending on where you are in the world. But the things to focus on is not necessarily those little bits is where you’re going in those in those markets, and then thinking, Okay, I need to get my business compliant, how do I pay my taxes and my dues for the one of a better word. So that’s really what we got to and we looked at this from, you know, what all of these sellers have done. Because, you know, there’s so many hurdles, what we’re really focused on is, you know, what I’m going to give you today, you know, we could, we could sell you everything we’re going to do, but the reality is everything is out there is what we’ve done YouTube videos, we’ve done podcasts, we’ve done webinars, we have literally told everyone how to do this. If you want to do coming back to what we were talking about earlier, there’s different ways of doing things isn’t there? You know, in the early days, you’re learning how to do it, you’re going to a YouTube video, you learn how to do it, and then you’re going to work it out for yourself, because you haven’t got the cash to do it. But you got the time, you go through a whole load of reiterations. And you get to the point where actually I’ve now got the car cash, but I don’t have the time. So dude, you know what you’re doing? Here’s the cash you do for me. And obviously, there’s a myriad of options all the way in there. And that comes completely back to the mindset where, you know, I think 10 years ago, I never would have paid anyone anything because I’d have been like, I can do this myself.
Andrew Morgans 28:59
100% That’s a flaw, right? And so it’s thinking of what got me here is not what I need to get me there. I think of that all the time because I’m a doer, and I love the work. I’ve pulled all-nighters like I’m in year seven, you know, I pulled all-nighters last year, a lot of them maybe a dozen, right when it came down to it, I was in the zone or I had the project had to be done. I still love the work. I work alongside my people because I enjoy it. Like that’s how that’s my leadership style. And what I will also say is like, I’ve paid for coaching, I’ve paid I’m paying consultants now to help me process out my business. You know, I’ve paid speaking coaches, sales, copywriting coaches, I would have never done that. Never if I didn’t believe myself to be an expert in something now I see value in what I do. And I am an expert and I’m worth paying because I’m going to save you a lot of trouble. And now because I can see that in myself. I can see that and others. Does that make sense? Like right yes, like, Okay, this guy could be an expert that can teach me a lot of things and can save me time, and why Why do I think that because I value what I do myself?
Andy Hooper 30:03
Quick question for you 10 years ago, would you have paid someone 1000 pounds to do a course? If you believe that would have got you, as opposed to now?
Andrew Morgans 30:16
No. I wouldn’t have one. I didn’t have the $1,000 Yep. Okay. And something I did one, one option we didn’t mention there was you’re either doing it yourself or you’re paying someone, I was more like a little African in that way. And that I traded. I was always trading I was I was yeah, I’ll do for you do photos for me. Because I need content. I didn’t have a photographer in a house like you do photos or video for me. I’ll give you office space. I’ll let you you know, have the company van. I’ll like you know, you need it for this event or like things like that. Yeah. We took them. I didn’t have the money. Right. So it was just like, What can I do for you, as I’m getting some skills that we can trade and barter. You know, that was a big a big one. A huge one. For me, that got me here as a bootstrapper. I’m a bootstrapper. Yeah, exactly, exactly.
Andy Hooper 31:03
You have that ability to, to build a business with your own cash, with profits from the business, always being profitable, is absolutely critical to the growth and that scaling bit, you’re coming back, we were talking about, you know, the you as you scale and grow, people took back growth pains, right? And you’re like, now, I won’t ever have those now. And you’re like, I know, they’re coming at some point. But when are they coming? And all of a sudden, these all of a sudden, you’re like, pandemic hits? That’s the one you know,
Andrew Morgans 31:38
the pandemic hits, spread, maybe eCommerce, that five years, you know, six years, I think, not that we weren’t growing as we grow, but it sped everything up. Right. Like, you know, think of think of Italian brands, I think of like I work with some Italian brands, I think of them, they were shut down forever. What are they doing with their product, how they keeping people employed, where, you know, cool, they shouldn’t be expanding at that time, they should have been selling to some of the markets that were open, you know, and that was a lifeline. And so more and more and more and more companies coming online because of something that happened worldwide, we’re talking about eCommerce expanding, right, yeah, and expansion. And that’s what I’m talking about worldwide here. I would have never thought I would be in Kansas City, Missouri, in the middle of the US. Okay, for people that haven’t been here, you know, we have a lot of pride here. We’re like Midwestern Silicon Valley. A lot of great people have come out of here. But most people think of it as like a cow town, it was an old cow town, it was famous for, like, you know, moving cattle across the US. And that’s just kind of our reputation. And yet, there’s people on the other side of the world that need what we do so bad that they’re contacting some small startup in Kansas City, Missouri, to help them, you know, expand internationally. And to me, that just gets me off, right. It’s just like, I’m literally getting contacted from, from Europe, I had a call with a guy from Nigeria, this week, that was just like, you know, wow, I’m talking to a guy in Nigeria, right now, that found me, that’s crazy to me, you know, but I don’t want to get derailed because I really want to provide some value, we were talking about the steps, and I took us off a little tangent,
Andy Hooper 33:12
That was my point, probably as well. We’re getting too excited here, aren’t we?
Andrew Morgans 33:15
Well, I’m passionate about it, you know, you can’t build in it, you can’t create an industry or, or lead an industry or trailblaze. Without passion, if you don’t have passion, you’re in the wrong business, you know, so, alright,
Andy Hooper 33:29
so let’s get into this. So, let there’s seven clear steps, seven steps to make your expansion as easy as possible. And well, I’ll go through them step by step, give you a bit of content around them, you know, I could talk about all of them for days. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna go high level, perhaps, if you pick out a few bits, if you’re if I start talking some lingo that people might not know, then pick that picked out for it at me, and then go from there. How’s that sound?
Andrew Morgans 33:57
Sounds perfect. What shoot.
Andy Hooper 33:58
So the first thing is, is market research. I mean, I know this sounds really simple and really easy. But what sells in one country may not sell in another. And you need to look at your when you start looking at Europe specifically. You know, there’s different parts of you, there’s different products to sell. Well, you know, the UK doesn’t have a snow season. There’s not really any snow in the UK. There are a lot of people to go skiing, but selling car tires with your tracks on no more or stuff on them to stop them. They won’t sell in the UK, and I’m using it as an example. Right. You know, but actually, in other parts of Europe, Italy, we were just talking about in the Alps in France, you know, actually, they would sell really, really well. They’re not going to sell in Greece, you know, so there’s different parts of Europe, depending on the product you sell is going to depend on what’s going to work really, really well. So the first thing is to identify if your product is already being sold or something similar. If it’s not being sold. Is there a market for that? product, the reality is, there probably is because I know all the products, I see, I see new products coming through every single day that I’ve never thought of or never seen. And I’m like, that’s gonna be awesome. The downside of my job is that I see new products coming through every day. And I’ve got a house full of Amazon products from our clients that I buy, because I just think they’re awesome. And I say Amazon, it could be Shopify, eBay or anywhere else, you know, it’s just one of those things. So getting understanding the market is really, really important.
Andrew Morgans 35:31
And why no one out there what’s out there? Because I was glad you said that. If there’s not something there or similar, it doesn’t mean it’s a no. Yeah, I personally, as someone who’s been in this a long time, I’ve watched plenty of products even in the US the first marketplace, that there was no one before us. Chicago was the first to sell steaks on dry ice and ship food products way before Whole Foods way before people were selling food on Amazon. Yeah, we figured it out with some handling time. And you know, we got really inventive with that we weren’t using the FBA model. And yet, you know, selling high-end steaks. Another one was men’s formal suspenders, $100 plus a pair. The closest thing was 999 or something like that at the time. Yeah, we’re 10 times that amount can excel I don’t know this take a chance we see a demand for suspenders, you know. So some of these things, like just because the market doesn’t have it. A lot of these emerging marketplaces are brand new. Yeah, that’s more of a risk. And the other thing is like, you know, I’ll so maybe the UK doesn’t really have snow. Australia has been an awesome market for us, because we have flip flop seasons. Yeah. So a lot of my brands that have seasonality issues, maybe not issues, but a seasonality. Yep, type of brand in the US, we take them to Australia, they’re now selling in their slow season in the US, they’re selling butter in Australia, because of the flip flop, and giving them more balanced in their business. So awesome. Okay, I just wanted to add those two notes, because I think that’s huge market research, you know, fantastic.
Andy Hooper 36:52
And then the last part of that market research is product sourcing. Now, I think the key thing, say here is, is you don’t change your sourcing method straightaway. But is there opportunity to source your products somewhere else? And what I mean by that is the cost of a container being 15 to $20,000. At some point, you’re gonna need to consider, is there another option? Can you source those products and be made in Europe? You could they be made in a different part of the world. I mean, I know we’re all talking about this right now. Because it’s a massive piece. So you want to reason we set up a shipping company was to help our clients reduce costs, and we’ll come on to shipping shortly. But you know, the products awesome, you, we took a shipping company on to build out shipping, but now I’m telling people to source their products in Europe, because they didn’t get and when others change, things change. You gotta adapt, and, you know, is there somewhere where, you know, we’ve taken on some clients recently, who didn’t launch until they found somewhere to source and make their products in Europe. And at that point, I was like, this is where we got to start going. So that’s the market research piece. You know, make sure your product can be sold, do some research, make sure you’re gonna make some cash and make see if there’s a sourcing options available to you don’t change initially, and especially at the moment with COVID You know, can you travel, can you not travel, you’re better off sticking with what you know, until you’ve got a real understanding, you know, there’s no point
Andrew Morgans 38:19
maybe having a little bit of less margins or whatever, but having a product with less margins, but having it and having it in stock and being able to sell it and keep your customers is more important than being out of stock for four months because logistically you couldn’t get product you’re at the bottom of the totem pole is a new brand. And you know, push to the bottom of the queue. So so great advice Latin America being one of the big ones we’re talking about for you know, a lot of us sellers like where’s Can we go besides China, Latin America really popping up big right now. Because, you know, obviously we have to ship we don’t have to ship by boat. Now you can be trained up or trucked up. So added costs, but but better than not selling at all. Great stuff.
Andy Hooper 38:56
I’ll tell you that. And I think I think the key thing is before we go too much further is that, you know, the thought of expanding, expanding your business. A lot of people think it’s just too difficult. I’m going to need people for this and people for that, you know, the reality is you don’t need all that and we’ll come on to that at the end. But you know, for people listening thinking I have talked about solid state didn’t work, it did work. I know some people were doing some epic stuff. It seems like a lot of work. You know? Nothing. Nothing that’s good is easy. But it’s about making it as easy as you possibly can for you.
Andrew Morgans 39:31
Being able to pivot, being able to like setting yourself up to be able to pivot thinking long game thinking okay if this doesn’t happen in FBA limits my stock do I have FBM setup? Am I going to be able to you know, source products am I going to be able to continue to ship for customers think about the customer first. It is it is that pivot and having options. You know, a lot of brands like I have a brand right now that Canada is our number one is our best marketplace. We launched in the US Canada’s we have five number one bestsellers. We wouldn’t have known that if we hadn’t expanded that’s what’s really kept our business going in that brand. And we actually went to the UK and pulled out this was like years ago. Yeah. Because the UK went through all these changes you had to be warehousing to sell in the UK now you don’t you can just do FBA all these things change. Canada, one UK failed, you know, how do we see it?
Andy Hooper 40:17
Yeah, it’s exactly that. And, and as you exactly that, as you say, you know, the markets are changing all the time, you know, the attitudes are changing, the perceptions are changing, the regulations are changing, and what works one day might not work the next day, and vice versa, be adaptable. And you’ve got to adapt with it. So okay, so mark, your that first piece. The second piece is compliance, and we touched on it briefly a minute ago, you’re the compliance piece is about getting your business and your product compliant with that region. So in Europe, we talked about VAT got to make sure your business is registered for VAT where you want to sell the product. Broadly, there’s a whole load of if not, if watts, maybes, you know, one-stop shops, a whole load of words that I could confuse everybody with. But the reality is, you need to get your business VAT registered in the countries you’re fulfilling from to start with, okay? And what you need to do is you need to do that in the UK, and in Europe. And our traditional approach right now is you registered in the UK, Netherlands and Germany, they’re the three that you register off in straightaway. And that’s the best options depending on your strategy. And there’s lots of different strategies. So that’s the business compliance side, there’s a couple of our sites that so your product, if you’re selling your product in the US, I can almost guarantee that your product will not your product necessarily, but your label will need to be adapted. Because the regulations here in the UK are different to those in the States, therefore, your product might still be compliant, but the packaging is worded slightly different.
Andrew Morgans 41:59
So you might hear example here for our US customers that like maybe not understand this, you know, us is becoming more and more and more Spanish. Like as a second language, Spanish dominates the US as our second language. And soon, it might be the primary language, honestly, just Latin America, you know, is becoming more and more prominent in Spanish speaking people. But Canada, for example, has a French aspect to it. And, you know, if we’re there are certain categories of products that if you don’t have your label, also in French, you know, ingredients, like think foods, things, pet supplements, things, things that go on your body. You know, if your labels not in French, you can’t sell there as well. And that can be a cost that can be, you know, planning, maybe relabeling remodeling splitting your shipments sourcing from a different place, you don’t have to relabel. You know, we could talk about it all day. But like you said, it depends on what your strategy is. But those are the things you got to kind of think of.
Andy Hooper 42:53
And what I’d say is you we’ve done a whole load of podcasts, webinars, YouTube videos, like everything, you can think of all of these little subjects, you can go and grab more details, you know, and I will give you a link at the end, you can go and grab all that information to make that easy,
Andrew Morgans 43:08
but or just or just call you and hire you. But
Andy Hooper 43:11
yeah, oh, just talk to one of our experts, you don’t even have to hire us we’ll add success managers will probably speak to you for hours and hours on end, because they’re just so passionate about it, just and then you want to use as the user type approach. But so you’ve got to get the business compliant, and you got to get the product compliant. And there’s a whole lot of things you need in there. But one last thing in the compliance piece for a lot of brands we see right now is also getting your product trademarked making sure that you’re you’ve got that brand with a trademark so that you can’t get infringed on it. The brands we see winning right now are brands that have got trademark, there are no copyright issues, there’s no infringement or there is but they can shut them down quickly. And the brands that aren’t doing that are finding that more difficult. So that is its compliance, but it’s not the you know, it’s it’s more brand
Andrew Morgans 44:02
protection, it’s control, as an Amazon expert at this point, Marknology, whether you might not have a trademark, but there has to be plans for a trademark for us to want to even engage. We need all those extra tools that come with something called Brand registry, which is what you get on Amazon. It’s not just for protecting your product from being copied, or you know, those types of things. It’s also access to these tools on Amazon, whether it’s marketing tools, advertising tools, creative storytelling tools that you only get if you prove that you’re a brand, you know, on the platform, and that’s something that Mark Knology goes hard on it’s a must. Yep. Okay, so you have like three more minutes before before we’re past that time. So we need to hit the next few points a minute ah, let’s flush them out.
Andy Hooper 44:42
Let me correct these through them. So the next one, marketplace launch. So it’s about launching on which marketplace, how you do it and where you do it. And how you ship the product to it depends on how you’re doing your your logistics or depending on how you do that where you ship it from So choosing the right mark Key play strategy for you is the critical next step. How do you work out? What’s the best marketplace when and where? So that’s the next thing. Obviously translations come into that payment providers, stuff like that.
Andrew Morgans 45:12
The next, add one note, one note there. So like Brazil, different barrier to entry. It’s about getting approval. There’s one shipper. There’s not all these options is like, okay, Brazil, a lot of our sellers, depending on their budgets, so translation and redoing graphics and videos and everything to be translated costs has a cost, right? So a lot of times we’re saying, hey, let’s launch in the UK, before Germany and the Netherlands and Italy because those we need to translate. Yeah, English, right. So like, lowest barrier, I guess, lowest barrier to entry Canada, UK, Australia, the English markets first, before we start tackling foreign language, right? So that’s some of the thinking.
Andy Hooper 45:49
Yep, so totally agree. Because then that keeps it really, really simple. So the next thing is threepeat, a third party logistics, warehousing, you know, if you’re based overseas, you get a return, you’re gonna need to do a removal order in some way form or another, you’re going to need to bring stuff into a warehouse. At some point where that warehouse you come back to the fulfilled by a merchant, you know, here in UK and in Europe, you want Seller Fulfilled Prime, you know, if Amazon shuts your shuts FBA, again, like it did during COVID, you can turn on Prime straightaway in your warehouse, you actually say, when we’re doing a setup, get Prime, get Seller Fulfilled Prime, even if you put stuff back into FBA, so you’ve always got it, and you’ve still got that trickling over where you need it. So you know, warehouse is a natural thing, especially if you’re based overseas, because you haven’t got anywhere to get the removal orders the returns for but obviously, your strategy is much easier if you’ve got a three PL because, you know, in order to be successful, you might be on Amazon, you might be on eBay, you might be on website, you might be on onbuy, fruugo, auto ball, real Allegro, and all the others that come with that, in order to be successful. And you can do that by one piece of software, you know, it doesn’t have to be difficult. The next thing is promoting your product, how do you promote your product? What are you doing to get that strategy to push the products out into the world so that they can actually sell, don’t think you’re going to be a come here, put your stock on Amazon, and it’s just gonna sell, it’s not gonna happen. Unless you’re incredibly, incredibly lucky and gifted. The reality is, you’re gonna have to put some bucks pounds euros behind it to make that absolutely fly. And then there’s two last things, in order to be successful, you’re probably going to need a website at some point. And you’re probably going to need a strategy to build out of marketplace, we hear a lot about it now is absolutely key in Europe as well. It’s about having a strategy to come off of marketplaces, Amazon, eBay, wherever that might be, to make sure that your brand is seen as a brand, not, you know, a Chinese import brand on Amazon.
Andrew Morgans 47:59
So something we’re doing with a well-established brand, I’m not going to name them here, they actually own five or six brands or companies of brands. You know, they have a website that we’re touching on Marknology focuses on Amazon, but we do a little of everything. And what we’re creating in those countries is simply landing pages that are translated. So we’re not creating brand new websites, but we have dedicated pages, whether they’re coming from Germany, or Italy or France, or Spain, or the Netherlands or Sweden, or the UK, those are all the ones in Europe, I think that are available, they’re going to come and they’re going to feel comfortable because trust matters right then so they’re going to feel comfortable, they’re going to read it in their native language, maybe they’re still checking out on Amazon. Perhaps that might be phases. What I can say is in this stage, let’s say you have a brand registry and a trademark internationally. That’s great, that can get you to the to the next stage. The websites can be next, but it’s really thinking about what’s ahead anyway. Right? Like, okay, I want to think about what happens if a pandemic happens. Well, all the brands that had an FBM backup option, when we went through that crushed it, yep. Right. So thinking ahead, what are we going to need on the line? Great stuff, Andy.
Andy Hooper 49:07
And then the last piece really is really simple. It is the growth phase. How are you actually going to scale that you’ve got all these little bits going on? You’ve got everything in place? How do you scale that? How do you get your products into retail? What are the marketplaces? Are you really stretched into what other countries can you get to, you know, within the region? So if you’re in Europe, how are you doing Poland, Greece, you know, Spain Italy, you know, we’re also you reach into all these massive opportunities are, and retail is a big one, your How can you get your products into an actual store? Because it’s great selling online and eCommerce is definitely the way forward.
Andrew Morgans 49:48
But actually, that is that number seven, is that number seven?
Andy Hooper 49:51
Growth is number seven, and this is part of that, and obviously, part of that is an exit strategy. What is your exit strategy for that brand? You see a huge amount is going on with aggregators, right? Now, you know, how long that will stay for? No one knows, you know, clearly, that’s going to take on, you know, take on to the next level this year, your aggregators, buying aggregators, you know, is coming, like, there’s no doubt about that. So, you know, but the longevity of all of that, what does that look like? What’s next? You know, you know, you’ve got an eBay store, you’ve got a Shopify store. How long before the aggregators move into those markets? You’re already doing it? But what would you need to do to set yourself up for that, you know, you’ve also got some stuff on the table for these guys. You know, we’re working with a lot of aggregators, they’ve got hundreds of brands that are in Europe, and we’re like, well, we can just expand them. And because we do everything we’ve just said, under one roof, so you know, when you expand, you’d only need the current agency you’re working with, like you guys, and us. Now, we can do everything. Obviously, we have nobody working with you. You only work with people you trust. Don’t, don’t, don’t move away from that, you know, just use us as the next stage in that and put everything under that one barrier. Because you go right, Annie, I need to expand to Europe; what do I need to do? Our guys will just go this, this, this, this, this, and this? And you can then go wicked, how much it’s going to cost me this. Done. Okay, let’s crack on. And we can expand brands in 14 days? Oh, it’s crazy. You know, people can’t get stuck in 14 days. No, is, you know, but what I would say to brands right now is you’ve just come out of Q4 if you’ve got stock sat in the warehouse that you haven’t been able to sell, and you’re thinking, what do I need to do with this? Right? The number one option is instead of sitting in Q1, thinking, I’m not going to get rid of this in q1, and it’s probably still going to be there in Q2, is, what do I need to do to evolve this and adapt this and put this into a new market? If you’ve got stock there sat there today, I can get that selling in Europe in 14 days because we can do everything under one roof. You just talked to one person, and we sought it. Like it doesn’t get any easier than that.
Andrew Morgans 52:10
And we have to sign off. I think we should leave it there. Yeah, it doesn’t get any easier than that. 14 days, honestly, is an amazing timeline as someone that’s done it myself. That’s crazy. I agree. Honestly, Andy, there’s not one thing I would have countered that you said today, so if I can validate kind of just everything you guys heard today, it’s like, boom, hit it on the money. From growth to market projections. I really want to keep this under an hour. So anyone listening on their commute can get it in. I’m going to have you back for a part two, I think. I think it’s a must. We’re gonna we got more to talk about. I think we could dig into those seven points and make another hour of content. That’d be extremely valuable. Easy, Andy, Andy, we’re gonna link soon, whether it’s in person, or I’m in Europe, or it’s at a conference. You know, we’re both parts of the Ecom cooperative, which I think is how we met. And I love being a part of that. So if I don’t see you soon, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show and getting to pick your brain. I’m going to have all of Andy’s contact information in the show notes. You’ll be able to find it for anyone listening if you guys want to get in contact or contact me if you’ve already got my contact. I’ll connect you. Absolute pleasure. Fantastic. Thanks very much for having us on. It’s been amazing to speak to you again. It’s been great. Thank you. Thank you, Andy. I know it’s late there. Really appreciate you staying up late for the show. And once again, today’s episode of Startup Hustle was supported by Compiler, an original podcast from Red Hat discussing tech topics big small, and strange. Listen to Compiler on Apple podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts. We’ll also include a link in the show notes. Like I mentioned, many thanks to Compiler and Red Hat for supporting Startup Hustle. I’ll see you next time, guys, signing off.
Andy Hooper 53:48
Cheers! Thank you.