In today’s episode, we are talking about the old eBay and the new Amazon and some of the history and different insights, which are pretty interesting. Our guest is an eCommerce-forever-gladiator. He has been doing eCommerce since the 90s, he has done so many different eBay and Amazon and has so much insight. We decided to talk a little bit about his experience as an early seller on eBay, scaling up, crashing down, learning, reflecting what he’s seen changed from eBay days to Amazon days and some things about the future Chinese sellers coming into the market.
Topics Covered in this Episode
Introduce Brandon Dupsky
We met in Hong Kong at Global Sources Summit. He has been doing ecommerce since the 1990s, built software products, service businesses, the list goes on and on! He also was my first book customer!
How was Ecommerce “back in the day”
EBay days, when they were the big boy in town.
Scaling and Growing “back in the day”
Brandon’s journey and growth
Adjusting from a Supply-limited market to a demand-limited market
How things went (yipes) when more supply came on
The Chinese sellers entering eBay in 2004-2005
Brandon remembers when Chinese sellers entered into the marketplace of eBay.
Adjusting to the Changing Times
When it did become demand-limited – and supply – especially from Chinese sellers came – how did Brandon adjust?
Differences of Ebay and Amazon marketplaces
Differences of old-way E-commerce and today
What sellers starting today should keep in mind.
Learning more about Brandon and Getting involved
Talk about his project Back-Track and ways to reach him!
People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode
Episode Length 39:40
Thanks for sharing Brandon!
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Listen in Youtube
[00:00:00] Episode 281 of Global From Asia podcast. We are talking about the old eBay and the new Amazon and some of the history and different insights, which are pretty interesting. Listen in. Welcome to the Global From Asia podcast where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down into straight up actionable advice.
[00:00:25] And now your host, Michael Michelini. Greetings. I am in Taipei, Taiwan right now at the MOX Accelerator here, mentoring some amazing startups in cross border in mobile apps, sharing a course about content creation and more. Actually, we’re going to have some Good episodes coming up in the future that I’m recording here, but of course, we’ve got a little bit of a backlog of amazing interviews already done while in these events in the last month.
[00:00:54] So one of them is Brandon Dupsky at back-track.com. This guy is in eCommerce, ahh, forever gladiator. He actually bought my print book, got a picture with him. But he, I should be buying his books. This guy has been doing eCommerce since the 90s, has done so many different, different, um, eBay and website and Amazon.
[00:01:16] And he’s, um, truly do, does, um, has so much insight. So there’s almost, you could have talked about, and we decided to talk a little bit about his experience early seller on eBay, scaling up. Crashing down, learning, reflecting what he’s, what is seen changed from eBay days to Amazon days. Some things about the future Chinese sellers coming into the market.
[00:01:40] A lot of different interesting things. And, um, it was fun. It was really fun interview. We did it in person in Hong Kong at a Global Sources Summit, and he was a speaker there. And I am really happy to be able to share his, his story here. Afterwards, we’ll, we’ll share some of my eBay days, my experiences starting on my eBay business, or I’ll, I also, I don’t East webstore too.
[00:02:02] I’ll do that in a blah, blah, blah section after the interview. So without further ado, let’s get into the interview. Cross Border Summit was an amazing fourth annual in Guangzhou this past October. And we have great feedback, and if I can be honest, we have so many different options. We’re still collecting feedback from people.
[00:02:26] This is, we always try to do is listen to what people want. So we stay in Guangzhou, go back to Shenzhen. Some people even say Hong Kong, Thailand, people want to Philippines, and then there’s Colombia. I’m still thinking about the dates and the format. I’m thinking about bringing it back to my new home base in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
[00:02:46] I’d love to hear from you. www.crossbordersummit.com hit the contact button, fill out the form and let us know what you think or just stay tuned for updates. We do love it and people love it too, so hope to see it. The next one. Cross border summit. All right. Thank you everybody for tuning in on a global from Asia podcast, where here in the.
[00:03:07] Right in the center of Hong Kong. Well, a little bit outside of the center near the airport, Asia world expo for the Global Sources Summit. I got a pleasure to meet Brandon Dupsky from Backtrack, which does return processing for Amazon sellers and e-commerce sellers in the U S. And it’s a pleasure to have you here.
[00:03:28] Hey Mike, thanks for having me. My pleasure. Yeah, it’s great. It’s great. It’s great. Um, yeah, so you just had a great presentation. I think people really received it well. And you, um, obviously you’ve spoke, you’ve had so much experience in eCommerce since eBay days, and I was also eBay seller, and I thought it’d be cool to.
[00:03:47] Share some of your, your journey, I think from then till now, what you’ve seen, trends and, and uh, everything. But maybe you can give me, give us a high level background of yourself before we dive in. Okay. Yeah. We could talk all day about my history since it’s so long, we’ll try to stick to me.
[00:04:03] Exciting. Um, so my background. Sure. My background is, I’ve had 21 years of experience of eCommerce, and I’ve been started in 1998 a lot of the same way as everybody else. You go out and find stuff at thrift stores and things like that, and then you sell it on eBay, but back then it was a wild, wild West.
[00:04:24] People think it’s the wild, wild West today. It’s nothing like it was. 21 years ago. Imagine. Yeah, you could sell anything and make a buck. You can make a lot of bucks. So it was fun. It was fun. Um, but before that I was in the logistics and operations business. Yeah. I got my got, my, um, business degree.
[00:04:42] Then I got my MBA, was working in the logistics operations side of things. So that gave me a visibility of the pain points of surplus inventory and um, how ah companies just don’t have a solution for that. So my first business was actually a solution for these guys to sell surplus inventory, and that’s how I built my business, called sell to all.
[00:05:01] Back in the early days, yeah, we would buy, I would buy truckloads of surplus or get it on consignment and we would just sell all that stuff on eBay back in the day. Okay. And then from there I grew fast. I mean, I can keep going. Yeah. I think, well, maybe we’ll get into that, but yeah. So you. I think eBay, I told you I was in Oh four, I kind of fell into it.
[00:05:25] I, I got into stores online. It was one of those back in the hotel room. Sales pitches. I remember those. Yeah. Yeah. Um, but I think it was a blessing in disguise. Maybe a lot of people kind of got burned getting press. It was kind of high pressure sales. And I wasn’t, my roommate, my hometown friend, we grew up together, Andrew, and we, uh.
[00:05:46] We went in with an open mind and we got hard sold to it. This program was like a few thousand dollars over financing and stuff. You’re talk, company and we had no idea what to sell and they’re like, just drop ship. You can just drop ship. Just get a store to some Google ads. I’m going to first penny bids or nickel bids at the time on Google ads and just to, uh, they had some DVDs in the mail.
[00:06:08] You’d have like DVDs to watch how to do paid ads. Um, but, um, we just learned by just, yeah, like you said, making tons of mistakes, but I think probably that’s the way even, is that still the way now? I mean, maybe it’s a little bit different now. Can you just throw yourself, I mean, there’s, there’s, there’s two problems.
[00:06:27] I think there’s one, some people go too early with not knowing anything. And then there’s the other person that’s frozen, the frozen by data analysis paralysis. So I feel like there’s these two different ends of people. You probably know, and I know that jump in without knowing anything and lose money.
[00:06:43] And there’s other guys that are just never ready and never do it. They’re afraid of making mistakes. And so they’re maybe not entrepreneurs, but they want to be, you know? So back in the day, there was no education, so we just had to make mistakes. We just, we were pioneer and you know, and they can.
[00:06:58] Ton of mistakes, but that’s the only way you could learn. So you just trial and error. But there was a lot of room to make mistakes because the profits were so much higher back then. You could make a lot of mistakes and still survive. Nowadays there’s, it’s the opposite. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum where there’s hundreds and hundreds of courses.
[00:07:13] And there’s just too much information out there. Some of it’s out of date, some of it’s not quite accurate. Some of it is from experienced sellers, but some of it is from not so experienced sellers. And so I think the challenge today is there’s overwhelming information and really there’s no one secret on how to do this.
[00:07:30] And so there, if there was, then there would only be one course. And so all of this types of information and types of strategies confuses people. So then they don’t know what to do. And they, you know, if they don’t have. Uh, you know, a risk taking in type of a mentality. They’re not there for that.
[00:07:46] Then they’re too afraid to take risks and they’re never gonna move far. You know, these courses aren’t really helping them. True. I think usually what I said, even at during the lunch or during the summer here in golden sources is a, you should maybe take a small calculated risk of how much you’re willing to lose.
[00:08:03] And, uh. Maybe not garlic presses. Find something that’s maybe a low price items, low MOQ, and you just learn to learn to process. Right. You know, maybe it could be the same price as a course or. Absolutely. Yeah. I always tell people, your number one investment in eCommerce is inventory. You can buy courses, but they don’t make you money.
[00:08:24] They, you know, they, they might be help you, educate you, but they don’t make money inventory. You can always recover some of your money. So your number one investment in eCommerce business is typically inventory, whether it’s a bad inventory buy or good inventory buy still, you can get some money.
[00:08:37] Then the second thing I always tell people is he right? Don’t risk more than you can ever lose. Yeah. And so when you take those risks, if you’re starting off and you can’t lose much if you don’t have much, right. So take small risks, just like you said, and then as you grow, you can take bigger risks, but never arrests more than you can lose.
[00:08:54] Exactly. So let’s go back to the old days. Yeah. So I think back then, people weren’t taking the these opportunities. So there’s always a risk reward. So there was higher margins, there was less, people may be doing it, but there was no education online. And they always move glasses when I’m recording.
[00:09:16] But I think eBay was, I don’t know about you, but I kind of prefer my space and eBay over Facebook and Amazon. But I, cause I could be more creative with my listing or it could be Creative about my profile, like I learned HTML a little bit more with in CSS with my space profiles. Cause you could.
[00:09:38] Creative eBay. Yeah. So, so back then you had to use software. I told you I use Octivo the other day and we are ah could try to standardize the listings, but it was almost like throwing stuff up there, like almost a picture. Didn’t need to be as good. The bar was much lower. Right? I mean, I think I did a lot of photos myself in dimly lit up home apartments, and I even use that for longterm repeating.
[00:10:04] Sales of ongoing products. Yup. But now it seems like we talked a lot about photos and listings here, so, yeah. I mean, back in the day I would, um, you could sell stuff without a photo. All you needed was a title. Yeah. If people wanted to buy it, because back then the it was, it was supply constraint.
[00:10:23] I mean, we talk about the economics of the marketplace and and eBay, and even the internet was supply constraint and demand was high. So you had 10 people wanting to buy that one item so you could sell anything even without a photo. And you made me remember when I started doing record LP records.
[00:10:38] They’re really big. I didn’t have a digital camera, so I had a scanner. The scanner was smaller than the record, so I had to scan one side, flip the record, scan the second side, put it in paint, Microsoft paint. Yup. Yup. Pay it, puts, put the two pictures together and then do the other side. And that’s how I sold records.
[00:10:56] It took me forever just to get two photos and then titles. But yeah. Um, it was easy. It was easier then just because demand was greater than supply. Yeah. And, um, supply chain, like. Did you, what are you buying from overseas? Are you working domestically, wholesale? You are, you seem like you were selling other people’s stuff.
[00:11:16] Like I remember there was even businesses like eBay stores, sellers that you could drive to the storefronts and dump stuff off and they would sell it for you drop off stores. Yeah. I mean, I could tell you a whole story on that, but, um, real quick, that was when I did the business plan in, when I was getting my MBA and my business plan was for my business and I took a class where you had to write a business plan and I wrote a business plan for a dropoff stores.
[00:11:39] That was my plan and I went to this business. I did all these venture capital competitions. One of them was a prize was five to $10 million investment. And I, I presented at this, I actually, long story short, I was a, I made it to the top eight out of a hundred companies that was close, but they told me, don’t do drop off stores.
[00:11:59] They said, your plan is, is, is, has a flaw. You’re going to have all the overhead. You’re not gonna make a lot of money. You’d go do warehouses. And so they taught me one thing, that they’d go do warehouses and have Businesses sending inventory. And so they actually pointed me in a better direction.
[00:12:12] And that’s what I did. I went and got surplus inventory from all these companies. That was kind of the start. And then once I had to grow, I went to, went to distributors and wholesalers and actually did the buy sell, and then I did drop shipping. So I actually went deeper and deeper and, and consignment.
[00:12:27] And I had large companies like Rubbermaid, PayPal, uh, IBM, overstock, you know, buy.com sending me truckloads on consignment and selling for them. Amazing. Okay. Yeah. Those stores in stay around too long, so I guess it’s good you didn’t get into that, which stores? The drop off stores. So long story short, when they got, when they started getting funded, like they would raise $15 million.
[00:12:50] I got interested again. I was like, wait a minute, you know this, maybe there’s something to this. And I had this technology built, I had seven in house programmers, and we wrote this technology where all these drop-off stores. So I said, I don’t want the real estate, but I partnered with all these mailbox places.
[00:13:05] And I said, use our software, um, build a dropout. We’ll have a dropoff marketing called drop pro, and they can use our software. So then people would go to their stores, drop it off, they would do the photographing, they would do the listing, all we were as a software play. So I avoided the real estate play and the overhead play, the employee play, and we just shared a cut of it with him.
[00:13:26] So I thought I had a better angle on it. But you’re right, they don’t get a lot of business. They don’t get a lot of volume. It’s not a good, it wasn’t a good business model and there’s a lot of them went out. You’re right. I, I, um, I wasn’t in eCommerce, but in the 90s I worked at cosmo.com. Do you ever heard they went to K?
[00:13:42] O. Z M. O it was a TBD deliveries, deliveries, the orange cosmonauts they were dressed in all orange and they’d ride around beat bikes in New York, LA, like major cities in the U S I worked in the database programming department in ‘99 delivering DVDs. They were not just DVDs. It started to deliver a Starbucks.
[00:14:01] They started to deliver a certain gifts, but it was like delivered to you another 24 hours. I’d never seen that. Or maybe even a hundred an hour, but they didn’t last either. I think they were one of the top 10 flops of the.com bubble. They had a movie man, the dotcom bubble or something was named. They didn’t use their name, but it was their company, their company.
[00:14:22] Oh my gosh. Insane. But yeah, this, um, how about the. Your journey, which, you know, we’re in Hong Kong, I don’t want to say China or not, but we’re here in Asia. Um, when did you and your e-commerce journey get involved with Asia or China? Yeah, so fast forward 2003, 2004, my eBay business was the largest company on eBay.
[00:14:42] We were in the, we are always in the top one, two, threes. Um, it was before they started selling, people started selling cars and things like that. So. Um, it was being at the top means everybody’s wants to be in your spot, right? So you have a huge target on your back. 2004, eBay opened up their first office in Hong Kong and basically that turned everything upside down.
[00:15:02] It just basically changed all the economics and, um, China sellers started entering the U S market on eBay. And that changed my whole business. I went from growing 30% month after month after month to shrinking 30% month after month after month. And so it was a wake up call instead of being domestic, now it’s e-commerce as a global environment, and I have to wake up and start becoming a global business.
[00:15:27] Um, and so 2005 I started reaching out to companies in, in Hong Kong that were selling on eBay and tried to start building relationships. And I did. I built some relationships with some of those companies. So in 2005 is when I really started thinking about Hong Kong and China. Okay. Interesting.
[00:15:46] Yeah, there’s so many. We both have so many different stories about all these years. It’s going to be hard to know where, how deep to dive, but, but yeah, like, um, I wasn’t really, like I said, I only got in ‘04 and I, I was getting lucky. Like I just learned, like you said, I had no idea I was shipping out on my second.
[00:16:06] My seventh floor walk up, sixth floor walk up in New York city. And uh, yes, ups, tags. I’m on the, when my, uh, I had a, I didn’t have a doorman, so I was working still and they was put those ups and I had to go to hell’s kitchen in West side of New York to pick up the box to send it to the customer.
[00:16:24] And I started, I had no freaking idea. I use my fraternity. Um, but then I learned about the reporting for a few months in Oh six I think, or maybe Oh five. Yup. And who drove it up to New York, upstate New York, use the third party fulfillment. And how about logistics for you? How did, how did that, uh, you know, how does your developing of logistics, you’re doing logistics now.
[00:16:48] I mean, w what was your angle and the development? So, Oh, five, you started starting to reach out to Hong Kong eBay sellers where you doing services or warehousing or software? So I’m no, at that point, I was still selling myself my own stuff, drop shipping, and also, um, consignment for all these large companies.
[00:17:11] I mean, and so it was, um, I didn’t, my third party logistics things, I did have experience in that with my, before you pay business, because I was in logistics. So Caterpillar logistics was the third party provider for the company I worked for. So I was familiar with that concept beforehand. But, um.
[00:17:30] Anyway, go 2004 2005 okay. As I started reaching out to the Hong Kong businesses, but 2006 I went out of business. So I mean, that’s really the, the, the crust of the story. And what I did is, is, is when I invested so much money on software, I invested so much money on growth because my company was growing so fast.
[00:17:49] We had such a large overhead and employees. And when China’s sellers changed the economics and the supply, instead of, like I said earlier, it was demand constrained and supply heavy. It flipped everything upside down where it was demand or supply can demand constraints, supply heavy, you know, now there’s three people trying to get that one customer instead of the opposite.
[00:18:09] And so that was the beginning of it. Flipping was 2005 2006 and then just continuing forward to today. So I went out of business. Oh, totally. And that was a nightmare. Um, you know, a horrible time for me. But, um, I, I love e-commerce. I’ve been doing it, you know, that was my, my choice for my career, my, you know, and I didn’t want to get out of it even back then.
[00:18:31] I said, I’m going to do this again. I went and did consulting and then I said I’m going to start another business. And I did okay. And I just took the lessons that I learned from the first time and said, I’m not gonna make those mistakes again. Cause they were costly. It’s the way to go. Right? I mean, I guess the true entrepreneurs is, is when you hit.
[00:18:48] Hit the bottom. Can you get yourself back up? Yeah. I think that’s, that’s the true test and it’s, it’s, it’s great to be talking to you today and the journey. So the lessons, the lessons would be, what were some of the lessons to be for sellers? Well, the lessons are, things change quickly. And you don’t know what your, what’s around the corner and there are corners, there are a lot of corners that you don’t know when the corners are going to hit you and you don’t know what’s around the corner.
[00:19:18] And for me. I was, I was feeling success over and over and over again, right? I felt invincible. And the moment you feel invincible is the moment you’re not. And so you can’t find, don’t, don’t ever become overconfident. Don’t ever believe that you can. You can solve any problem that’s thrown at you, even though you’ve sold them all today.
[00:19:41] And so the lessons are, you’re, you’re just as human as everybody else. Okay. And, and so, and then also the second lesson is, is I had a huge community of other sellers that just supported me. You know, I was always helping them and it was their turn to help me for a moment. And the support and the backing that I got from them when I was in a moment of need was tremendous.
[00:20:02] And that gave me the courage to start over. And so, um. That was a key part too. It’s just having that community of people, cause a lot of people go to business and they don’t start over. They go get a job, you know, and I can, I can probably name, you know, a hundred people if I thought about it long enough that, that I know in this space that that’s their, that’s their story.
[00:20:22] Yeah. I have one seller story still in touch with him, but he was an eBay seller of probably around four or five. When the Chinese sellers were coming on and he used to buy MP, four players from China, from shin, sell him on eBay. He bought, but he’s getting kind of too confident and he bought a container of them and he says, by the time they arrived to LA, the same supplier listed them on eBay for the same price.
[00:20:49] He paid for a whole container stock.
[00:20:54] So he was hurting pretty bad. So I started over and I realized this is a, I’m not going to make some of the mistakes that I did last time. I said, I’m not going to have, I had, you know, a ton of employees, almost a hundred employees, up to, you know, I’m not going to have all these people for me to meet, for me to have to depend on me.
[00:21:13] Right? So I wasn’t going to do that. I wanted to have a lifestyle business. I was getting older. My kids were getting older. I want to spend more time with them, and I just wanted the freedom. And even though I had the ability to leave the business and have all these employees run it, I didn’t, I wasn’t free.
[00:21:26] I was, you know, stressed to my ear balls. You’re my ears, not my earballs but, um, and so this time I did it. I did a lifestyle business, work out of my house, outsource everything. So that’s when I started using a third party warehouse. I started using virtual assistants and I started, um, working less and working smarter, and I started sourcing 100% from China.
[00:21:48] Yeah. I think that’s a good lesson. Basically keeping the costs low and not having a fixed overhead. Exactly. I worked on wall street and I worked on distress debt or junk bonds, [00:22:00] and there was always the airlines, anything with these fixed high costs, so then when the trends go down and like seasonality or the economy, but their fixed cost is the same, that’s when they get crushed.
[00:22:13] You can’t support the overhead. Yeah. You’re just not, you don’t make enough to cover it eventually. Yeah. Yup. And, uh, so we haven’t talked much about Amazon. Obviously eBay was the time. I remember selling on Amazon in 2000 and maybe five or six. And I had no idea what I was doing there, but it was only 10% I think max, I was mostly web.
[00:22:35] I have my shopping cart and how to, eBay was my main sales. Yup. Yup. Then so. So, no, everything is Amazon, right? eBay is even, even still relevant. It is. It is. It is. It’s, eBay is a great market for used products for, um, it’s still good for, for new products, but it’s really, um, it’s still there.
[00:22:54] It’s not the, the, the giant anymore. It used to be 25% of e-commerce. It’s not, you know, Amazon took the lion’s share of that market, but, um. We always said back in the day when, okay, so when an Amazon, Kate said, Hey, we’re going to build a third party marketplace. They came to my organization Piza professionally be seller’s license, one to start, cause we had all the large eBay sellers.
[00:23:15] So they targeted all of our people. And me being a board of directors, we kind of had first right to, to get into the market. So myself and some of my friends were some of the first third party sellers outside of booksellers. And um, so we got to go in early and it was kind of fun cause we got the feel the giant, you know what.
[00:23:31] What happens when you sell an Amazon versus eBay. And what we discovered was eBay, we say is a mile wide and an inch deep. Meaning you have to have a wide catalog of products and you’re only going to sell one or two is a beach. Because of the way the search worked back then. Yeah. And you couldn’t search deep.
[00:23:47] I mean, and so an Amazon is the opposite where it’s an inch deep or an inch wide and a mile deep. You’re not going to be successful with the Ward’s catalog back then. You’re going to sell the same item a thousand times. Yeah. And so, and eBay was so frustrated with that. We actually had a lot of meetings with their management saying, Hey, why?
[00:24:03] Either they’re trying to figure out why that is, you know? And it was really, search search was just so much different between the two marketplaces. And so you could sell, now you can sell the same item a thousand times, which you couldn’t do on eBay. Make me think of my first e-commerce. I did bar supplies and I got out to really, everybody says I a.
[00:24:20] I got burned out cause I had 250 SKUs and I was constantly out of stock on this one or that one. Then I would try to buy from China. But then if you sell out of one and you don’t want to buy more of the ones you already have, but then it was just like balancing that whack a mole. So I’m a friend says you gotta do the 80 20 you gotta drop 80% and keep 20% I didn’t really make that moves.
[00:24:40] And then I sold my. I don’t know if I should say this publicly because you can’t really sell an eBay account, but I still can’t actually, if it’s a, if it’s a corporation. Ah, okay. Yeah, they did a lot. I made sure I made sure I asked, Oh, I sold it and then I sold my website. Somebody else in my network.
[00:24:56] I remember nobody was buying eCommerce businesses. No, nobody was like worth nothing. Everyone was trying to buy a AdSense, Google AdSense sites or affiliate sites. I’m like. Well, it’s like I, somebody tried to offer me a low, really low number, and I said, I made more since I put the listing on Flippa.
[00:25:15] Then your offer like, Oh yeah, nobody wanted inventory businesses. Yeah. They didn’t see the, they were worried that there was no longterm revenue stream. Yeah. Because things change so much, so fast, and now it’s the other way around. It seems like everybody wants Amazon. Well, it’s also a lot, like you said, it’s a lot more.
[00:25:33] It’s catalog. Right? I think the big difference, eBay and Amazon is Amazon. The catalog and a big eBay was, we use like octavo and we can make our own listings and it was not at all. The buyer had to check the terms of the returns. They had read the product description clearly, and so it’s just a lot, a lot different.
[00:25:54] But by what do you, what do you say now? I guess we’re getting towards the, you know, we’ll have a couple more questions again, get towards the end. Just. Give you a heads up, but new sellers now, when, what, what’s the, what’s their mindsets? What do you think they should be doing? I mean, this is difficult.
[00:26:10] So I, you know, as I said, now it’s flipped from being a demand. Um, constrained supply, rich environment, that’s just times 10 now, even more so than before. So instead of having three people selling for one customer, you have 20 or 50 people selling for that one customer. So Amazon build all these warehouses it’s stock full of is all this inventory.
[00:26:28] And Amazon is the one that wins kind of, right? They have the 50 items for that one customer in price. They’re charging the seller everything to hold it, to handle it, to sell it, to ship it. And so, um, it’s just, it’s just that much harder. You have to stand out in a bigger crowd, a lot of crowds.
[00:26:44] And so I told, I always tell people, you have to have a brand. You have to have something that you bring to the cert, to the table. You have to be the magic formula in your business. And that’s, um, you know, you have to have some kind of special knowledge, special interest, special passion, and you have to bring that to the surface.
[00:26:59] I mean bright and clear that people can understand that this person really is in love with this product and they, I should buy from them. And it can be a simple product, can be, you know, rocks. It can be toothbrushes. You can, you just got to be passionate about what you sell. And it has to show, you know, and I’m passionate about eCommerce and people can see that when they talk to me and they can realize, Oh, this guy, you know, he loves this industry.
[00:27:19] And, um, with my, with my DVD players, I’m a, I’m a father. I was taking my kids on vacations. I wanted to have them entertained. And that’s who I sold to. I sold to parents who had kids going on a vacation. And so I related to my customers, but I also put myself in every single package by video recording myself, how to use my product, how to install it.
[00:27:39] So they had a two hour DVD and every one of my boxes. So I bundled myself into my package and nobody could copy that. Great. And that’s the magic sauce that I used. I’m going to try to tell people to listen to at least that clip, because nobody listens to me. I always say, you need to like use your personal brand.
[00:27:58] He’s your personality. But a lot of sellers, I guess date, date, they want a product. They don’t want people to buy them. They want to separate themselves from the product. They want people to buy the product. They don’t want to be connected to the product. I used to be that way with my first business.
[00:28:12] It was a business. It’s we, we, we us, right. You know, you feel like you’re some big wig that way, right? It boosts your ego. But I was like, no, this time it’s me. You’re buying from me. You know? Even though I might have a third party warehouse, I might have, you know, a VA’s doing work for me and answering for me.
[00:28:30] It’s me. You’re buying from and that’s me. You’re selling, I’m selling to you so you can trust me. Cause people can’t trust people don’t trust companies very often, but to trust people. Um, so the other other pro, I know what listeners are thinking, I want to sell it flipped my business. I want to sell my business.
[00:28:48] If I put myself on DVD, it’s not as sellable, is that you have to build a, a very, you have to build a big business that’s profitable, sustainable, and has longevity. If you don’t do that, nobody’s going to buy your business anyway. Right. And to me that the easiest or best approach to build a build a business that will last is to have a brand, passion, a market, you know, and to, I think you have to put yourself into the formula.
[00:29:17] I would say you’re, you’re never going to even be sellable unless you, you know, for the most part, people are going to look through it and say, Oh, this thing could, could disappear tomorrow. True due to, um, you know, changes market, market, you know, somebody else can go to that same factory you’re buying from, buy the same product, undercut ya, better market you, whatever.
[00:29:35] And so, you know, if you don’t have some kind of something to defend yourself, then you’re, you’re, no, you’re, you’re not going to build a business. People are not gonna want to buy anyway. That’s my thing. That’s my opinion. Okay, great. Yeah. Yeah. I think let’s, let’s, you know, they’re gonna probably kick us out of here soon, and we’ve got a networking events in about 15 minutes.
[00:29:56] So I think we’ve got a great interview here. Um, let’s talk about what you’re working on now. So back track, back dash track. Yep. Dot com. Yup. Is his return. It’s helping sellers with returns. Yep. Yep. So my, my existing business with the DVD players, I found out I can’t return them to the factory anymore.
[00:30:15] I used to return them to the factories to get repaired, customer returns. So I found somebody locally to do my repairs for me, and they did. Very good. So. What I discovered is my problem. Everybody else has the same problem. The sellers who are the Chinese, you know, usually the Chinese sellers who send their electronics to Amazon’s FBA, they get customer returns.
[00:30:34] They can’t send it back to the factory anymore to get repaired. So it and customer returns are anywhere from 20 to 30% online and depending on the product. And so there’s a, there’s this $30 billion market right now on Amazon, just in the U S. Of customer returns that aren’t really getting taken care of very well in most cases.
[00:30:54] And so back track, which is back-track.com what we do is we actually are a service company for these Chinese Amazon sellers and also domestic U S sellers. And we take their customer returns, put them in our shop, and then we reprocess them by renewing them, repairing them, re in them, and then allow them to resell them as refurbished back on Amazon, or we actually can sell them for.
[00:31:17] The seller on our, our websites in marketplace. Okay. Awesome. Recover the loss. Yeah. I mean, I also agree, I think. I think a lot of sellers, especially Chinese sellers, just say refund. Just give them the money back. They don’t want to deal with it. Just, just give him the money back, which is, I think buyers are learning this, right?
[00:31:37] So, yeah, it really depends on your average price. Of course, you know, and what you’re losing, and everybody thinks it’s the cost of doing business, because that’s what everyone, that’s what Amazon wants them to think. Right. But, um, but there are sellers out there with higher dollar stuff. Um, and they don’t say, just refund them.
[00:31:54] They say, why in the heck am I getting all these refunds or these returns? And this is ridiculous and this is killing my business. And it does. A lot of people go out of business because of customer returns. They just don’t realize it because they don’t track it. And so I’m trying to help companies save their company and recover the lost value of, you know, it’s a cost of doing business.
[00:32:12] It really isn’t. It’s they have to do a better job, whether it’s avoiding the return. Or taking care of it and recovering the value from the returns. And that’s what we do. I mean, we’ve done about a half a million dollars for the practice in the last few months of recovery. That’s amazing. I mean, that’s a dollar lost as a dollar save.
[00:32:27] Right. Or, you know, same thing, you know, a dollar recovered is a dollar earned. Okay. So it does add up quicker. So I guess people interested in talking about this or learning more, go to back-track.com is the best place. Yup. That’s the best place. And you can always reach out to us are for sharing.
[00:32:43] Hey, I appreciate it. My pleasure. Okay. Are you looking to get your money in or out of Hong Kong? GoRemit.HK is cross border payment company with us for a couple of years now. It was one of our pillar sponsors, Simon and the others are amazing people and I use them myself to pay people in China.
[00:33:02] pay people in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and more and my wife. So if you’re interested in the cross border payments solution for your Hong Kong based business, check out www dot goremit.hk. okay. Thank you Brandon for sharing. Um, I always love meeting eBay sellers from back in the day.
[00:33:28] I mean, eBay’s be what Amazon is now, and Amazon totally crushed him. I think he, I think eBay’s even suing Amazon for taking eBay sellers onto Amazon. It’s a crazy days, but we have all been through a lot. I think e-commerce is all about listening to the market, to the trends and doing whatever it takes to become a, a.
[00:33:51] Gladiator in the arena book has been doing. Okay. Thanks. For those who have supported it and giving me good feedback or constructive feedback. Also, I said, I would say in this blah, blah, blah section with my experience on eBay, how I started on you on the web. I remember I got suckered into buying a store online package, not know what I was sell, figuring out I could drop ship, um, did drop ship some stuff, but I found these bar products that weren’t doing that good on an eBay and there was a lot of demand.
[00:34:26] At least I could see some demand. And I started selling stuff. I didn’t even have, I was living in New York city. Listening about, I think it was 500 or 300 skews on Amazon. I mean, on eBay and not even knowing what they were. Oh, I mean, didn’t even know how, again, up to the customer, because they wouldn’t disappear.
[00:34:44] Wholesaler Florida wouldn’t drop ship. So he let me be a wholesaler cause I had a business license and a reseller permit and I shared all of that to him. And then I was second day when I just said, Hey, I’ll just second day air. It’s in my apartment in New York and the second day or to the customer and I put on my eBay shipping policies, it’d be five to seven business days to receive.
[00:35:05] Do you. The goods, right? Cause on eBay you could just tell the customer on the listing your shipping terms and time. So I would, uh, I would do that list all these products that didn’t have and couldn’t even drop ship M and a and sold them. And then I, I was, uh, really stressed out. My roommate and my best friend Andrew would.
[00:35:26] Uh, they thought I was crazy but went along with it, we were 50, 50 partners and ever thought was crazy cause we’re losing money on sales. But I said, this is research and development is figuring out a opportunity of which products to sell that are here. You know, what to actually focus on. So we dropped half the products.
[00:35:48] We didn’t even need, you know, we just dropped them. And then I did wholesale them and basically, uh, filled my walk-up, made a relationship with Juan. I think his name is Juan, the shoeshine guy downstairs in my walkup apartment on 24th street, East 24th street in Manhattan, and then hustled. Got to ups, doors, started using fraternity house friend’s basements, self storage, third learned with third party fulfilling.
[00:36:20] It was just from my old professor in college, adjunct professor. He just totally hustling, not knowing what you’re doing, but I think that’s, I don’t know if I really recommend that, but. I think it’s important to just take action, not wait for all the answers. Is this. I’ve been learning what Jeff Bezos says and his decision making, what he says, if you have 70 or 80% of the information needed to make a fault, have to make a decision, you’ve waited too long, you won’t have all the information in order to move forward.
[00:36:50] So while I maybe lost a lot of money and lost a lot of sleep, I don’t, it’s an investment, you know, investment in yourself and your education. And to make action and make things happen to grow into scale or get things to the next level, to the next stage, push the ball forward on the court. You gotta take action and not, no wait until everybody knows all the answers.
[00:37:16] Cause then no, there’s no opportunity in the marketplace. So I hope that helped. I’m about to go get some things, some kind of hot pot dinner. What these startups at the MOX accelerator, which is pretty cool. It’s the second or third time now to Taipei. It’s cold. I had to borrow a jacket. It’s freezing cold here, but that’s, I’ll meet some other e-commerce people here, and it’s just about grinding and hustling and making You know, I love making content.
[00:37:44] That’s kind of my addiction, but I do hope you enjoyed this interview and my little shorter, blah, blah blah section. But that’s, that’s how I learned. And I got third party fulfillment filled up aU haul truck and went to upstate New York for the logistics center with Andrew and George on a weekend, three day weekend.
[00:38:03] I remember. And we were just so excited. We were business expensing stuff, having no idea what we were doing. Figure it out. I get into third-party warehouse, figured out Alibaba, call the sources, searching, and then, you know, I did Africa. I mean, I was like, you know, 2000, three, four, five, six, six, you know, I think six was on a certain consider leaving.
[00:38:27] Um, but then until 2007 is when I left. Uh, I went to California for a little while and then ended up in China. And then got into Bloomberg. I don’t know if we should also link up the Bloomberg article and a podcast if he didn’t listen and talking about me being stuck in this trade war nightmare, which is the reality.
[00:38:47] And I was thinking a lot of you guys are a girls, you know, in, in this trade war. Just, we’re just hustlers trying to make a dollar a night, nine, you know, just try and make a dollar out a couple cents, you know? And, uh, we’re stuck in the middle of this trade war now, but I remember my parents didn’t really support or.
[00:39:06] More so happy about me going to China, but that’s where the trend was going. I’m just a small e-commerce seller trying to make something happen and I knew I had to go there. All right. I gotta go hop on time. See you later. To get more info about running an international business, please visit our [email protected] that’s www.globalfromasia.com also, be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed.
[00:39:36] Thanks for tuning in.