How to Start an Amazon Business in the U.S. and Europe
Biswa Malla, an IT consultant with no selling experience, joined Amazing Selling Machine and was able to quit his job just two months after starting to sell on Amazon (all while living in Europe). Biswa shares his insight on how to start an Amazon business in the U.S and Europe, customizing products with manufacturers, and marketing products on Amazon.
International Amazon Seller Success Story
Biswa Malla was an IT consultant for 10 years and did not have any selling skills when he first started selling on Amazon, after joining ASM5. Just two months after starting, Biswa quit his full-time job and started living solely off his Amazon income. He found that he was making enough income to sustain his family and the more products he launched, the better off his family became. During his interview with Mike McClary and Rich Henderson, Biswa shares that everyone is always in a rush, but now that he owns his own business he doesn’t have to rush, and he can do his own thing at his own time.
Amazing Selling Machine 9 Doors Close
how to start our own Amazon businesses (ASM) recently offered a free four-part video training series. The series taught new sellers how to find products, find suppliers, and launch and rank a product. ASM also just closed the doors on their in-depth course, Amazing Selling Machine 9 (ASM9), which gives sellers access to a complete step-by-step guide to selling on Amazon through a brand new 8-week web course. Members of ASM9 also have access to the ASM community and mentors, the private resource vault, weekly coaching calls, and more. Biswa is one of many ASM success stories.
Customizing Products with Manufacturers
It did not take Biswa long to find his first product. He followed the steps outlined in the ASM course and found a product quickly, even without having any e-commerce or private labeling experience.
It took a few months to launch his first product, due to customizations he wanted to make to the product with his manufacturer. Biswa looked at the competition in the market to see what other sellers were doing, and how they were customizing the product.
From there, he ordered 5 samples from different suppliers, and noted the features he liked from each of the samples. He merged the features he liked most to make a product that would become competitive once launched.
Manufacturers are open to request and the customization of products. Suppliers are keen on getting business, and will work with sellers to make the product they want.
Capital Needed to Start Selling on Amazon
Biswa’s first inventory order cost $10,000, but not everyone needs to invest that much to start. He knew because of the time he spent customizing the product and the high demand, that he could risk a large inventory order. He was right and made his money back in 2 months.
However, other sellers have started off investing $500 to test the waters, and have become successful business owners. You can start at different capitals levels and achieve the same success in the long term.
Selling in U.K. and European Amazon Marketplaces
Biswa lives in London, but launched his first product in the U.S. He found that the logistics already in place between the U.S, China, and freight forwarders made it easy to start selling in the U.S.
Even though it was harder to find a freight forwarder in the U.K, Biswa started selling in the U.K just six months after he launched his product in the U.S. Launching in both markets has allowed him to double his business.
It can be rather simple to start selling the U.K. In Biswa’s case, he already had a supplier and the only thing that changed was his product’s barcode.
Amazon makes it relatively easy to expand to new markets—when you upload a product the U.K seller platform, Amazon automatically translates the listing and opens it across Europe.
Challenges and Support Systems
There are bound to be road blocks and challenges, especially when you are starting something you have no experience in, like e-commerce. However, help is always readily available through the Amazing Selling Machine community. You are never alone in your journey. In the community, you will always find people who have been where you are, or are also starting out, and are along for the ride.
Marketing a Product on Amazon
Biswa put a lot of time and effort into optimizing his listings, paid advertising, and price testing. After 6-8 months of testing, he found the best price and advertising strategy, and now allows the product listing to run on autopilot.
When he launches a product, he focuses on social media promotion on platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. He will also send out a press release to increase the buzz about the new product coming to the market. Biswa’s key to success is doing the basics over and over.
How to Crush It on Amazon in the U.S. AND Europe Simultaneously from Europe! – Video Interview
Mike McClary: I’m Mike McClary. This is Rich Henderson. We’re here at the Amazing headquarters in Austin, Texas. We also have a very special guest, who is slightly further away than Austin, Texas. Maybe across another ocean. We’ll bring him on later on to talk about his amazing journey with building his own business selling physical products on Amazon. But, if you’re just joining us, I’m going to check and make sure that you guys can see and hear us, so if you’re watching this video right now … you know what? Post a quick comment below. Just kind of say, “Yes, we can hear you. We can see you just fine.” Then we’ll get going here in a second.
Mike McClary: Alright. So we’re seeing some people show up now, already. Looks like people can hear us. Excellent. Okay. Alright.
Mike McClary: If you are here … and chances are you’ve probably seen the free video training series that we have on amazingsellingmachine.com. If you haven’t seen that yet, be sure to check out the free videos. Those videos are completely free. There is tons of training right there. We show you how to find your own product, and out of our hot opportunities on amazon we show you how to find suppliers that are looking for people just like us to private label and have these products made and sold. And we also show you how to launch and rank that product so you can start selling and making a ton of money on Amazon. Of course we have the full Amazing Selling Machine program. You probably know that that program is open for sale for just a few more days, but if you haven’t seen the free version of that yet, go watch those videos. They are awesome. All of us here, Rich, myself and Biswa will be coming on shortly. Watch a similar series, when we started selling, and you definitely want to take advantage of watching those free lessons.
Mike McClary: Right now, I want to get to why we’re here and that’s bringing one of our guests who sells in multiple markets while living in Europe, and his name is Biswa.
Mike McClary: Biswa [Mala 00:02:42]? Thank you for joining us and welcome to the call.
Biswa: Thank you, Mike. Thank you, Rich. It’s always a pleasure to come back to these calls. It’s amazing to be in the situation enough to talk to other people and be part of this community, as well. Yeah. Just let me know what you need to know and I’ll be glad to help.
Mike McClary: Well I know … I remember Rich and I got a chance to interview you together for the first time only about five or six months ago, and your story was so awesome and so genuine. We wanted to bring you back again because you’ve just done an incredible job of building your own business. So, the first thing we want to ask you is, if you think back, when did you actually start selling on Amazon?
Biswa: I was part of ASM5, so I signed up for ASM5 at the very last minute. So it was in 2016. Our first product went live in November. Somewhere in November, 2016.
Mike McClary: Okay, and so did it take you very long to find your first product and start selling?
Biswa: It didn’t take me long. I found it the product quite easily after following the steps that were outlined in the course. I just followed them to the ‘T.’ I didn’t have any experience on e-commerce or private labeling or selling online … so I just followed the course. But it did take me some time to manufacture the product to the specifications I wanted them to be. That’s why although the course ended in June, July, my first product went live towards September or October of that time. So it took me a bit longer to start, but yeah. It didn’t take me long to find the product as such.
Mike McClary: That’s not really a long time. I mean, you know, taking the training in June and July, and then watching your products that fall … that’s still, you know, three or four months down the road. That’s not long at all. You mentioned having them made to your specifications. What exactly was that? Did you want the quality improved, different features or what did you actually look for in your first product?
Biswa: It’s a bit of both. When we selected our product, we also looked at the competition that was there in the market, and what were the other sellers doing different. So maybe we … so what we did, initially, was order five samples from five different suppliers and then we liked Feature A of sample one, Feature B of sample three … and somehow we thought, okay can we merge all these features together and that would make an awesome product.
Biswa: So when we went back to the supplier and told them, “Look. We need these [odd 00:05:09] features and do you sample?” And they said, “Look. I can’t add features one and four, I can only do two, three and five.” I said, “Okay. What’s the reason?” One could be cost, one could be the capability of the supplier. We did go back and forth quite a bit and finally got the product as we wanted. That’s why it took a bit longer because there was so much going back and forth. They had to send us the second sample to the specifications I had requested and that’s why it took a little longer. But it was fairly straight forward. Nothing over the top.
Rich Henderson: That’s awesome. Sounds like product tuning.
Mike McClary: Product tuning. Yeah. So, you know, it sounds exactly like that. We don’t always recommend people go out there and customize a product terribly, but when you … you do exactly what we talk about. What’s interesting … we were recording a lot of lessons and updating lessons, and in the product tuning lesson we talk about looking at the features from your competitors that customers do and don’t like, and trying to get those into your product and you’re the perfect case study of doing that, Biswa. That’s awesome. I should have you record the lesson next time.
Rich Henderson: Definitely. And it’s an instinct thing, as well. A lot of people think that, you know, you can’t go and do something like that with suppliers, and especially in China. But you can, like … they are open. Like they’ll have stock products, but they are open to doing different things that you request. Obviously you don’t request, like, too many things, but like Biswa did. You know he looked at the samples he got from a lot of different suppliers, picked the things that he liked the most and that made the product better, and then got one supplier to do that for him. So, it is an awesome tip, and don’t, whatever you do, think that you can’t ask the supplier to do what you want them to do. That’s what they’re there for at the end of the day.
Rich Henderson: So on that first product, Biswa, how much did you spend on your first inventory?
Biswa: I went big, so, my first order was around 10,000. Yeah. Probably more than that. My product was selling at the higher price, as well, and just not to scare people off, I got the money back within two months. So [crosstalk 00:07:10] and that’s why I was customizing it because I knew there was a demand for it. But yes, I did invest more but I got my money back very quickly. You don’t have to invest much just to start, because I know a lot of sellers in this area now and people started off with $500, $1,000 worth of inventory just to get their foot in the game. To test the waters. And that’s perfectly fine. I just went for the customized en route. I invested a lot more time and money to get that product at least to some specification that I liked myself, and then we launched it. That’s why I spent a bit more on inventory. That’s the only reason.
Rich Henderson: Firstly, I think I’m going to get rid of you and we’re going to bring Biswa in ASM10.
Mike McClary: I couldn’t blame you.
Rich Henderson: But-
Biswa: You cannot get rid of Mike.
Rich Henderson: No, no. You can replace him. Don’t worry about it.
Rich Henderson: Okay. You’ve summed it up. Everyone’s in different situation who gets into this business, you know? You might have a lot of capital to spend. You might have a lot of time to spare. But you can start at whatever level you like, and like Biswa says, we have members that started at $500 and gone on to make serious income. So don’t think Biswa’s gone for $10,000, because see he is very a proponent of ‘Go Big or Go Home.’ But yeah. So you can do it for a lot less. It’s not something that should hold you back. If you’re thinking, “Oh. I haven’t got $10,000.” But you don’t need that amount of money. Biswa is just one of our classic examples of adapting to the situation and moving forward with what his situation was.
Rich Henderson: So I know you were doing something else before you did ASM, right?
Biswa: Yes. I used to work in a bank. An IT consultant. I was an IT consultant for over 10 years. So all I knew was doing geeky stuff. I did no selling. I couldn’t sell … what do you say? Petrol to a car. [So they say 00:09:09].
Rich Henderson: Ice to an Eskimo.
Biswa: Yes. Yeah it was … you know it’s been so starter ground up. We did put in a lot of effort. We did put in our list to optimize our listing, make sure that our PPC campaigns are right. When I say, “PPC” that’s the ad campaign in [inaudible 00:09:27]. And we did all the spend. We did run our numbers over and over again to make sure that we are making money out of every sale. What’s the price? How low can we go? How high can we go? We tested the price right at the high end, to the low end, to see where it sold most. Probably after six to eight months of testing we finally found the optimal price where we didn’t have a dusty product. Didn’t have to [inaudible 00:09:54] the listing. Just left it on autopilot. To this day, I probably haven’t edited the listing for over a year.
Mike McClary: Okay, we don’t recommend that.
Rich Henderson: No. Well, unless you get it spot on.
Mike McClary: Exactly.
Rich Henderson: So obviously that was … I’m imagining that was a pretty high paying job, but obviously it is 9 to 5. How long before you actually managed to quite that job because of this business?
Biswa: I quit two months into my ASM product launch. Product went live in September, October. I quit in December. [crosstalk 00:10:27]
Rich Henderson: So that’s basically … you got your money back from your first order and thought, “I can do this. I’m gonna quit my job.”
Biswa: Yeah, it was pretty much a numbers game. I was thinking of how much do I earn? I didn’t expect to earn that much from my first product. The idea was that if I could have enough income to sustain my family, I don’t need to go to the job. I can always launch a second product, third product, fourth product, too, you know? Not double, triple … but at least increase that income. So if I have five products? Probably in six months time I could literally double my income that I have now and don’t need to go to work. And I’m active in a lot of areas, but I love my sleep, as well. So I can be lazy if I want to.
Rich Henderson: So what’s it like not having to commute to work every morning in London?
Biswa: It’s amazing. Absolutely amazing. You won’t believe the amount of rain and dull weather we have in the morning. And you don’t want to wake up. And sometimes I can’t be jealous … I shouldn’t be envious of them, but they walk in the rain to the Cube Station. Cube is the train stations over here. And I think, “I’m in no hurry.” People are always in a rush. You don’t need to rush anymore. I don’t go to [inaudible 00:11:42] markets on Saturday, Sundays anymore. I do my own thing at my own time, and it’s very relaxing. It improves the quality of life, as well. I spend a lot more time with my kids at home. There’s not much stress about anything, really. So it’s definitely a lifestyle that you, or anybody, should prefer a look at.
Mike McClary: So you live in London and you were living there when you launched your first product, right?
Mike McClary: And so where did you launch your first product? Did you decide to launch in Europe or the UK marketplace? Or did you launch in the United States?
Biswa: As per the course, I launched in the US first. It’s a lot easier to launch a product in the US because of the logistics in place. Between China … my first product was sold from China, so between China and US it’s a lot easier to get freight for orders. The logistics is [subtle 00:12:34]. Everybody knows what to do, so it’s a lot easier for you … don’t have to make somebody else understand what you’re doing. Whereas when I started in the UK, I had to look for a [freight forwarder 00:12:44] myself. I had to explain to them, “Look. This is what I’m trying to do. This is where you come in. This is your role and this is what I want to do.” And it’s not easy if they don’t understand or you don’t understand the whole process inside and out. Whereas in the US, to get your … the end to end process through … I would definitely recommend US. It’s a lot easier.
Mike McClary: Right. Awesome. So then you mentioned that you did launch in the UK at some point. How long until you launched in the UK?
Biswa: I think we launched in the UK in … February 2017. So a few months later, really. Six months later.
Mike McClary: And how’s that been for you? I know you said it’s a little hard to get going, but is it still pulling in some good additional revenue for you, as well?
Biswa: Absolutely. Yeah. For me, I think, right now where we are at is US and Europe are probably neck to neck. It’s very hard to split all the markets at this stage.
Mike McClary: That’s awesome. So you doubled your business by going in to both markets.
Rich Henderson: How hard was it to actually, like … So you were selling to the US. That was working for you. Successful. How hard was it then to like launch your product in the UK and the rest of Europe?
Biswa: It’s pretty straightforward because you already have the same supplier. All you have to do is change the barcode and your product is ready. As simple as that. And we use the same supplier. We just have to find a new freight forwarder, but other than that the whole Amazon account set-up process is exactly the same. The one advantage in Europe is that you just have to list in one of the market bases which is your whole base, and then your products get automatically listed in the remaining four marketplaces. They are translated automatically for you by Amazon’s own translating, but I would recommend going in and editing them yourself because the translation might not always be very good. But at least you have something out there and all of a sudden you see a sale in Europe and think, “Why did I that sale?” And you think, “Oh. My listing is active. I didn’t even know that.”
Rich Henderson: So essentially you created your listing in the UK and then people in France, Spain and Germany could all buy your product.
Biswa: Yes and [inaudible 00:14:53] and I didn’t even realize why are they paying in Euros? Why am I seeing Euros in my account? Until I realized that my product was actually live in Germany. Then I went in and edited the listing to optimize with keywords and stuff, but without doing anything you start getting sales in Europe.
Rich Henderson: That’s incredible.
Mike McClary: Now you mentioned you source your products from China. That right?
Mike McClary: How as that process? Was it very difficult to find products from China?
Biswa: No it wasn’t. Again, we followed the criteria that was laid out in the course. That you need gold supplier. We tried going by the accessed suppliers on Alibaba, as well, but that … those are very stringent criteria for a lot. But unless you are in the let’s say food or health and safety areas you don’t really need an assessed supplier but a gold supplier … somebody who won’t run away with your money and who has a valid Chinese address, right? You could very well check on Google to see if the supplier is legit or not. And, yeah, you can start working with them. And they are open to business. What I realized is they are looking out for businesses, as well, like us. So it helps when you approach them and they are key to get your business. And it’s very important to build a good relationship between you and your supplier, because you are looking at a long term relationship. You won’t be a one-off order and you need to convey that message across to them, as well.
Mike McClary: Awesome. Now I know that we’d told you this would be kind of short here, so we won’t take up too much of your time. Maybe we’ll get to video your questions, but I do have one question I wanted to ask. No business in the world is completely easy without any kind of hurdles. Any kind of issues or hurdles that you came across when you were building your business and how did you overcome them?
Biswa: Well. When you ask ‘any’ it shouldn’t be any, it should be many. Right? You’ll always come across hurdles. There’s tons of hurdles you’ll come across, but that’s the way. You don’t … you have never done business, right? You don’t know nothing about e-commerce. There’s something new to you. So obviously you’ll stumble across a few roadblocks, but those helps [are readily available 00:17:08]. The community. I used be there on community, all the time. All the time. Sometimes … I used to feel proud when I could answer some questions, as well. But this help [is readily available 00:17:21].
Biswa: So, one thing one has to understand is you will not be the only person on this journey. There are people that have already been there and a bunch of people that are traveling with you in the same stage that you are currently in the business. So your questions won’t sound silly because someobdy else also has the exact same problem that you are facing. And within a couple of hours someobdy will come around and answer your question and you move along. A simple as that. There will be hurdles. No doubt. You will get stuck. But there’s help [inaudible 00:17:54].
Rich Henderson: I think that’s … one of the things that we see a lot is … a lot of people say, and Biswa’s talking about the community we have at ASM, is that you might think something is a terrible, terrible, terrible thing that’s happened. When in reality because … it actually isn’t. So when you go and post in the community you’re like … you’re panicking. Members jump in. The mentors jump in or Mike or myself jumps in and says, “Don’t worry about that. It’s just such and such.” And so it is, it’s invaluable, I think. Like having other people doing what you’re doing because, I mean, it’s actually a question I want to ask you because … Do you have people to talk to? Like, can you talk to your family about your business, or friends, or anything like that? Or do you rely on the community and meeting other people at events and stuff to help you move forward?
Biswa: Me and my wife both work in the business together so yeah we do work on this together, but when you speak about … talking about the business to other friends, no you can’t really. Because they wouldn’t understand. They are in a different boat to you and you jumped ship two years back so they wouldn’t have no clue what you’re talking about. But, having said that, there’s very vibrant Amazon sellers community in London. I’m sure it’s the same in the US. So we do organize the events. We do meet up. We do have Facebook groups. We do have WhatsApp groups. So there’s always something to talk about and you are never alone. You probably have to put that WhatsApp chat on silent because there’s so much going on all the time. But yeah, there’s people that you can talk to at any point of time. Literally. Even in the middle of the night, you post a question on the WhatsApp group and somebody will answer.
Rich Henderson: Cool. We do have a question here from [Fayza Rayma 00:19:42]. I’m probably pronouncing your name completely wrong. I do apologize. What about the marketing of your product? How much marketing did you do for your products? Or do you do, for your products?
Biswa: So when we started … or for that matter whenever we launch a product we do quite a bit of social media marketing. So when I say ‘social media marketing’ it’s none of the paid stuff. It’s literally posting out on the Facebook page, posting out on the Pinterest, the Instagram account and the Twitter accounts. And then doing some press releases, as well, to get that marketing buzz that something new is coming into the market. Then, after the product is launched, we probably look at running very strong PPC campaign to rank our products. But it’s very basic. We don’t do anything out of the blue. It’s doing the basics right over and over and over again. That’s the key.
Mike McClary: Awesome. And how many products are you up to now, Biswa?
Biswa: So I went up to around 50 products, but it just went too manic for me. So I’m cutting down to … I think we’re down to 30 products now.
Mike McClary: Excellent.
Rich Henderson: Still a lot of product.
Mike McClary: That still is a lot. Do we have any other questions?
Rich Henderson: Nah. I’m not seeing any right now that he hasn’t already mentioned in talking, so.
Mike McClary: We do have a lot of existing ASM members saying, “Hello,” on here, Biswa. So, awesome. Everyone loves you in the community. I know we do.
Rich Henderson: [Ebrahim Abdullah Hassan 00:21:09] ASM9.
Mike McClary: Awesome. Welcome.
Rich Henderson: Welcome aboard.
Mike McClary: That’s fantastic.
Rich Henderson: We’ll see you in the community that Biswa was talking about.
Mike McClary: Okay. Well, I think that’s all … we got all the main questions covered. Biswa, I want to thank you very much, as usual, for joining us. You’re always a huge source of information and inspiration. Your journey has inspired a lot of people. Love the fact that you just went all in, bought enough inventory and quit your job in a few months.
Rich Henderson: How long did it take you to quit your job, Mike?
Mike McClary: A year. Now I feel like a loser, but that’s okay. We won’t mention that. But no, congratulations. Thank you again and hope to see you soon at one of our next live events. Hopefully. Maybe.
Rich Henderson: Amsterdam.
Mike McClary: Amsterdam, as a matter of fact. [crosstalk 00:21:52]
Mike McClary: For everyone else on here. If you are not yet an ASM member … well, first. If you are an ASM member, especially a new one, welcome aboard. We can’t wait to see you. Rich and I and Matt and Jace will be hosting the very first live call this Friday morning at 11 a.m. central. That’s only for new ASM members. Can’t wait to see you. If you’re not a member, if you’re on the fence or you haven’t even seen our training yet, be sure to check out amazingsellingmachine.com. We truly have free training on there. There’s four videos on there. The first three go through the entire business model. We’ll show you the basics of exactly what Rich and I and Biswa all have done to start our own basic business … it’s the basics on how to start our own Amazon businesses, but it shows you everything you need to know to understand the business and even get started, if you want to, and then if you want to join Rich and I and Biswa and thousands of other members of the Amazing Selling Machine and be part of the community, get the full eight week training, the private resource vault where we share our own resource with you, be able to ask questions of the mentors of the community that are there all the time answering questions, be able to get a free product listing evaluation … completely a new bonus. We’ve never offered that before.
Mike McClary: Also, take advantage of $100,000 in free traffic that we’ll be spending money … hopefully Rich will more than I will … but we’ll be paying for sending to your products. You also want to take advantage of the 30 day money back guarantee and the six month buy back promise. Then you absolutely don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. The doors are closing this week. Thursday night at midnight pacific time, the doors will close and we will be focusing on all the new ASM9 members. We hope to see you a part of that. You only have a little bit of time. Biswa, did you wait to the last class when you were joining ASM?
Biswa: I did.
Mike McClary: Okay. So everything else Biswa said up until now, follow his advice.
Biswa: Not that one.
Mike McClary: Not that one. Don’t wait until the last minute. No, actually some people … we understand. We get it. That, you know, it is an investment in your future. You need to think about it. You may need to talk about it with your spouse or another, or some of your family. We get that, but we absolutely want to see you in the Amazing Selling Machine 9 course. So whatever you do, watch the free training and then be sure to signup by this Thursday at midnight pacific time to become the next part of Amazing Selling Machine 9.
Mike McClary: Biswa, thank you very much. From myself and Rich [crosstalk 00:24:08] thanks for joining us on this call and we hope to see as many of you as possible inside Amazing Selling Machine. Take care.