Earlier this year, a fan of my Lean Media video channel reached out to ask if I would be interested in partnering with him to help sell his product. He appreciated the no-hype style of my videos, and thought that we could work something out that would be mutually beneficial. This post describes some of my thoughts about partnering with other Amazon Sellers.
I was flattered by this offer, but had to decline, mainly because of the first reason listed below.
It’s not the only time this has come up. I am regularly approached by companies selling different types of goods who want me to handle certain parts of their business, either as a partnership or a consulting arrangement. Some are selling in my niches, others are in completely different product lines.
I sometimes do paid business consulting, but to date have never taken over management of specific aspects of someone else’s business or product family, or engaged in other coordinated partnerships with Amazon Sellers. There are many reasons:
- A lack of time. I have three primary product lines of my own, with new SKUs and ISBNs constantly in development. Spending time on someone else’s product lines takes time away from my own, and my own business may suffer.
- A lack of control over manufacturing. I work closely with a local U.S. manufacturer for two of my product lines. I visit the production facility regularly, and can inspect finished product the day it’s ready. When issues crop up, I can quickly get them fixed. I don’t worry about piracy, inventory being held hostage, long shipping delays, or customs problems. In the past, when another local supplier raised prices after an ownership change, I was easily able to switch, and if there is ever a more serious dispute, resolution can be handled according to contractual terms. Taking on someone else’s product line manufactured in another country introduces all kinds of risk which I don’t want to deal with, not to mention a lack of transparency into the supply chain.
- A lack of control over product design. I don’t want to manage someone else’s product that may have faults or other issues that can’t be corrected. It often leads to customer dissatisfaction, as well as tension in the partnership when sales falter.
- A lack of control over fulfillment. Not everyone wants to do Amazon FBA, and insist on either handling fulfillment on their own (Amazon FBM) or via a third party who may not be up to the task, particularly during peak periods.
- A lack of control over marketing. I have worked with some true pros when it comes to marketing, and have advised others about Amazon Advertising. But there are a lot of new sellers out there who will do anything it takes to get ahead, including cutting corners, violating basic aspects of Amazon TOS (such as demanding five-star reviews from customers), and engaging in outright scams. That’s not how I roll!
- Amazon Seller account risk. Some offers of partnerships are really all about access to a U.S.-based Amazon Seller Central account in good standing. If someone else’s products are faulty, aren’t delivered in time, or involve shady marketing practices, guess who has to deal with 1-star reviews, bad performance metrics, and Amazon penalties including the threat of account termination?
- Flakes, cheats, and amateurs. I have worked with many small businesses including suppliers, designers, manufacturers, and editors. The majority are run by people who are truly dedicated, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. However, from time to time I have dealt with people who have been undependable, amateurish, or deceitful. When working with unknown people who are outside of your network and may be new to business, the risk of encountering flakes, cheats, and people with good intentions who don’t know what they are doing goes up.
In summary, I have a number of reasons why I don’t want to get involved in partnerships with other Amazon Sellers or manufacturers. While I may be potentially losing out on a great mutually beneficial partnership, there is also risk involved.
Where I fit best in the Amazon Seller ecosystem is dispensing advice. A lot of my Amazon FBA advice and Amazon Advertising insights are free (like this blog and some of my Amazon Seller videos), and I will do short-term consulting engagements if I can fit it into my schedule and it doesn’t impact my business.