In this digital age, entrepreneurs will be left behind if they won’t give e-commerce a chance. This is the ultimate tool for expanding your business and reaching a wider audience. And instead of building a brand from scratch, Ann Sieg recommends shaping yourself into a third-party seller instead. In this episode, she breaks down practical strategies and the necessary skill set to succeed as a product seller in today’s leading marketplace, Amazon. Ann presents the steps to becoming a powerful e-commerce business, the potential red flags newbie entrepreneurs should watch out for, and the importance of constant evolution in entrepreneurship.
We have a very special guest with us, Ann Sieg. She is new. Ann, could you please introduce yourself and what you’re into?
I came online several years ago by my son’s recommendation. At that time, I was struggling with an offline business and he said, “Mom, you need to go online.” That was May 4th, 2004. That completely changed my life. I got into a great training program at that time that was helping me with that particular business problem, which was sales. I got into that training program, then I became the top producer in that program, and then I invited him to join me in my business. The industry that I was in or niche is called Attraction Marketing.
We’re teaching people about direct sales and how to build online sales funnels to attract traffic to them, which is leads. We did that for ten years and then we shifted into eCommerce on New Year’s Eve Day, December 31st, 2013. We haven’t looked back since. I had an inner circle membership at that time, and I introduced them to selling on Amazon. The beauty of that one is I don’t have to explain what Amazon is. Probably the majority of your readers are Prime. I bet you two are Prime, am I right?
We have been doing that. We’ve serviced over 9,000 students teaching them to become eCommerce sellers, but we always start them with Amazon because it is such a massive platform. They have the biggest customer base with credit cards in the system. I’ve got 2 or 3 in the system for my account. That’s what we do.
I have spoken to a lot of people on real estate. My husband and I had done real estate investment for a season. We did not excel at that. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but it didn’t end up being our sweet spot. Our sweet spot is online marketing. I love online marketing, and with the onset of COVID, it was like, “We’re in so the right place.” Our sellers were making money to the roof in March 2020 when they shut down because everyone was running to Amazon. Pretty much everything that’s played out in the economy has benefited us as for our members who are Amazon sellers. As it relates to real estate, we do teach product flipping. My brother was flipping houses, for example, as a living. There are timings.
Any pieces of advice for people who are trying to excel in the e-Commerce world right now?
There is mental makeup because we target advertising where we can see the people who end up being better suited. I can’t say that that would be especially unique to eCommerce per se. More people are willing to go in and learn a new skillset and industry, whether that’s real estate or eCommerce. I would imagine the commonalities are very similar. We have found that our medical people do well. We’ve got many nurses, doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, you name it. A lot of them are careering because they’re worn out and tired of their current vocations. That’s just an observation thing.
Why do they seem to do well? I believe one is having mental discipline. They have to go through a fair amount of schooling and then they have ongoing education. They have the mental makeup for going through training. We always have mentoring as part of what we do, but it’s also having the ability to observe data. That’s true of all businesses.
If you’re in real estate, you’re going to have to pay attention to data, but that’s especially true as a seller on Amazon because the real science and success of being a successful Amazon seller, the number one skillset you have to develop is learning how to properly vet a product that you would then turn around and sell on Amazon. The moral of the story is there’s a lot of people have attempted to be what’s called a third-party seller on Amazon and have lost a lot of money because they jumped into the deep end of the pool doing a method that was far more advanced than where they should be.
They should be over on the shallow end of the pool instead of jumping straight into the deep end of the pool, like with private labels. You’ve got a much longer learning curve. Your risk is far greater. We have taught almost every sourcing method there is for selling on Amazon, but we always want to start people where they can be most successful and with the least amount of risk. We have this big global view of the industry where when people first learn about it, they’re going to get pitched a certain method and why that’s the bee’s knees and it’s the way they got to go.
The wholesale queen has spoken, the private label king, and the Shopify prince and all this, and their persuades of sales copy will sell them on that method being the best without that global view of, “Where’s the best place for me to start though?” You’re not going to hear that business argument laid out. We do lay that out. We have that on our homepage so that they can better sort through the lieu of information that’s out there about eCommerce and make a better-informed decision to know one, “Is this the right space for me?” Two, “How do I get started?” Your question was what do I see people need to succeed. That’s why I went with the nurses because they do well.
What would they need to succeed in eCommerce world?
I’ll give a little more logistically what they would need. It is a home-based business and it’s completely mobile. You can do it from anywhere in the world. We have a coach for example, but she sells in the US, so it’s a non-issue. You will need a US bank account. That’s logistically what you’ll need. I’m going to guess most of your readers have that. Even if you’re overseas, we have people UK and Canada, but they have that US bank account. It doesn’t even take an advanced laptop or desktop. I forget what our top trainer recommends, and we give those recommendations, but it’s not like you need a top-grade laptop to do this business.
You’ll get familiar with Google Sheets because it’s data-driven. Data drives good decision-making. If you go by a wing and a prayer and, “This is so cute and it’s going to sell,” that’s not how we approach it. It’s all very data-driven. They need basic computer skills and know how to show up on a Zoom call. Believe it or not, we have to have training for that for some of our members and they got to know how to share their camera because they’re going to be mentored in coaching classes and whatnot. They’re going to need cash because you’ll be investing in products that you’re then going to sell on Amazon. You do not need huge sums of money to get started across the board in our community. We always recommend people start small.
Not all sourcing methods are created equally. Some, you’re going to have to need big cash. If you’re going with private labels straight to China, you may have to buy a container full of products and spend $30,000 to $40,000, which is very foolish in my view to start off with by far the riskiest method and putting out that cash.
I also would say very strongly to stay away from done-for-yous. There’s a colossal failure within that particular category in the eCommerce space. We know because we’re on the phone talking to people. People have to get on the phone when we go through an application process. It’s a slaughterhouse. I want to let your people know upfront about buyer-beware pitfalls in the eCommerce training space. Don’t get involved in a done-for-you. A lot of times, these people take the money and run up to $65,000.
The other thing that I’ve seen is you do not own the assets that are going to be controlled and owned by the done-for-you entity. You will not be able to access your Amazon account. They’re going to theoretically run it for you and then you get a percentage of the profits. You’re not in control. It sounds appealing if you’re an investor that likes to throw a bunch of money at this. “You go make the money for me.” You better know that person, do your due diligence, and ask for some references because they charge upwards of $35,000 to $65,000. It sounds great, but there are very few reputable ones.
E-Commerce: Do not get involved in DONE FOR YOU. It does not give you full asset ownership and will only provide you with a percentage of the profits.”
I want to get a little bit more on the personal side, if you don’t mind. What did you do before you even got into eCommerce? What made you fall in love with what you’re doing right now?
I’ve been married for many years and we’ve done a number of businesses together. My husband and I are very entrepreneurial. We did the brick-and-mortar before online. We had a windshield replacement business up in Minnesota, the Twin City metro area, that my husband had for several years, and he loved it. He’s a very hands-on guy and he loves relating to customers’ repeat business and service eight different service aisles within the Twin City metro area. I would do the bookkeeping and that stuff at home. I also homeschooled our three sons for twelve years. I was the principal and I determined what curriculum was important to our household, which was learning about business. Our boys were always brought into different aspects of the businesses that we had.
I introduced my eldest son to Robert Kiyosaki when he was in high school. I said, “Read every book this guy has written.” He did all sorts of business in high school. I said, “I don’t know if you’re going to succeed or not, but I do know this you will learn from each experience,” and that’s priceless. What ended up happening after he was in high school was he went on to become a top affiliate marketer. He was the top affiliate in the world at age 21 for GetResponse, That’sWestern, Walmart, etc. which is through Google Adwords.
I correspondingly took my own path online to learn online sales and marketing, and then we converged and joined paths in 2005 courtesy of a motorcycle accident that brought him into our house. He has a massive road rash and was there for a few weeks and I was taking care of him. Melanie, are you mom? Have you experienced this?
I ride a motorcycle.
The lesson learned there is that he sold the parts on eBay and he never went back to having a motorcycle. His friend witnessed the whole darn thing and he’s like, “I’m so done.” That was the catalyst for him to become my business partner. That’s what happened. It’s a unique situation. I have done a lot of direct sales for fifteen years. I’ll mention some names, Mary Kay. It’s still a known brand. That was my very first one. What I discovered is I like selling. Selling is fun and I enjoy it. I like all aspects of it and I absolutely love marketing because that’s the tip of the spear before sales.
In terms of Amazon third-party selling, coming from a third-party seller, why do you think Amazon is one of the easiest methods of selling online now?
I used to teach funnel building at my previous training company. With Amazon, they are the sales funnel. They do the marketing and advertising and have a customer base. Why do you see Sears with their Kenmore brand on Amazon? If you can’t beat them, you join them. That’s how you get market share these days, whether people like it or not. Look what Amazon is doing. They have the marketing funnel with the customers in base. It’s not to say that there’s no advertising that you may need as an Amazon third-party seller, but it all begins with this gorgeous $330 million because it’s not just in the US. It’s absolutely huge. People are very addicted to Amazon. Are you slightly addicted to Amazon? Do you buy there frequently?
A little bit.
My sister is the online Amazon shopper. I’m more of a hands-on, “Let me try it on and feel it” type of person. My sister is highly-addicted, but I’m like, “I don’t know yet.”
I knew there was a big shift when I was talking to a gal who was considering joining the program and she said, “I scroll every night through Amazon.” I thought, “You’re not scrolling through Facebook,” which is what most people do. They sit there, scrolling through Facebook, waiting for something interesting, and jump out of Facebook. That’s an interesting shift. You scroll Amazon.
I don’t know how many of your readers do that, but here at our house, the boxes arrive almost daily. That’s why. There’s another reason why Amazon. They train you very well in their terms of service and how they expect you to behave and conduct your business on Amazon. They set in place good KPIs like what’s important. It’s how they run their ship. You’re then going to be more well-trained for when you go to Shopify or eBay. eBay is an option but it’s small in comparison to Amazon now. It used to be more neck and neck and then Amazon has gone way past.
About Ann Sieg
Coach, Author & Online Business Mentor
Ann Sieg is the author of three widely acclaimed books on how to attract customers online and generated over 4.2 million in sales from her first e-book over 13 years ago.
This all as a result of Ann and her husband losing their auto glass business almost overnight due to a new state law. Ann took her little “side-hustle” business and doubled-down…taking her sales from 2K per month to 90K per month in three months’ time. It was more than enough to bring her husband home.
She went on to build an online empire… network marketing, info marketing, affiliate marketing, creating and selling her own products… Ann did it all… to the tune of $20 million+ in sales.
Ann’s training has impacted hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to achieve online success all while working from home. But nothing has matched the rapid success of her e-commerce students. It’s not uncommon for them to see cash flow in the first few days or weeks of starting their businesses. And others have achieved 6, 7, and even 8 figure incomes – many through her free training alone.
Ann is passionate to help 1000 people make $10,000 a month and build their own family economy working from home.