Proven Amazon Course

124 OEA Podcast - Stop Wasting Your Time Shipping Boxes to Amazon

Whats up Empire!

Joshua Woodward here,

how many hours do you think you have spent shipping products out of your house? I could never count it. What if there was a better way?

If you have been in the industry for a while im sure you have heard about fulfillment centers or packing warehouse. For those of you who have not, let me break this down.

When you find goods with online arbitrage and or you are ready to ship over your newly produced private label products you need somewhere to drop these products off too.

If you are anything like me the last thing on earth you want it 3,000 brand new units being dropped off on your driveway. Fulfillment centers start by giving you a place to drop these goods off too.

The next step is getting the products out of the manufacturers boxes or out of the Walmart boxes, stickers taken off, then FBA stickers on and put into their correct boxes to be shipped. Yup you guessed it Fulfillment centers do that all for you.

Next you will need to ship those boxes out. I have a truck but i still end up making multiple stops.
That is the beauty of a fulfillment center all of these incredibly frustrating and time consuming processes are completely taken care of.

Empire.....stop wasting your time shipping boxes to Amazon, just let a fulfillment center do it for you.

If you want to know about Brenden and his fulfillment company go to, http://primezeroprep.com/
And to let them know you heard about Prime Zero Prep from our show use the promo code - empire

Thank you so much for tuning in and until next time,

Have a great day!

- Transcription below -

Joshua Woodward:
What's up Online Empire Academy? Joshua Woodward here. Today we're talking to Brenden Sullivan from Prime Zero Prep, and I'm really excited. I just got a chance to talk to Nate McAlister. I hope you guys listen to that podcast. It's awesome, if you haven't. He had talked about kind of the use of online arbitrage and a prepping company. This is a concept I've heard about before and something that I've looked into, but I haven't done it yet. I wanted to have Brenden on just to kind of talk through what it is that they do but also why it's going to help our businesses.

First, I want to hear your story, man. How are you doing?

Brenden :
I'm doing great, man. I appreciate you having me on today.

Joshua Woodward:
Absolutely. I'm excited. I'm excited to learn more about this. Tell me your story and how you got started with this.

Brenden :
Sure. I've always been involved in the ... Well, I don't want to say always, but for a while now I've been selling online prior to jumping into the prep side of the world. Before we started Prime Zero Prep, which was early last year, I sold online in various platforms; eBay was where I started. I was doing that for about. I was doing that for about ten years part-time. I always had a full-time job while juggling eBay. About three and a half years ago I transitioned into Amazon because I was just fulfilling too many items on the eBay platform by myself. It became a struggle to balance that plus my full-time job. I wasn't ready to jump in with two feet at this point in my life.

FBA seemed like the perfect transition to kind of scale my business in the direction it was going without dedicating myself full-time to the business. I ended up taking a few courses, and it's funny ... I actually took a course that Dean was part of. That was one of the first courses I ever took that was in relation to Amazon FBA. It's funny because I haven't talked to or heard about Dean in a while because I've kind of gone away from the pulse of Amazon because I'm doing the prep side of the business now. It's kind of interesting to see it come back full circle and be interviewed by Dean and his team, obviously, knowing that you guys are a partnership on this academy. It's pretty cool.

When I started doing Amazon, I saw the great success out the gate. My very first year I put up about 120,000 dollars in sales part-time. I mean I was only doing eight to ten hours a week. I was just going to Walmart and doing clearance style retail arbitrage flips. That's all I was doing. I saw the potential there, and I came to a crossroad in my life. I was like all right I can jump into this full-time. I see the numbers that are out there. I have friends that I've made through Facebook groups. I see the potential. I had people that were doing this full-time. They were doing a million dollars in sales their second year doing it full-time. It was mind blowing to me because I was hustling a full-time job, and these guys are making three times as much money as I was. They didn't seem like they were working. They loved what they did.

I'm like all right. I'm going to do this full time. Then I'm like all right how can I do it full-time without hiring a ton of people. Because I don't want to have team members, and I don't want to have people working in my garage. I had an issue. I'm like all right maybe I could use a prep center. This was early last year ... so January of 2015. Back then, there wasn't a lot of prep centers that were in existence. There was maybe two or three but not many.

One of the advantages I had was I lived ten minutes from a tax-free state, so I always did my sourcing in that tax-free state because it was just one less thing I had to worry about. No need to pull out a resale certificate or tax exempt form. It was just I go there, I buy my stuff, and there's no taxes whatsoever. That became a head scratcher for me. I said all right well maybe I could launch a prep center in this tax-free state. Therefore, anybody sending their products to us wouldn't pay taxes because taxes only get charged on the end shipping side of things. No matter where you're buying it from, no matter where your billing address is, where it's being shipped to is how they dictate how much taxes you're going to pay.

Joshua Woodward:
Wow.

Brenden :
Being that I live near New Hampshire I said this makes perfect sense. I saw the need for it. I saw the niche. Here we are 14 months later, and I've exploited it pretty well. We're growing at an extremely rapid pace, so it's been awesome.

Joshua Woodward:
Explain Prime Zero Prep. Explain what you do as a prepping company.

Brenden :
What we do is customers of ours will send their online arbitrage orders or wholesale orders or anything they can buy that they don't have to physically go pick up. They'll send them directly to our warehouse, and we'll receive their products. We'll inspect them for damages and make sure they match up to the listing they want to list it against on Amazon. Then we'll do any prep-related stuff to it whether it's bundling, multi-pack, whether it's poly bagging. Whatever it needs, we're versed to make sure that we get it according to Amazon's guideline.

We'll then finalize our shipments, and we'll distribute it to the warehouses that Amazon is asking it to go to. We do everything on that side of the business. Once they hit send on their order, we do everything else from inspection to getting it out the door.

Joshua Woodward:
I love that you are a seller yourself. You started this as a seller. What's that?

Brenden :
Yes, I stopped selling once I started this business. The reason why I did that was because part of the issue I had, and maybe it's due to a little paranoia, is I felt that when I found my deals I didn't want to share with anybody. I'm like oh these are my deals. I can go back to the store sometime and re-buy these deals. I was very secretive. Not that you have to worry about that, but that's what crossed my mind. I said that I didn't want to be a seller and then also prep other sellers' items because to me that was kind of a conflict of interest. I felt like I was very versed in the Amazon community. That's kind of where it happened.

I stopped selling, and I started this. Then I still, obviously, know the rules and regulations. I'm very active in all the Amazon groups whether it's on their seller forum site or whether it's through Facebook. We're very up to keep on what Amazon requires and all the changes they make, but I don't sell anymore just because I didn't like ... I thought I was mixing too many hands in the basket there.

Joshua Woodward:
I like that. I appreciate that. I think what's cool is you have this knowledge that not a lot of people have that you can kind of speak to. You understand Amazon, and you understand what's okay and what's not okay. One of the questions I had was is it something that I just ... It's online arbitrage or it's I have to private label a product. Can I send you guys anything and you ship it out?

Brenden :
Yeah, anything you can sell on Amazon you can ship to us. There's a full array of stuff that we receive that I never thought of people selling on Amazon. There's really no restrictions on what can be sent to us. If Amazon can house it, we can house it here until it goes out our door.

Joshua Woodward:
Specifically, do you cater towards FBA, or do you guys do merchant fulfill?

Brenden :
Merchant fulfillment is something we just started getting into. We do offer that service as of now. We literally rolled it out probably about 30 days ago.

Joshua Woodward:
Wow.

Brenden :
It's something we're looking to expand on. We're actually in talks with the post office right now about qualifying for better rates so we can offer those rates to our customers to see if we can squeeze a little bit more money for those margins that people will need when they're merchant fulfilling. Yeah, it's something we do do, and it's something we're looking to scale up pretty big this year.

Joshua Woodward:
That's really cool. That was kind of one of my biggest questions was especially for the people who are transitioning from eBay coming into Amazon. They might want to do some merchant fulfill before they go to FBA. I wondered if that was a service. Do you guys do anything with eBay?

leveragerandom

Brenden :
We're open to it. We don't have any current eBay customers, but our merchant fulfillment is really a universal thing. No matter what platform you're on whether it's eBay, whether it's Amazon, whether it's Shopify, anything online we can fulfill a product just the way we would if they were selling it on the Amazon platform. The way we do it is super simple. It's you sell the product. You send us the shipping label. We pull the product, and we ship it out that day. It's a very simple, streamlined, no headache type of process that we're looking to make even better as we get more comfortable with this newer venture for us.

Joshua Woodward:
I love the process. I love the thought of kind of this venture, this idea, because it simplifies my life so much more. My wife and I have talked about doing something like this for a while, so it's good to know that you guys are there. Just the Empire ... so you understand their numbers a little bit. You guys have been in business a little over a year and already shipped out almost 700,000 items, correct?

Brenden :
Yeah, and we'll probably be at a million by July or August.

Joshua Woodward:
Oh my gosh. That's a lot of items.

Brenden :
Yeah, it's funny because we grew. Last year, and this will kind of give you a perspective of where we were, last year during our first fourth quarter we were very hesitant on how many customers we could take because we didn't want to bottleneck our business due to the massive increase we assumed that most of our customers would do inventory-wise. We had a waiting list for six months last year, so from June to December we wouldn't let anybody else in our doors because we were not afraid but we didn't want to take on too many clients at once during our first Q4 as a prep center. We had about 120 customers in total during Q4.

Joshua Woodward:
Oh my goodness.

Brenden :
We handled it fine. There was no hiccup. Everything went out in the same speed as it would any other time of the year. We realized that we could take on a lot more. Right now we're at about 400 customers. We literally opened our doors January 1 and it's been non-stop just people every single day. Yeah, we're going to hit that million item count pretty soon.

Joshua Woodward:
That's impressive. Obviously, when you're shipping and stuff you're shipping multiple items in a box. You guys still did almost 40,000 boxes in a year. That is amazing. That's so many boxes.

Brenden :
It's a lot. What's cool about our services is as people grow their business and want to leverage other ways to save money, because we're a warehouse with five loading docks we can explore the LTL shipments, which is if you're shipping pallets out opposed to just boxes, which can end up saving you a lot of money if the weights make sense. Those are other things that are advantages to customers that don't want to open their own warehouse. They just want to work out of their home. It's tough to do certain things when you don't have loading docks and the ability to take a forklift and throw a pallet on the back of a truck or whatever it may be. There's a lot of benefits to being able to outsource this side of your business.

Joshua Woodward:
I love it. One of my bigger questions was what is the number one problem you're seeing with people using your service whether that's not enough information or whatever it is. I wanted to know if I'm going to use a service like yours or your service what is the number one thing for me as a seller to know working with you?

Brenden :
The biggest issue we see, and it isn't for all sellers; it's usually with brand new sellers. They'll use our service before they've ever used Amazon, and they don't understand the listing process on Amazon or the shipment creation process on Amazon. It's really good to get kind of those basics under your belt first because as a customer of ours you're still responsible for creating your own shipments and setting your own prices and doing things of that nature. That's probably the biggest ... I wouldn't say it's an issue. It takes a little bit more hand holding on our end, but as a customer it's probably frustrating because you send us products week one and then it takes you another two weeks to learn how to figure out to create a shipment and list those products on Amazon.

That's kind of a hurdle some of our newer customers have. I would say most experienced customers that have a couple months under their feet within Amazon don't have many issues. Our system is pretty straightforward. I'll kind of give you a basic idea of how it works.

Joshua Woodward:
Yeah, please.

Brenden :
You would send us a product, and then we share a Google Sheet. On that sheet you would say I'm sending you 12 of these PAW Patrol items from Walmart. Then when those 12 items come in we'll type in the receive column that we received 12. If there's any discrepancies whether it's a damaged item or a mis-IDed item, we would not that in our notes section on that Google Sheet.

Once you decide you have enough items on site to create a shipment, there's no minimum requirement. You could ship out 12 items at a time. You could ship out a hundred items at a time. It doesn't matter to us. You would just e-mail us and say, "Hey, Brenden, I want to create a shipment." I will say, "Hey, go ahead." Then, once you're done you let us know, and then we take care of the rest. We have access to your Amazon account via user permissions with a limited access that just allows us to see your outbound shipments. That means we can log in. We can print out product labels. We can enter in weights and dimensions, and then we can complete the shipment all within an hour or so depending on how big the shipment is. It's a very simple process from beginning to end on our end. There's not really many hurdles other than just kind of getting used to how this compared to how you might normally do it at your house.

Joshua Woodward:
I love it. What was the process? I kind of want to bring it back to the beginning. How did you even get here in I want to develop a shipping service? How did you get there?

Brenden :
It was just me at a transition in my life saying all right how do I scale my business. How do I take it to the next level? What can I outsource to make myself more efficient just in my overall business? I knew I was good at finding product deals, and that's what made me the most money. It was okay I found a great deal. I can make X amount of dollars of it. Let me go buy as many as I can. Now I got to process it and I got to label it, and I got to do all this stuff, which really slowed me down. I mean I can go out and buy a hundred items in 15 minutes, but then it would take me another hour and a half to prep those items. That part of it just didn't seem like the most well used part of my time. I felt like my time per hour was worth more.

I came to this process where I had to say okay should I outsource it to a prep center or should I open up my own prep center being that I have a real competitive advantage. This is funny because this is one of the things that Dean always talked about when I took his course. He said you have to find out what your competitive advantage is. He goes your competitive advantage isn't you can drive fast to a Walmart because everyone can drive fast to a Walmart. They're everywhere. He goes your competitive advantage is something only you have. I found that the tax-free state that was eight miles from my house was my competitive advantage in the prep world. That's kind of how everything came together.

I just said, "All right, let me go look at warehouses." I have a business partner that I took on with me because he had a ton of management experience both in warehouse and retail, so I thought he was a good fit. Plus, he was always looking to do something for himself as opposed to working for somebody else. It just all came together real quick. It was a matter of January 1, this is an idea, and then January 27 we signed a lease to our first building. Then April 1 we signed a lease to our second building. Then October of that same year we got a whole new building because we outgrew every building so quickly.

Joshua Woodward:
Just for you viewers I had the chance to work in a loading dock when I was younger. When somebody says a dock, we have five doors or five docks. That means five trucks can be at each door at one time, and so whether that's importing the goods or exporting the goods that's five docks, which means that you can do so much more with your time and so much more with that space in the long run. That's impressive. I mean to be able to grow that substantially in a year. I mean we had three docks, and we were working with huge, huge hair product lines. That's pretty impressive.

Brenden :
Yeah, it's funny. I didn't realize how big we were going to get so fast. I knew there was a demand for it and a need because it seemed like online arbitrage and wholesale, and a lot of people want to work from home and that seems like the easier way to do it once you can get going. It's not easy by any means, but once you get the hang of doing those type of things it's definitely easier to order stuff from your computer than it is to go out and physically buy products. If you can now find out how to get those products to somebody else and you're completely hands off, it seems like a good fit, and it seems like a model that most people would be interested in. It's proven to be very popular very, very quickly.

Our first warehouse was 1800 square feet. I'll be honest. When I signed that warehouse lease, I said, "Wow, this is a lot of space." My garage was like 400 square feet, so I saw this warehouse. I'm like, "Wow, 18 foot ceilings, big opening garage door." I'm like, "We're never going to leave this place." I was nervous about signing a one year commitment to it because I'm like I don't even know if I'm going to need this much space after a year. Maybe I want to downsize. I mean six months, maybe eight months later we signed a lease to an 18,000 square foot facility. That's where we are today. I'll be honest with you. We're looking pretty full out there. Right now we're looking at a satellite warehouse to maybe take on just for fourth quarter because I don't think we're going to be able to handle it at the space we're at now.

Joshua Woodward:
Well, if you ever come closer to California, let me know. I'd be interested. I think that the cool part of this ... I mean joking I'm saying come to California, but realistically I could send this from anywhere. I don't have to ... It doesn't matter that I'm in California. I can send it because it's all on arbitrage. It's all working online. How does it work when I am private label. I know you guys probably do quite a lot of sellers who are doing private label. Are you in communications with the people in China, or am I sending those directly to you? How does that process work?

Brenden :
Typically, what happens is the first person at the port in the U.S. would be the freight forwarder.

Joshua Woodward:
Okay.

Brenden :
We're usually in communications with them. Usually, the Chinese agent will talk to the freight forwarder, and they're kind of in communication on getting their products from Asia to a U.S. port. Once they get to the U.S. port, the freight forwarder will reach out to us to schedule either a drop off of a container or just to schedule a pallet delivery or whatever it might be. We deal directly with the freight forwarders.

We had our first full container about six weeks ago. It was brand new for us to get a full container. We've had a couple half containers, but a full container was cool. I don't know if it was cool because it wasn't palletized. It was just a container full of boxes. They drop it off, and they leave. All of a sudden there's a container here. We have 24 hours to unload it because the longer it stays on site the more money our customer has to pay. We do our best to get things ... We got it out pretty quick, but it was interesting because it was the first time we experienced it. We didn't have enough ... tackle it all in like an hour like we expected to because we thought we would just pull pallets off of a truck. Either way, that's pretty much how the process works. We deal with freight forwarders, and they usually deal with the agents overseas.

Joshua Woodward:
The moral of the story is ask for pallets.

Brenden :
Yeah, if you can pay ... because we actually ... when we talk to private label sellers we'll say, "Hey, we can definitely unload it, but there's going to be an extra cost if there's no pallets attached because it probably takes us five times as much in length of time to do it than it does to do it with pallets." Yes, if you can get it palletized, that's usually going to be the less expensive option compared to paying someone else on our end to do it.

Joshua Woodward:
What if I need you guys to throw on stickers or, like you said, combining different things? How does that work?

Brenden :
We throw on stickers. If you have customers stickers for private label products, we do have a service that's no extra charge that we just apply your sticker. We have other stickers on site for any online arbitrage reason whether it's a ready to ship sticker or do not separate sticker.

Joshua Woodward:
Okay.

Brenden :
All those things are here. Again, our pricing structure is flat fee. Whatever the price is, that includes any type of stickers or delabeling things if it's online arbitrage. Whatever the prep related side of it is, our flat fee cost covers it.

Joshua Woodward:
That's really cool because I was thinking that could get pretty expensive if I've got ... It's coming up on summer at the time of recording this, and I'm thinking oh I could do like a bundle of kids' toys or something, like summer toys. I think it's cool that I could bundle all those together and not have to pay a huge amount of the back end. That's really good to know.

Brenden :
Yeah, some prep centers will have like a sliding scale in prices where they charge 30 cents for a poly bag and then another 25 cents for a suffocation label. It's hard to sometimes figure out what your true margin is because you don't know how items are going to arrive at a warehouse. The item might need to be poly bagged. It might have a sticker you have to remove. I mean we don't know those things when we're buying products. We figured the simple, straightforward pricing was the best way to figure out exactly what your bottom line margin would be and how it would be impacted by using a service like ours.

Joshua Woodward:
Very cool. Before we hop off, what would be your top tip for people thinking about doing this?

Brenden :
If you're going to outsource your work, picking a prep center is probably going to be the hardest thing to do because there's probably about 50 of them right now. While I, obviously, would always recommend myself, you need to do your due diligence and kind of figure out which one would work best for your scenario. If you are a private label person, for example, California is probably the best place to find a prep center or somewhere on the West Coast because usually shipping costs there are a lot less expensive. Freight times are also a lot quicker. Depending on what your model is ... If you sell wholesale, wholesalers are going to charge you shipping a lot of the time. Finding a prep center near your bigger wholesalers is going to save you shipping costs.

If your business is mainly online arbitrage, then a tax-free prep center ... and we're not the only one. There's a few of them out there. Those are probably going to be the best prep centers to use because it's one less thing you have to worry about. Some people might have tax exempt forms and things of that nature, but those can be a headache sometimes to chase around and make sure you get reimbursed and things of that nature.

I think in the perfect world for most sellers if you're dabbling in all three of those types of reseller formats then having a handful of prep centers might be the best way to kind of spread your eggs out and not put all your eggs in one basket. If I was selling, I'd probably use two or three prep centers just because to me it makes sense. If you have a thousand items you're going to ship out this week, send 300 there, 300 there, 300 here. That way if there's ever a hiccup in one spot your business doesn't get impacted completely. I think that's the probably best practice I would use if I was a seller exploring this route.

Joshua Woodward:
Very cool. I like that. The whole idea is to simplify your job. I was just thinking, man, it would be so nice to never have to use my garage again. It would be so nice.

Brenden :
Yeah, my wife loves being able to park her car in our garage again because she couldn't for a good three years.

Joshua Woodward:
Totally. I know. I'm thinking the same thing. I'm like, man, my wife would love me. Again, man, thank you so much for coming on.

Brenden :
My pleasure. It was great talking to you guys.

Joshua Woodward:
After producing this podcast, I realized I didn't give you guys the place to go check them out. If you guys want to find out more about Prime Zero Prep, go to primezeroprep.com. Let him know you heard about us using the special promo code empire. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I hope you enjoyed the podcast.

Speaker 1:
Thank you for listening to the Online Empire Academy podcast. If you want real, actionable and proven entrepreneur ideas that you can use right now, join us for free at theonlineempireacademy.com. If you've enjoyed this podcast, help us make more by rating us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. We'll see you next time.

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