Proven Amazon Course

125 OEA Podcast - A New Strategy for Expanding Your Amazon and eBay Business

Whats up Empire,

Joshua Woodward here.

There is A New Strategy for Expanding Your Amazon and eBay Business

I have used a similar strategy as the one we are talking about today for getting Product at a steep discount but Mike Hadad has taken this idea and super sized it.

One of the greatest problems in the ecom community is product. When you dont have product you dont have sales. The more quality product coming in the better quality sales you will be getting.

I had had enough of the garage sales. Waking up at 6 in the morning on a Saturday began to feel like a sin. So I thought to myself how in the world can I get these quality products im finding at garage sales without the hassle of the garage sale search. Thats when it clicked. Craigslist that you will buy peoples goods so they dont have to go through the hassle of a garage sale.

I had fixed prices, fixed rules and a truck. Within a week I had 3 hits and a solid amount of sorting to be done.

This has continued to be one of the best and most lucrative ways to optimize my time, energy and resources....until I heard about what Mike Hadad was doing with his business iSold It.

He has a business that basically consigns peoples goods for them on his top rated ebay account. this was one of those OH MY GOSH moments for me. Why had I not thought to do this?

I am all about partnering. Empire you know that, and what better way to optimize my time than have people coming to me to sell there stuff on amazon and eBay.

Now i know you are probably thinking, Im not going to make as much money as i would if it was my own product or if i bought the item outright. See thats what I thought but think about it. If you already are listing, packing and shipping all day anyway why not leverage one more thing and start making an extra 30% for almost no upfront cost.

I love this model and I have definitely been inspired.
I would highly recommend going and checking out what mike has built. It is a beautiful business and something I have some mad respect for.

If you want to check out Mike and iSold it go to, http://www.isolditmd.com/

If you want to know more about us and all we are doing go to,http://www.theonlineempireacademy.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EIDMastermind/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQJtNGg7PaK-fsdTDHUp5BQ

itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/online-empire-academy-podcast/id379874674?mt=2

Stitcher Radio: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/entrepreneur-ideas-podcast/entrepreneur-idea-dads-podcast

Until next time Empire,

Have a great day!

Joshua Woodward and the O.E.A. team

--- Transcripts Below This Point---

Speaker 1:
You’re listening to the Online Empire Academy Podcast where you’ll discover some of the best and most creative ways to provide for your family and get started on your journey to entrepreneurship. No crazy get rich quick schemes, no living in a van down by the river with your family while you build your business. If you want real, actionable, and proven entrepreneur ideas that you can use right now, join us for free at the OnlineEmpireAcademy.com. Now, get ready for the Online Empire Academy Podcast.

Joshua:
What's up Online Empire Academy, Joshua Woodward here. Today we have on Mike Hadad. He's got this crazy idea and had developed this crazy business that a lot of us have probably thought of doing but haven't taken it to the next step. First, I want Mike to just talk us through his story and how he got started. Mike, how are you doing?

Mike:
Good, Joshua. Thanks for having me.

Joshua:
Absolutely. Will you share your background and your story and how you got started in the e-commerce world?

Mike:
Sure. I was in the application software business for about 20 years, and had an opportunity to look into doing somethings on my own. A software company I was with was closing down, and I really didn't have a lot of passion for going to get another job. I found out about this concept of selling things on eBay for other people, and bought into a franchise network called iSOLD It on eBay. That's how it all started. I had never sold anything on eBay in my life, but after a lot of research, thought it really was set up to fill an unmet need with people who just had a lot of stuff, people, business, fundraisers, and didn't really want to tangle with online selling themselves. We've been here for about 10 years now and stayed busy.

Joshua:
I love it. Some of you have heard of iSOLD It. One of the things Mike's done is he's gone and made it his own. Being a part of a franchise, obviously you have the pieces that they hand, but then you got to develop and structure it the way that you best see it fit. First off, will you explain the idea and philosophy of iSOLD it?

Mike:
Sure. One of the tag lines is, "The easy way to sell online." The whole I guess premise behind the business model is we take the time that you don't want to take as an owner of the products. We hopefully, if we're doing our jobs right, get you more money for the items and you get yourself, because we have the expertise to know how to sell online. Thirdly, we will reduce a lot of the risk, and that risk has really been increasing over the years in terms of online fraud, dealing with post-sell issue and shipping to other countries and so on. We're there to save you time, get you more money and reduce your risk, and that's the whole premise behind.

Seller just basically brings their items, and then they can sit back, and they get an email with a link to the posting. They can sit back and keep an eye on their items online, it's a very visible process, and we use the auction format. A lot of our sellers really enjoy watching the bidding activity right up to the last second of the bid.

Joshua:
How does this work? I'm a huge eBay fan, but Amazon is such a massive marketplace. How have you found that Amazon has affected your business and people wanting to sell on that platform, rather than eBay?

Mike:
Well, it's interesting, Josh. We have actually broadened our marketplaces. We consider ourselves really e-commerce experts. We do a lot on eBay, but we also do quite a bit on Amazon. The idea is we'd like to put the item that someone brings us on the best platform possible, so that it sells for the highest. Amazon is also a great marketplace. It's a different marketplace. As you know, it's fixed, there's no auctions. Sometimes we get these boxed electronics or new and boxed cameras into the store. We might decide, "You know what? This might a little bit more money on Amazon, and we're glad to do that." We also have a professional sellers account set up with amazon.

Joshua:
Very cool. This is one of the things. I've done this for a while with posting on Craigslist. I'll post on Craigslist, "Hey, you don't have to have a garage sale, come sell your stuff to me." The problem with that is I get a lot of junk." I have to sort through, and a lot of people are bummed because I can't grab everything. What I do is ... I have a truck, so I'll just fill up the back of my truck with all of their stuff, and pay my flat fee, and then work from there. It sounds like, this model, you're getting a little bit more high quality stuff. How does this work? Do people get in contact with you? Do you get in contact with them? How do you reach out to people?

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Mike:
Well, I'm at work here just outside of Washington, DC. We have about 1,800 square feet, front counters with 3 computers to doing research when people bring items in. We are advertising and promoting the business to try to get people to come to us. They bring things in. Usually they'll call first or they'll got on the website to see how things work. Sure, a lot of times when they first bring things in, they may have some things that are more garage sale types of things. We're generally glad to do the work on anything that we think can get more than $50. We have a $50 value minimum. We actually have a $100 value minimum for large items. If you bring us some bicycle, we're looking for bikes that would sell for $100 and up.

The first time people bring in, load their car up and bring things in, we might be gently turning down a percentage of their items. Once they understand how the process works and what kinds of things do well on eBay, the next time they come, often times we're accepting a higher and higher percentage of their items.

Joshua:
I love the model. I love the idea because it's instead of you going out to thrift stores or you going out to all these different places, garage sales, you now have the garage sales coming to you. You have these people reaching out to you. Why is there a ... Help me understand the $50 minimum.

Mike:
Well, what we learned ... When we open the store up 10 years ago, our minimum was $30, and then we raise it to 40, and then we raise it to 50, and we held there. What we've learned is that there's a fair amount of work that goes in to really doing a good professional job of getting items posted online. It's the research, the photography, writing up the ad copy. It's dealing with questions for buyers that come in, collecting the payment, packing and shipping. For us, it's generally not worth it for us to invest that amount of time into an item that would sell at a low level, and also the seller doesn't get much money out of it either. The $50 and up, I'm not sure we make a lot of money on a $50 sale, but it seems to be a decent value minimum that works for both us and the sellers.

Joshua:
If you don't mind me asking, what is the percentage you're usually taking on that?

Mike:
We would take 35% of the amounts up to $400. Then for higher value items, the percent adjust to 25%. Then for super high-end items, we added about 4 years ago a 15% category for things that sell for over $4,000. We've tried to incent people to think of these online e-commerce marketplaces like eBay is not just place to sell your iPhone or your $100 collectible, but also can be an outstanding international market for very high-end things. We get those in every month.

Joshua:
That's interesting. One of the questions I had when I was looking through all your stuff is ... The marketplace I've been so scared to get into is art, just with the authenticating process and all of that. Have you guys done any of that processing?

Mike:
We do a fair amount of art. As you know, eBay is a very brand oriented marketplace, and the brand art is the artist. If artist's pieces are set up in a secondary marketplace like eBay and are buying and selling well, then we're glad to do it. We usually will get the certificate of authenticity, the COA, to go along with the piece. In the absence of that, we'll do our research to determine whether we think it's authentic. That leads us to original pieces that can do well, as well as limited edition sign, limited edition prints that can also be well. We have a couple of Native American statues in the December that sold. One sold for $14,000. One sold for $6,000. I think the buyer paid almost a thousand dollars to have them freighted down to Texas. High-end art can do very well, and there's collectors out there looking for deals.

Joshua:
That's so interesting. What's the craziest thing you've ever sold on eBay?

Mike:
Well, I always think about this set of 4 cemetery pots that we sold once, because it's not something that you would ever think could be sold online. It was a family that decided that they weren't going to use them. We've got the certificates in the store, posted some nice pictures from the online website, gather certificates, and got these cemetery pots sold. Another what I consider to be an unusual item was we got a very rare porcelain chess set from a company, a maker that was only around during World War II in Germany called Olick. The mostly made animal figurines. I think they made 5 or 6 chess sets ever, and one of them walked in our store, and we used a $10 start price auction on eBay, and it sold for about $1,800 and shipped to a buyer in Spain.

Joshua:
Wow. Oh my goodness. I love that you guys are taking advantage of the global market. I think that sometimes as we get started, some of the younger eBay sellers forget that this is a global marketplace. It's not just the United States. One of the questions that I had is ... When I was working with a bigger eBay team, we had people designated to specific areas, and it took a team to do this. What does your team look like to handle such a big business?

Mike:
Well, we have [inaudible 00:12:29] people total. We're probably selling in the order of 5-700 items a month. I will tell you that on the international scale, the first year or 2 in business, we chose not to ship internationally. Definitely it is a different animal and there's a learning curve to do that. Then like you said, eBay is a global marketplace. The idea of giving up potential buyers in a worldwide marketplace just didn't sit well with us after a couple of years. We invested the time to learn how to ship internationally. eBay has made that easier over the years. The shipper that we use for it, which happens to be USPS, has made it easier. We have some rules and our own little set of regulations that we post every eBay posting for international buyers. It's worked out well, and a lot of times, those end up being some of our highest selling items, or the winning bidders are overseas.

Joshua:
Man, what are some of the items that you're seeing coming in most? Is there a specific niche that you're seeing people are starting to sell more?

Mike:
Well, it tends to be 2 different types of things. One is the, I don't want to say mundane, but the bread and butter items that people turn over all the time, because they get the next and the latest version, so it's smart phones, it's computers, it's cameras, it's tablets, things like that. It's always a very robust, resell marketplace for those kinds of things. Then the other type of thing is more specialty kinds of items, collectibles. Designer handbags are one of our best categories, because they're so darn expensive new. We have probably 4 or 5 sellers who go out and buy new designer handbags with the idea in mind that they're going to use it for 6 months or a year, and then come here and sell it. To them, they're almost rending the handbag, so we get these great pieces from Louis Vuitton, and Chanel, and Hermes, and other brands.

What else? Musical instruments tend to be a very good category on eBay, watches and jewelry can do well. There's a lot of online buyers for those because the shipping is very inexpensive on light items. Sports equipment can do very well. There's things that the sellers would rather not ship themselves. If you were to sell a bicycle, if you were to think about selling a bicycle, you might thing, "Well, gosh, how am I going to get this to a guy in California." That bike might come to us just because of the barrier to doing that, and we ship bicycles all the time.

Joshua:
Me and my dad started ... For the listeners you know this, but we started a bicycle company, restoring vintage Schwwinns. The learning curve of ... My dad knew how to pack bike boxes, but that was something so new to me. There's some logistics with that. One question, you said musical instruments, how in the world do you ship a guitar? That is such a hard one for me. I need help.

Mike:
Well, we buy some pretty expensive guitar boxes from our box supplier. We loosen the string up. We love it when they come in in their own hard case because we know that they'll ship a little bit safer. If there is no hard case, if it's just a gig bag, for example, or no case at all, we'll just get it packed up real well and bubble wrap, and make sure there's plenty of packing paper around the bubble wrap and ship it on out. Loosen those strings though, because there's a lot of tension on the strings, and you don't want that traveling through the shipper’s network.

Joshua:
That's good to know. The only other thing that I was afraid of is where I live is really hot. Sometimes wood will obviously wore based on where you're at. I'm thinking if it's coming from 115 degrees and then going on an airplane somewhere, the temperature difference is quite different. Have you ever had problems with, whether it's a musical instrument or anything, breaking or cracking on the way over?

Mike:
Well, I can't think of a situation we had issues with heat related damage. Yeah. Every once in a while, items do get busted up in shipping. Really, that's another reason why I think sellers bring us things. When an item gets broken in shipping, our seller will never even hear about. Then we're going to deal with the shipper and the insurance claim and doing all that. The fact of the matter is the shippers are pretty rough on items. We tend to over pack things because we absolutely hate doing insurance claims. Even with that, there's going to be the occasional breakage, and then we got to go the process of recovering the money.

Joshua:
How do you respond? What is your correspondence with the buyer look like? Do you guys pack letters into your boxes? What do you do for them?

Mike:
Well, there's certain things built into the e-commerce marketplaces. We'll look at this auto generated messages and emails through the buying and payment process and the shipping process. We will also make sure to put in a packing slip. We've also been including a little half page size color sheet that thanks them, ask them to leave positive feedback if they're so inclined, or to contact us if there's any issue. We put my name on that and the store manager's name on that, just so we can potentially get those phone calls or direct messages in if there's any problems, because the business is all about customer service.

Joshua:
That was going to be my next question. Do you say anything about feedback? It's kind of a gray area in my mind of, do you ask for it, or do you just allow it to happen? It sounds like you guys will say something about feedback.

Mike:
Yeah. We try to be not to overtly blatant about, "We need your feedback" or "Please leave us positive feedback." The wording is a little bit subtle. In part, we do it as just a reminder to leave feedback. We get feedback for about half of our transactions, which I think is fairly good. Some people chose not to leave feedback.

Joshua:
Yeah. I mean it's 700 items, that's pretty good. That's a lot of feedback.

Mike:
Yeah. When we open the store 10 years ago, we started with 0 feedback on eBay. Now we're approaching 34,000.

Joshua:
Wow. That is quite a bit. What is the one thing that you're looking forward to in this year? What are some of the things that you guys are pushing into that you're excited about?

Mike:
Well, couple of different things. We've got some buyback programs that are going on now, for things that don't lend themselves to the e-consignment model. We are now buying video games, popular game systems, DVD and Blu-ray movies, recent edition textbooks, and we tend to use Amazon as a sales channel for those. We're also just starting a gift card buyback program. Based on our research, we're seeing that there's a lot of people that get gift cards and would rather not use them, would rather get the cash instead. We're piloting a program with a partner that is like an eBay for gift cards, and we're hoping to roll that out in the next couple of weeks. It’s just another reason for people to come in to the store. With all these things, we started an automobile listing service a few years back. With all these things, once someone comes in for one thing, they tend to develop into customers for our core business too.

Joshua:
Man, I love it. I think that's so interesting. It's got my gears turning. For the new sellers who are going out to garage sales every weekend, who are going to thrift stores, what would you suggest to them?

Mike:
Really, if you're going to use eBay, or Amazon, just focus on the brand. They're both very brand oriented. There are some sites out there like Etsy that have cropped up more of the handmade or the no-name things. We choose not to deal in that type of market. Just keep in mind that eBay has 80 or 90 million items on it any given time. People [inaudible 00:22:32] browsing through hundreds of thousands of pictures. They are putting in a keyword, which usually involves that brand name, and that's how they're finding the item. They've already decided to buy that kind of an item. Then they're just looking to see if they can find it on a place like eBay.

Then also just to be very careful about condition. You get an electronics from a garage sale or a flea market, you take your own risk of making the purchase and then testing them out, where you have to sell them as is, and take a lower amount of money. Condition is key, and if you're going to own the collectibles market, it is all about condition. Excellent versus good condition can make a difference on a multiple of 2 or 3 on the sale price.

Joshua:
Wow. There's so much good information in here. You've got my gears turning. Thank you so much for coming on. What's the best place for people to find you?

Mike:
Well, they're welcome to call us. We’re at 301-990-2040, that's in Gaithersburg, Maryland. We've actually got people that ship us things from around the country as well, that don't have one of these stores in their marketplace. The website's got a lot of great information, that's iSOLDItMD.com. It's www.I-S-O-L-D-I-T-M-D, so it's iSOLD It then the initials for Maryland .com.

Joshua:
Very cool. Well again, thank you for coming on. I've so enjoyed it.

Mike:
Thank you Joshua. Thanks for having me.

Joshua:
Until next time, empire. Have a fantastic day.

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 the OnlineEmpireAcademy.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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