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"And this is maybe one of the most important things I could say to entrepreneurs who are just getting started here. There's an important distinction between running, running the experiment for as long as it needs to, right? You don't want to change strategies, you know, 45 days in to a 90 day experiment. You don't want to start like pulling back the budget, because that's really, really going to mess with the numbers. Before you dive in,  know what your what your costs are going to be. And, you know, be okay with spending that money because, first of all, it's going to give you data that's important down the road, no matter what. And second of all, you don't just don't want to cut it shorter or get cold feet just as you step in."
~Luke Tierney

Full Transcript

 

Sari 0:04
I'm Sari Kimbell and I've done just about everything in the food industry. I have helped hundreds of packaged food business entrepreneurs. And now I want to help you make your delicious dream a reality. Whether you want to be successful at farmer's markets, online, or wholesale onto store shelves, Food Business Success is your secret ingredient. I will show you how to avoid an expensive hobby, and instead run a profitable food business. Now let's jump.

Sari 0:39
Welcome back, everyone to this week's podcast. This week, we're talking with Luke Tierney. He is the director of Eco D2C. And he is all about Amazon. And I know that this topic is so timely for so many of you and so many people starting a packaged food business. So this podcast is gonna be super helpful. So welcome, Luke, thanks so much for being here.

Luke Tierney 1:09


Luke Tierney 1:09
Thanks so much for having me.

Sari 1:10
Well, great. I'm going to just talk a little bit about your bio, introduce you and then I will let you fill that out for us. But Luke, you help natural and other ecologically minded brands scale their business with e commerce, namely Amazon. If you have a product that is better for the world, Luke can help you succeed with digital marketing and direct to consumer channels. He's a seasoned entrepreneur and business owner across three continents. He has dedicated his career to helping good brands succeed, and making the circular economy a reality. Wow. So tell us how you got into Amazon. Maybe fill that out a little bit for us?

Luke Tierney 1:53
Yeah, absolutely. Um, so this was this was some years back but essentially, I got very involved in I got very involved in the remote, you know, entrepreneur, sort of international scene that's been cropping up in a couple of different places. Some some time ago, and essentially, I was already heavily involved in digital marketing on a couple of different fronts, due to my own my own ventures and my own businesses beforehand, and one of the things that really stood out, especially in that era, was the amount of individuals and small groups that were having a lot of success on, on Amazon as a platform. And, you know, there's, there's a lot of different ways to sell products online, there's, there's a lot of different models you can go with. But Amazon was really, really blowing up. Like this is when you know, the the word sort of got out. And the days of the days of being able to sell, you know, like, common things like HDMI cables, and, you know, make a lot of money on Amazon, were coming to a close because word had gotten out and the platform is starting to get more competitive. And it was really the, it was really the brands that were investing, that were investing in themselves, investing in their digital presence that were that were winning, but what struck me was, you know, a lot of smaller players were having a lot of success. Right? You know, if we're talking about traditional retail brick and mortar, you know, that's, you know, more traditional. There's a lot if you talk to people who are in this space, you know, there's a lot of things that are understood about what you do what you don't do you know, the the costs involved, but e commerce has really been, it's really lowered the bar to entry.

Sari 3:57
That is so true. It's hard to even imagine a world without e commerce and certainly the gates have become easier to enter for most people.

Unknown Speaker 4:07
Yeah, the the gate, the gatekeeper, the gates are getting the gates are getting wider and a lot easier to get to. And so essentially, just what clicked for me was, you know, this was, you know, back before I was I was a marketer, and before I was an entrepreneur, I was working for different environmental, nonprofits. And so this was simply a way for me to, you know, keep focusing on keep focusing on brands that we're doing that we're doing good things that need to be needed to support and that needed, you know, the the marketing expertise and the business expertise to help get off the ground. And if you know what you're doing, then you can do that on a platform like Amazon for a much lower cost. There still are upfront costs. That's something that I think is often misunderstood by, by small brands when they're trying to figure out digital. Your upfront cost is data. In order to make intelligent decisions, but essentially I saw an opportunity to help brands that were doing good things compete on an upcoming marketplace and help them flesh out their ecommerce strategies. And fast forward several years and that's exactly what we're doing.

Sari 5:19
That's awesome. Well, congratulations on on the business as a fellow entrepreneur, always nice to see people succeeding, the little guys. Cap in the wind. So congratulations on your business. I'm excited to jump in to talk more about e commerce. And of course, we're talking about Amazon specifically. But let's talk about the the landscape for natural products. So I guess we're talking about the whole ecosphere of e commerce. So we always think of Amazon as the big one. But there are other places as well. So talk to us a little bit about what you see out there for opportunities.

Luke Tierney 6:01
Yeah, absolutely. So it depends on what source you're consulting. But just to give you, just to give you one example, we're still waiting for the data to come out for all 2020. But to give you just give you a sneak peek of where it's expected to end up, Amazon is, at minimum, you know, 38% of e commerce in the United States, right, with the next biggest players, some estimates have that you know, closer to closer to 50. And the next, the next few top players being eBay and Walmart are both less, they're well under 10%. Right? So Amazon is far and away the the leader of the pack, so to speak, it's the definitely the largest channel to be on. That said, it's not it's not the only channel that that matters by any means. Like, it's gonna be interesting to see how Walmart catches up. I know they've been investing a lot in- especially during the pandemic- they've made some some interesting gains in some ways. But Amazon hasn't really been touched yet. Most of the time, when we're talking with small brands, especially when we're talking about what channels they should be using for for advertising just have a good presence on Amazon, that's as at the top of the list. And then followed by Facebook and Google. And there are different ways to use these platforms. And there are reasons for using one before the other. But what we see consistently, time and time again, are different combinations of those three. But there's a couple different ways they interact. And it depends on what what assets a brand has, and depends on where what their starting point is for e commerce as to which one of those makes sense to to get going with if, if that makes sense.

Sari 7:59
Yeah, and you I know you work with all three of those, depending on people's strategy, which is great to have that holistic view. How are you seeing the the landscape shaping up? Certainly, it's changed a lot with COVID and people being forced to buy online more and more and becoming more comfortable, especially in the food category. Because I mean, my understanding is you know that the numbers have changed pretty dramatically. Are you seeing that kind of big shift with Amazon? Or those same platforms with food?

Unknown Speaker 8:36
Absolutely. So I mean, we saw like across the board, the brands that we work with, saw their online revenue explode, especially surrounding March/April. It depended on what kind of brand like, you know, we work with a lot of natural food products. We also have like organic apparel brands that we work with. And so depending on how essential, quote unquote a product was, you know, they definitely saw a boost earlier. But even as the as the year went on, even those products that might not be like so immediate, that everyday person needed to get a hold of like across the board 2020 saw growth in e commerce. We're talking about natural food specifically. One thing it's interesting to note is that a lot of the growth that Amazon experienced the pastor came from the natural food category. I know I know for a fact that there are some programs right now. Launchpad being one of them. There are certain programs that are looking that are actively looking for more natural food brands to help promote

Sari 9:39
Oh interesting.

Luke Tierney 9:40
Grocery has been such a fast growing category for them. So it's been, I'd say it's been one of the biggest increases for them over the past, just as a percentage of a category over the past over the past year is all the data that I've seen. So I think

Sari 9:54
Right, well it had a lot of ground to make up so it was already low, lower than other things. Like electronics, so

Luke Tierney 10:01
This is true

Sari 10:01
Yeah. And then with the pandemic, everyone was like, Oh, let me go find my newest treats or, like coffee or and looking for those more interesting products, like you said in the natural, the natural category. And I think I read somewhere that it's basically Walmart and Amazon that are really taking the lion's share of of that food category kind of across the category in food?

Luke Tierney 10:26
It's, it's gonna be interesting to see the way it evolves, I wouldn't say that Walmart's caught up too much to Amazon yet. But the one of the interesting things to note is there was this, there was this moment in 2020, in which, you know, Prime was really backed up, like normally people get it within one to two days, and it was taken several weeks. And so as soon as that started to happen, you started seeing more shoppers migrate to places like Walmart and Target.

Sari 10:50
Oh sure. Okay.

Luke Tierney 10:51
So I don't think I don't think Amazon will be headjam on so to speak, in the future is a lot of people fear. But I think for the time being like they are, they're the big kid on the block, for sure. But I think there's some interesting things emerging that show that, you know, shoppers, shoppers are going to price compare, right, between Amazon and Walmart, and potentially other platforms as well. I think Walmart stands to be the big the biggest competitor in the in the near term. It's notable when Walmart makes an increase because it does affect the overall mix. But I would say Amazon, far and away, still still in the lead, but I personally look forward as a as a consumer as well as a marketer to when it does get to be a bit more varied. And I think we will see that in the foreseeable future. I don't know if we're gonna see it in 2021, if that makes sense.

Sari 11:40
Yeah. Do you think that those have different customers shopping on them a little bit too, like, to me, Amazon seems like a place where I could go get some of my staples like mainstream brands, but it seems feels more like a place where I can find some more interesting things too? Some more specialty brands?

Luke Tierney 12:00
I would say, well, there's a couple interesting things to note there, like both have very, very large and varied consumer bases. I think I think one of the reasons that Amazon has been able to stay in the lead is the amount of social proof the platform has like, one and we can get into this in a little bit when it comes to when we discuss strategy. But you know, people like 90? 89? 90% of online shoppers will double check against Amazon reviews before they purchase somewhere else. Like their that's a that's a real, that's a really interesting asset that they have. So I think, I think when other platforms maybe catch up, like I don't know about you, but I don't personally trust Walmart reviews in the same way. I think as they get more on their game, so to speak, you know, Amazon's kind of trailblazing a certain kind of e commerce here. And I think others are gonna catch up eventually. But in the in the meantime, if you're online, you know, often tell I often tell brands to think of Amazon as their second online storefront. Their first being their website, right? But even if they're not investing in advertising on Amazon, then just being there, and collecting positive reviews can positively impact your presence, basically, everywhere else.

Sari 13:13
Okay, wow. So just talking about the the larger landscape of e commerce. To me, it feels like the days of not having a digital strategy are relatively over. I feel like you need some kind of digital strategy, given, you know, the pandemic and it's early 2021 as we're releasing this so to me, it feels like digital marketing strategy, having an e commerce strategy is absolutely essential for for a brand. But how do they figure out what is most important? Where to start?

Luke Tierney 13:54
Yeah, I think I think 2020 definitely accelerated a lot of trends that, you know, we were expecting to see long term, just kind of hit the fast forward button on them, so to speak. But I think, I mean, I think it depends on the brand. I definitely think it's you know, it's absolutely possible to still, you know, launch in retail. And then, you know, think about e commerce later, but I'm seeing more and more small brands, especially, you know, focus on focus on digital before even looking at the retail route because logistically, there's certain logistics that, that work out easier if you're if you're online. And like, you know, like we mentioned earlier, the barrier, the barrier is getting getting lower. Like, just to give an example, you know, if we, if this was, you know, this was like the 1970s or 80s and all we had was online, or sorry, all I had with retail, you know, it would take the amount of the amount of consumer, you know, research and the amount of capital would take to launch to launch in retail and see if this is really going to work? You know, there's, there's quite a lot of upfront cost there. And even if you are starting small and local than your reach is pretty limited. By comparison, and this is, this is what I found so exciting in the in the beginning, and still, what I find really exciting now is, you know, a couple of people or a small group, you know, if if we really want to know, before we even create a product, and there's people who specialize in this kind of strategy, you know, you can, you can create some landing pages, you can, you can have a concept or like a prototype, and you can run, you know, you can run Facebook ads for, you know, a pretty reasonable price comparatively. And you can see, you can see the audiences and you can see, you know, if this is really gonna work, right? And you can test out you know, a couple of different ideas at a time, and then you can go with what's going to work best.

Sari 15:57
pretty amazing the access to data that that we do have through even just through Facebook for $100, or a couple $100 the information you can get is pretty phenomenal.

Luke Tierney 16:09
Yep, I think use these properly, it can be much, much easier to test out, I'd say way, I'd say way more than than a couple hundred, couple hundred bucks, but for you know, even just two to three thousand dollars worth of answers where the data really can give you a lot of answers. Yeah. And let you know what what direction you're going in. And, you know, is this messaging working? Is this, you know, is is there a market for this product? These kinds of things, like one of the you know, a lot of brands come to us after they've already sort of bet the farm on an idea, right? And one thing that if there was something that I wish more more small entrepreneurs knew about it was you know, you can do you can do testing earlier on and, and get a lot of learnings, right? Like there is there's a lot of data you can pull from Amazon, a lot of consumer data to, you know, see what, what kinds of products are in demand, or you know, where there might be a gap in the market. You can run, you know, ads pretty affordably, on Facebook, to test things out. It doesn't have to be an all, you know, go for the hills or bust kind of situation.

Sari 17:26
Yeah, I love that. And and I know that's something that you've helped me with, with with my clients is really understanding the landscape for their particular product. Getting that data. I mean, you have access with your tools that are paid, you know, a lot of them are paid tools. But through you, we have access to them. And you can put together some great reports and that initial, just that information gathering to really understand what the next step should be. So yes. It's so nice to have people like yourself, who can help us understand those next steps and be more informed.

Luke Tierney 18:02
Oh, thank you. Yeah, I mean, there's, That all depends on what stage what stage of brand is in. But there's, there's quite a few useful analytics that can be pulled. You can see, there's tools that allow us to see what you know, what estimates, like it's not not scientifically exact, but you can see estimates of what your competitors are making; you can you can pull hundreds of reviews at a time to see, and I've known some people to be quite successful with this approach. You know, sizing up a niche on Amazon and seeing how competitive it is and if you if you hit a sweet spot, and there's just, you know, a couple of leaders and the competition is is not so strong. And there's something being asked for clearly that isn't being filled and you create that product, then you can you can if you can execute on that well, and and quickly, then you can have quite a bit of success pretty pretty fast. So at all the the positioning, the positioning is really important. But understanding the landscape you're in before before diving in, I would say is just all the more important as everybody comes on to this these platforms.

Sari 19:19
Absolutely. I mean, it gives you you know, my interview with Doug Helbig talking about having a data story, it gives you that data story before you even ever have even have a product if you're willing to to start early enough. And that can be so helpful in informing your decisions. So we're talking in sort of big, big e commerce landscape. So you mentioned obviously Amazon's important. Facebook and Google were are those the main three? Just to kind of make sure I have the list down and then where do people start with those marketplaces?

Luke Tierney 19:55
So it does depend on what assets a brand already has together. So I'm going to speak in some generalities here. But I do want to, I just want to preface it with, you know, it, it does depend on what kind of, what kind of product you have. Like, if it's if you sell a frozen product, for instance, then Amazon's gonna be very difficult for you just right off the bat.

Sari 20:15
That's true, yes, making a differentiation between let's say, we're just doing a shelf stable, shelf stable jam or salsa or hot sauce.

Luke Tierney 20:24
Or, true, true or did I mean, there's some other examples as well. You know, like, if you have, if you already have some authority on Google, or you happen to be in like a new niche in which people are going to want to, you know, research it, then then, you know, Google ads, you know, paid search can be can be a very good investment for you. If you're very early on, and you're just looking for data, you know, Facebook, like I mentioned before, is, is a great way to get some get some answers fast. So it does depend. It really depends on where brand is in their journey. But I can, I can confidently say that for for the most part, what we see is so having having your own website is very important. Amazon, you know, will think about as a second storefront, and then after that, it depends on you know, how you're driving traffic. Right? So if I'm starting a new brand in order this is this is the way that I would think of things. All other things being equal. So after my websites created, I'll launch an Amazon and then I'm going to be thinking about based on my budget, you know, whether I'm going to be running ads on Amazon, Facebook, Google, or, you know, all three? Or whether it's going to be just one of the other? The differences between these are, first of all, if we're driving traffic to, if you're driving traffic to your website versus Amazon, typically, what we see almost across the board is that margins are obviously better on the website, but conversion rates are higher on Amazon, right? Much much higher. That's the advantage Amazon has over other platforms. So where we see a lot of brands shifting more and more of their budget to Amazon for that reason, especially as they're trying to as you're trying to achieve growth and get in front of new customers.

Sari 22:27
Have you seen any Shopify conversion rates for this year yet? I think last year, it was like 1.5, like 1.5% out of 100, 1.5 people out of 100 converted and made a sale.

Luke Tierney 22:44
I think it really, really depends on on the brand itself in the space or planning and because you know, conversion rates, depending on the industry, we're in, you know, like, we might be on Amazon and be seeing, you know, like a 15% conversion rate higher or you know, a 5% or lower. It really, really does tend to vary depending on category. But if I'm if I'm just starting out, and again, this is just an a very high level, you know, if I'm launched on my website, if I'm launched on Amazon, and I'm considering, you know, where to run ads, often a good place to start is, you know, you launch your website, you get launched in Amazon. And you know, if I'm still I'm still looking for consumer data, especially I might start running Facebook ads to my website, right? If I'm looking for some some faster answers, and if I'm looking for information. And then Amazon ads, on the other hand are also I mean, Amazon, like Facebook could get faster answers. But Amazon is a more powerful engine. This is all again, speaking in generalities. But what we what we often see is that, you know, Amazon, you have to build up your history with Amazon in order to even be played for ad as often as you want to be, right? So that's gonna have to be a slower burn in the beginning, but and it can take longer to optimize your ads on Amazon if you're operating with a low budget. So it's important to understand, you know, what, what you're getting into here. But if, depending depending on where your what your particular goal is, starting on Facebook, or starting with a combination of Facebook, and Amazon is typically where where we look to for ads. And then Google, you know, if it's the right kind of product, then you know, then paid search can be a great idea. We don't typically see Google perform in the same way that we see Amazon or Facebook do.

Sari 24:41
Yeah, that makes sense.

Luke Tierney 24:43
But, you know, it's it's important for it's important for the small, smaller players to understand especially, like this is where we start getting into the upfront cost of you know, what it takes to pay to play on these platforms. Like I would not you know, if you're going to be running, if you're going to be running ads like I would not, I would not run at like $500 a month is like the absolute minimum that we would recommend an ad spend to get something meaningful back on Facebook, for instance. And we typically recommend a bit higher than that. And that'll be, you know, for like a minimum of, say, 90 days. And again, like, all these things depend on the category you're in. Sometimes people get on brands get on the platform, and it just takes off, they're well positioned and they're a good fit for the market. But, you know, if you're operating with a low budget, you could be looking at, you know, a minimum of 90 days, or even even six months for things to be, you know, optimized to the point that you're getting that you know, that you're getting that two and three x row as that you're getting, you know, a return of two or three times what you're putting in. So some of the common questions we often get are, you know, like, what can we expect from this? Right? Like, you know, if they, if someone's giving us a budget of, you know, $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10(thousand)? You know, and above, you know, what, what kind of return can we expect? And the, the answer very, very straightforwardly is, you know, if this is a new brand, then you're talking about an experiment, right? And we're gonna, we're gonna operate and run that experiment based on what we know works. But there's a, there's an important distinction. And this is maybe one of the most important things I could say to entrepreneurs who are just getting started here, there's an important distinction between running, running the experiment for as long as it needs to, right? You don't want to change strategies, you know, 45 days in to a 90 day experiment. You don't want to start like pulling back the budget, because that's really, really going to mess with the numbers. Before you dive in, know, know what your what your costs are going to be. And, you know, be okay with spending that money because, first of all, it's going to give you data that's important down the road, no matter what a second of all, you don't just don't want to cut it shorter or get cold feet, just as you step in. And then on the other side of it, obviously, you don't want to be working with with a provider, whether it's a freelancer, agency, in person, in house person, you know, what have you, you don't want to be doing, you know, like, a year and a half, two years with something that's not working.

Sari 27:28
Yeah, that's so good. I mean, it's so important for, for entrepreneurs to, you know, it's something I work with people a lot in Food Business Success is helping them understand that, like, there is no magic bullet. And I know, we're kind of like, Hey, can you give us a blanket strategy? For the for this to work? And the reality is, like we've been talking about it depends, the answer is always it depends. It depends on your goals; it depends on your budget; it depends on the product; there's so many factors and, and people's risk tolerance, you know, how fast they want to go as well. But I love this idea of, and there's something in this whole month of podcasts, we've been talking about an impossible goal and failing forward. You know, I look at like, these aren't failures, they were just running an experiment to see what works. And you do have to be really careful to not, you know, change course, so quickly and change a whole bunch of variables, because then you don't get the learning from it. So running with something, understanding you're committing to a budget, being okay with that budget, going all in. And then when you get enough information over, you know, like you said, maybe 90 days, then you tweak one thing. You see how that does. So you're not introducing so many variables. And I think entrepreneurs can get really tripped up with like, it's not working, it's not working, let's change everything. Maybe it's the packaging? Maybe it's the price? Maybe it's the you know, the pack size? Maybe it's XYZ and then, and then we lose that that really important data where we've changed too many variables and we don't know what it was.

Luke Tierney 29:14
Yeah, exactly. And I mean, a lot of and, you know, there are cases where things take off, you know, right at the beginning, especially when they're well executed. Like there's a that's pretty good, all the case studies that that people like myself love to talk about, you know. Hey, you know, in the first like, three months, you know, there was a 16 x row as you know, we got you know, so many we increased revenue by so many hundreds of times. And things like that do happen and it's really, it's really satisfying to execute on that. But very often, especially in the beginning with with brands that are still building their community and building their assets, you know, you you might be talking about more of a stair stepping kind of trajectory. And so, it's, um, you know, make sure whoever makes sure that you're working with somebody who can, you can be honest with you about, about those realities and about the fact that, you know, you're running an experiment, you can see how, what comes back, and then you can, you can adjust from there. And, and be, be be ready to see, to see it through. You don't want to be on the hook for again, you know, I've seen examples of years at a time with without return. And obviously, that is bad news. You want to make sure they work with somebody who's who's honest with you about when something is a good idea and when it's not. But it's the upfront cost is data. Without the data and you will not be able to, to make the decisions to get to that area of profitability where you can just, you know, keep increasing the budget because you can be confident that it's gonna get you more and more returns.

Sari 31:02
Yeah, absolutely. Well, let's, let's dive into Amazon just a little bit more for early stage brands. I know I'm sure I have a lot of people listening that are like, Okay, I have my Shopify website, maybe they're doing some small wholesale, some, maybe some small direct to consumer and other ways. So what I heard from you is that you can get on Amazon pretty quickly and early on in your business, but you don't necessarily need to be paying to play yet. But you're probably not going to get discovered. It's, it sounds like it's more of a like, like, we know that shoppers will go in and look for brands. It's almost like a Google search engine and look for a brand to see if they're on Amazon, and then they, you know, as a pre search some doing some research, before they buy from you directly. So is that kind of what I'm hearing from you as far as steps for an early stage brand.

Luke Tierney 32:02
So it does depend on how, it does depend on how aggressive brand is being. But even if we're, even operating with a small budget can open some interesting doors, but let's say let's say we're talking with the smallest of small. Let's say that we're talking with brands who, you know, they don't, they don't have an ad budget yet, or they only want to get an Amazon. So you know, as you said, it's it's there, you know, they're there in the search engine, and they can be found. The, it the startup costs for simply getting listed on Amazon, you know, past whatever you're paying, you know, somebody to, you know, to get everything launched for you, you know, it's like $49.99 a month, right? Just to have a professional selling plan on Seller Central. So that plus whatever cuz you have for somebody taking care of it is, is really is really it. And once somebody launches your store, really all you have to do is, you know, make sure that you're keeping on top of, you don't want to let me put it this way, you don't want to launch Amazon and then just like leave it alone and never look at it. Right? Like there's very high standards. It's very high standard for how fast you can move.

Sari 33:15
That's the way to get kicked off of it!

Luke Tierney 33:19
Yeah, you have to, you know, be be shipping your product out very quickly. You have to be responding to customer messages. But beyond that, like if you're looking for your bare minimum maintenance, there's not much more. Right? And especially from a cost perspective. So if you're, if you're on Amazon, and you're treating it just as a second storefront, and you know, you've let a couple of like friends and family know about it so you can get a couple of reviews. Amazon is a conversion based platform. You're going to need to get you know, a couple sales in order to start showing up in the search for your brand name, if nothing else. But once you can, you can effectively just be on the platform and be a place that your customers can search for you. And be a place where you can collect positive reviews. Right?

Sari 34:11
Okay. Yeah that makes sense.

Luke Tierney 34:12
And you know, we we tossed out that number of you know, 89-90% of online customers checking Amazon, before they buy elsewhere online. If we're talking about brick and mortar, and this is a 2019 number- I'm looking forward to seeing the 2020 updated number- but even before COVID and before all of these people came online e commerce who'd never shopped online before, 26% of brick and mortar shoppers, double checked against amazon for reviews and price before buying, buying a product in person. Right? So we're seeing, we're seeing brick and mortar retail and online retail start to talk to each other increasingly in very interesting ways. And this is where people are going. So even if you're not investing in the ads, just being on the marketplace, collecting reviews, and of course staying on top of things so you don't get, you know, hit with the performance notification for not sending orders, can be can be very advantageous and can build your views over time can build your organic ranking over time. And that alone can be quite an asset.

Sari 35:23
Yeah, and and I highly recommend that this is an area where you don't maybe try to figure it all out yourself. I mean, I guess I'll say that as somebody who's a little bit biased, where I don't think you should be trying to figure out how to manufacture a food product yourself, either. It certainly can be done through Google searches and whatnot. But I think you know, your time is valuable. And as an entrepreneur, and deciding that there are times when experts are best to be brought in. I feel like you help people get set up on Amazon. Very reasonable to engage your services. And then you will make sure that it's set up correctly, that it's optimized, that all of those things are just done for them. And a lot of my people listening, you know, have full time jobs, or this is not their primary industry. So I'm just gonna say this is an area I think is worth investing some of that capital in your upstart capital to have an expert, just one and done and be done with it, get you up on Amazon.

Luke Tierney 36:34
It's definitely it's definitely going to have somebody you can call. But I mean, I wouldn't want to discourage anybody from you know, taking, taking a bit of a crack at it, so to speak, just to sort of get familiar with the platform. You know, there are a lot of basics you can get a handle on it. It's kind of, I mean, in the same way, you know, in the same way that there was a moment in which social media, you know, got complicated enough that, you know, now it's extremely advantageous to have somebody that that knows Facebook and Instagram ads inside out. You know, Amazon, Amazon, also past that point and complexity in which like the, you know, whether it's technical things that go wrong, or just having a very well formed, you know, content strategy, or having a very well formed ad strategy, it's a, we often we often get, actually a lot of a lot of great clients who have who've taken a crack at it themselves. And now then, you know, they, they know enough about the complexity of the platform to really have an appreciation for all the different corners of it.

Sari 37:44
Well, we're kind of talking about leads into the last question about like, what are the common mistakes that brands do make? I mean, yes, of course, any, you know, I do have clients, and people I know in the industry who have done all of their own Amazon setup. So it's certainly very possible. But I do think there are a lot of nuances, but what are some of the common mistakes that you see around e commerce and specifically with Amazon, just getting started?

Luke Tierney 38:18
I would say number one, impatience? Expecting there to be you know, results right off the bat without there having been, you know, any prior brand building or, you know, data from from other ads run. I would say that, under estimating the technical technical difficulties. Amazon is a very consumer centric company, it cares a lot about the people who are buying things on their platform, famously so. They do not extend the same amount of help to sellers. And there's, frankly, a lot of things that just kind of break sometimes. And it's good to have somebody that that knows how to how to technically how to technically troubleshoot.

Sari 39:04
Plus, aren't they trying new things all the time, so different vendors might have different views and options?

Luke Tierney 39:12
So they'll do an update, and then things will break. And then, like, during 2020, especially, like, there were there were instances in which we saw like a lot, a lot of listings go down, because there were a lot of new COVID restrictions. Right? And so they started rolling out, rolling out some updates that affected listings that did not deserve to be affected and you know, it's fine, we see this kind of thing on a pretty frequent basis. So you know, we got all those, we got all those brands and all those those products back up, but it can be it can be really harrowing for a small brand that maybe doesn't have all this contextual information and they just see they just see their, you know, sales drop because something's been rendered inactive for whatever reason.

Sari 40:00
That can be really stressful. Having somebody you can call is so important.

Luke Tierney 40:04
We put on the firefighter fighter hat quite a bit. So it's not if it's frustrating, it's not you, it's them. But unfortunately, you have to be willing to deal with it. But I suppose that plays into into patience again, again, as well. And, and yeah, you can find out, you can find out a lot early on compared with a lot of other business models. So take advantage of the data.

Sari 40:35
And you don't do the creative. I know they, the client has to provide the creative, whether it's photography or videos to you. But do you see that as an area of kind of common mistakes? Or how do you see that playing into this?

Luke Tierney 40:52
Um, I mean, there's a lot of there's different parts of Amazon, like you can run video, like video ads are something that are rolled out within the last like year or so for brands across the platform anyways. We help brands with, you know, the necessary formatting. And it's true, like we don't have, you know, I don't have a team of product photographers on hand, for instance. But you know, we we definitely help guide brands and the kind of creative that they're going to need and the specs and things like this, and we lean on them, we lean on them for those assets, and then we, we help publish.

Sari 41:31
So definitely something also for people to consider when they're adding up the costs of what it takes to go on Amazon is that you do need, you know, professional photography that's on the right background, and at least have some bare minimum pieces that are not done in your kitchen.

Luke Tierney 41:51
This, this is true, yeah, cell phone shots alone won't do it. Um, you definitely need professional product photographer, product photography, and ideally, some lifestyle images. But it's the kind of thing that we can we can guide it and make sure that everything is up and as optimized as possible.

Sari 42:09
This has been awesome, very, very informative. And I know people are gonna get so much out of it. Tell us all the places where can we find you, Luke, if people want to learn more about your services, or set up a call? How do they find you?

Luke Tierney 42:26
You can always, you can always visit, you know, our website ecoddc.com. If you want to get a hold of me directly. I'm just [email protected] Feel free to drop a line. And whatever questions you might have, or, you know, post them on I'm sure when this is shared on social media, I'll be happy to you know, jump into the comments if people have any questions there. But I would say those are the main places.

Sari 42:57
Great, and you're also on LinkedIn. And we'll put all of those links in the show notes. And be sure to let Luke know that you heard about us or heard about him on Food Business Success, and he'll take good care of you. We are nearing the end of the first month of 2021 and I see so much enthusiasm and opportunity for brands to get on to the digital shelf. How do you see the industry changing as a result of the past year's events?

Luke Tierney 43:28
So I think there's going to be I mean, you know, 2020 saw record numbers of people shopping online who had never been online before for, you know, a lot of the at least a lot of these kinds of purchases. So, food especially. So I think, you know, I think people sometimes think of things which I mean, think of, you know, online retail versus brick and mortar of like, one's going to, well, will one annihilate the other kind of thing. And I think I think very much what we're going to see is actually just an increased integration of the online and of online and physical shopping. So I'm, I'm very eager to see how that how that plays out. In e commerce, there's a number of high speed, you know, railroads that are being built right now that are going to change, it's going to change the you know, the face of you know retail across across the board and interesting ways but I think ultimately it's going to be it's going to be really good for not just customers but i think you know, brands that want to that want to try and that want to try an idea out. You know the the mom and pop, you know small business that wants to you know, just put some products that you know, they know that their friends and family you know love or maybe this whole farmers market and they you know, want to see it online and just see how it does. I think there's going to be more and more opportunities for the, for small businesses as the as the the gates to or the barrier to entry lowers on the gates open wider.

Sari 45:08
Yeah, I love it. I think there's, there's no better time than now to go after your dream and start that package food business. So this has been really helpful and thank you so much, Luke, for joining us today.

Luke Tierney 45:23
Yeah, thank you my pleasure.

Sari 45:24
I hope you got so much out of that interview with Luke and you can find all the links in the show notes below. Until next time, have an amazing week.

Sari 45:40
Are you ready to start that delicious idea that you make in your home kitchen, or grow your existing packaged food business and take it to the next level? The most successful food business entrepreneurs have support, guidance, focus and accountability to help them make it happen quickly without wasting time or money. Plus, I think starting your packaged food business should actually be fun. Food Business Success is your secret ingredient to creating your food business dream. Please don't go this alone. Check out the private free Food Business Success Facebook group to connect with other foodprenuers, get your questions answered quickly, share your wins and receive special training and tools I only share inside the private community. Just search for Food Business Success on Facebook, or get the link in the show notes. Curious about how Food Business Success can help you? Head over to FoodBizSuccess.com and fill out the application to see if you're a great fit for the program. Together let's make your food business dream a reality.

 

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