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Lessons From a 9-Figure Drop Ship Supplier

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Anton shares the top 5 lessons he learned during a meetup with a 9-figure drop ship supplier.

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So about a decade ago, I got a call from one of our suppliers, but not just any supplier, the one that we did the most volume with, brought tons of sales to and made a lot of money for. And it wasn't a typical call, it wasn't one from our sales rep there, just talking about inventory, talking about what we can promote moving forward, new SKUs. No, nothing like that. It was a call from the owner of the company, the owner of this brand. And it really freaked me out at first, because back then, I was probably 24, 25 years old. And to me, this company that we sold for was the biggest of the biggest in the industry. And for me to hear from the owner, someone I've never heard from before, I was like, "uh-oh, are we in trouble?" "What's this call about?" And yeah, it was a little alarming at first, but basically what he said to me was, "I see you guys have been moving more and more volume for us."

"I'm going to be in New York next week and I know you live there." That's where I lived at the time, that's where my businesses were based. And he basically just said, "He would want to meet up, and get a coffee and talk business." So I was like, "Wow, okay." "Don't know what I'm going to have to share with you, but let's do it." So we set up a time to meet, it was actually a really nice place, coffee shop right on Central Park. And a week later, I was sitting there having a coffee with this guy who, again, in my opinion, was the top of the top in the industry. And even with that being said, he's probably only maybe 10 years older than me, so it's not some veteran, but just somebody that I knew had this massive company. And back then, multiple eight figures a year in revenue. Since then, well over nine and just completely dominating still.

So we're sitting there and I'm nervous, am I going to, I don't want to say embarrass myself, but almost. Why is this person that's at the top meeting with me, who at the time was doing probably between three and five million a year in sales? But again, somebody well, well above. But what I learned is that, while he had a ton to share with me and I'm going to share five lessons that I got from him, but what I also learned is that I had a lot to share with him too. And it was really surprising by the time the meeting ended, I think we both felt very satisfied. Got to meet in-person, I definitely took away a lot of knowledge, but he took a lot away as well. And it was just this weird turning point for me, where instead of seeing myself as like the little guy trying to break in.

Yeah, maybe back then we were little, in terms of revenue compared to the grand scheme of things. But it didn't mean that the people that were at the top were a 100 times further in their knowledge or their intelligence, and I'll talk about what I actually learned about what got them there in just a minute. But first, let's go through the five things that I learned from this nine figure supplier. So my first big takeaway was with their products, I was asking them, "Why are all your products about the same price?" And the price was just under $2,000, okay. So some products were 1800, some were 1900, some were 1999, but everything was right around $2,000. And what he told me is, "Keep pricing under 2K." Now I asked him why, because we sold tons of these products for them. And he said, "What they realized through their testing is once you go above that $2,000 price point, there becomes much more resistance, much more hesitancy."

And since they were a company that focused on working with e-commerce retailers like us, they wanted their products in that price range, where people, customers would be comfortable buying online, not having to go to a store or a showroom." So a big thing I got from him is thinking back and looking at my business, what are our most popular products across the store? And while we have products that are 4,000, 5,000, $10,000 that occasionally sell, the ones that moved the most were all under that $2,000 price tag. So big lesson for me, and I applied this a lot to our private label business, where all of the products that we were, of course, putting our own brand name on and making up our own prices for, instead of having the ones that are $2,500, why not just make it 1,999, or make it 1800 and play in that range.

And sure enough, they got more sales, they sold at a much higher frequency. So, that was the first big lesson I learned from him. And I think a big reason why not just us, but other retailers moved so much volume for them. And I should also say, I'm talking about this in the past tense, like it doesn't happen anymore. A lot of people still move a lot of volume for them, I don't anymore because the network of stores that we sold their products on, I have exited. So I sold that business, so I no longer sell for them. But plenty people are, including the new owners of the network of stores that I sold. Okay. Second big lesson I learned from him was actually in regards to something I brought up, which was a common concern of our customers or not concern, but a question.

So this company offered many of the best selling products in three colors, they had white, they had brown, they had black. We got a ton of inquiries for people saying, "Well, can I get a light brown color?" "Can I get this in a red?" "Can I get this in blue?" "Can I get this in beige?" "Can I get this in yellow?" And he said, "No, you can't." "Always keep colors limited." And of course, me being a young kid back then, I was like, "Well, why don't we just do a special order program?" "Where if customers contact us and they want something in red, we can send them samples of it, we can give them a quote, it can be marked up even more." "Then they could be a longer lead time, but we'll still get it to them and we can serve the full market, everybody that wants everything."

And he was like, "No, we're not doing that." What people get is what we offer and if they actually want this product, they'll choose one of the colors." And I realized back then, it took me a while to get this one, because I was thinking, "Well, let's just offer more, it'll be more money." But, what that takes away from is simplicity in business. And over the years, I've realized the simpler things can be, the less room there is for error, the less breaking points there are. And if you're trying to do what he was doing back then, again, at that point, multiple eight figures going well into the nine, then you can't have this complexity of one customer that wanted a red product, now waiting eight weeks and getting follows up for it, and then what if something's damaged with it or one part's messed up, it's just not worth it.

And like you said, "If people actually want the product, they will pick one of the colors that it is available in." And I think that goes back well into the four-dayers. You can get it in any color you want. As long as that color is black. He had a few more colors than black, but still kept it extremely simple. And again, that was something that I definitely over time learned to incorporate in my business, keep things simple. If people want them, they will buy them. So third lesson I learned from him, this one won't be as relevant to everybody that is listening to this or watching, that just drop shipping in general. But if you ever private label products, and let's say you keep them in a fulfillment center in the states or wherever you sell products, but if you have them manufactured in China, what we used to do with our private label business is have products manufactured in China, have them shipped to our fulfillment centers in the states.

And this is outside of drop shipping, this is private label side of the business. But we'd have the products come in, and then from there, most of them were in California at the time, we would have different crews come, they would pick up the products, they would bring them to these sets to set them up. We'd hire models, we'd get all our product shots done and it cost a lot of money and it was worth it, but it was a big investment. And what he said is like, "No, no, no, no, no, what we do..." Because all their products were made, well, most of their products were made in China, and then stored in the states. But, what they did is had their photo shoots done in China. And he gave me some contacts that I worked with, again, this is a decade ago, but the companies that we were working with then, we could basically have the same work, and sometimes even higher quality done with the whole product sets, the whole product shots, the models, everything done in China, it was cheaper, it was more efficient.

We didn't have to deal with these expensive California crews, moving products around and saved a ton of money there. So big lesson, saved me probably tens of thousands of dollars in a photo shoot fees. Okay. Fourth, big lesson, this one might be a obvious to everybody that's listening to this or watching this, especially if you're part of drop ship lifestyle, but it was an SEO tip that he gave me and this was specifically in regards to page URLs. So back in the day, when I had the meeting with him, I was still building all of my stores on Yahoo Stores. Okay, this was back before the days of Shopify. And when you built product pages on Yahoo Stores and you named the product whatever it is, it's Anton standup desk, it would make the URL something disgusting.

So if the website was, let's say antonstandupdesks.com, the URL for this product might be antonstandupdesks.com/ABC123, whatever, a bunch of randomness. And he was obviously looking at our store trying to figure out why we were generating so much revenue. And he was like, "Yeah, you're really hurting yourself there." "All you need to do is change your product URLs to match the product names." "You could put our brand name in there, you could put the SKU number in there and that's really going to help you with your organic results." And, we made changes and it did. So, that was a big tip I got from him. Again, I think now in almost 2022, I think most people know that. But if you're not doing that, then do it. It really helped us. Okay, so the fifth lesson that I learned from him, this is one that caused the biggest mindset shift for me and hopefully, it will for you too, is that he didn't know everything.

And what I mean by this is back then, again, when I was running my three to $5 million year business at the time of our meeting, I was going through all the new struggles that entrepreneurs go through, especially when you don't have a mentor. And every day, I felt I had all these just coming up and I was like, "Am I doing things right?" "I wish I knew what these people at the top knew." And this was with no mentorship, by the way, I was learning everything on my own. And I just had this thought in my head that the people that were doing bigger things were just so much smarter, and they knew so much more and their businesses just operated so smoothly. But what I learned by talking to him is that, that was not the case at all.

A lot of the struggles that I was going through, he had went through already. So, I could have got that for mentorship earlier on, if I knew people were out there that were willing to talk to me or people that I could pay for their advice. But in addition to that, things that I brought to him, he brought me all these things, the things that I brought to him based on our customer feedback, based on our customer increase actually led to them making shifts within their business too. And it's not because he's not intelligent, it's not because they weren't and still aren't a market leader, it's because they simply don't know what they don't know. And people have different skill sets based on their experiences, so this made me feel a lot more confident with myself, knowing that the people that have already made it are still making it, don't have it all figured out.

Again, taking me at this point, somebody that was probably in e-commerce for, I don't know, three to four years, I was able to give him a list of things that he wrote down to implement in their own business. So what that told me is that if I stick with what I am doing, if I continue to learn from my mistakes, again, not failures, redefine failures as mistakes, if I continue to learn, if I continue to improve, there is no reason why I can't be just as big, if not bigger. And, guess what? Over time, I've continued to grow year-over-year, because of that mindset. So just know now, maybe you're watching this, maybe you're doing less than I am, maybe you've accomplished less than I have in drop shipping, it does it mean that you might not even have something that you can share with me that would benefit me.

All it means is that every time you make a mistake, you learn. Hopefully, you're plugging yourself into mentorship, and people that have already been there, and done the work and made the mistakes. That way, you definitely can shortcut your success. Obviously, I think the best way to do that is through my program, the Drop Ship Blueprint. You can more about that at dropshipwebinar.com. I'll post a link in the description. But yeah, just know if you're making mistakes, everybody does. Even the people at the top are going through their own struggles. And the way to win is to keep overcoming those mistakes, keep pushing forward and you too, will be at the hypothetical top one day. People will look up to you, think you have it all figured out, but guess what? You they'll be dealing with your own challenges and figuring them out, because that is what entrepreneurs do.

So as always guys, hope you got value from this one. If you did, give it a like, leave a review on the podcast. If you want to know more about how I can help you with your own business, go to dropshipwebinar.com, link in description. And I'll be back on Monday with another one, see you everybody.

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