Everyone likes to talk about the successful parts about selling on Amazon.
You often see the exciting screenshots and massive sales numbers.
But, how often do you hear people talk about their failures?
Answer is, not much.
Failure is scary and it pushes people away.
But, it’s very important to understand why people fail.
In fact, I really enjoy hearing people’s failure stories more than the successful ones. It often feels more authentic and real because the storyteller has nothing to hide. It’s also incredibly valuable to those listening, which is why I want to share with you my very own Amazon FBA failure story and what went wrong.
Table of Contents
My First Failed Product
Since I no longer sell this product and will not touch it with a ten foot pole, I have no fear in revealing what I sold.
Voila! Monthly Baby Stickers.
Now, just to be clear, this is not my actual brand nor product but this is what I tried to sell…
And failed miserably.
Why Did I Choose This Product?
A few months into my FBA journey and my very first product was selling just okay. I had launched at the end of the season on a seasonal item (I know… stupid), and I was anxious to get something else moving.
With some research I stumbled on this and thought it was interesting. Based on reviews it looked like low competition and the first page results showed a lot of different designs so I figured I could differentiate with my own design.
Jungle Scout showed multiple sellers doing more than 300 units per month so I felt that the sales demand was there. It looked like a low risk product with potentially a decent return.
I ended up finding a supplier on Alibaba at a good price. They were charging roughly $1.20 per unit including the packaging. I hired a designer and had 24 custom stickers created as well as a beautiful package design.
The quality was rock solid and I figured I’d go all in and buy 1,000 units so that I could have a successful launch.
What Went Wrong?
When the product arrived, I kicked on PPC and worked hard at getting some initial reviews.
The first few weeks were pretty rough. Sales were inconsistent and PPC, although not expensive, was not driving a lot of new sales for me.
Thinking that I could solve the problem with a launch, after getting around 10 reviews, I used Viral Launch and gave away over 100 units.
Eight days later and several hundred dollars in the hole and I had made it to page one for my main keyword!
But nothing happened…
Organic sales did not come pouring in as expected.
In a few days, my listing dropped off of page one and into the abyss of page 2 and beyond.
So what happened?
Why didn’t this product work?
Well, the problem was that I didn’t do good research. Sure, the numbers looked okay but I didn’t understand the market.
People (mostly women) were buying these types of products and I didn’t understand their perspective or tastes. Most have highly specific tastes for such a product and will only buy what absolutely fits in with their preferences.
This makes market research and design a crucial step in selling this type of product. What I thought looked like a great design did not resonate with a majority of people who came across my listing.
Furthermore, although at first it appeared that their was low competition for this product, I failed to look at the actual number of listings, which is more than 2,000!
What this means is that there are literally thousands of similar sets of monthly baby stickers and only a handful of sellers who are actually making money. The sales distribution is quite poor and simply put, the market is not big enough to support the number of sellers.
Last but not least, my product did not really stand out from the rest. If you scroll through all of the listings, many of them look virtually the same with only a few design changes. The concept, however, is exactly the same all across the board. This is perfect example of a “me too” product and something that you should avoid!
What Would I Change?
I would personally avoid this category unless you have your own baby or have experience with this niche. However, if I absolutely had to sell this again, I would look for a bundling opportunity.
What does that mean?
I would do some in-depth research on what people are buying the most with this type of product. If you scroll down on any listing you will see what customers “Frequently bought together” and “Customers who bought this item also bought,” which is very useful information.
Based on what I’m seeing on a number of these listings I would likely make a whole “baby milestone set” which would include stickers, a memory book, and possibly a blanket. I would have it all designed with the same theme and priced at an amount lower than if you purchased them all individually.
When people say “add value” and “differentiate” in the private label world, THIS is what they’re talking about. Taking a “me too” product and getting better photos does not “add value.” Sure, maybe it’s marketed better but that is only one piece of this puzzle.
Learn From My Mistakes
If anything, take this blog post and learn from it so you can avoid the mistakes I made. There is nothing worse than having hundreds of units of unmovable inventory.
Take your time to do good product research and really understand the market you are selling to. Look up Facebook groups, blogs, forums, and read about what people are saying.
It will obviously take some extra time and effort but it will also payout big time when you launch a killer product that takes off right when it lands at Amazon.