Interview with The Garlic Press Seller
The Garlic Press Seller has become somewhat of a celebrity in the FBA community.
He has created a forum for sellers to ask questions, get and give advice, and share their selling stories. He chooses to remain anonymous, but he agreed to do an interview with us!
1. How did you get your start selling on Amazon?
I know that you have a blog about your journey on your website, but can you give us a more in-depth look into how you got your start?
Sure! I used to work for a major corporation doing customer service & managing social media accounts. I could usually finish my daily tasks before 3 pm. The job was not challenging at all. No chance at a promotion and I was bored out of my mind. I was literally counting the minutes until 5 o'clock. Although I was getting by fine, I figured this way no way to live my life. So with some free time on my hand, I started to look for different ways to start my own business. I tried a bunch of different things (affiliate marketing, dropshipping, etc) until I found out about selling on Amazon. I figured if other people can make money doing this, I can as well right? So I started doing research.
And I was serious about this!
For the next couple of weeks, I devoured every FBA blog, podcast, forums, case study on the web. All the information was out there and I wanted to read it all. So after I felt I was ready to pull the trigger I used part of my $7k I had in savings to place my first purchase order in China. It took about 2 months to produce & ship, but after that, the sales kept coming! It took another 12 months before I was making more with Amazon than I was making with my day job. At that point, I directly quit my job and went full-time Amazon FBA. Now 4 years later I am still growing every quarter.
I keep track of all the FBA related things that I do on my blog: GarlicPressSeller.com
2. Expand on your online persona “ The Garlic Press Seller”, where did this name come from and why do you choose to remain anonymous?
Haha I guess this is an inside joke between FBA sellers. As nobody wants to disclose their product, as this will lead to extra competition. So we use the garlic press as a placeholder when describing Amazon products. Also because garlic press is like the most tapped out saturated market because every Guru used it as the "perfect product to sell on Amazon". Hence the name: www.GarlicPressSeller.com
3. What made you start this online community, your website and your Reddit, and why did you decide to start sharing so much with the Amazon FBA community and your followers.
I honestly did not plan to grow it to this point. It all started with a simple case study. After Amazon decided to ban giveaways in exchange for reviews a lot of people were struggling to get reviews & launching their product. I figured it would be helpful to do a case study to check which methods still worked.
Since I was still able to launch my product just fine I decided to share this whole process in the form of a case study. You can still check out the original product launch case study that started it all.
After that, I started adding stories about some of my Amazon fails. Since I am a big believer in that you can learn a lot more from people failing, then from those “I made $30k in 6 months time” posts.
Nowadays it has evolved in a place where I share my FBA product research tips, do Q&A with my readers & much more
4. What are some tips that you would give to sellers who are just starting out on Amazon?
Spend loads of time on product research! I keep a personal fail notebook. Here I keep track of the things that go wrong with my business & how I can prevent them in the future. I can tell you that the majority of my problems could be resolved if I just spend a little bit more time on product research.
5. What was one of your “favorite” failures or mistakes that lead you to where you are today? (Example: one that you learned the most from or taught you the most valuable lesson.)
Oof I have so many haha. The one I probably learned the most from is probably my first big fail: I had a complete container worth products seized by the US customs because I made a tiny production error.
This was when I first started and this was a huge blowback. Luckily I had just diversified into a new product. If I had not diversified I probably would have quit Amazon FBA.
After this failure, I put a huge emphasize on diversifying my product line as much as possible. Today I run 21 different SKU’s, all sharing about an equal amount of my total profit. So if another one of my containers with a product gets seized, I will still have 20 other products to rely on.
6. What was one of the biggest challenges that you have faced as you were getting your start selling on Amazon and what is one of the biggest challenges that you face today as an experienced seller on Amazon?
In the beginning, my biggest bottleneck was the capital. As it takes quite some months to manufacture, ship & finally sell your product. And of course, you want to expand into new products after your first one is a hit. So you can imagine that the $7k I had to start this adventure was a huge bottleneck. I solved this by taking out huge loans. Thinking back about it, this was actually pretty risky but it has definitely paid off.
My biggest challenge as an Amazon Seller today is project management. I use Fetcher for my profit dashboard, Excel to keep track of my shipments, Google Keep as my to-do list and I try to save all my important files in separate folders. You can imagine if you run 21 SKU’s that this becomes a huge mess which can lead to very costly mistakes. For example; I have had occasions where I forgot to e-mail a supplier my barcode. This is just a very dumb mistake because I do not manage my projects very well. I ended up having to pay Amazon to label my products which cost me a lot of money.
7. Do you sell on other platforms? If so which ones?
I should, but I don’t. I know I should diversify & try to grow sales on my own webshop or on smaller platforms like Wal-Mart & Jet. However, Amazon’s market share is just so huge. Time-wise I get a much better ROI launching a new product on Amazon compared to launching my existing products on Wal-mart & Jet.
8. What is one of your favorite and what is one of your least favorite things about selling on Amazon?
I absolutely love doing product research! I just love browsing all these niches, comparing the pros & cons of each niche. And especially the feeling when you found a great niche! It’s like you struck gold.
Sadly each business also comes with loads of stuff you don’t like. I hate to keep track of my administration. I just got done with my taxes for 2018 which was extremely dreadful for me.
9. What are some of the latest trends that you have seen emerging on Amazon?
The most obvious trend that you can see is that selling on Amazon is just getting tougher each year.
This year alone I have had:
- Competitors who filed fake copyright complaints to take down my listings.
- Competitors who upvoted all my 1-star reviews so they would show on the product homepage.
- Constant people hijacking my private label listings.
It is just becoming very competitive. Gladly I am somehow still growing each year, else I would probably be going insane by now.
10. What are your predictions for the future of Amazon, do you think they will remain the top dog, or do you see another platform overtaking them at some point in the future?
Yeah, last I heard Amazon has like a 50% market share overall e-commerce sales in the US? I am fairly confident that this is not going to change anytime soon.
11. What are your thoughts on all of the current events involving Amazon? (i.e. possible contract with the pentagon, Amazon getting rid of smaller suppliers, etc.)
Honestly it is pretty terrifying to see how far Amazon is pushing their own private label brands. I have seen occasions where Amazon Basic products almost have like a full-size ad before you see the first organic result. As a private label seller, this is very concerning.
12. If you weren’t selling on Amazon, what would you be doing as a career?
I would probably still be stuck at my 9-5.
13. What is your favorite product that you have ever sold on Amazon and why?
By far the Cash Cannon! I usually don’t reveal my products but since I don’t sell this anymore I would gladly share this. The Cash Cannon is such a weird product!
It’s this plastic toy gun that shoots real dollar bills! I can only imagine what crazy things my customers used this product. It was featured in a bunch of rap video’s so a surprisingly large amount of people know about this product. Which makes up for awesome small talk at parties!
Hey what do you do for a living?