EPISODE 8: Andrew Shields

Andrew is a veteran in the Amazon world and offers an array of different opinions on common topics, which I find incredibly interesting to listen to. He started selling in 2013 and has experienced all the bumps in the road.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Launching with nothing but influencer marketing
  • Utilising other people’s networks to understand your customer
  • What PPC channel to focus on right now, why Amazon might not be the best option
  • Understanding where your customer hangs out and how to double down on that
  • What’s the biggest threat to an Amazon business right now – loved his answer on this

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Click here for the RAW unedited transcript
[0:00:00] null:

[0:00:00] George Reid:
Welcome to It’s always Day one. My name is George Reid, a former Amazonian turned Amazon consultant. Each week on the podcast you’re gonna hear in this tree, experts Brando on Amazon employees share their answers to the basic yet fundamental questions You should be asking yourself about your Amazon business. Now, let’s jump in. We are recording. Hello, Andy. And firstly, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. It’s great to have you are not be looking forward to speaking to you. I do think having followed you and linked him for a while now, you certainly offer a slightly different opinion and perhaps more of a granular opinion on some of the arms and topics. But before, before we get tucked in some questions, would you monitor me kind of a quick 62nd overview of your background? Why you’re in the arms of space? How you got into it, etcetera?

[0:00:48] Andrew Shields:
Yeah, Absolutely. Yeah. Hey, George. Hey, everyone, A real pleasure to be here. My name’s Andrew. I’ve been working on selling into Amazon Sellers since 2013 which feels like a lifetime ago. I promise you, I was probably you know, I wass one of the first kind of 1000 members to sign up for a course that was released a long, long time ago. It was very famous. Course it sold for five K even back then, Andi went on to become amazing selling machine. It was called A Time and a S N a CZ now since become the most successful marking course ever, Pier because they’re charging such a huge amount of money for it. And obviously there was a space is just going ballistic off the charts. So yeah, 2013. I’ve been doing consulting. So I had my own brand that went OK, but there were certainly a few bumps in the vote which we may or may not go into another today, all another time on DH, then went often did consulting. And I’ve worked with a whole host of brands, but very much below the radar. So if you talk to like 99% the community, no one will pretty much have heard me. And that’s a good thing, because that is a cultivated thing. I absolutely designed. I sought out on DH. Yeah, that’s kind of like what I’ve been up to.

[0:02:04] George Reid:
I think it’s so interesting. You mentioned there about immediately on on the back of the launching in 2013 there was already a five K course. I mean, that is honestly absurd. I neither expensive Andi. I knew they were charging decent cheddar now, but five k in 2013 when Amazon Course it was. It was any good for you, Did it? Was it beneficial?

[0:02:27] Andrew Shields:
Yeah, it was. It was massive, George, because well over 60 70% of that first day of intake have made six figures automatically in the 1st 6 to 12 months, and about 40 30 40% made 78 and some even went on denies figures. The reason they went at that that high and they did so very well. George is really because it was the first time that anyone had sat down and distilled into a singular course around private labelling on Amazon. All of the best practises that ankle were using the lumber for supplement players were using so people at saying selling gas near Cambodia, for example, which is a massive weight loss supplement at the time, nothing still is. Maybe this and you know, that kind of good stuffs and jewellery and AP ol. No one had really collected all that into one single course and said, Here’s how you go out. Here’s how you source the products. Here’s how you build, obviously optimised listing. Here’s how you do the PPC And here’s how you run all of that food, a systemized process that then allows you to get maximum power punch on. Like I said, you had people back then because the algorithm was like, way, way more simplistic today, orders of magnitude literally. Back then you could quite, quite literally giveaway 50 or 60 units and being number one in pets or health and beauty for the whole day, which is just another world. But that was what’s happening that would literally without Those first spikes came from that that you are and all that kind of research.

[0:03:58] George Reid:
I think that’s why I remember working with anchor. When I was at Amazon, I’d like that we’re doing It’s incredibly well at the time, anyway, that a 1,000,000 semen place its centre and they were doing everything right, but just getting in at that early stage. Even when I was there, which was four so years ago. Now that’s still early, but back in 2013. I mean, if you’re just doing a couple of things right, like you said, by getting a couple of giveaways in their promotions, the impact is huge. Saying that, then we flick around to my first question. What one action would you be advising right now to create sustainable success on the Amazon marketplace?

[0:04:41] Andrew Shields:
That’s a really good question. I think I would probably pure wet from what was historically and what people usually kind of doing right now. So I’ll be very specific in my comment on what that means. I wouldn’t go out and try and find for that build a brand obviously launched on Amazon and kind of do all that good stuff. I wouldn’t do that

[0:05:01] George Reid:
one. You coming asking questions?

[0:05:05] Andrew Shields:
Yeah, What I would do is the this I would go out. I would look at obviously what put out some kind of selling clearly, but equally, most importantly, even arguably before that stage, I would go out and look for whether audiences of hungry crowds and people I would then look up where there’s hungry crowds of people are on Facebook on Pinterest, certainly clearly on TIC tac instagram. But you know the list I don’t go through. I’m sure we all know that if you don’t, there’s 1000 sites will give you that good list. And basically, I would identify that hungry crowd. I would then look to see who already has some, um, attention and Connexion to those hungry crowds of people. Call them influences on Instagram and some other platforms, but they have the influences that could be Facebook group owners. There could be lots of lots of forms. If you like that influence, the flavour comes in. And then I would go and partner with that traffic asset, and then I would look to source products to service that audience in that partner asset. The reason I would do in that way, Georges, because I fashion, we believe from what I’m seeing, that the market itself is shifting. The customer acquisition cost is constant. Consistently increasing the sticky stick ability and stickiness off those audiences once you’ve acquired them is decreasing on DH certainly much harder to achieve in today’s world. So you’ve got a if you like a farm or promiscuous customer who’s hot, far harder to attract, and obviously a business that that will. Pretty much any business I know about their, including Emma’s know otherwise depends on repeat customers. Yeah, you can’t just win the once and hope to kind of keep it. Business influence Not just not happening. You have to have the subscriber sable, some kind of regularity. If you’re going to continuously keep winning new customers, it’s gonna be really, really hard, long slog for you. So that’s what I would do. I would focus on the traffic asset, the audience, the hungry crowd. Find out what that hungry crowd needs or what few of the put us the hungry crowd might look to buy. So, for example, if you in tthe e health space and you’re doing weight lifting or you think dietary advice and you’re setting Kyoto, perhaps you’ve got a cute oh audience, which has got, you know, that I know you got influence in that space. Somebody’s got a 1,000,000 strong following or even a 50,000 group on Facebook. There would be more than enough. You go to that person, you say, you know, can I talk to you how we partner up? What’s the alliance possibilities here? See what their options are open to that. There’s a plethora of things people say. You know, one of those conversations goes wrong. No problem. You walk away, you keep going until you find the right fit for you and them. And then you see right could well on Taquito bar could relaunch taquito type supplements. Could we do something around the protein powder space, whatever it may be? And that is how I would go about it. Because then your product, when you launch it, is hot. You’ve already got defined audience, a private audience, this obviously open and ready to receive that amazing juice that you’ve launched and you’ve got that capability. Does he do so? Make some impact on Amazon without spending a whole bunch of money before you got that ranked. So so you know, So that ranking comes naturally, but it comes relatively quick because you’ve got that in built momentum, and there were hungry crowd behind you, and they will help boost it to the top. And then that makes you organically hopefully in a good place. And that allows you to bid for people. See, because she got the revenues coming in. You sort of saying about the fertile circling that fly. Well, that would be my boss.

[0:08:15] George Reid:
I think I think that’s a really different take. And I really like it because you’re thinking of what sustainable in terms ofthe you’re looking at trends. It’s important. But my follow up question to be it would be I had this idea kind of recently off. Do you tell the influence what to say? Or do you let the influence or dictate what your content should be when they’re putting posts that I know its influence? A. Marketing is becoming more common now, and they’re like some people brown to going there being very strict post this is like this and then no necessarily giving the influencer, he would argue, understands that our audience much better than the brand or new brand or yourself let them dictate what the content is. Would you be drawing on that premise and saying, OK, well, this is not a content you think, which we’re putting out. What sort of product do you think is gonna be tying it, like work on that product development really closely together? You can obviously go. This is what’s working well. Based on some data off got from tools and they’re going well. Actually, I don’t think that will work because I’m seeing this changing trends based on likes I’m getting. Would it would it be a collaboration? Centre the product development as well? It’s

[0:09:33] Andrew Shields:
a great question. I go a little bit before that, George, because I’m a huge believer in their 1st 1st principles and first thinking. So I go up the stage and I say, Right, how are you going to actually get into these audiences? So one of things I would do is I wouldn’t look to you to do just one strategic alliance. I probably have three or four, and I might cut them on demographic. I might cut them on specific age group. I might cut more specific niche within the niche, you know. So can I think of an example of that war for example, babies from producing a baby put out. Obviously I’m producing, I know. Safe sample sun shield. A baby from a completely idea example, guys. That’s why you could hear me pause and stuff. Trying to make us a nice melon. I haven’t completely stopped reversed. So the key point is this. What if I get a sun visor shield here. I can also do that, little boys, I could do that. Clean little boy little girls. I can also do that for under three’s. On also might do that for three. Plus, I might do that in a prime. I might do that out of some sense that there’s a number of ways you can kind of audience based on, Obviously demographics and clearly influences will have different audience basis within those different spits. Yeah, or slice if you like. In settlements. Yeah, look, to see how I could partner with each of the people that were relevant within seconds. And then I had worked with them collaborative because you definitely want to have their voice in their opinion. But yes, ultimately, there has to be an understanding that this is your business and you’re gonna call the final shots. Yeah. Now they may work out whether you share and clearly that would be clearly there has to be a witham or what’s in it for them. Component without question around the whole thing. That so there has to be some kind of either payment or it could be a percentage share on profits it could be a promotional spirit. Could be many, many, many flavours. You know, I’m a great believer once you bring me a nice, big, fat, juicy cake. I have been working out how we’re going to cut it together. No way we’re gonna figure out a way to cut it. So we both have both. Happy I’m saying, is when we have got cake and win their crimes, that’s when we start squabbling and scrapping over nonsense, eh? So let’s not bother about the crumbs. There’s focus on a field in the cake, and then we can cut a nice piece, and we’re gonna be happy. That’s kind of how I approach it. Is that what you were asking? The thinking?

[0:11:42] George Reid:
Certainly does. Yeah, I really like your logic there of cutting it up, but I don’t think enough people probably do cut the audience up and understand What the what the Paul. What? The lever is for them. What? The attraction is for each person. So if you’re shopping for a boy, they’re gonna have different levers. If you’re shopping for something in a prom, you’re gonna have slightly different levers and trigger points. And that’s where the working closely of influences is gonna tie into that because, well, they understand the audience like perhaps all of their messaging is targeted towards small boys and the three. So we really understand that we can load semesters in on a regular basis on instagram the ends. So we’re chatting to them. Andi, you’re absolutely right there. It’s much easier to cut up a cake when is much bigger and working on that premise going this. I don’t care if I have to give you an extra percentage here. Are there because I appreciate that if you’re in it on your innit full ham, then the case could be much larger, and that percentage means nothing on design. I think some people could perhaps get a little bit wrong off, maybe hard doing someone off, making someone feel hard done by I should say Onda. As a result of that, they’re not getting the full commitment. I applied so many different things. I feel so saying that at the moment, and we think about people that we’re partnering up with

[0:13:09] Andrew Shields:
Christopher surgeons. Just one sentence thought on that alot people focus, they listen to people say focus on your numbers know your numbers on that kind of stuff. And of course, that’s really, really, really important, however, and I want this to be burned into people’s DNA. When you focus just on the numbers and you look at just your head, your baseline costs for the product. To source it towards he get it into nice packaging to get it into the channel. Be Obama’s, an FDA or you’re an F B M Shopify type site, or whatever it may be specifically you’re sitting in. That’s one way of cost about that sits on your marketing costs and stuff. Here’s the thing. If you give away a little bit more, if you make it really sweet and juicy for those influences to engage with you, the amount of antiquity that they can help you bring to the table if you’re using them right should far outweigh one or 2% or one or two little *** of piece of gold or pieces that you’re going to give away on top of what you might normally have done. That’s why I’m associates. Plan for years was one of the most generous in the industry. Does anybody really think that this multi billions tech, now trillions company. It was crazy enough to just give away free money and because they were so dumb that they didn’t know anything. Or maybe they’d run the numbers and understood that being the most generous marketplace made you the most sticky. And therefore, you could drive the most equity out of those relationships whilst they were symbiotic and working for you. So

[0:14:35] George Reid:
I think it’s Yeah, like if you work in the premise off, some would argue that a staple 20% a cost with your appetising is pretty good going. And so other people with consumer bulls would G Oh, I’m happy to push up to forties because the repeat purchase behaviour, if you then g Oh, well, actually, I’m giving an extra 5% away to an influencer. But they can generate free traffic for me over and over and over again, and how we build an email list, how we build assets, which you’re gonna pay me over again and future, and you’re not relying on it that that is incredibly valuable. But this brings me nicely on to another question. If you could hire just one individual to help on Amazon brand What would their skill set B on DH? What?

[0:15:24] Andrew Shields:
That’s a great question. I would probably go strength Alps, Andi, bring in a PPC expert or someone who knew a little bit of this a little bit. Helps. You know a lot these days, but I’ll go with. I’ll go with a modicum of knowledge. Let’s use that word. I would want somebody who had a good baseline understanding ofthe Amazon. PPC reason Why is because it’s now getting tremendously complicated. There’s a lot of different strings and leaves you can pull from. There’s a lot of different elements in ways you can do it. Exact match obviously brought negative. There’s always see also the ability to go down to put attribute level and then also go up within that sponsor brand sponsored products. You then also got DSP happening over here, so that whole universe is just kind of gone with the wind. That matter

[0:16:17] George Reid:
is boiling up.

[0:16:18] Andrew Shields:
Correct is massively blowing up. Now that awareness piece. It’s kind of what we talked about a few seconds ago. If you’re really understanding how that influence of works, they work all right across the fund, if you billy correctly and if you’ve understood your relationship, so excuse me. Obviously, I’ve got my audience hopefully out there one Facebook or whatever social media platform it may be. And they’re then building that brand awareness for you by speaking about you two that 1,150,000 audience, whatever it may be, they got in again. You’ve got multiple people in place so that that’s amplified your then amplifying that further without the other social signals were doing with Twitter and other platforms. Then coming through that final yours consideration face that influence. It has the ability to add value there by saying this is the best option for your little one a sweetheart and then that bottle of the final phase. But yet please purchase this one because out of thes out that baby shades, we saw these three best in the market place. And this is the one that we think it’s top of the pops blow through that peace. The people seek and help you drive that capability and that that momentum that even better, I guess, even better you know not what we’re saying explain. Just kind of gone cock a hoop. But the point remains, it drives that momentum right way through the funnel, especially as Emma’s is now paid to play platform. And anybody who doesn’t think that is a bit crackers

[0:17:37] George Reid:
good. I think you made such a good point there about driving momentum through the platform. I really like that phrase. And I think when we think about the momentum, are obviously going from that top of final, which is much larger, where people are not necessarily even problem aware yet let alone solutions aware. And that’s where your influencer marketing comes in and they’re introducing at that stage. Oh, these new baby shades out there and there they fit onto the primers well onto the head. Kind of is a jewel thing. So then let’s severally problem or solution aware at that point you’re slowly moving them down to go right. We’ve identified The problem on here is a solution. It’s when they’re nice and hot, and that’s why you’re tackling with, um, they’re on Amazon. They’re hungry, they’re hunting. They are the red hot by is at that point. In order to capitalise on that, you need to have a really sound understanding of your people. You see that? Would you Would you focus more on the Amazon PPC side of things? Or would you be thinking on social? Because with the social, you’re obviously going to be able to build up assets like messenger? But subscribers like email like pixel ing people, What do you think holds more weight? Right now?

[0:18:56] Andrew Shields:
It’s a very good question, and it will depend partly on where you are in your life cycle is a business. So if you’re right at the start, I would probably say Focus heavily on the on the on the on platform stuff only because obviously you’ve got to get that initial momentum. If you little bit further along on your journey, then you probably need to be extending that pathway out that runway out essentially on DH Social definitely has a component. So does Google. I mean, Google gets eight billion No sorry. 807 107 100 something 1,000,000,000 clicks a year. It’s in enormous now that all those clicks, obviously, if you boil it down and this is like way down on the list in terms of all social cliques against now, don’t get me wrong. Of course, they’re way more targeted and by how much higher bio intent. The vast majority of those Google clicks is just gonna be that simple. Informational searches. The point is not the volume of clicks. The point is the volume of traffic on DH. So, yeah, I would definitely mix the paid traffic sources. I would focus at the star on on platform. Then I would certainly go out. I would certainly include Social Media. I would pick one No. One platform where you audiences the most vocal, the most present on the most kind of engaged. So it could be pinned to West, certainly for Baby Visor brand Pinterest will be perfectly suitable because the audience is affluent parents and mothers, and Singleton’s 100 k plus is the demographic for Pinterest page or not, it’s hugely, hugely afterward. Audience. Andi. It’s now a critical mass. If I think about 4 500 million people to one of 200 million, which of Wrigley engaging constantly back and forth, swapping pictures and stuff, that’s still a huge audience on DH. Here’s the thing. I want people to know a little mistyped inside tippy, which most people don’t know. Amazon, like all of the Franks, Facebook, apple, Amazon so forth. They love their own kind Now what I mean by that I mean this Pinto west exists inside They ws cloud. That means in order for Pinteresque client to come into Amazon there no hopping off neck They’re coming straight inside their trusted bubble straight from Pinto west into the Amazon website. So what does that mean? It’s my hypothesis and I need to cheque this further, but I’m going to make a bold comment. I’m going to say that that I think that if you’re getting consistent intrest traffic coming interims and listing that you will get disproportionate rewards, it may be marginal. But this proportion rewards longer term as a result that because Amazon can validate that traffic at a far deeper forensic level, then he could, for example, if you’re saying from Andi corps or I Facebook or somebody else now would be wrong. Of course, they’ve got incredibly deep AP I access with all of those players. But AP Axis is one thing. It’s another thing entirely when you concede the origination point of the traffic inside your network and map its apology right the way across in terms of I P address and all the other good stuff. And there’s nobody else who has visibly, too, that you have end to end physically. I think that is the Holy Grail Amazon would love to have on every single purchase, and that is one of the key drivers. Why they’re building out. This adds platform because they need know that they need to continuously enrich that data in the centre of which, which is, obviously, has the customer at its centre a shadow profile of each customer on the platform and to enrich that data on a continuous basis. That into in picture is the most valuable to them.

[0:22:26] George Reid:
I guess, in theory, playing along with this idea and I’m not disagreeing, but I think there’s some logic in it. I think in theory, your Amazon ableto understand everything that people are clicking and liking off of Amazon, and that’s gonna help dictate purchase behaviour on what they’re putting in front of them on Amazon to credit better experience. So they’ve pinned all of these things in baby, so we know that we can deliver similar sorts of products essentially on Amazon. So you’re fostering bat. I think there’s benefits to it as well I think one of the thing you made a really good point about is understanding where your customer is. And I spoke to Destiny the day a better a mess about, you know, the different types. There’s so many things available and she made a very interesting point about a lot of people get kind of headless chicken. They need to go do everything. Then they’re just running around and they haven’t necessarily got budgets to everything. I think you make a great point there of if your people hang out on Pinterest, double down and nail Pinterest. I know Facebook is incredibly well targeted. I’ve never done add some Pinterest. I’ve never even played with it at all. But if you know that, hang out there and perhaps even got budget to spread across Facebook, Amazon, Pinterest and all the other platinum warms do a very good job. But one third party platform as well as doing a little bit there. I think in an ideal world we’d all have a monster budget and be able to do and target everything and do something everywhere. Been something. The ad budget. You gotta think where I’m going to get the best r o y.

[0:24:00] Andrew Shields:
I’ll even go one stage further, George. I don’t actually believe that it’s credible for anybody to try out strategy in 2020. And the reason I don’t think it’s credible for anybody do that strategy in 2020 is an individual. Even there’s a corporation. I think you’re going to struggle to keep it going incredibly long and consistently. Long term is because the whole of platform is changing. Perhaps so fast. Every single media platform out their social media platform and ad platform for that matter out there is morphing at an incredible rate of evolution of velocity. That your ability to continuously learn and keep up is just tested to the limit, just to literally keep up on be focused on one platform. If you’re trying to say defuse on, essentially spread that capability and that knowledge base and that focus and that skill set across multiple, I think it’s just I’m saying it can’t be done, but I’ve yet to meet of yet I’ve only met one or two people in my entire life who literally have the ability to go multiplatform and be rigorous. Detailed have ended, and I guess show a level of mastery and capability consistently over. Like, by the way, I’m gonna comment. I mean, over 1 to 2 year time frame, at least they’ve been able to generate 67 plus figures, consistently off off multiple of those platforms. So Ezra Firestone would be one. But Ezra has a team that doesn’t do it, although it was not crazy as well as a team. Me what one guy on Instagram has another guy on Facebook has another guy on pink dress and so on and so forth year and is what drives those folks in specific directions. Here’s the direct response. Copy. We’re using this platform and so on and so forth. Yeah, so yeah, for sure. I don’t believe that it’s not just a matter of budget. I think the whole landscape is is rapidly to performing. Amazon itself has got the most some of the most advanced because you have to understand this is a very unique piece which most people don’t don’t kind of focus on, understand. Amazon has two things. They’re going for their vastly important. Obviously this treasure trove of historical data they bring to the table, which means winning born then they’ve got some of the world’s most advanced A machine learning experts working the platform. There’s a kind of Gil I’ll get his full name and other times you want anyway posted in the comments section on time. But there’s there’s a guy inside the organisation who is one of the world’s leaders. And they and he helped build something called sage maker Sage, makers of pre built machine learning templates, which I used inside Anderson. So they go in and they essentially to save right. Give me the multi terabyte, they percent for fashion apparel, men’s trousers. Okay, give me that multiple there bite data set from, say, 2012 to 2019. Give me all of that data and then set the sage maker. A machine learning programme will then crawl through that data and look for the matter patterns within that data set off. Who’s buying What what sizes? When they purchased how many left reviews, what colour patterns where they were located, New York, Whatever. Whatever Whatever. New York L. A and so forth. All of this amazing treasure trove of data. This they’re stable to be extrapolated from these from these data sets. And here’s the interesting thing, which is why I was doing with a comment. Amazon has thie ability to do this at a capability that nobody in the world can manage to. It’s not just hear the data set you feared me talk about they ws piece a ws is the biggest cloud provider on the planet. That means they can chunk up what I just talked to you about when I talked about the calling of the data and going through the metal batons. They can chunk that up and spread them across the the vast cloud of machines the biggest in the world, and develop and Dr Value from it that nobody else can match at appoints point nobody else can match, so the pricing compute. Nobody can match the price in storage nobody can match and the pricing data in terms of depth. Nobody can match. So when you’ve got that array of army behind you, it’s It’s Tze. It’s just an incredible and for me, I don’t see data is oil. Oil’s just a ridiculous comparison for me. It’s the toilet all its sunshine it meaning that as the sunshine comes down, it has an effect when it hits, something has an effect upon it on, got in it and usually enriches it. If you had too much of the one in a long time, it destroys it. If you talk about organics, the same thing applies with data for me. If you bring it down and you apply it to something, it can enrich it and help it grow, and it can become incredibly powerful. And of course, a lot of other things depend off various layers of data that’s stacked together. You know, you and I, for example, this this microphone that we’re speaking in. Obviously, that’s a coalition of lots of different data pieces. Together, they dated to promote the plastic that dated to both the electronics and so on and so forth. I’m sure you get my point.

[0:28:53] George Reid:
So I think given what you’ve said there, it really draws on something which I think fee adviser came out with a survey in 2019 with some of what I think is over 1000 cell. It’s saying what was the biggest threat that they felt from Amazon business right now on a lot of them said it was was Amazon, and they said Amazon was one of the biggest threats. I’m intrigued to know what is Europe opinion on what the biggest threat is to Amazon business right now?

[0:29:22] Andrew Shields:
Yeah, it is Amazon. And the reason is because they are because another people kind of take that comment that you just made a few advisers peace. Now remember seeing it on DFI Advisers Piece kind of focused in on one specific aspect, which was the Amazon launching their own private label brands Julie Mo in the supplements, basing their whole powerful of them. I’m not gonna go with more, but they launched their own. Also now now well over 100. I believe I have a private label brand stables within Amazon on Broadway. Every every retailer since the year dot has done that, by the way. So it’s not an Amazon thing. Mistress Amazon happens to run a marketplace mogul as well as obviously being its own retailer, so there’s a little bit of a certainly a contradiction and blowing their excuse me, but they’re certainly not Uniqlo alone. But come back to your question for me. I suspect that it’s really, really more important to take a step back in the stairs saying Right? How is Amazon a threat? Is it just from the perspective of them brought in their own products? I don’t believe that. I think I think you need to take you far deeper and say Right What? What is Amazon Will? For example? It controls your payments. So there is a potential vector there. They can obviously squeeze you. They conceal of your money coming in and out there was capturing all that customer data. So we own it. And it’s Amazon’s customer, Remember, not yours. You have to take them on platform off platform or do some other exchange value with them in order to build that relationship. And even then, one could argue that they’re still going to remain reliant and vague, connected and loyal. Tamsin simply because that fine bridge they’re building on that other good stuff trust and so forth s O. And of course I haven’t touched on the logistics. I haven’t touched upon the marketing. So yes, you could say, OK, they’re torturing of specific brands is kind of a threat. But for me, I think, you know, take it, take the lens out much higher, then say right, how much of my business. Do they see how much is it dependent on them? So, for example, FBI At the moment everybody’s kind of I’m in an R in because they’re launched. Put 200 skew. I’m sorry. 200 unit limit on New Skews on DH They did the same thing at the height of this evening. 19 pendant, when they put 50 50 units are new excuse. So the ability for FDA Taurasi ramp up and scale to this new reality, the new normal that’s going on around us, where they’re super normal levels of traffic, especially in the calm space. That’s a That’s a real concern because it’s not just the Amazon. A threat to you from sending competing products is that they are operational capability. If it didn’t degrade or diminishes, or someone decides to go in and take that personal knowledge and use it in in other ways in new directions that cannot see cause multiple levels of jeopardy for you, that kind of makes sense.

[0:32:05] George Reid:
I think, Yeah, you’re really blowing it up a whole new level, I think. Traditionally, people would be concerned about Amazon going with their own private label, and that was something watch. I was kind of leaning a little bit, given that feed by the survey, but you’re absolutely right, given what we’ve seen with the covert 19 limitations, the 50 units now again, 200 units and even myself working with Brandon, the moment sending in like 30,000 units and they were delaying the the in bound shipment date by a month. Being like you can’t come in here like the power they have because of logistical network is another factor. So it’s not just we can create a brand based on the data we’ve got, and we know that the brand’s going to do well, which is a big, big threat. But it’s also the fact that they can go. We’re not just gonna create something. We can also lean on you a little bit on DH. It could be like you said, squeezing payments. It could be We’re not gonna let you two get in between as quickly as you would like, which just gives us another boost. So for me personally, I entirely agree. I think that is a massive, massive threat. But then there are things in spring to be kind of onto the next point we today. I believe that a little back and forth and linked in a post about this, about how good Amazon were on the branding perspective. Then bring out their own brands. Big thumbs up. But then how are they nailing that experiences? A brand. I mean, have you ever bought anything from Amazon for you thinking the Amazon basics? The whole thing’s great everything about the experiences. Great, are they? I call them like proper brands in terms of you just love. Interacting with them is a brand that Indiana is brilliant, and I

[0:33:50] Andrew Shields:
now know I have bought from them. George, I think that they’re without question at the moment I get, I guess, And to be fair, they admitted themselves this way. It’s very you. But I guess the most successful bands that have launched their far are called Amazon’s basics for a reason from Amazon’s essentials, whatever the very name calling now. So they changed the name around for whatever, but the point remains there very much entry level players in pretty much everything they’re doing. I don’t see them being able to drive up the pyramid and the stack right now, and I think That’s mostly because George, eh? Even though they’ve got these huge head count now, it’s like 108 150,000 plus staff means a monstrous company. Yeah, you gotta bear mind, right? This was essentially originally a software company. This is a group of software engineers who built a website. Then it. Then in the early two thousand’s, Yeah, it was only 2000 and 4 2005 I was NCR at the time of 2000 2000 2001. They’ve just been sort flower floated out of 18 T 18 people or for some huge amount money and then blowing it up as a TNT love to do on. But the CIA at the time and I cannot talk about this was 20 odd years later, so I think it’s no problem. Answer at the time had the world’s largest terror data warehouse and that they tear a date. The wells was one of the most advanced analytics anywhere on the planet. It was at that time, a multi terabyte date away, which is vast when you consider this was 2000 on That was family woman. That’s what That terror Daito. What warehouse did it powered Walmarts operations analytics on customers on stock needed on staffing, on whatever. Yeah, right across the piece. So Amazon, obviously when in looked at that, understood how valuable that what that piece was. And then they unplugged the US Marine Corpse Logistics Team, which was powering Walmarts operational store footprint, and they then went off and put those people to work. Building FDA, which is now the FBI, were there before Foreman Centre Network, please. That sits underneath Zambia and enables it. Yeah, so taking a step back for a second? Yes, Amazon have got incredible capability to build brands, but they’ve never really bean, eh? Brand creative, focused business. They’ve always been an incredibly talented Lou Taylor, which is then built platforms on top logistics capability, that FC network and then obviously the compute peace because they knew that they knew that they needed the analytics piece on that day, a warehouse my world class and dialled in and all of those things have then opportunistically then been able to be turned essentially round and into marketplace pieces. I have no doubt after one piece of sit on, and so I mimicked in a few times of Amazon is, I have no doubt whatsoever that they will want shortly if they haven’t already. I’m surprised that already, but I’m sure it will come shortly in from infrastructure. So logistics is a service platform so that literally, you know, anybody can come in and purchase Amazon trucking. I was an air Amazon. Whatever. Yeah, I’m sure the branding peace will come, but it’s not there yet. There’s a strategic opportunity for people to come in and build their own brands, and you should should consistently be able to kick Amazons. But if your neighbour to kick their butt, that’s I don’t be controversial here, but I’ll be bold. I suspect that smaller affection on your marketing prowess and most importantly, the product you chosen on whether they’re relevant and resonant with the marketplace. Because if you’re picking, for example, silicon spatula and you’re looking to outsell Amazon on that product, your ability to differentiate against them with a customer who’s probably gonna be looking to buy on price it’s a price elastic purchase. They don’t pay more than 10 bucks or 20 bucks for it. That’s gonna be a hard sell if you’re but it that as opposed to. For example, if you sell a most amazing vitamin C serum, which is gone, I claw 58 on board, and I grew a 58 year, some new breakthrough whatever. Which allows you to apply it. And it just blends in the skill into the skin and sit and gives that wonderful, nice, clear sheen to the skin. Your ability to sell that should be way out front ahead of Amazon. Because you go to those instagram influences, You can do things that they wouldn’t even necessarily think off because they’ve got 50 different brands to look after. Yeah, their internal teams are not just one planned, one person that I think

[0:38:04] George Reid:
I think that’s it. You’re your ability, says to two points, going to draw back in that your ability to be more nimble, like bacon, not to coin the podcast. They always you say It’s always day Warner Amazon, right? And then logic behind that is we want to be nimble and act like about how you’ve like a startup, but ultimately there in 800,000 person company. So if you’re managing 40 brands, you can’t have the same nimbleness as two people sat in a bedroom somewhere, working on some serum on DH, spending 10 hours in one day contacting. You can’t do that. But you know, I’ve also interested. Spoke Teo strategic seller in the U. K a couple of months ago when Dave actually partnered with Amazon to bring brands, too. The marketplace, which is interesting. So it looks like Amazon, or perhaps looking for people who are doing well, who have good networks and going right. Let’s partner with them and bring the car the Amazon own brand to thing. And they’re doing it that way. Could that be potentially a future play from them going? Listen, we can’t do this on our own, but we want to say, if you look at launch pad people and go Okay, well, they’re on launchpad, and these are the ones ramping up really well. We continuously speaking to them on understanding why the how are they doing this? What’s different about them? And then we’re working more closely with those nimble characters as well as those big people. I don’t know.

[0:39:32] Andrew Shields:
Yeah, or you could go the other direction, George. And you could say that if I was Amazon identity, you playing in both camps. Yes. Oh, I talked about privately with a few friends a couple of years back, and I actually tried to make it happen. But for various reasons, it didn’t all come together on, but I talked about Tried to do is what I call the tycoon strategy on the tycoon strategies. Essentially, this it means you take the whole plethora of its of super fragmented Amazon brands and you do a Frasier Frasier, which is the fastest growing unicorn on the planet right now. Um, and the reason that you go off and do a physio is because you look at both sides, the Coast one is to partner with those brands to potentially got some DNA and got momentum on the platform and a proven themselves capability wise. The other is to take, go out and take a potential acquisition vehicle that’s buying up those bands and bringing best practises to play to the table. And then you basically say, Right, I’ll go out in a choir of crazy out because if I was AMAs and I’d certainly be looking very closely at crazy or insane, this’s most interesting. There’s VC capital coming in here being big in big numbers cause 260 million. The last funding man they did. That’s a pretty serious cheque for change. And then these this French capital’s coming in. This vehicle is delivering super normal growth and returns on the platform, and it’s doing it consistently across a hope of Thor bands and hope of thought of verticals. So that means that they must have a set of deployable systems and practises internally that can then be replicated. So if I was the grand acquire a 30 and I was able to realistically duplicate and understand how their systems are turnkey now the words how they’re moving the dial on each of these different pieces, listening, optimisation people see processes, logistics and so forth. And this can go on how I can move the needle on each of those pieces. If I can go out and bring that DNA into my business that I can then go out and really, really start to disrupt the marketplace with not only my own brands but also the people who choose to partner with because I could well pick the winners in each of those given categories. In fact, I could do it right now with the numbers and algorithms. But let’s just say I allow the marketplace to do that because I’m obsessed with customers. I’m not my Miles Williams and the other systems. Just there just are there to interpret the marketplace, the customers and the customers, whims so fine customer driven there picking this company’s for. That’s in this custom in these brands. How kind. Learn from that and leverage that. That would be an interesting play.

[0:41:56] George Reid:
I think. Yeah, you’re right. They got a number of things there. I think these type. I’ve had two conversations recent in the last month of people looking to scoop up smaller brands where they see opportunity. I think it is much more prominent in the US and it is over in Europe. There’s probably an opportunity in itself air, but if Amazon and go right, we can scoop him up. If you were an Amazon position, would you? You’ve got to fold. Do you classify as an Amazon brand because this, um, waiting behind that or do Ugo if we just continuously make these Amazon brands? Is there some other backlash where people like I personally? Even if it’s buying that gym clothing at the moment, part of me doesn’t want to buy Nike. I want to buy some small, unknown brand which has just got a good product. And I like them. If night happened to own that and said by night beneath it, I’d still be a little bit like I’m just still buy from night. So would it be made more sense for Amazon to G O. Okay, well, let’s leave them. Is a badge out of it. Just acquire them, Follow the principles, um, and build him that way.

[0:43:06] Andrew Shields:
I guess it just depends on what you see as Amazons. Final play. I mean, Amazon for me have been burnt a number of times when they tried to go off and do things themselves. Their biggest example of that was there. Fire exploit fire phone exploit, which was just an absolute massive flop. A complete train wreck. And one could argue, even now, To a degree, Alexa. Okay, you can say to me, Alexis still in that world Number one smart. Speak it. Yeah, I can’t deny that whatsoever, But the amount of resources they’ve bought into that natural language processing NLP space on DH, the breakthroughs that they’ve currently been ever release have been pretty. I gotta be honest with you. Lacklustre. I mean, we should be. We should be much further along now. Appreciate. It’s incremental innovation that’s going on. I think we’re Amazons. Take, in the view of which is look, we’ve got this incredible data set, which he sits around. That customer is constantly being enriched by this flywheel and ecosystem of platforms is built around it. Let’s continue to build the depth of those platforms, for example, in health care in which the pill pack acquisition and other things support. Excuse me right across the peace in other domains, in terms of logistics, in terms of quote, fresh groceries. And then it’s like a one. I wouldn’t be a surprise. Too tall, for example, if they even went out import gym chain because it would make eminent sense rams into a choir, and it would be very cheap to acquire potentially some of those assets right now, eh? So there’s some very interesting things they could do in that space. But But the point remains, I wouldn’t block Amazon. I wouldn’t stop in my mind purchasing something just because it was made by Amazon. I don’t think many people would, but what? But I think the key thing to want your question is it just depends on how Amazon perceives themselves within a wider ecosystem. Because if you go down deep, yeah, it looks like it could be a complimentary or conflict competitive trade off. But if you take it up another level, they’re not playing for that little piece there. They’re playing for the whole chess sport. Makes sense.

[0:45:04] George Reid:
Yeah. No, you’re absolutely right. I do quite like the eyes and idea that buying a gym chain, I’m personally urging for them to create their own food brand on DH Healthy meal deliveries. I think that’s gonna boom soon on. For a person perspective, I just don’t want to cook. But I do what a nice, healthy meal delivered. And they’re like, Well, you’ve got your prime delivery coming this week, enemy George, because you’re like buying stuff. How about we lob in 10 meals and now as well. And we can make it very cheap because we’re Amazon. You’re buying from us. I mean, I think that would be particularly interesting on DH nudging away from that before we go in deeper into the rabbit hole but still thinking about operations but tying it backto. How can we provide some value for those listening? A simple methodology that I follow is something I call the mountain strategy on DH. The first layer of that strategy is operations. Then you go to brand, and then you go to advertising, and I simply working the premise off. You can’t ascend to brand and to leave nail operations. You can’t send too appetising until you’ve nailed your brand. Working the premise off. There’s no pie driving traffic through ads. If your brand shit and you can’t convert them so that being said, how much more important right now is your operational base becoming then? Perhaps it was in the past,

[0:46:28] Andrew Shields:
very important because, like you said, it’s the base of the pyramid, so you can’t if you haven’t got. For example, the biggest waited indicator in a nine without question is stock stock availability on DH in stock, obviously status. There’s other stuff that you could take deeper than that which will go into another time, which you have Mara Sankoh’s doing around Geo Bank, which is a really important point because Obviously there is no product across the U. S. Which has exactly the same cells. Of course, all the 52 or whatever 50 odd states across the US isn’t just that it doesn’t happen. They’re clearly hot spots of demand within all of those states. And Amazons algorithm directs the stock toe where it sees your cape that those hot spots and spices tomorrow. So if you can predict and look at long term, what there am I go with them is doing because it’s consistent gonna be picking certain locations within the FC network to distribute the stock. If you can start to then upstream that Andi, essentially get your stock in place, get closer to those fulfilment centres and a regular depth. You’re gonna drive more cells because your ability your window to be out of stock is going to massively reduced and your prime status is gonna be elevated on DH. There’ll be all sorts of juicy benefits that will come from that. So the operational bottom of the pyramid is absolutely critical. And if you don’t get that right, it’s there is no there is no game one like you said there was no brand if you haven’t got any stop because they’re not gonna put you at the top of the page organically. Otherwise, it going stock. And clearly, as you say, the advertising isn’t gonna even if you’re paying. I know 10 bucks a click, Whatever the number 50 bucks, It doesn’t matter if you’re going to stop. Hamas is not gonna not gonna show that at, so Yeah, just picking one piece of the operation is need wanted. Listen, this the peaceful hours, but that’s example.

[0:48:13] George Reid:
And I appreciate that creature entirely. Okay, so my final question I’m asking pretty much everybody this at the moment. It’s a very simple one, starting with nothing but £10,000. Would you start of Amazon business today?

[0:48:29] Andrew Shields:
Yes, on. I would do it with the way that I kind of explained to you earlier. I would look very carefully on DH, spend a disproportionate amount of time. I love the Abraham Lincoln conversation where he’s asked, You know, you’ve got to chop down a tree. You’ve got two hours to do it. And I think he says I spend the first hour and 15 minutes sharpening the sword. So when when I cut that puppy. It just go straight there. I love that example, and I think that’s very true. You heard me kind of taught talk a little bit that first principles thinking earlier in the conversation, when we talked about, you know, going go, go find that audience. They find that hungry crowd when she found that hungry crowd and obviously identified that niche. Then look at what products you, khun, Khun source to serve them because I promise you they are going to be buying for that’s that support their passion and their interest in that niche. And in that in that subject matter, for example, picking a topic at the reptiles there is a big reptile community, Believe it or not, there is people who collect iguanas, collects lizard and whatever different persuasion. And I’m no expert you del. But there are hugely passionate audience, you know. They have the tanks, they have the air conditioning machines. They have the mice that feed them and not so on and so forth. Year on DH, they are massively into obviously supporting their pets and that particular passion interest so you could source those tanks. You could source those air conditioning machines you could get in the water, the water, the water droplets that obviously the lizard to using to drink out and so on and so forth. Yeah, definitely go that route while that with the 10-K suspend the time identified Nish and hopefully it’s in each, by the way, George and I don’t say to do this, but I do want this ideally, to be part of your thinking. Find the niche that you can connect with and enjoy and get engaged with them. Get a little bit buzzy about with because that’s gonna help a lot in terms of sustaining you because you’re gonna go into this with 24 to 36 months. If you’re looking to anything less, you could potentially get very badly burnt because that’s almost a pump and dump that model. And that is not where Amazon is. And that is not what Amazon is in 2020. So you’re gonna take a 24 to 36 horizon. I have a month by month breakdown away. You want to be within that because it’s moving so fast that you’ve gotta go that level of granularity, even to the week. But let’s not get crazy and then be laser focused with that 10-K investment. As I said on that crowd, you do that. He will be successful on Amazon in 2020.

[0:51:06] George Reid:
I like your honour. Just summarised from conserve your time as well. But I like because I say this to people all the time. All this We have lots of people in the academy and they always ask, Kind of like, What should I be doing in particular? Getting started? And I always say, Pick something you actually like, give a shit about if you is, sailor, I’m more a dog person. If I decide to go buy some cat toys and in three month’s time, they’re still sat there and something’s gone a little bit wrong because I can’t get stock into Amazon. I’m going.

[0:51:36] Andrew Shields:
Todo monkey was about cats because your dog, man, you’re much more engaged. Too much more turned on by dogs. So you know, Mom, if they’re not setting and not even know what to do because I don’t even know, okay? I don’t even know much about cats.

[0:51:50] George Reid:
Yeah, I’m not I’m not even bothered. And you they’re looking at them every day going that’s grinding May, because I’ve got my dog there and he’s getting annoyed. But, like, I think that is a very good take right there. Always picking that Neech signing up for 24 36 really spending that time understanding your audience. Andi, thank you. Thank you so much for coming on. I think you’ve really a slight, different insight again. We’ve gone grand little on some things and I’m really forward to a turf war. Listen to this. When we launch some pre recording, this will be launching it about a week. So some people somehow discovering already. God knows how. I don’t understand other world works. But thanks a lot for your time. And Texas look forward to speaking again. Probably in the future.

[0:52:34] Andrew Shields:
A pleasure indeed. Take care, George. And good luck to everybody out there. Thank you. Can take

[0:52:38] George Reid:
years on they childhood

[0:52:39] Andrew Shields:

4 comments on “EPISODE 8: Andrew Shields
  1. Very interesting – Andrew is well worth listening to. Increasingly I think we need to reclass ‘biggest threat to an Amazon business’ to ‘biggest threat to my business from Amazon’ and start looking at protection strategies when building a brand.

    1. George says:

      Thanks for the comment David. Great to hear that you are enjoying the Amazon podcast. Interestingly many responses to that question have been “Amazon”, so perhaps you are right pal.

  2. Michael Noonan says:

    Top-shelf interview and and many eye-opening perspectives from Andrew Shields.
    Most informative. Thank you for bringing this gentleman on your podcast.

    1. George says:

      You are most welcome Michael, the guy really knows his stuff, is incredibly well-spoken and articulates his ideas to perfect.

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