This episode features Yulia Blinova, founder of Zignify. She’s here to talk about how you can successfully source products that will sell and how you can use these products to begin or grow your online business.
Yulia discusses the people commonly looking to source products, what the right products are, and supply chain issues.
Listen as Julia shares what she thinks about sourcing products and if it is still a viable option for being successful online. She shares how she and her husband originally get into sourcing products and some of the top tips she could give the listeners thinking of doing it.
Learn more about Zignify and how it can help you if you are thinking about starting your own online business.
Episode Action Items:
To find more information about Yulia, go to www.zignify.net
ABOUT THE HOST:
Andy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of theMake Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner ofTrue Online Presence, and the Founder ofMake Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.
New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found onApple Podcast,iHeart Radio,iTunes,Spotify,Stitcher,Amazon Music,Google Podcasts andwww.makeeachclickcount.com.
ABOUT THE HOST:
Andy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.
New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.
Andy Splichal 0:00
Welcome to the Make Each Click Count podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. We're happy to welcome this week's guest to discuss today's topic, which is secrets to sourcing products that sell. Today's guest is here to talk about how you can successfully source products that will sell, and how you can use these products to begin to grow your online business a big welcome to Yulia Blinova. Hi, Yulia.
Yulia Blinova 0:23
Hello, thank you very much for having me. Very, very exciting. And I wish I had such presentation skills as yourself.
Andy Splichal 0:32
Well, thank you, thank you, you know, the subject of this podcast is going to be secrets to sourcing products to sell. And I guess I'm curious to start with, who are the people commonly looking to source products? Is it is is someone looking to start a new Amazon business where they're using these source products to create listings, it's someone looking to expand their current offerings, they already have a business or they are selling on their Shopify. I mean, where where is it?
Yulia Blinova 1:02
Well, to be open and honest, customers are everywhere. We have people who are nurses who work and they would like to start a new business venture and you know, the spider start a side hustle, it's Amazon sellers, it's people who do drop shipping, it is people who sell through Shopify and WooCommerce. It is people who sell in Walmart. And you know, there are tons of other platforms other than just Amazon and eBay, for example, in Europe, we have other platforms as well, where Amazon is not present. So the customer base is actually quite, quite large. And in the last few years, we have seen an extreme increase in the amount of people who would like to start their own business, initially as a side hustle, but with the aim of growing it towards something sustainable, where they can provide literally a better life work balance and better life for themselves and their families. So I've seen that a lot.
Andy Splichal 2:03
Yeah, I guess with the you know, taking it as a side hustle, the barrier to entry is very low. Right, you find some products, you could set up an Amazon store with very little money out of pocket to start is that the attraction to, to finding products to source?
Yulia Blinova 2:24
Absolutely. We have so many different gurus, so many experienced sellers who also currently have their own companies, consulting companies, and they can help you also teach you how to sell on Amazon. And there's tons of information that is available available through podcasts through YouTube videos. So people see this and, you know, they see that how easy it is to do, which it's not right, it is absolutely not easy. There is a lot of hard work, there are missed holidays, vacations, and family trips. But if you persevere and if you invest enough time, then yes, you will succeed with the right products as well. So the initial hype is because there can be success, you know, it's like the American Dream that we see in the movies, you can you work hard, you become very rich, and you live in a big mansion with the white fence and the swimming pool and stuff like this. So this is kind of the same thing. And it can be as such, there are such fairy tale stories. And we see this all over the place. I know some people they used to literally work in the warehouse and just move pallets from place to place. And now they're eight nine figure sellers, because they wanted a better life for themselves.
Andy Splichal 3:40
I think you just you just hit the million dollar question. What's the right products? I mean, what what are people sourcing that are that are having success.
Yulia Blinova 3:51
Honestly, the range of the products that are out there on the market, which can bring you 7, 8, 9 figures per year, our the range is extremely wide. So some of the people do something that really relates to them. And I'm one of those people because me and my husband we also have two Amazon brands actually and we sell through Shopify and stuff like this. The first brand that we really launched was kind of you know, we did the market research we weren't really relate to like relating to it personally. But the second brand we did because out of heart out of desire out of our personal need to solve a problem. So a lot of people go with this initially, they see a problem that they or their family members of friends face on daily basis. They see that there are no solutions on the market, or the solutions are not good enough and they see how can they improve those products and to be open and honest. Top Top Sellers from what I have seen personally from our customers a lot of them they come from this. Another category is something that people will always need, whether crisis or no crisis. So certain things you need around the house, like, you know, the stuff for the sink, like a safe one that you use under the sink. If this one breaks, you will have to buy a new one. Because if you don't, you will not be able to use the sink in your kitchen or in your bathroom. So things that will always be recession proof, right. So those are pretty good. In recent years, especially during Corona products that are related to pet niche, you know, all of our pets, cats and dogs and snakes and lizards. This has grown quite tremendously. And it's not even hitting the ceiling, yet it is set to grow even further in the years to come. So these are just some of the things you know that I can mention.
Andy Splichal 5:57
So you had mentioned recession proof. How I mean, that's great, you know, considering our current economic environment, but how do you make it Amazon proof? I mean, how you're selling you've sourced something, you found a problem, you've you've sourced a product, you've listed it on Amazon, you're doing well with it, what's keeping somebody else from coming in and selling the same thing? And just taking a smaller profit margin? And undercutting? I mean, how do you Amazon proof it?
Yulia Blinova 6:31
Well, it's impossible to Amazon proof it, the only thing you can do is always stay one step ahead of your competition. Of course, there will always be someone who will come into the market, maybe the manufacturer himself, if you for example, produce in China, because a lot of them do this, they see the product starts to sell well, and then they come in themselves. And they of course, sell for a lower price because you know, they didn't have anyone in between. Um, the point is to always stay ahead, you need to have my suggestion, or one of the things that a lot of our customers are doing right now is to have a product, which is very, very hard to sell. So let's say five years ago, most of the customers came to us and say Yulian we want the product that costs I don't know, one to $5 that needs no certification that is easy to produce this and that did you know so fast, fast everything fast and the competition flooded the market for such products right. Let's let's talk about the famous garlic press the press about which we heard for ages in relation to Amazon. But now the situation has changed people who would like to stay ahead and competitive in the market, they're common and they're saying we need the product that requires a lot of certification. There are not so many factors that produce it so high barrier to entry
Andy Splichal 7:57
What's some examples of those?
Yulia Blinova 8:00
um, something that is related to chemicals for example, chemicals, something that you take in right so maybe different types of vitamins or supplements and things like this I mean market in terms of supplements market is completely saturated, and you can easily do private label in the US there are tons of factors but if you're going for something that is a little bit more dangerous, for example, some people have mold in their house you know the black stuff when you grows in on your walls. So, this product is a little bit harder to get kind of approved on amazon it because it requires more certification. So something like this which is still in demand right because all is not going to go away and you know the winter comes cold times come so people will still buy it. But it also has higher barrier to entry. cosmetics for example, whether it is cosmetics like creams or you know all the blushes and lipsticks and all of those things because yet again, it requires more certification and you can have additional you know marketing USPS more eco friendly, less co2 use because you you produced it in us rather than ship it from China or something like this. So honestly, the list is endless up pet food, right also require a certain certification because we don't want our pets to well die. So we're in the you have more liabilities for being sued. Those are potentially good products because your
Andy Splichal 9:43
Sounds scary. I gotta say. That sounds scary. And where are you sourcing this? I mean, I your store. So ya know, that whole thing sounds scary to me. But I guess that's the barrier of entry. Yeah,
Yulia Blinova 9:56
Exactly. And we have tons of clients who have products like this, and even more, but when you work with the right sectors, because again, you know, people are looking a lot of people that I'm talking to they're like, oh, China, I'm like, Guys, China is wonderful. I used to live in China for nine years, I've been to the factories where they produce converse, Chanel, Armani, Versace, Gucci, all, Apple, all of those brands, right? So China can do good products, it all depends on how much you pay for your product. And you know, that's how your quality is going to come up. But we have so many different private label opportunities in US, in Europe, even in Mexico, you know, all over the world, and people are not using those opportunities. If you take factories in us, it's a lot easier to work with them. Why? Because in order for them to be able to sell their product, they will have all of the certification ready, you will not have to worry about anything. In China. On occasion, you're asking, Hey, guys, is your own architects for textiles still valid? Yeah, here it is. You go into the database, you check it and what happens it expired two years ago, in us, they will not allow this to happen, because they will get caught by the government. And they will be slapped with fines, maybe closures etc, etc. So when you work with companies in the US, in Europe, they have a lot more. They're a lot more liable for their actions.Andy Splichal:
You know, there's right yeah, no, that makes sense. Now, when we first started this conversation, you talked about the nurse who wants to have a side hustle in start selling stuff online? How the heck do they find out about what kind of certifications they need? If they're looking to I mean, where are they getting the education? Where? Where does that come from?Yulia Blinova:
Well, first things first, of course, Google, you know, if everything depends on how much money you have there, first of all their compliance people who can help you out for sure, we do compliance as well. But if you would like to do those things yourself, you can call certain Government Organizations, let's say you would like to know, you're making them, let's say it's a nurse. So she came up with some sort of medical product for it, if it's a medical product, it would be probably very good to call FDA and to see if they will suggest any other certification for it. So people should not be afraid of calling government organizations and consulting with them. Because a lot of startups, a lot of people who are just starting their side hustle, they should do this, because they have limited funds. Unless you have the funds to support it, then you outsource it to a company who is you know, specializing in the certification in what needs to be on the label. But again, if you produce your products, let's say in us, then the factories will tell you what certification you require, which is an awesome thing. And they will also tell you what you need to have on your label. So yeah, this is very different from working with the factories in Asia, who do not give you all of the steps, you know, they don't guide you because again, they're not as liable as the US companies, for example.Andy Splichal:
Now another big problem, since COVID, has been supply chain issues. How do you avoid it taking three, four months even longer to have products produced and delivered?Yulia Blinova:
Well, now it's not a problem anymore. Because honestly, the shipping right now everything going to us is, you know, that's quite easy. For example, the price for a 20 GP container, 20 foot container, I received the new price just today in $1,300. When a year ago at this same time, it was about 15,000. Right? So the big companies, they overstocked store all of the Shipping currently that's going into the US the routes are free ish, and the prices are dirt cheap. So the to ship from China to Germany right now is more expensive than to ship from China to us. before or during COVID. One of the things we did and this is not only about COVID To be honest, this is a sense that every person who is selling any products or manufacturing anything should have always have a backup. Your factory can be closed due to COVID. Your factory can be closed or tell you know because they received the bigger order from a bigger company. Miscellaneous typhoon happened you don't know. So first thing that I always Adjust is have a backup factory, preferably in a different country, preferably that is located closer to the location where you sell your products. Sometimes you will need to split your shipment. And this is what we did for a lot of our customers during COVID. Because as you said, yourself delays back then they were three or four months, we had to airship, there was no other option. But the best thing one can do is plan, plan in advance. Make sure that, you know, I know it's hard to plan because you might not necessarily know how much you will sell. But in my opinion, it's better to have more stock on your hands than none. Right. And especially when it comes to such platforms, as Amazon, being out of stock on your top seller product is is horrendous. It will, you know, destroy all of your ratings, and you will pretty much have to build up from the beginning on.Andy Splichal:
Now is we go into the new year into 2023. Do you think that sourcing products whether it's to sell on Amazon or your own Shopify store? Is it still a viable option for being successful online? Or is there just so is it just so oversaturated?Yulia Blinova:
No, I think it's not too, of course, certain categories of products are oversaturated. And we have tons of different stores on Amazon and even on Shopify. But to be open and honest, there's still space for many different categories of products. Me and my husband myself, we're looking into launching new products as well, both on Amazon and on our Shopify stores. Why? Because there's still niches that are not covered. One of the suggestions I can make this is it's not a right suggestion, it's not a wrong suggestion, this is how I personally feel is I see a lot of people are creating brands, you know, so to go against those huge corporations, those huge multinational square giants, right? And who are selling their products for cheaper than their one click is on Amazon or on Google. So a lot of people are starting to go into those more niche more family sort of oriented brands or their show like we're a small business. We're doing all natural, eco friendly, et cetera, et cetera. So there's tons of options. So yes, go and build your business, look into eco friendly products, something environmentally friendly. Why? Because we are going towards that way. For example, a few days ago, I read that Leonardo DiCaprio, the famous Bollywood actor has invested in one startup who is producing shoes out of recycled recycled materials in Italy. You know, this is pretty cool. And those people also move with the trend. So yes, if you have the opportunity, if you have the guts, if you have the perseverance, start a Shopify store, start an Amazon store. Yeah, I'd say yes.Andy Splichal:
How did you and your husband originally get into sourcing products? And and what are some of the top tips you could give the listeners thinking of doing it now?Yulia Blinova:
Um, I started sourcing, or I yeah, I got into this about 17 years ago. 17, 18. If you see my picture, you know, I look a lot younger than I actually am. I think this is the side effect of living in Asia for such a long time. Back in the day, when I used to live in China, all of the people, that's what they were doing, they were doing sourcing or teaching English. I didn't want to teach English even though I did for some time, but I prefer to do something related to business. So I started working for an Italian company in Shanghai, and I did everything from sales to product management to sourcing, you know, and this lasted for years. But then I moved corporate and about two years ago, I quit my corporate job. So right when COVID hit, and all of my old customers, they started getting back to me and saying, oh my god, we have problems we can't ship like what we just discussed and happened was, yeah, those customers wanted to, you know, see what are other potential supply opportunities. And in under two years, we grew from zero people to almost 50 Because there's so much demand and we kind of have, you know, I needed help, and I got my husband on board. And here we are kind of two years later. And all of our people are actually women, my husband is the only guy.Andy Splichal:
Now, what are some tips that you would give to people looking to source products, whether it's through your company or not?Yulia Blinova:
First things first, try to have as many details ready about what you want. On a lot of occasion, and a lot of occasions, I see that people have zero details, they're very vague. And there's no, I want kind of this kind of that, if you don't know something, you either need to figure those things out on your own, or you need to consult with companies like ours, The more details you have, the easier it will be for you to source your products. So try to get those details. Secondly, do not contact one or two or three or five manufacturers. We, in our company, we divide the world into China, and rest of the world. In China, we contact round about 30 manufacturers for one product 30. And outside of China, we contact ground about 60 The reason for this is what I call it the conversion rate from the initial contact to the you know, to what you actually want to receive in China from 30 manufacturers 29 will respond and for we will get what you require from 20. Maybe outside of China 60 You contacted 30 will respond and you will get prices from 10. Yeah, this I mean depends on the product. But this is where the next advice comes in. Please do not send just one email when the customers come to us. And they say we've contacted five manufacturers I'm like, okay, cool. How did you contact them? I sent an email. And, and nothing. I'm like, Okay, guys, with the Chinese manufacturers, this is easy, you have Alibaba or you can send them an email or WeChat, they will respond directly. If you're working with the companies outside of China, on average, to get one price is three emails and four phone calls, you got a call cold call cold call. And every country has you know, it's different route as well. If you're trying to contact American companies, the best way to do this is actually to fill in an inquiry form online, they respond best when you feel one of those forms. Be patient, ah, push, push, push, you need to become you need to learn to become pushy, that's for sure. And you need to be extremely detail oriented and organized as well. I know this doesn't come easy, but there are tons of tools that can help a person to do it. In this day and age, oh, one of the most important things that I like to do is, and this is like we really, really use this for our customers is never say that you're the boss. So if you're communicating with the manufacturer, of course, tell them what are the plans of the company, say you're a sourcing manager or something like this, even if you're just one person and you are the owner of the company. But say you're a sourcing person, these are our plans for the company, maybe some forecasts, and things like this. And when difficulties arise in terms of negotiations, you can always lean on one phrase, which is I need to talk to my boss, you know, because unless you're talking to the factory owner, the person with whom you're communicating also has a boss. And you can always say, you know, my boss, he's so stingy, he doesn't want to move here. He's not going to pay this. Please, please help me out. So here's how it works. It really does work. And it's important. So it's important to know who you're talking to. So for example, when we're communicating with certain factories, we research the person with whom we are communicating. There's Facebook, there's Instagram, there's LinkedIn. So from this, you can know who the person is, what are their interests, because if you will find something in common, you will become closer and when you're kind of, you know, in a more friendlier kind of more acquaintance slash friendship relationship. What do you do for your friends? You try to do the best by them right? And this one works when you try to make a real relationship real connection with the factories, they respond in kind, not all of them. But in our experience, this definitely works well.Andy Splichal:
I liked that I liked that, blame it on the stingy boss and try to build build a relationship. That's some great advice. Now tell me on and we'll get to your company in just a minute here. But as you built it, have there been any business books out there that you can attribute to your journey as an entrepreneur?Yulia Blinova:
Um, well, honestly, nothing related to sourcing, unfortunately, maybe one day, I will write the book if I'm not lazy. But there are tons of books out there that help you as an intrapreneur. In general, like the blue ocean strategy, for example, the growth hacking and you know, things like this. So I'm more focused on the books and the knowledge about the business in general, because the sourcing that we're doing, it doesn't exist in the world, yet. There are no other companies out there who are doing what we do. Because most of the people, they focus only on China, or only on one category of products. So for me, all of those blue ocean strategies, they were important, because from that, I saw what is missing on the market, where, you know, our niche is the world. And our product niche is any product in the world, right? When the word niche should be something No, it should be something smaller, something targeted, but our niche is the opposite. So this is kind of, you know, kind of came from that. Even I meanAndy Splichal:
That's a great, let's, let's segue right there and jump in zignify.net. So that's about two years old, and new source all over the world. And nobody else is doing it. What are the advantages? For a potential client, if they're looking to source, no, whatever they're looking to source coming to you guys opposed to going to a competitor.Yulia Blinova:
That's very, very easy, honestly, because so far, no one works on the same. On the same in the same way as we do first things. First, we what I say we provide German quality. Why German because my husband is German. And you know, still in the world, we have this old German quality, the good outdoor, and you know, the good car and things like this. So we provide what I say German quality, but Asian efficiency and flexibility. So we're trying to combine the best of all of the worlds. We don't work on commission, most of the sourcing agencies, they work, whether on commission, or they work base plus commission. And also they don't tell you who the factories are. So if you're placing an order for for a product, you will have to place the order with your sourcing agency. And you might not even know who your factory is. So there's zero transparency. We don't do this, we're always always absolutely transparent. So if we contacted 60 manufacturers on your behalf, you will have the list of all of those 60 manufacturers, and if you want to be introduced to every single one of them, we will do it. So our customers can take over at any point in time. We're very, very flexible. You know, and again, we work on an hourly basis, no commission. So at the end of the day, our customers spent a lot less. So rather than catering. Of course, we have big clients, we have a client, for example, who makes 650 million euros per year. That's not bad. But we also have customers who are just starting their journey. And because she works as a nurse, or even though she works as a nurse, she can still afford our services. So we're affordable, but with very, very good quality. Plus, we don't jump to the conclusion, let's go to China and produce your product, we go about it in a very different way. The most important thing for me is what is your product? What are your marketing USBs and in which countries you're going to sell your product. Based on this, we will give you a recommendation in which country you can potentially produce. Because for example, if you have a product that is made out of glass, or swimsuits, right, and you're selling them in us in Florida, where can you produce them, Mexico, you can also produce them in Brazil, you don't necessarily need to go to China, and this way you will save on your shipping costs and in time. So those are kind of our major things. And I think wherever Very, very nice people. And my, and this is what we're trying to provide for all of our customers is customer value overload. Because, you know, and we work on honesty, and we work on our relationship. So it's a long term relationship. We have some customers with whom we've been working from the beginning, and they're still with us. And we're very happy.Andy Splichal:
If there is somebody who's listening who wants to get into sourcing products or has been sourcing products, how can they find out more about working with Zignify?
Oh, that's very easy. They can go on our page, Zignify.net and schedule a free consultation call with us. Sometimes, I actually tell people what they need to do because I see maybe they're not ready to invest the money and they're still kind of on the fence about our or any other service. So they schedule a call with us on our website and we'll have a conversation and on a lot of occasions we give free advice on some of the customers, we say guys, you don't need us right now. Currently invest your time on your own, make a little bit of money and maybe later come back to us. Don't waste it now. So yeah, Zignify.net, schedule a free call or find me on LinkedIn, that's a great platform.
This has been great. Is there anything else you would like to add before we wrap it up today?
No, thank you for the opportunity. To those who would be listening, I want to say, don't give up. I've seen people who were in a bad place because of the sourcing because it's highs specially if you do it in China. Because in the beginning everything seems so easy and so available and then it starts, wrong price, wrong sample, etc. Don't give up, positive thinking, you will get through this, you will succeed and everything is going to be okay. You're not alone, try to find some masterminds, support groups and you'll be okay.
Great closing words and thank you again for joining us today, Yulia. For listeners. Remember if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts leave us an honest review. And if you're looking for more information on Zignify or connecting with Yulia you will find the links in the show notes below. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business, check out our podcasts Resource Center available at podcast.makeeachclickcount.com. We have compiled all of our different past guests by show topic and included each of their contact information. In case you would like more information any of the services I have discussed during previous episodes. But that's it for today. Remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing and I will talk to you in the next episode.