How Resellers Can Increase Ecommerce Sales
How Resellers Can Increase Ecommerce Sales
Today, we talked about how resellers can grow ecommerce sales for manufacturing businesses. To give us a thorough understanding of this concept, we invited our guest.
In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Kelly Cudworth. Kelly is the President of NuLeaf Office Solutions. His company was started by his father around 46 years ago and Kelly has worked there for 16 years now. NuLeaf Office Solutions is a business/office supplies reseller with over 100,000 SKUs on multiple ecommerce platforms.
The conversation started with Curt introducing Kelly. After this, Kelly gave a little introduction about himself and his company. He said that he joined his father’s company because he wanted to get into the entrepreneurial side of things.
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Moreover, Kelly joined his father’s business and upgraded it in many ways. Moving on, Kelly shared how he got his dad’s on-ground business online altogether. Talking about this, Kelly said that it was a blessing that he joined this company in his youth. Because at that time, he knew that ecommerce was the best option for their business.
Apart from this, Kelly said that his line of business is already a pretty old school, so starting ecommerce in this business was good for them. After this, Curt asked Kelly how he maintained such a customer-centric website for his business.
Answering this question, Kelly said that when Amazon started out, people called them customer-obsessed and fraud as well. However, following that model is exactly what helps. Therefore, Kelly and his company followed the same model and drew out plans on where they can find the margins to do so.
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Continuing the conversation, Kelly talked about how resellers can grow ecommerce sales. He explained this phenomenon in detail and also said that in b2b service, customer obsession is not that suitable.
Moving on, Kelly said that resellers can grow ecommerce sales. After this, the conversation shifted towards skews. Damon shared how Kelly went from 50 skews to 100,000 skews for his business.
Talking about this, Kelly shared his experience and answered a few questions from the audience about how resellers can grow ecommerce sales. Chris asked if Kelly gives their vendors a template to follow to digitize each skew or not.
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Kelly gave an appropriate answer to this question and said that they first look at what template do they provide and then share their own as well.
By the end of the conversation, Curt asked Kelly to share his advice with someone who is just starting out about how resellers can grow ecommerce sales. To this, Kelly said to just jump right in and do your thing.
The conversation ended with Curt and Damon thanking the guest for his time.
product, kelly, reseller, skews, customers, e commerce, amazon, manufacturers, business, brand, platforms, selling, damon, price, suppliers, big, quantity discounts, world, data, catalog
Kelly Cudworth, Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson
Damon Pistulka 00:01
Boom, boom, boom.
Curt Anderson 00:06
Happy Friday guys. Yep.
All right, everyone.
Damon Pistulka 00:10
Welcome once again to the Friday edition of the manufacturing ecommerce Success Series. I am so happy to be here today. I’m one of your co host, Damon Pistulka. With me in the upper right, I’ve got Kurt Anderson, the other partner in crime on this venture. So Kurt, go ahead and introduce our special guest of the day,
Curt Anderson 00:33
man. Damon, are you sitting down for this one dude, and you better you better put on your seatbelt. This is guys. Welcome. Thank you, everybody. Gail, you’re right here, Chris. Kevin, my friend, Don. Welcome, everybody. Happy Friday. So we have an incredible, amazing show today. We’re gonna dig right in. So we have our dear friend, Kelly Cudworth. And Kelly welcome, dude, thank you for taking time. I know you’re super busy. Thank you for joining us today.
Kelly Cudworth 01:01
Yeah, no, I’m happy to be here. This is great.
Curt Anderson 01:03
Okay, so let me just let me share a little bit about Kelly and I’ll demon nose. Demon and Kelly are pretty tight. And we’ll get into that in a minute. So I’m all new to this party new to this relationship. But Kelly is just a rockstar, relentless entrepreneur. We have a great story here. extremely relevant for manufacturers and making that digital transformation. Kelly did it years ago. He’s blown it up on with online marketplaces. He’s in the Hey, Dan bigger just joined us. Welcome, Dan. So he is in the extremely challenging office supply business. He’s the president of New Leaf office solutions. And Kelly do I did I catch this? Right? Are you 40? Under 44? What was that the Puget Sound Business Journal. Did you win that? I see that try? That
Kelly Cudworth 01:48
was a handful years ago, but yeah, 2015 I was. I think it was 15 around that time. Yeah. I was I was one honoree. Yes.
Curt Anderson 01:57
Awesome. Well, congratulations. Well, what I want to jump in, could you please start off with a little bit about your business dad started started your business, I believe 1975 or 40 years ago, dads have that starts a office supply business downtown Seattle. And man 46 years Damon thing about I think like I probably have clothes that are 46 years old, but 46 years old says, What do you think four out of five businesses fail in the first five years? Kelly’s family has sustained for 46 years. Kelly,
tell us a little bit? How
Curt Anderson 02:29
did dad get the business started? How did you come into it? And that’s and then we’ll we’ll dig into e commerce from there.
Kelly Cudworth 02:35
Yeah, so I think the only thing that’s changed or to stay the same and 46 years that our legal name right. So dad, yeah, I mean, dad started the company 46 years ago, he came from the offset industry on the other side, actually on the supplier manufacturer side. So he was a manufacturer’s rep, and then decided to flip and and get involved in the resale side. And then obviously, I grew up, you know, with dad run the company, I had no interest in it.
I you know, when I graduated college, at the time, dad’s primary, the business model was selling toner that was the business focus roommate, that owner, and I came into college thinking I was, you know, going to rule the world, world to get back to total reseller. So after a handful of years, it’s going out on my own and, you know, honestly, learning business, just just business in general working sales, I got a better understanding of what dad did.
And so they have the opportunity to come in and, and basically, you know, work for a small business and have potentially an opportunity to own my own business that I didn’t have to start from scratch was something I just felt that I should explore. So I was interested in coming to work for dad, just from the aspect of Hey, you know, entrepreneur mindset were really small back then it was just a handful of us. And that’s how I got in the business, you know, and that was 16 years ago. And I took over as president about seven, eight years ago and took over the company two years ago.
Curt Anderson 03:57
Nice. Awesome. Well, congratulations. Congratulations, you and your family. What a great American entrepreneurial success story here. So let’s just let’s just plow right into it. So office supplies, ubiquitous item, ultra competitive brick and mortar is everywhere, major players, you can buy it at Walmart, you know, anywhere. How did you guys survive early days of e commerce and talk about how did when when did you did you have a tipping point or aha moment? When you’re like, Hey, Dad, we’ve got to really step up our e commerce game. Can you talk a little bit about about that transition?
Kelly Cudworth 04:30
Right? I think day one when I came to work for dad, my goal with e commerce, you know, we needed a website, I wanted a website. I think the advantage of me coming up with dad early on was was so my youth I I saw the value in web. I mean, I knew that people needed a website we needed to go on our industry. My industry is traditionally still is traditionally a bit old school.
So just having a website in general that time was you know, what is that and then selling online. I you know, I come from a sales background and anybody that you know, started in sales early on with cold calls knock on the door, the idea of generating leads easily online or selling, selling something online where I don’t have to, like, bend over backwards and drive two hours to make a pitch sounded pretty enticing to me. So I thought, Hey, we should dive into and see if this is a viable option. I think where the real transition came for us was working kind of in the federal government space.
So we have a federal government contract. And then as you know, going after government business, we really had to get detailed and data, you know, products, we had to granular you know, figure out what products we can sell what wait rates, you know, just to be competitive for these contracts, as you can probably appreciate in the government space, you have to be extremely competitive, margins are thin, but volumes are there.
And so we really leaned into that business model when I first started because it was, you know, we were able to take down some good size business to good size orders, but but having to be on top of our data and our product. And our catalog was extremely important. And through that, that’s where we buy organically really started leaning into as many of our suppliers manufactured Canada diversify, as much of our product growth as we could. So when I first started working with data, we had maybe 50 skews.
And so the more skews and product, we started to bring on and expand in our catalog in the government space, we saw by default, our business grow. And so I think that really helped lay a base foundation for us to really kind of transition to the e commerce space, when we really wanted to focus on the e commerce space, very similar, you’re working on high, your goal is high volume, margins are going to be lean, you know, it’s a competitive marketplace out there, you’re up against the big boys, you’re not going to have the ad spend that everybody else is going to have out there.
And so really kind of getting super granular on your data and your catalog and undated finding where you can compete and have success was was key. And so as we grew, the more we grew, the more we can negotiate with suppliers and manufacturers and bring on more product and then just continue to expand.
Curt Anderson 07:02
And what I love, like when you go to nuleaf, sweb site, guys, I dropped Kelly’s LinkedIn profile his website, and there’s a phenomenal video interview with Kelly and Amazon, they actually he’s done such a great job with Amazon, that someone on the Amazon team did a nice interview. So check that out, please connect with Kelly.
But Kelly, when you you know, you look at your website, it’s you know, you just practice what you preach. It’s all about being customer centric, you know, you have a line, that you empower local businesses to thrive by making customers lives easier. But you know, if we can dedicate ourselves to making like, customers lives easier, we can build a really nice business. How were you able to do that in such a competitive market? I mean, you’re talking like you said, pricing this product? Yeah, I can find it anywhere. What How did you guys stand out?
Kelly Cudworth 07:47
Well, I think, you know, coming from our traditional door to door relationship, you know, before we really any commerce, and really, it’s still I think, very solid cases, you know, you have to have relationships with your customers, you need to understand their needs, you need to find that solution. So, you know, when we grew, we diversified in different categories. We were selling, you know, furniture to copiers, to office supplies to, you know, pet supplies, right? So each customer has a different need.
And sometimes that’s price. But what we as we started transitioning ecommerce world, I think we really wanted to bring that same mentality over. But I think for us, the big thing was like, why is at that time? Why are companies like Amazon and the big box is having so much success on e commerce? Is it all price driven? And yes, price, what we realized was price is important. And you have to be competitive in price.
But there’s also other components that, you know, we were taking for granted, which means accuracy on delivery times, not necessarily getting in there next day or promising today, which you know, if you can great budget accuracy, like making sure that customer feels confident when they place an order with you, they’re going to get the product they order, and it’s going to arrive within a matter of time, they get good communication, if that ship, they get communication, it’s going to track. And then the one thing that was really tricky for us was the return side, you know, the customer wants to return a product.
You know, how do we do it in my industry, traditionally, on the b2b side of customer return product, you know, you hit them with a 20% restocking fee, they get us in the back, or it’s a customer you work with all the time. So you have a problem in the e commerce world, it got a little trickier, especially when we’re drop shipping it so we had to look internally and figure out okay, how can we balance our our margins or pricing to either absorb that or work with our work with our manufacturers to receive that as well?
And I think it’s also we looked at Amazon and said okay, listen, everybody was complaining and still complains about the level of customer obsession that Amazon has and I kid you not isn’t obsession to a fault at times, but they’re the gorilla and they’ve set this bar so high. And you know, my industry for so long would just complain Oh, it’s not sustainable and you know, it’s not gonna work or they’re gonna get crushed. They’re just it’s opened you up for fraud. Which you know, it’s there. But I realized pretty quick when I was in my customers offices as my product was arriving, an Amazon box was arriving.
Right. And so they everybody was already on Amazon and the expectation of customer service was hitting them. And they were bringing that and have brought that to the business world. So I had to take a hard look at and say, listen, the consumers expectation is what Amazon is, when you see Walmart, and big companies like Nordstrom, and all these huge, large companies, following that model of customer obsession, we had to figure out operationally, how could we, you know,
get to that same level of expectation and serve as the customer. And going in the Amazon world was a good way for us to figure that out and raise our ability to provide that customer service expectation, and then bring that back out to our commercial customers and other platforms. So once we feel better, we can hit that then we really saw an uptick in our ability to service customers outside of just the Amazon platform.
So that was, that was really something that was a tricky transition. But I think the value that we brought to the e commerce world was also that customer service engagement when the customer is emailing us for questions, or they have questions on a product return, I’ve got my own internal customer service team, who actually comes from a sales background, now responding to these customers, and handling those questions and quick responses clarity direction available on the phone,
because on the e commerce world, the consumer, the buyer, yes, they expect to get what they buy online, but there’s also some hesitancy to because just as much as the reseller can get hosed and, and and attack with fraudulent, you know, buyers by doing that customer obsession, the buyers have had bad experiences buying online as well, right? We buy from a website, we don’t know what it is, I can’t get an email response I call 800 number it goes to wherever, even on Amazon, right? Who is this reseller am I buying from Amazon or I buy from a reseller?
So it became You know, my customer service team and I really had to come together and say, okay, you know, really map out our processes, you know, we really had to get analytical on not just Hey, you know, just be nice the customer and chat them about the weather, if you know, when the customer comes to us. And this is the question or this is the issue, then where’s the direct, fastest result of an answer if a then B if C then D. And we really map that out from a customer service standpoint, and, and having that team come from that kind of brick and mortar b2b side really helped us just kind of communicate clarity and quickly in the e commerce side.
Curt Anderson 12:40
Right, that’s phenomenal. Let me let me just share, if you look at your reviews, and I know like that social proof we talked about that daymond I know you’re huge on that and it’s such a different concept. For manufacturers we just you know, they haven’t been in like, you know, in the review world, but let me just share this new leaf has made the way we order supplies extremely easy.
They are simply the best providing next day delivery 100% reliable and when you look at the reviews, it’s just off the charts to like you know what, I love what you’re doing Kelly’s like you’re building that culture internally and then putting that out there externally in everything that you just mentioned. You just went out you just described a great story here. Not once did you mention price? Well, it’s like going over the top customer service killing them. Now David, I want to turn over to my friend
Damon Pistulka 13:27
Curt Anderson 13:28
I understand I think you and Kelly know each other right yeah,
Damon Pistulka 13:30
we do we do a bit
Kelly Cudworth 13:32
more than you want.
Damon Pistulka 13:35
But you know,
Curt Anderson 13:36
on your perspective of this
Damon Pistulka 13:37
well i think i think really a couple things that that that stand out with this is Kelly’s background in in face to face sales really gives him the understanding of how that obsession with customers that Amazon has how they can embrace it internally because when you look at his his ratings when you look at and when I when I hear he is on it on, you know on an ongoing basis his concern over the ratings making sure that the customers are happy the way he does that that is a largely contributes to the online success.
And it is it is that very thing that a manufacturer going from selling pallets truckloads you know, train car loads of product to other big businesses don’t have to really deal with right now. And it’s one of the things that Kelly was doing already. Now they’re just doing it at a higher volume with his team streamline to do this, which which I think is very cool. The um, one of the things that that I would like to talk with Kelly about real quick though is you now are representing I don’t know how many different manufacturers 1000s.
Kelly Cudworth 14:57
Probably in the 1000s in regards to brands Yeah. 100,000 more than 100,000 skews.
Yeah. 100,000 skews. Yeah,
Kelly Cudworth 15:06
probably a bit more than that.
Curt Anderson 15:08
And you started and you said you dad had built a nice business with 50. Right? Yeah. 50.
Damon Pistulka 15:16
Yeah. So the So the one thing that Kelly’s companies had to do and explain this a little bit, Kelly is going from 50 skews to 100,000 skews, the systems, your processes and everything, you’ve had to really think about that and refine everything internally to be very efficient, while maintaining that customer customer satisfaction.
Kelly Cudworth 15:42
Right. I think that’s the bridge to the e commerce role. Right? You know, that’s been part of our success is that it? Obviously, there’s that customer focus. And, you know, what happens is with those reviews, that transitions into data, analytics and percentages, and the data analytics and percentages in the technical world, and I’m technical enough to be dangerous, but I you know, I have to lean into, you know, if I’m not the best, outsource the rest, right, so I have to lean into partners to help me with like, you know, really the the granular technical aspects of systems and software.
But, you know, that’s where that bridge of knowing your data, knowing your pricing, knowing the capabilities of your manufacturers and suppliers in regards to servicing, what expectation your lay into your customer is, and then having the capability to track that analytics so closely. So, you know, as we started onboarding, more manufacturer more vendors, we have to have the ability to say great, we have a relationship with a new manufacturer, they’re excited, they you know, they have product, but we have some specific things we need from them, we need clarity on catalog, we need clarity on skews,
we need clarity on content, we need clarity on pricing, and not just pricing, but like shipping from all around the nation clarity on inventory, price, and quantity discounts, all that stuff like that, and we need it in electronic format, right Excel or spreadsheets, the whole nine yards, because we have to be able to quickly analyze hundreds and 1000s of skews pricing weights DIMMs, the whole nine yards, and build out our strategy and our model, and then build that out for the multiple platforms wrong because I am an obviously we talked about Amazon, that’s the gorilla.
But the value of Amazon for us has been building out our business on so many other platforms, we’re on Walmart, where you have to get invited to be on overstock same thing, we’re one of the first off spy dealers, they’re on Fisher science, we’re on the GSA or on the god mall.
So having all these different platforms, once we receive a catalog from a manufacturer or supplier, we got to make sure internally we have the systems and the team daymond you’re one of that part of that team to quickly analyze that data, find out Hey, can we be competitive on it? How are we gonna get it loaded on the systems and get it loaded on the system so that we can start getting traction as fast as possible.
And then at the same time, being able to analyze those sales and, and or not sales within a week, month, quarterly basis so that we can constantly manipulate it. So I mean, it really, that’s become really the big complicated process for us is, you know, how are we going to ingest all this data from so many different places, refine it to our secret sauce, so that we can do what we do well, and then bring that out to not just one platform, but multiple platforms to give as much exposure to it as possible? And then identify, hey, how can we make ourselves unique?
The customer service aspect? Yes, that can help your uniqueness, because that’s how we get returned customers. Like on Amazon, we have multiple returning customers do you have the business buyer, they’re able to flag the supplier they like. So we see buyers coming back to us because they see the diversified and the cross catalog of products. But then there’s the you know, the platforms that we might be new to expose. So you have to play a little bit of pricing strategy, accuracy on content, and then you know what the base of the years would work and making sure that we serve as our customers much those reviews will help us stand out.
So lots of systems, lots of investments, and the last few years of that software, and being the reseller working with so many manufacturers, so many skews, that investment justifies itself for us, so that we can quickly turn a manufacturer on or resell even if they’re small, even they can only receive videos via email, or for API, epi integration, all that stuff like that. We can turn them on really quick. And so that’s been something we realized years ago, but we’ve actually had to continually massage and build off of as we grow.
Curt Anderson 19:47
Perfect. So we have a question for you. And this is from our dear friend Chris, president of Gen alpha in Wisconsin, and she asked this, do you give your vendors a template to follow to help you digitize each skew, or do you accept vendor catalogs in any format they provide? Curious word of their supporters have been helping you to be successful? It’s a great question. Yeah, Chris, that’s a good one.
Kelly Cudworth 20:13
So I would say first give us whatever format you have, you know, we get them in multiple different formats. Preferably Excel, right? Because we have skew, title, description, and then as much detail on the product as possible. But if they want a format that we would prefer, yes, we can turn around and it basically just be an Excel file with a handful of headers and columns. And again, it’s just the product information name, title, description, weights, dimensions, costs, graphics, yeah, multiple volume discounts, if possible. That’s one thing that we really strive hard.
I think that we’ve brought value to a lot of our resellers that I think we stood out, at least in my industry, that Opie industry, but as allowed us expand other industries is, you know, Damon can test this we target the quantity button, right. I mean, in the e commerce world, what what we found that was tricky is we’re used to the business buyer, that’s our goal, that’s, that’s who we lean in, that’s where industry supported. But by default, you’re going to get that retail buyer, that home user buyer.
And then when the pandemic kit, I mean, man, that just skyrocketed, right that went that took where ecommerce was gonna be in 10 years and drop the here today. And so that’s been some of the negotiate with our suppliers.
But with the business side, you know, as much information as we have, or the ability for a vendor to provide quantity discounts, because obviously, hey, if you’re selling me one at a time, it should be one at a time, you know, there’s a little bit more, you might not be able to give me an aggressive price. But if we get into quantities of 510 1520. And you can give me a bit of a discount on the price, and then freight, that’s when we can play the freight game too, because the ship, a one pound item by itself is going to cost by default, like let’s say eight bucks.
But if I have five of those one pound items, then that freight load goes down dramatically allow me to be more aggressive. So our strategy online, depending on where what platform you’re selling on, on our website, we have quantity discounts, always playing the coin discounts kind of like Costco game, hey, you can buy one over here at your grocery store at Safeway. But you go to Costco and you get it in bulk, right? So, so we’re giving the customers online, that option, you can buy the one or you can buy the book.
And then the nice thing about Amazon and Amazon business, which we really did not do, there’s a lot of strategies that we can play which gives, we can not only show quantity one, we can by default show quantity discounts, but then we can also mo q. So if a vendor has a tough time saying, Hey, we can’t give you as singles, well, we can mo queue it, which means mo q minimum order quantity, which means they have to buy it in packs of 510, or 1520, or will create an actual product page of a pack quantity for that.
So we’ll get really, we’ll get really strategic and how we bring it to market. But what we just need to know is, you know, obviously content, the pricing. And if you can drop ship, that’s great. If your drop shipping, you got to know what your freight is going to be, because that’s going to help them be important to us, because we’ve had it where we’ve been told, hey, here’s what your freight is going to be, but it comes back and it’s different, and everybody’s kind of scrambling, we can help with that.
I mean, you know, we have a manufacturer supplier come to us, we can help with that. And we also know we start with them, we’ll start you know, baby steps, we’ll get aggressive to move volume. Because we need data without data doesn’t mean anything, I can throw 100,000 skews all over the place. But if I don’t get any sales, with with Windows or draw from a profitability standpoint, I don’t have information to know what I can do and what strategies you can apply to be successful. So we’ll go in and we’ll get aggressive. And you know, we’ll make a we’ll make a margin, but we’ll get real thin on a margin. So we can receive data.
That’s what we’ve seen, we’ve, we’ve loaded files before and found oh my gosh, we actually lost money on these skews, you know, and at first He’s like, ah, but then it’s like, hey, let’s take a second here and breed, what’s sold? And what price did it sell at? Right? So then we can go Okay, we know this product is very popular when it tells us Hey, people are buying this quickly and fast. Regardless, we made it or not, that’s good information for us was over here, this product didn’t move. So then we can isolate that category or that product. That’s okay. You know, how can we tweak that we know it’s a popular item. Can we get competitive on the singles maybe maybe not.
But we can definitely get picked better from the quantities and our vendors and suppliers like that model because our average order size on Amazon and all these platforms is traditionally higher than most of my my, my my competitors or the others in my industry, my peers. Our average order units per order will be like anywhere from five to 10 average order size will be more and suppliers manufacturers that are supporting us on a drop ship. side. They appreciate that because it’s probably easier for them or they’d prefer to ship pack quantities rather than a bunch of singles. Right?
Curt Anderson 24:54
Yeah, dude. So this is just amazing. Look how sophisticated you this this system, this product As this thriving business that you’ve built, let’s go back in time seven years ago, so So, you know, we target manufacturers this whole, you know, this little COVID thing came along, change their world, they’re now thinking, you know, Oh, geez, I was hoping to ignore ecommerce. Now, I guess I can’t write what you know, think back to yourself seven years ago, when you really had that tipping point, that aha moment that you shared with me earlier?
What advice, you know, like, how did you think you know, you’re here now, but think back to where you were seven years ago? What’s some advice that you would share somebody just starting out? Or what are things that you wish you would have maybe done a little bit differently? How you approached, you know, like, Hey, we’re gonna sell three excuses of toner, to now you’re selling 100,000 skews and marketplaces? How did you get here?
Kelly Cudworth 25:41
Well, the first thing I would say is just jump in. I mean, you know, you guys jump in, you know, don’t be Don’t be nervous of it, you got to put the work in. Know, your data, that’s the first thing, you got to have your data, you gotta you know, based on the question like, how would you like, you know, your your digitizer skews, if you don’t have that start building out understand your product and your price and your costs, right from the get go.
Some of that was painful work, like, as being the president, the company, and even today, even before I got on this call, I’m just going through an Excel spreadsheet, you know, and I descriptions versus descriptions and like, this is the most, this is the worst work in the world, I can’t I get an intern to do this, but I know my industry my product better. So I’m the best thing to do is so I have to put my ego aside and say I’m not bigger than the work and just get into it. Right? That’s number one. Number two is find partners that or like, you know, I would say like someone like me, right?
You know, hey, find a reseller, or somebody else that’s doing it, engage network, ask questions, see if they might have solutions or our ideas. I mean, thinking of everybody on this on in this meeting, right? Now, if you’re a manufacturer or supplier, I’m a reseller, right? I mean, in that name is sell, I want to sell, I’m not making product, I’m trying to sell product, right? So I am more than happy to hear any product that we can bring on because quickly someone like me, can expand a manufacturer suppliers catalog, almost instantaneously into multiple, not just Amazon but in the multiple channels.
And then we already have a brand base as a supplier they can buy from so you know, work with some resellers understand there’s going to be an investment. You know, if you’re going to build out a website, understand that it’s gonna be an investment. And take the branding aspect of that. Seriously, you know, I mean, when you’re building out, if you’re getting an e commerce channel, comes back that first thing we said that customer service, who are we, I think that can get kind of foggy, when you’re just trying to list skews and sell product on these channels and platforms.
But you still have to have your brand. And your your story kind of really nice and tight, you know, your content, whatever your landing pages are your explanations, make sure you understand your return capabilities. Because that’s just, you know, a huge thing within online, they want to be able to return it, they don’t want to be able to be charged for it. Obviously, there’s variables if it’s damaged, or if they damage it, you know, there’s things you know, you can get, you know, into that.
And you got to find the right ecommerce platform that’s gonna work for you. There’s a lot of them out there. But I think you know, when it comes to the branding, and the skinning and the design and the whole spiel all that that’s important, but what’s going to be key is, okay, that data of your skews, right, I think I would start there and understand your product and understand your product contents, and understand your pricing and how you’re going to go to go to market with your strategy of pricing, shipping and returns.
And then focus on that branding side. Because I think what we did is we spent a huge amount of time rebranding, which was good for us. But we didn’t have before we really had our, I guess our go to market strategy. When we rebranded, we should have rebranded the whole aspect, not just our name, not the start title, not just a really cool looking website, not this Facebook page, but we should have focused on internally on our operation as well, and our pricing and our product as well.
So that when we flipped our rebranding, like, Hey, we’re here. It was crickets. Like why does anybody care about my new cool logo? Right? So because I wasn’t really bringing a new strategy to them all I did was you know, you know, change my color and my logo. So really get to know your product and and your content and how you can achieve shipping or FBA success from $1 standpoint, then bring that into the e commerce world.
Damon Pistulka 29:37
And I think I think one of the things too, Kelly and and we talked about this a little bit earlier, but your experience on the platforms as a reseller for a manufacturer there today looking at Should I go on Amazon Should I go on one of these platforms, you could be a or not you but resellers in general or you could be a way for them to get onto A platform much faster, because if they can provide the data, if they can handle that the normal, you know, take an order ship an order kind of thing, you can get them up and running much faster than someone else. And you already have an existing customer base that are coming to you on these platforms,
Kelly Cudworth 30:17
right? And I’ve seen this with manufacturers that we’ve worked in the past, sometimes, obviously, you want to control your brand and your product, that’s your baby, that’s your business, right? So I can see anxiety. Why having resellers resell or going to Amazon? I want to make sure my product and my pricing doesn’t get cannibalized. Right. So, you know, I think, absolutely, it’s always value for a reseller out there.
Regardless, if you’re going to take it on yourself, or you want to partner even if we’re listing there at the same time, you know, all I’m doing is exposing a whole different channel of customers and maybe ecommerce channels, then you’re doing and then at the same time, you know, what’s your goal, maybe your business model makes sense, hey, we have a department that can focus on building this, this strategy and what the lift it takes to get on the e commerce and the customer service, we need to support it.
And then we have the team to focus on doing what we do is make our product and make a quality product and make it the best product in the world and focus on our brand. Right? So if you have that balance, great. But if you don’t, you know, how much do you want to lean into these resources to build on these platforms, when you’ve got to resell like me, you can turn it on real quick.
At the same time, having a relationship with those resellers is key, we want that relationship, a good relationship with our manufacturers, distributors, because we want to make sure that we know that there’s changes coming to product coming or if there’s restrictions in certain areas. That’s important. Also, we want them to know who we are. So that when we’re out there selling, you know, we’re representing them, right, they’re excited about us. But as a brand owner on these platforms, you have control of your brand. So you can actually choose who can resell and not resell.
So you can still, I guess police and monitor and control your brand. Even resellers. I’ve seen some manufacturers get nervous about that. Because like well, we won’t know who’s reselling our product. But that’s I mean, if you don’t know who’s really selling your product, then you know, that’s, you know, kind of from the start, you need to have that relation to the reseller. So you can pick a handful and establish those core relationships. And then you know, that not only the going out there, but you know who’s selling your product, so you can keep keep keep a good handle on on your brand and your IP. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 32:17
yeah. I also want to bring up Go ahead, Kurt.
Curt Anderson 32:21
Just real quick, we have a question from our friend Don up the road in Alaska, and Don has invented has a patent on a fishing lure and phenomenal product. And his question you Kelly is do you resell for startup manufacturers? We manufacture a fishing lure and started in 2020 not very big yet just starting out. So So kind of two questions or advice for Don just kind of starting out? And you know, you know, you’re in office supplies, I don’t know if that’d be a good fit. But what advice would you share with Don is like finding searching resellers? Well,
Kelly Cudworth 32:52
first of all, we’re selling pet supplies at this point. So you know, that you know it on the platforms? You know, it doesn’t matter. So you know, fishing lures. So you know, first things first is content, right? You have your product, you have your skew. So we need to understand, hey, what are your part numbers? Do you have UPC codes? If you don’t, you got to get UPC codes? Do you have your brand built out? Do you ever content name, description, etc, etc. Right. So that’s key. So we have to have the product. The other thing is when we go to market on Amazon, if it’s a new product, it’s a new brand to really get some traction, there’s a lot of different things you can do.
But in the Amazon world, which is a great start is once you have your brand registered and those UPC is registered, you want to make sure you register that brand with Amazon. Because then now you have control over those product pages. And the ace, Ace is the Amazon serial identification number. So Amazon always creates their own part number, so you’ll have your partner might might be ABC 123, that’ll be your skill on Amazon, they create their own. So by just making sure that you have all of that buttoned up, and getting that registered to Amazon, I would say is your first step. Once you have that done, then we can always build a sense without that and listen without that.
But if it’s a new product, and it’s new to the market, you’re trying to get exposure and you’re in the fishing lure category, you’re going to need to get some rhythm and some momentum going with getting that brand and that product exposed out there a little bit. So you’re going to need to do that. But then working with a reseller like me, I can take that and I can then also help push that out on Amazon and play the different pricing strategies and skill sets that we know. But then we can also bring it into our other markets and then we can run campaigns for that.
So wouldn’t be just you, Hey, you got to invest in building this out and run this campaign again for it. We could do it on our own site on our own. on platforms. We’ve got 1000s and 1000s of contacts already and newsletters. We’ve got our own social media. So you know, having that content and the skewed data together is key. And then you know making sure you get that registered on Amazon gives you control but then someone like us can really Put a campaign for that. So I don’t know if I’m answering the call. I’m going around circle. Oh, that’s perfect. Yeah, but but yes, we can help we can we can absolutely help.
Damon Pistulka 35:08
Yeah. So on LinkedIn to bonnie, bonnie Wanda das by astrologer listens, great contributor. She says Do you believe smaller innovative categories? Have tougher times in the beginning have a tougher time in the beginning?
Kelly Cudworth 35:23
I would say yeah, I mean, it depends on the category and the product, that competition, right. Because if it’s a cat, if it’s a very popular category, like, you know, Sharpie pens or pins, for example, you’ve got a lot of product out there a lot of competition, and a lot of big boxes really pushing, you know, some funds towards the campaigns. But at the same time, 2021, I think there’s more opportunity for success for a smaller product and category and brand and there ever has been. And I think that’s where getting smarter about your strategy.
And where you can find your wins early on is important. So I would say there’s absolutely opportunity out there some of that strategy. If it’s not, you know, it actually Amazon because Amazon, you can run your ads and do that. So it’s a little bit of investment to get the brand going. But there’s a lot of strategy you can do on social media, on Facebook, and on your own website. And honestly, with you know, in the e commerce world, I mean, I think about it as my own self as a consumer, everybody’s always looking for something unique, something different, right. And so people are searching more and more for products online.
So I think this is a great time for that small manufacturer or a niche, you know, a product to really be able to shine Morton has in the past. Some of the competition isn’t necessarily brand push, it might be like a one of my competitors, right? I think of like, you know, limar pet supplies or an OB staples, right? These guys are monsters. And so they’re not. They’re just pushing, pushing ads and marketing for their, their company as as a whole, or certain products and brands underneath them. Right. So if you’re unique against those brands, you might have opportunity to stand out there.
Damon Pistulka 37:09
Yeah, yeah. And lo and behold, I
Curt Anderson 37:12
just have one of Bonnie’s right here, Damon. So this is her little catchy product. So Bonnie, we love you. Here’s your product right here. So Damon, did you have a question that you were going to fire out?
Damon Pistulka 37:22
Now one thing though, we’re getting we’re getting close to time here. Well, we got to jump off but but I wanted to to two things. One, thanks for being here, Kelly. But tell us a little bit about the the the charitable organization you run. I think this is something that’s really cool about your company. And, and I always feel good when I can support and buy products from you because of what you do with your charity. Right?
Kelly Cudworth 37:48
Well, I’m an active cyclist. So it really started about 10 years ago, we started just doing a bike event. I mean, I mean, this sounds bad. But most of my buddies are golfers and they’re not cyclists. So I was looking for an excuse to get them on a bike and then punish them up a hill or two. But we all got together and just, you know, started doing this fun little bike activity and the raise money for a local nonprofit.
And then as you know, I grew in business, I realized, hey, cause marketing can be such a great thing to parallel with your brand in your business, because then your customers feel like, Hey, you are involved in the community. So we decided, hey, we’re going to make this more strategic. And so we gathered why I leaned out, I reached out to a number of local small business owners and executives in our area.
And the one thing as a small and midsize business that I can appreciate is we don’t have huge budgets to create a massive cause brand or like the amazon smile thing. And what I found personally was when i when i would engage in some of these nonprofit activities, or these, you know, these luncheons, where they asked you for money, I never really felt like I was connected to it, or I was making an impact. And my own personal story is we adopted our daughter from Congo Marie, gosh, going on six years ago. And so through that process, we realize it doesn’t take a lot of money to make a major impact in areas that are in need.
Whether it be you know, orphans in Africa or foster kids here and treehouse, like anywhere from like 1000 to $20,000 and go a long way. It doesn’t have to be this $1 million big push and all these small businesses you know, my my associates on new hope New Hope streets that so I apologize New Hope street is the name of the organization, new hope street.org and you hope street.org we all realize hey, you know, we feel like we want to make an impact and have a cause that we can promote to our our community, our employees, our families, our customers.
So we all rallied together started New Hope street we’re a pass through nonprofit and every single one of us bring some sort of level of skill set to the table, not just say finances, but like we’ve got a design firms, Seema students was amazing. They’re a partner. We’ve got a sign company, we’ve got a Coffee Company, we’ve got myself so we all bring different resources together, and we’ve taken my bike event and And now we’re on our fourth event it’s called spoke to ride is June 26. And every event we do, we’ve done a bike events, running events, we have a polar plunge until COVID hit that was a lot of fun.
Every event is is really catered to support different nonprofits. So, you know, we you, we look for different local or just national nonprofits that are focused on helping primarily children or families and children in need. And that’s kind of a general statement. But what we really do is we look for those nonprofits that don’t have the same resources that big companies have, or big nonprofits have, they don’t have a huge budget, they might have a small, you know, team, they might be all volunteers, but they are the ones that are doing that work in the community.
And our beneficiary this year is trail trail youth coffeehouse, which helps troubled teens and suicide teams, and especially now with COVID. It’s such a such a major issue. And so we realize, hey, they don’t have massive resources to design and budget and, and fundraise. And they might not have Kelly covered throughout their who’s hustling all his partners like Damon for a $500 sponsorship or something like that. And so we come to them and say, Hey, we want to put on this bike event, we want to promote you.
And then we also want to raise the funds and give you these these funds. And I found that it my my our board of other business owners, they just have just I mean that the excitement for over the years has just been so amazing. More than I can anticipate. It’s been, it’s turned out to be much bigger, a little more work than I anticipated because of the excitement. But I realized there’s so many business owners, executives that just want to get involved and figure out a way that you give to these small organizations. So that’s become a big part of my life and also a big parallel of my companies as well.
Curt Anderson 41:39
God bless you, man that that is so admirable. I saw that. I’m glad you brought that up. daymond that was on my list to talk about. So Kelly, this. Wow, I had super high expectations. As always, man Damon, we’re just so blessed with just amazing guests. Kelly, you’re absolutely crushing it. I know you and Damon are working, working closely together. I hear about your progress frequently from Damon and so hats off to you what a great ecommerce success story. Kudos to you and your family. What a great story. Damon, I’ll turn it over to you my friend.
Damon Pistulka 42:09
All right. Well, thanks so much, Kelly for being here today. Thanks, Bonnie. And the other people that are watching this, they’re on LinkedIn live. love to have you there, Bonnie. Awesome comments throughout there. But we’re gonna shut down on LinkedIn live here. We’re going to finish up and on remote and go from there. But we will be back here again next week. And what do we have next week lined up, Kurt?
Curt Anderson 42:33
So a couple exciting things. So we’re doing a great workshop on Wednesday with fuse hub. That’s the New York MEP. It’s a three hour hands on workshop. So we have that going on this Wednesday. I’m posting it all over LinkedIn. And then next Friday we have we have Laurie Hi baby, who is just an absolute mark, my marketer manufacturing marketing, all star that was easy for me to say yeah, Kelly. Thank you, man. What a privilege connecting guys have a phenomenal weekend. Thank you, everybody. We’ll see you next week.
Damon Pistulka 43:03
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