We recently raised a crowdfunded loan (in record time, y'all!) and one of our first projects (and highest priority projects, operationally) was improving our Amazon stuff (that's a catch-all for the general business model of the platform).
Since this initiative was supported by our very own Outlaw gang, I wanted to give you a little insight into how this affects our business.
Here's the deal with the Amazon packaging (in case you're interested, which I assume you are... who wouldn't be fascinated by the intricacies of mass e-commerce fulfillment center packaging requirements?!?!)
We ship product to Amazon to be fulfilled (otherwise known as "fulfilled by Amazon" or FBA). We send cases of product to their warehouses, and then Amazon sells the product to their customers and ships it along with the freeze-dried bologna and leadership books that people are ordering (I'm just guessing about the cart contents).
This is better for us because Amazon can ship these things with their prime shipping, and we reach many more people than we would just using our website. It's good advertising.
But just like all advertising, it comes at a high cost. 💸
Selling on Amazon requires some considerations:
- Because of Amazon's fees, it only makes sense to sell our bar soaps in 2-packs on Amazon. Otherwise, we'd lose money on every sale.
- Because of Amazon's warehouses, we have to very securely package the 2-packs of soap or they'll arrive to the customers all crushed and scraped.
- Because Amazon is competing with us and every other retailer in the US, we need to price our products on Amazon in a way that is not competitive against the brick-and-mortar (and our own website), so the 2-packs enable us to charge slightly more on Amazon because they're exclusive to Amazon. But their fees eat all that anyways, so we're not really hauling in the clams on Amazon.
Since we're using linen bags (because they're pretty and durable), the tags have to be hand-flossed with the linen bag string, and then the string has to be tied in a nice bow, and double knotted. By hand. Every one. Hundreds of units at a time, since we send them by the case.
Also, people on Amazon don't know us. They don't know how important customer happiness is to us. So we have to TELL THEM they can contact us for a replacement or a refund (because this isn't the standard). The way we tell them is by including a printed card in every bag. It's not a bank-breaker, but it takes a bit of money and a bit of time to stuff the bags.
Not only are the materials expensive and reusable but not recyclable, but the process is arduous and time-consuming. And tedious. No one finds boundless joy tying 100 little bows, trust me.
But there's a solution: Custom-printed recycled and recyclable paper bags with thermal printed labels applied directly to the paper.
This loan enabled me to place the opening order of 1000 custom printed recycled paper bags, which will eliminate the card-and-bag dance entirely. The lead time on the bags is currently 4+ weeks since there's a paper shortage (surprise!), and this made it possible to spend that money and feel safe with that level of lead time.
So you've already saved dozens if not hundreds of hours of Anakin and Hallyma's time (and probably other people, too, but I know they do the most), as well as started a process that will serve to improve our operations and costs down the line.
THANK YOU for enabling us to make these improvements by supporting our crowdfunded loan! We really appreciate how you are willing to help us build the business you want us to be!