You’ve launched your first product on Amazon — or second, or third — and you’re planning another launch. Will it succeed, what if it fails? You need a strategy to improve the odds of success but growing an Amazon business can be overwhelming. In Ride the Amazon Wave, Tomer Rabinovich shares critical secrets to selling on Amazon. He lays the foundation with chapters about the Amazon seller’s mindset, the prelaunch process and product launch.
In chapters on pay per click, inventory management and key performance syndicators, Tomer provides the vital steps for reaching the next level. He shows you how to go from Amazon seller to business owner, offer strategies for selling your business, and shows you how to leverage what you created to follow your dreams. Tomer’s straightforward approach is built on its own experience. From quitting his job to becoming a top Amazon seller and consultant.
This is The Author Hour Podcast and I’m your host, Frank Garza. Today, I’m joined by Tomer Rabinovich, author of a brand-new book, Ride the Amazon Wave.
Tomer, welcome to the show.
Tomer Rabinovich: Hey Frank, thank you so much for having me.
Frank Garza: To start, I just love to hear a little bit about your background and how that led to you writing this book.
Tomer Rabinovich: Sure, yes. I’ve been selling on Amazon myself since 2015, did an online course to learn how to sell on Amazon, as did everyone else back at the time and yeah, I never really looked back since. For the past few years, I’ve also been consulting some of the biggest sellers in the industry and also been consulting some aggregators, those are basically companies that are buying Amazon businesses, and I’ve been working with them for the past year and a half as well, speaking at every major event around the world
I really wanted to come up with a way to help as many sellers as I can and I have different options if it’s going to be a podcast, a YouTube channel, whatever, right? I decided to do something that I don’t think anyone really did, which is write that book with no ‘how to sell on Amazon’ and talk more to active Amazon sellers and how they should look at this as a real business instead of a side hustle or whatever they think it is.
Frank Garza: So for people who aren’t familiar with that term, Amazon seller, can you describe what type of businesses, or how do you describe Amazon seller to somebody, or maybe talk about the types of businesses Amazon sellers have?
Tomer Rabinovich: Yeah. My grandparents, they live in a Tel Aviv, I’m from Israel so they live in Tel Aviv and they had a small electronic, like a mom-and-pop shop and they used to sell electronics in that little shop, and they were basically selling LG, Toshiba, whatever TV and electronics were there at the time and basically, people will go in and they would just trust them and buy products from them, right?
Like if they would tell them you need this TV because it’s the best one and it’s not even not a familiar brand, that’s what they would buy from them, and Amazon is basically the same thing, and that’s the new mom and pop shop. If I want to have my own store these days, then that’s what I should do. I should open my own mom-and-pop shop, I can actually do it on Amazon, and have Amazon sell/fulfill my products for me and basically put my products on Amazon with my branding on it, not even selling other brands on it.
That’s what private label, what really means and that’s the, I think biggest opportunity. I think this is something that my parents, my grandparents didn’t have, right? They had to work physically to make money somewhere. Then this is, I think the best business model that exists even today. To make money online you can call it but it is again, a real business with real risks and it’s not easy but it is a very big opportunity for users.
Frank Garza: Great. So you talked a little bit about who your target audience is for the book, it’s you know, people already selling on Amazon. Is there anything you’d like to say more about that? You know, who is it you had in mind as you wrote the book?
Tomer Rabinovich: Yeah, so obviously top priority is people who sell on Amazon, but they really think that it’s anyone who is dealing with physical products or even wants to build a physical product brand, this is really going to help them out but even if they sell on their own website, right? Or even if they have a retail store and they want to move it to an online business, anyone like that or even if you are an employee of a big physical product business, then this book is definitely for you.
Amazon is the biggest e-commerce website in the world, we all know that I think? A lot of people that maybe you even have a retail store, you have your own website but you don’t know that you can actually use Amazon as your fulfillment and as your shell, to distribute your products to your audience and to new audiences that you didn’t even think you can sell to.
The Amazon Seller Mindset: Revenue, Product, and Experience
Frank Garza: Okay, in the first chapter of the book, The Amazon Seller Mindset, you talked a little bit about what attracted you to become a good Amazon seller, what you like about it, can you talk about that?
Tomer Rabinovich: Yeah, so for me, and I know a lot of Amazon sellers are not going to agree with me saying that, but to me, there is a lot of talk in the industry about building a real brand, you know? Like, being on Shopify or selling on I don’t know, my own store or opening retail locations or whatever, that’s fine. If you want to do that, go ahead.
I think that’s a very difficult thing to do, but I like the Amazon business model so that I can free up my own time, I can have my own life and not work extremely hard like, again, if you wanted to have brand before, that would be a lot more difficult, but having an Amazon brand means that you sell mainly on Amazon, probably like 99 percent of your sales are coming from Amazon but you have your own products that you sell.
So to me, that was very appealing. Just worked from anywhere. Before having kids with my wife, I was just traveling constantly. Even after having kids, I was traveling to events, having a lot of fun, and making money while doing all that and they think, that doesn’t truly exist, even in the most business, right?
If you did online businesses, you don’t really have – I don’t really want to call it passive income, there is a lot of work around this, but it is very hard work to find a product, source it, launch it but once it is launched, once it is in Amazon, there are a few more things you need to do to maintain it, but basically, it can sell for a few years, it just makes money for you. So that’s really amazing. You know, I don’t know any other business model who can do that for you.
Frank Garza: And people who do this full-time, a person who is running maybe a one-person business or maybe they have hired a few people to help them. Can you talk a little bit about what type of business this is capable of in terms of like, revenue generation? How much do you see one, two, three person businesses that sell on Amazon actually make?
Tomer Rabinovich: Yeah, so there is an entire chapter talking about the four different business structures that I’ve seen over the years from the over a thousand sales that I’ve personally consulted one-on-one and had calls with them, and I’ve seen pretty much everything and I condense it to four.
But I can say that even those that are doing it on their own, I’ve seen, obviously you are a small stall, but they also see eight-figure salaries, that means they’re doing over 10 million dollars a year. Those are obviously a rare breed if they do it all on their own, but to get to seven or eight figures, that can only be done with a very small team of like, three people, five people, seven people.
If you want to get to it like to the highest level, which is like a nine-figured business, that means over a hundred million dollars a year in revenue, then those teams are usually a lot bigger. That’s like 50 people or a hundred people teams in most cases, and that’s not really covered in the book.
I’m really talking to the average seller that most of them are trying to scale up to seven figures or move from seven figures to eight or even looking to sell their business at some point, and that’s talked about towards the end of the book.
Frank Garza: Okay, in Chapter 2 it’s called, The Product Tree, and you talk about how important it is to choose a good product when you’re going to sell on Amazon. What is something you see a lot of Amazon sellers get wrong in the product selection phase?
Tomer Rabinovich: Yeah, so for those who can store early on, let’s say, 2014, ‘15, ’16 then, everyone is selecting products the same way and that’s pretty much what is being taught today, still today. So, that means to find a product that is going to be in terms of price range, like $15 to $60. Very light product, under two pounds. Simple to source, you know, so it’s not electronic, it doesn’t have batteries so you won’t have any difficulties in sourcing it and the list goes on, right?
But that’s basically it when I’m eyeing low reviews. The issue with that now is that if you look for that product, you might come across a few of those, and if you do launch one of them, even before you launch it, even when you start sourcing it, it’s probably overly saturated on Amazon at that point and if it’s not, it’s going to be. That’s just inevitable because everyone is looking for the same products, right?
In the same criteria, same way, they are different software out there where you can filter out those different criteria I just mentioned. So, what I recommend is look where no one is looking. So basically, look for under $15 over $60. Look for heavy products, complex products that maybe we require FDA approval or have batteries or are electronic or something. It is like, I try to choose my battles, right?
I prefer to work hard in the sourcing part and not work hard into selling part because to me, it was obvious pretty early on that I make the money in the product selection and not when I actually bring a product and fight with everyone else, kind of my way to the top, you know? So product selection is the most important thing when it comes to selling anything, right? Selling online, selling services, whatever it may be, your offer needs to be really, really good and the product that you select, and it doesn’t matter what it is, you also want to be able to improve that product and actually stand out with a better product than everyone else in your niche on Amazon, I mean.
Frank Garza: Got it. Okay, so moving on in the next chapter, you talk about the six-star experience and you go over your six-star formula. Could you give me a brief overview of what that six-star formula is?
Tomer Rabinovich: Sure. So very briefly, the first five stars, they mainly talk about that patience doesn’t exist. That basically means that when as soon as someone gets your product, if they don’t know how to use it right out of the package with simple instructions or you send them to a video, whatever they need, they’re going to leave you a one-star, they’re going to place a refund, whatever, you know? It has to work.
So, that first five stars really talk about that type of maybe even obvious things that you have to get right, like customer support, and to make sure that product functions correctly and those goes on, and then the six-star, and that moves over to the next chapter, is all about creating a six-star experience for your customers by over-deliver1 and surprising them and going out of your way to give them a better experience.
Because I believe that in order to get five stars, when you think about this way of rating anything, when you offer someone to rank you from one, two, three, four, five-stars, if it’s anything below five, it actually hurts you. Even four-stars bring you down towards four, instead of keeping like four and a half stars or five stars. So to get to five stars, I believe I need to aim for six and if I aim for a six, hopefully I’ll land at five. So that’s what that means.
Frank Garza: Okay, that makes sense, and so you talk about one of the ways to get those like really high reviews. In the next chapter, you talk about under-promise, over-deliver and surprise. What are some things you can do to do that or achieve that with customers?
Tomer Rabinovich: Yeah, so you really want to think about the customer journey from beginning to end. It starts when they look at your listing on Amazon, it continues with them getting the product, opening up a package, using your products, storing it, throwing it away, storing the package, throwing it away, all of that stuff you have to think about and create different touch points with experience throughout the process.
So, one example, that is also in the book. is that I wanted to sell lock picking set, okay? Like a set where you basically learn how to lock pick and basically how to break in into different homes and, at some point, what happened was I was starting to source it. I went and paid the deposit with the supplier, so everything was ready to go, and then it became a prohibited product to be sold in the US.
So, Amazon shutdown everyone on the same day and that was crazy, you know? That was like – and I got my money back from the supplier but then I could share my plan with it and the plan was, instead of having a plain box or even like a colored box with all of the tools on it and like the standard box when you buy a product, because I sell online, because this is ecommerce, I can do pretty much whatever I want as long as I have some basic stuff.
Like maybe China and a barcode and a basic few things on the packaging, I can do whatever I want in ecommerce. So I created a box that looks like a black deposit box, so it’s a black all around, has a small lock in the front and that’s where you open it up from, and then the first thing you see is like a nice insert card that says, “Congrats, you’ve just picked your first lock.” So that right there is already giving you added value.
You didn’t expect that packaging because we didn’t plan to show it on the Amazon listing, we didn’t expect that note obviously. So you already have a smile on your face and a smile goes a long way because let’s say you’re missing a piece inside or something is wrong with the instructions, you will feel obligated to reach out to the company before they’re going to do a good review or before placing a refund.
So it is not only about getting those five-star reviews. It is even more about avoiding those negative reviews as much as possible and by delivering on the experience, then that really affects how people are going to – like when I asked them for the review, who do you think they’re going to review, my product or the other 10 different products to guide and to pass two days from Amazon with your just random products, right?
So I am trying to do the best I can to standout and that means that I am going to buy them and compare those products to see what they’re doing in terms of the experience, and I will try to be the best I can be, and that’s just taking everything they’ve done and improving it as much as I can.
Frank Garza: Okay, so you know the product that you want to sell and you’ve gone through these strategies to how you’re going to send it to the customer to get six-star reviews. When it comes time to sourcing and developing that product with the manufacturer, what are some things you do with sourcing that give you an edge or some things that you do different than mainstream Amazon sellers?
Tomer Rabinovich: Yeah, so with sourcing, what most Amazon sellers do is they really focus on reading the negative reviews on Amazon and then trying to come up with solutions to fix those issues, and they do it on their own or maybe they talk about with their suppliers. What we started doing, again, early on, to use our time in a smart way, is we’d basically built out a list of all the things that are wrong with the competitors.
Based on the reviews, based on if we’d buy their products, based on the stuff that we recognize, and then when we message suppliers, and you can do that through alibaba.com, that’s hugely the platform that we use or even if you use sourcing agents that help you to source products for you and you just give them like a spec sheet and they go ahead and source it for you.
What we did is we basically told them, “Look, these are all the samples we ordered so far and this is everything that goes wrong with them” and that list is basically everything from reviews on Amazon and we didn’t even order a sample yet, right? We just give them that list, “This is everything that’s wrong, this is how we think we can fix it. Do you have any ideas of how we can fix it?” or maybe they even have a product off the shelf we can just take that ticks all the boxes of everything that’s wrong with it. That was something that really changed our business for the better.
The other thing we really focused on, and I think that’s really not being focused on most with most sellers, is to also keep everything that’s right with the product. So basically, I was looking at all of the five-star reviews that they’re getting, what are the common themes that are in there? That is what we want to keep with that product and make sure that we still keep it and not losing it, if that makes sense.
The Four Business Structures
Frank Garza: Yeah, I like that. Okay, you touched on this a little bit earlier, the four business structures that you see from Amazon businesses. Could you give us a summary of what those four business structures are and if one is more desirable than another one?
Tomer Rabinovich: Sure, so when you think about the way I kind of structured it is that there are basically four types of businesses and if you think of a car, you basically sit at different places in the car or they had something different in each position to remember it more easily. So the first one is called the driver. The driver basically means you’re driving the car, you are responsible for it, you are the one hitting the brakes, hitting the gas.
Basically, you are doing everything on your own or maybe you even have one employee doing customer support for you, but basically everything else is outsourced, even if you outsource the things like logistics, right? Maybe you even outsource PPC or whatever it is that you outsource or copywriters, images, photography, all of that is probably not done by you but it is done by freelancers, they all report to you.
None of them talk to one another, right? You have to put everything together, all the pieces and if we remove you from the business, there is no business anymore. So that means you are the driver. Drivers are, it’s like a classic any type of business out there usually starts with you as the driver, as the business owner. That’s the first one.
The second one is called the driving instructor. A driving instructor is basically someone — so you are sitting next to the driver’s seat, you have someone driving it but you need to teach them everything. You need to hit the breaks for them, so that means we have a few employees with you doing different things in the business. So you maybe have someone doing customer support, you have someone doing PPC for you.
PPC is pay-per-click, those are ads you run inside of Amazon, and you have someone maybe handling your supply chain and so on, right? But again, they all report to you and you are still very much the bulk of your own business. I was in this position, I think it was 2017, with 12 people underneath me. Some of them were part-time, some of them were full-time, some of them were with experience, some of them without experience.
All of them were all over the place like the Philippines or Eastern Europe, wherever, the issue was that I was working harder than I used to be when I was the driver. So it didn’t make any sense to be – I’m like, “What the hell is going on? It doesn’t make any sense for me to have this structure” and then at some point, I thought, “Okay, there are basically a few options here.” One is I can – there wasn’t definitely an option to sell your business back then. So, that wasn’t an option.
These days I have seen people either in the driver’s seat or driving instructor kind of selling their business because they’re burned out, so that’s like one option. Another option was basically let everyone go and start from scratch, which is what I did, and the third option is to move over to something I called the chauffeur.
So the chauffeur is basically either hiring a management agency that just takes everything off of you and then you’d become more like a strategist, or you are let’s say the owner of the company and they take the CEO role from you, or you bring in another seller to replace you or you bring in a friend of yours to run the company, or whatever, but you basically stepped out and they come in to manage it.
So, I didn’t really want to do that, you know? So that is the third type of business, the chauffeur, that’s the really only difference there. The fourth type is autopilot and autopilot is what I’ve been preaching and teaching sellers for the past few years, and that was even before there was an opportunity to sell your business because I’m like, “Look, what’s the goal here, why did you start?”
You stared to have more freedom. Freedom can mean anything to you but it basically means I get probably more time while making more money in the process, that’s why you usually start your own business, besides your passion and stuff, and my passion was never for my products. My passion was always to the business model of Amazon, which is what I fell in love with, and not necessarily with the products that I actually sell on Amazon.
That’s again what I know from most sellers, that’s their real passion. So autopilot is basically a structure where I have a middle management, so I have two managers handling the other five employees. I have seven people on my team besides myself, all of them are full-time and they take care of pretty much everything in the business day in and day out, but I am still very much involved.
So, if you think about an autopilot car for example, that means that they can put a destination on there, we go there, if there are alerts on the way I know, I control the whole thing, but it’s all automated, right? So that gets me going, I don’t know, consulting seller, writing a book, whatever I really want to do with my free time that I have and again, I can make more money and I am not getting burnt out by running this business.
I am not saying that one way is better than the other. I will say that you need to think about the future. You need to think like, “Okay, if I am going to be the driver for the next three to four years, what happens if you want to take a week off or two weeks off?” right? What are you going to do?
You can’t really, so I wanted to have freedom while running the business and not burning myself out for the next few years, and I didn’t even know what’s going to happen at the end of it, right? So that’s why I really push to move over to this business model.
Frank Garza: All right, that makes sense. Well, writing a book is such a feat so congratulations on putting this out into the world. Before we wrap up, is there anything else about you or the book that you want to make sure our listeners know?
Tomer Rabinovich: Yes, so this book took me over two years to complete, from the moment that I said I’m going to write a book, it took me over two years, and that was I didn’t really know what was going to happen, right? Or even if I am going to finish it at some point. It was such a tedious process, but I am really happy it is finally out there and honestly, all of my services greatly are truly expensive to advanced Amazon sellers.
I didn’t really have anything to offer to everyone and I wanted to have something that is accessible to anyone, basically, in this industry. It doesn’t matter if you are like a virtual assistant in the Philippines to someone or if you are a huge seller on Amazon, you will have something in this book that you will get value from, and even throughout the book, one of the reasons it took me so long to complete is I have a cartoon in every single chapter throughout the book.
Before I was selling on Amazon, I was a full-time magician, that was my previous life, so that relates to the surprise element, right? With the products that I sell and outside of the cartoons, there was a lot more content online that we send you to go over them each and every chapter throughout the book. These might be podcasts or live lectures that I’ve done all over the place in different events.
So it doesn’t end with just a book, this is just kind of – this is what I’ve done for the past seven years of my life and seven years in Amazon, I’m a dinosaur at this point, you know? Starting in 2015 and still being very active and running my business. So yeah, I am really excited for anyone who is going to read it. I really exposed myself out there in every chapter, there is something personal about me either in my business or my personal life.
I have my proposal to my wife in the book at some point, so it’s really me and my life and my business and these are things that I’ve never shared onstage, upstage with a lot of my best friends in the industry even. So really excited to everyone and I’m really happy that I chose to write a book when I have all these other options as I mentioned in the beginning.
Frank Garza: Thank you, Tomer, this has been such a pleasure. The book is called, Ride the Amazon Wave. Besides checking out the book, where can people find you?
Tomer Rabinovich: Yeah, so you can go to my website, tomerrabinovich.com, that’s the easiest way or you can also Google me up and just see any content that you want, listen to anything. I am really trying to put as much free content as I can out there and yeah, if you want to work with me, just check out my website and yeah, reach out.
Frank Garza: Thank you, Tomer.
Tomer Rabinovich: Thank you so much, Frank.