You found a product and ready to source it, now what? Dustin and Kris talk to Francois Jaffres from Noviland who explains how Noviland works and some of the advantages you’ll get when working with them! This incredible session opens up a lot of doors into the world of product sourcing.
To see more about what Noviland has to offer, go to https://noviland.com
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– Hello everyone. And welcome to episode 25 of Two Amazon Sellers and a Microphone. Today, Kris and I have a very special guest, Francois Jaffres from Noviland. Francois, got your name right?
– You got my name right. Like I said, you did your homework.
– It was easy homework to do because you’re everywhere right now.
– We’re trying.
– Yeah, that’s great. Well hey, Kris and I are super excited to have you on. I’ve got so many questions to go over with you. Love love what you’re doing, love what I’ve seen so far. So I cannot wait to dive in and just learn more about what you guys are doing at Noviland. But before we get going, you wanna just let everyone know, just give us a little background on you, how you got into sort of this space, and then a little bit about what Noviland does.
– Yeah, yeah, of course. So I started with Noviland five years ago. And I was still in college actually at that time studying industrial engineering. And industrial engineering’s all about processes, and it’s really, I speak to mechanical engineers and electrical engineers all the time, they’re like, oh yeah, you’re in imagination engineering. I’m like, yeah, you can call it that if you want, but it’s basically the business space of engineering. A large part of it is supply chain and manufacturing. And so when I got the opportunity to jump on board to this great startup, and they told me the technology that they’re building behind it, I was like I have to get in. It’s something where they’re trying to flip supply chain, or we’re trying to flip supply chain, sort of on its head. It’s a new way of looking at sourcing and the international supply chain just overall. And so I started with them five years ago just as an intern, I was one of the first five people on the team. Making hundreds of calls a day, and that entrepreneurial spirit that had a bunch of nos, and had a bunch of people that just told us off, and gatekeepers that were telling us hey, we don’t need you. We’re doing it our way. And it’s just the way they’ve been doing it for decades. And well with all these nos, kind of came about the rise of e-commerce, also with Amazon sellers. And so we were like well why don’t we just open these stores for medium to large size factories to everyone? And because we can really provide the service and a streamlined supply chain to everyone. And that’s all the way from those that are just starting out on Amazon, those that are on Shopify, or they were doing eBay and wanna go private label. And so we opened that up on our platform back in 2018. And so I guess to kind of circle back around to what Noviland actually does, we are a supply chain management company that sort of works with businesses to streamline a lot of their supply chain processes, whether that’s the sourcing and manufacturing aspect, whether that’s the logistics, the quality control management, the warehousing that we just got into, we really take care of all of it, sort of a one-stop-shop. So a business comes to us, they let us know exactly what they wanna produce, or what it is they want to ship or store and fulfill through multi-channel fulfillment, and we help them out with it from start to finish. All the way from specification gathering and factory finding within our network. Because even with a network of over 4,000 factories, you still have to pick a factory that is right for that project. It’s not just someone that could make something, it’s someone that wants to make that, someone that has experience with making it, they have the quality assurance measures in place. So we’re able to bring that to the Amazon community and to startups throughout the US, throughout the world. We have users in Australia, France, UK, Israel, Canada, we got a few from I believe Uruguay, Mexico, so it’s exciting stuff. And it’s not a US unique problem that we’re trying to solve, it’s really a global supply chain problem that we’re trying to solve here.
– That’s amazing. Where were you in 2013 when I started mine?
– Yeah, I wish we really got into the Amazon space back then but we were really focusing, just like a lot of other startups, trying to focus on the big fish and really trying to focus on enterprise and corporate companies. When it is something that can be presented to every size and every level of companies. So I wish we were there, but we’re here for you now. So hopefully we can have a quick chat after this.
– Well I, so just from the perspective of a seller myself, so Kris and I are both Amazon sellers, the most starting out especially, I got better at this, but starting out the whole logistics aspect of it was by far the most intimidating to me. I mean, you’re talking about terms that you just never deal with. You’re talking about talking to someone on the other side of the world, a different language, getting all these tariffs, duties, everything, it was overwhelming. Kinda fought my way through it a little bit. But that’s what I wanna talk a lot about today is just all the processes involved in the logistics for a seller. I mean, all the way from sourcing. I mean, I know you guys are working with federated sources, but you’re taking it all the way to the FBA centers. You’re handling all that. And I think it just ’cause it would help me out for sure, just to understand how you break down just the different steps of the overall process and the challenges of each one. And then maybe go into just sort of how Noviland solves that or organizes all that for a seller.
– Yeah, of course. So as you mentioned, it’s all about starting with the sourcing. And so when you have a product, you start to find a manufacturer, you try to figure out, hey has this manufacturer even worked with the western culture? Are they primarily producing for Asia? Or because then you’re also looking at different quality levels and different types of certifications overall. So they might not be very familiar with fumigation charges or the, for export, they may not be familiar with what children’s protection safety certifications, anything like that. And so you have to find a trusted partner that can actually oversee those aspects for the export, just the export side of it, and understanding how is that packaging going to hold up for the intended use. Now if you’re talking retail, it could be sort of a flimsy packaging because they’re gonna have to put it on the shelves anyway, and they’re usually doing it by the container load. But when we’re talking to Amazon sellers who really have to optimize for those carriers that are gonna be going to your house and just tossing the box at the door. You have to protect that product. And so we start off with just looking at these different aspects within a product and within a project, and we will make suggestions based off just that. Hey, what sort of certifications are you gonna need? How protected is your product? Are there any expanded polystyrene suggestions that we can make? And what everyone knows at home as styrofoam, but a lot of manufacturers might not know that particular name ’cause Styrofoam’s a brand. It’s not necessarily material. And so we’ll have these conversations just sort of shed some light on it, which I think is something that a lot of sellers tend to lack because they don’t think that far ahead. They think I want this, let’s say this coffee mug, but now how am I gonna transport that to Amazon? It’s gonna have to have its own packaging, it’s gonna have to have that styrofoam that protects it. Is it gonna have a card insert? So we do have an RFQ guideline that sort of outlines all these different steps, and it includes the types of certifications that they may need to consider. Including when COVID hit, a big thing was PPE, and that’s hey, now I have to find a factory that is FDA certified and they have it properly listed. So they may have it as a scavenger mask or different classes within FDA to sort of bypass a lot of those FDA regulations. We have to make sure that it’s properly classified to import now. So we talked about the export and figuring out those certifications, but now the importing side, it’s just as tricky. It’s knowing what is customs really looking for? It’s realizing is that gonna go on an LCO or an FCO? So a less than container load or a full container load. How’s that gonna be palletized? Can those pallets stack on top of each other? Now we’re also talking about FBA requirements if you’re going directly to FBA. How tall can that pallet actually be? Do they have all the proper labels? So what I see a lot of sellers tend to do, and you guys might have some experience with this, is importing it, sending it to a 3PL, and then having the 3PL label all the either FNSKUs or labeling the different boxes or pallets to ship an FBA. That’s a very expensive process. And it’s timely because you have to ship it there. Now you have to have them actually label all of them. You have to pay for those labels. It’s just less time that you have products that are available within Amazon. And who knows what other competitors are gonna get there before you. So we take care of all of this at the source, while it’s in China, and we inspect it once it’s fully prepared for FBA. And we will ship it all the way through. So we’ll take care of export clearance documentation with the factories, making sure that everything is protected when it comes to our logistics center. So it might require some repalletizing or some securing on that pallet. So it could be additional protections on the corners, for example, if it’s going into an LCL container. Make sure that all the labels are obviously right and that they’re visible, and that they are compliant with Amazon’s terms of service, which everyone hates. But we have to make sure that that happens. When you take care of that at the source, you get your products in quicker, you get your products incorrect the first time, and you don’t really have to take that additional step of finding a 3PL, and who knows what are the processes that you have to take with them if they’re a bad 3PL. So they might have to receive it at their warehouse. And now you’re talking about accessorial charges. And I’m covering a lot within just two minutes, but that is basically the overview of everything that we take care of, and that no one else really has to worry about when it comes to importing into the US.
– Well, you covered a lot there. What I wanna get at is like that you mainly just scratched the surface. ‘Cause, there’s a lot of moving parts from getting a product from your supplier into FBA. Speaking from experience, like trying to tell your supplier or your 3PL like how to label products, or even like the case labels and the pallet labels, if they get that wrong it is a big pain to get that shipment back. You’re screwed, yeah. So the fact that that’s taken care of, like that’s a huge benefit because there’s been times where I download the labels, I’ll send it to the supplier, and say okay, these need to go on each side of the pallet. But that doesn’t get translated correctly. So they don’t know where to put the boxes. They don’t know where to put the labels. Knowing that there’s somebody that’s experienced in this, and just being like here’s the labels go with it. That takes a lot of burden off your shoulders as a seller. You don’t have to worry about like are the labels gonna get right. So that’s a huge benefit there. One thing I wanna touch on is product research. We’re searching for products, we find products, we’re looking around everywhere, there are ways to do it. Let’s say I find a product. I find a product I want to source. I’m ready to go in with it. I’ve done my test order. I’ve got samples. I come to you. What do I need to provide you in order to know like if this is gonna be a good relationship as far as using Noviland, or do I need to go somewhere else? What’s that process look like?
– So and this it’s a great conversation topic, I think, because it’s somewhere that I see a lot of sellers tend to lack. And they lack it because they’re kind of pulled in by all these videos on YouTube and through their courses just talking about how easy it is. And once they have that easy mindset, they’re like oh, I just need to tell them I want a mug. And it’s like well what material do you want that mug to be? How much is that supposed to fit? Is it supposed to be microwave safe or dishwasher safe? What sort of finishing do you want? Now what kind of packaging do you want? Do you want a his and hers? And how is that gonna be separated? There’s so much that actually has to go into it. And that’s why we do have the RFQ guideline. And we have to take a look at.
– Real quick and ask. ‘Cause this is the RFQ, which is a request for quotation. That is super important. And I’ve messed that up and gone. I mean, I feel like you’re, you can right off the bat, just tell a supplier that you don’t know what you’re doing and when you get that stuff wrong. And so I that’s, I just wanna bring that up because anybody that didn’t know what RFQ was that’s listening, that you guys take care of that, and walk through it is so huge.
– And it’s such an easy way for factories to filter you out. And that’s one downfall that again, a lot of sellers have because they don’t realize like hey I can cut out weeks of back and forth conversation, make the factory’s life easier, basically when you’re looking for this partner, and just give them all the requirements by investing five to 10 hours. Do your patent research, do the material research, reach out to your competitors, find out their materials if you have to. Don’t come and say I want a metal, I don’t know, a metal cutting board. Say, I want a metal cutting board made out of stainless steel 304, and it has to be a particular thickness. And this is how I wanna protect it, I wanna put that in bubble wrap. And I wanna put that in a box, and I wanna have that box to have a card insert in it. And that box isn’t gonna start off with a full custom design, so don’t worry about that. We’ll put a sticker on the top of it with just my brand, that way I test the market. So it’s really thinking 10 steps ahead as to how can I establish a great partnership relationship with these different factories or suppliers? Could be a trade agent, could be a sourcing agent, could be a sourcing company like Noviland, no matter who it is, you have to start off right. And you have to look professional when you’re doing it.
– So we would come to you before even talking to anybody, before even getting samples of something. We’re gonna work with you to find the supplier once we just have a product idea.
– Well, once you have that product idea fleshed out. So you know the materials, you know all those specifications that you really wanna go to, and we can make suggestions. But again, it goes back to being prepared first. So if you wanted that stainless steel 304, and we reach out to a factory, and that factory just says, hey, you know I see someone else that’s making this with titanium, and it’s only 10 extra cents, but it’s a much higher quality product, prevents scratches on it. Then we’ll let you know. But you can’t just say I want metal because there’s so many different types of metals. Do you want a tin plate? Do you want some of the cheapest material you could possibly get, and it’ll dent the first time you use it? It just varies. And oftentimes, so I speak to every single user that comes onto our platform. That’s the first thing that they do. They sign up for an onboarding call with me. And when I speak to them, a lot of times they’re not prepared for sourcing and that’s perfectly fine. It’s just, it could be a 30 minute to an hour-long conversation where I tell them, hey look, these are the things that you really need to be looking into. You need to think about packaging. You need to think about the material. You need to think about finishing. And if you don’t, if you’re not familiar with them, you can always ask us. We have no problem with making some recommendations. But if you dive deeper into Google, which is everyone’s best friend, you could find these things out. And it’s gonna take a few hours, but it’ll save you weeks down the road.
– I think that’s great. I like how you like to have that conversation with the potential seller. Like hey, you need to know all this stuff first. It’s not just found me a mug and let’s start sourcing it. There’s so many moving parts like you mentioned, the type of metal, packaging. So sellers need to know that when they’re sourcing a product, there’s more inside, there’s more to it than just picking a widget and start selling it. On the supplier side here, how do you find these suppliers? Where do these suppliers come from? Like how do you vet them out? If I wanted to be a supplier, how does that work? Like what’s all that process look like?
– Yeah, so we do have a business development team of course, in China. We have two offices in China, one in Vietnam, and that consists of product and factory specialists, it consists of our business development team, order managers that oversee the logistics aspects, those export certifications, import certifications and declarations, things like that, quality control inspectors. But our business development team is awesome in finding these small groups of factories that really tend to be more the medium to large size factory. So we can’t necessarily service the 100, 200 unit orders, unfortunately. But what you get when you work with medium to large-sized factories is they have the right quality assurance measures in place, which is significantly different than quality control. These are the processes that the factory inspects the product throughout manufacturing. They have the right upstream supply chain. So it’s not a factory. It’s funny how this circles back all the way to the beginning, it’s not finding a factory that just can make your product or they think that they can make your product, which a lot of times you’ll find on Alibaba, someone just says, yes, yes, yes, gimme, gimme, gimme. It’s finding one that has the right machinery, that has the right upstream supply chain partners. So they have the raw materials, they have the parts and pieces, they’re familiar with different types of textiles or materials that need to be used in it. They might’ve even made that same product in the past. And so that goes into the factory selection and it also goes into the factory vetting. So it’s looking into, hey, are you who you say you are? And what all can you provide? Manufacturers aren’t gonna be making this coffee mug and a phone case, or this coffee mug and a set of utensils. That’s just not how it works, that’s a trade agent. When you look at Alibaba, that is a trade agent. And it’s such a red flag. And the downside is they won’t say they’re a trade agent, they say, we are representatives of the manufacturer, or we have a cooperation of manufacturers. But it’s just a sure-fire way to find a trade agent. And that’s perfectly fine, you could, and you’ll start off with those 100, 200 unit orders. I know that spiraled outside of the question, but to answer your question directly, we have a business development team that vets them, visits them, speaks with factory management, which is most important, not just speaking with a salesperson because the salesperson will do what they do best, and that sells.
– The supply chain is just so fascinating. I mean, we can talk about upstream. I mean, it opens up all kinds of different doors. You’d think about those factories have to deal with other factories to get the pieces and the materials to make your product. And it probably just goes on. It’d probably blow your mind if you saw from start to finish how products are made, like what it takes.
– And it’s super important. Like if you get a bad factory and you’ve made all this time to make a good list and get their keyword research, you have the images, you’ve spent months doing this, and then the product gets in there and it’s just trash. It’s like your knees are shot out.
– I see that so often. But it’s really because they don’t make that investment of finding a quality partner. They just, again, they find that first yes, that one that says yes to the 10% off, or the one that just says yes to every single question that you have and doesn’t actually pay attention. They can’t sort of regurgitate everything that you just said back to them. And so that’s the quickest way obviously to impact your seller account, to have a bad listing, to even un-motivate you from wanting to sell on Amazon, which I hate because it’s such a great opportunity.
– That’s so fascinating. I’d like to go now from dealing with suppliers to the next step is the logistics of getting it from there to where we are. And I can give you just a little, I mean, my history this is, it took me eight or nine years to even get to where I am now, in terms of how I ship. I mean I started off, I would just the supplier would take care of everything. I mean, it would just show up at my house. They did everything and they I didn’t even know what the shipping cost was. They just said we’ll deliver it to your door for X amount per unit. So I’m sure they buffered in a whole lot of profit for them. And then it got to where I was able to ship it directly to Amazon. And then I was doing container loads and having them go to a facility where they’re split, and then shipped to multiple. But every time I’m so nervous about that process. I mean, you’re sitting there thinking, okay I’ve got $50,000 floating on a boat. I don’t know where it is, who’s gonna take it if it gets to the right place. You learn all these terms, like what does FOB mean.
– CIF, all of it.
– And you’re like, and then if you don’t take it, you’re in the dark on what the duties and tariffs are, or all of that. And now, and we’ll transition, now I’m looking to sell internationally. So I’d love to be able to get the goods go from the supplier to Europe or wherever, without me touching it. Okay, with Noviland or maybe without Noviland we’ll talk about, what would an Amazon seller like us, what are all the things that we would need to know about and cover our bases in the logistics aspect? And then how does Noviland streamline that?
– So for starters, it’s fully understanding Amazon FBA terms of service. That’s hands down. You can Google it. The first one that pops up I think is something from seller central. And it actually says like FBA prep requirements. And that outlines all the way from the dimensions of the master carton to the maximum weights, which I think is 50 pounds in the US, to the pallet size and the pallet height. So you have to take a look at all these, and when you’re working with your supplier, let them know, hey these are the requirements that this has to be. If they ask why tell them why. Don’t keep them in the dark. This is a partnership that you’re trying to establish. So that’s the first step. The second step is finding a freight forwarder. This is what a traditional process would go to. You have your product, you have the inner box dimensions. You have the net weight, gross weight. You have the master box dimensions, pallet dimensions, all of that information. You approach a freight forwarder, which there are thousands of them out there, you can find them on Sermondo, or you can find them on a Facebook page and try sifting through, there are 20 or 30 different freight forwarders that reach out to you, to a question that had nothing to do with freight forwarding, but you can one of them, and start to get quotes. And you really wanna do some history and background on these freight forwarders as well, try to see if they have any reviews or any, what do you call them? Not recommendations. References. If they have any references that they can really cite or that you can speak to. Because it’s not just going with the cheapest freight forwarder, and you might have experienced this in the past. Going cheap, whether it’s with your product or whether it’s going with freight forwarding, you’re gonna get a cheap service. You’re gonna get a lotta over-promises and under-deliveries. So it’s going with someone that is more fair market value, that understands general rate increases, that understands those export and import certifications and requirements, that understands that the most important part, I’m glad that you touched on it, is the HS Code, and that they’re properly classifying it, which is really up to you. They should, the factory should be able to let you know what the HS Code is, but it’s all online. You can Google HS Code in Google and you’ll find a whole list. You just have to really know what your product is and how you’re classifying it to import because the same product probably has 10 different HS Codes. You have to pick the right one. It’s all about how you’re marketing it also. And so you reach out to that freight forwarder, you’ll get quotes. Again, don’t go with the cheapest one, go with one that’s more fair mid-market because you will encounter delays and rolled cargo. And okay, this goes back to not having inventory available to sell. So every time that you have a week lost because it doesn’t go on the vessel, that’s a week that another competitor has a chance to sell more and rank higher than you. So going with sort of that mid to upper-level freight forwarder, that might be more expensive, but can provide you better quality service. Is really because what shipping carriers tend to do is they will look at containers or they’ll look at LCL shipments even. And they’ll say, okay I’ll take the most expensive ones to come on my ship first. Now, when it gets closer to the ship out date, they’ll say well, you paid 3,500, but he paid 3,800. I’m gonna take the 3,800, even though they booked it first. And it’s all about that gate in date. It’s not about when you actually paid for it or took it to the port, it’s when it gets gated into the port. And we plan on writing some pieces on this as well. But once that’s gated in, that’s when your products are secure, that are board guaranteed to get onto that ship. Making sure that the freight forwarder has proper insurance. And so always asking them, hey are you insuring our products? Or is it just the carriers insurance? I’ve seen so many different shipments get lost from major corporations that should have a solid foundation on their logistics, but they sort of they look past it and they say, okay it’s just gonna get shipped, it’s perfectly fine, we’ll receive it. And that freight forwarder should be booking that spot on the vessel at least, especially right now, at least two to three weeks in advance. You don’t wanna reach out to them the day that you’re completing your quality control inspection. You wanna do it at least two to three weeks in advance, and that really gives them time to also find the proper equipment. So finding that container, especially with 40-foot containers right now, finding that container that your product can actually go on especially when it’s an LCL shipment, which most sellers actually start out with. Like hey is this gonna fit in here? Do I have to un-palletize and then re-palletize it when it gets to the US? Or if you’re going with a full container load, just making sure that you have a 40 foot that can even be picked up at that factory or delivered to that factory to be loaded. So two to three weeks in advance, definitely not going with the cheapest freight forwarder, those are the two things that you should really be doing when you’re looking for that freight forwarder. Then that freight forwarder also has to take care of export clearance and certifications. They’ll be working with the factory for that. And they’ll be working with the factory for coordinating with the trucking company, even in China, to pick it up. This is the part that gets very hard. And this is why there isn’t enough transparency, which absolutely sucks. It’s because it’s such an antiquated system where they will still write down, hey this is the container number for this client. And they’ll just, they’ll literally have a clipboard with these written down next to them, instead of putting it in Excel or any automated system. And so you’re like, where’s my shipment? It’s on the vessel. And you’re like, well you told me that last week. Like when’s it gonna get to the US? And they have no clue. A big part of that is because of the lack of laptops, believe it or not. Especially when COVID hit, they didn’t have personal home computers. They would go into the office and actually work on those computers. They weren’t able to get you those updates. And so that’s where the lack of transparency comes in. And then when it gets to the US, a hard part particularly now is scheduling the delivery with trucking companies. So again, you go cheap, you get cheap. If you go with the cheapest one, they’re gonna find the cheapest trucking company in the US to actually deliver it to, whether it’s an FBA location, whether it’s to a 3PL warehouse, or whether it’s to your house, and you wanna store it in your garage and ship it in when you want. I see a lot of our users actually doing that nowadays. And it’s definitely a viable way to do it. But did they coordinate a lift gated truck? Or do you have a dock? Most people don’t have docks at their houses to be able to unload those pallets. So it’s again, having that freight forwarder that is going to be your partner and you’re paying for that. You’re paying for a trusted partner that can make sure that you’re taken care of every step of the way, and that they are gonna coordinate it properly with the trucking company. And that the trucking company is gonna schedule it appropriately so that you’re not gonna be charged with demurrage at the port itself. So if your container doesn’t get picked up, you might have some experience with this, if your container doesn’t get picked up at the port within I think four days, you start getting hit with like 100 or $200 charges every single day. And if they have to pre-pull it, which is a great option in Q4 and peak season to get your products quicker, but if they pre-pull it, that’s another $150 charge that you maybe didn’t plan for. If the trucking company didn’t coordinate well with your 3PL, or to deliver to your house, or with Amazon FBA, then you may get hit with truck storage or truck yard storage fees, which could be 50 to $100 a day. And so these are all these different accessorial charges, that when working with a trusted partner, they should let you know ahead of time. Hey, this is the last free day that the trucking company can store your items. This is when it has to be delivered. And if they don’t notify the 3PL, your 3PL may be full, and they may say I can’t take it. Why don’t you tell me when it got to the US? Or when it got to customs? Or when it’s been cleared by customs? So everything that I just described, it’s a very messy process. It’s also declaring with customs, if customs inspects it, then you have to provide all the proper paperwork and documentation. And they also charge you for that, unfortunately. Even though they’re random inspections. What Noviland does is takes care of all of that, where you don’t have to worry about any of it. We will actually deliver it to the final destination. And we’ll just notify you every step of the way. So it’s like working with UPS or FedEx where, hey, I know I ordered something from Amazon. I know it’s gonna be delivered, Amazon will let me know it’s 10 stops away, and now it’s here, great. We’ll do the same thing through our platform.
– That’s amazing.
– That’s awesome.
– It’s a new way of looking at it.
– What you just described gave me so much anxiety. I was like, oh my gosh. That sounds awful.
– It gives me anxiety.
– Yeah, if I just go to Noviland, I can just, I have somebody in my corner that’s gonna keep me updated. They’re gonna make sure all the paperwork is filled out correctly, they’re gonna make sure all the logistics are going correctly, HS Codes are all figured out correctly. You do this on your own, I’m telling you, you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna lose focus on your product, you’re gonna lose how you need to like get your titles set up and your listings all set up ’cause you’re focusing on your shipment. Having somebody else worry about this, while you try to figure out your listing or whatever you’re doing, this is gonna take a lot of time off the seller’s hands. So that’s oh my gosh, I gotta settle down, I was getting anxiety there.
– Now try doing that for a dozen products or two dozen products. And having to expand your company instead of working with a partner. And that’s why we love working with startups and new Amazon sellers because that’s an expensive learning curve, and it’s a learning curve that we could just completely cut out for them. And so we love it. We hope that they love it. And obviously, we can bring that to you guys too.
– Yeah, I mean, it is an expensive learning curve. And Kris and I learned by trial by fire for sure. And we still don’t have, I mean, I’m speaking for you Kris, speaking just for myself, I still have a lot of areas to improve there. Just in everything that you talked about. I mean, I can’t tell you the way that it’s evolved for me. I mean, I’ve had to ship, when I first started, they were coming straight to my house. I had no idea how they got there. It was delivered, duty paid, I just paid my supplier. And then I had my kids labeling all the products. I had like slave labor in my house with my children and just labeling these products. And all of that gets taken care of now with you. And then as you go through it, I mean, just learning like I still didn’t even know what’s more beneficial for me. If the terms I set with the supplier like FOB, or if the freight forwarder can actually like pick it up at the factory, or what would be most beneficial to go onto Noviland. But like as a seller, if I come onto Noviland, we’ve gotten past the supplier, we’ve selected the supplier, et cetera. What all do I have to do with you for you to take care of all the logistics?
– So we do have a logistics management form. You just fill that out, submit it right into the Noviland platform. We even have it easily accessible once you create an account, it’s in the new RFQ section. And I can walk you guys through it after this. But there’s a little button you click, it says, what should I write here? And you’ll see a dropdown, the RFQ guideline, you’ll see a logistics management form. You fill that out, it’s pretty detailed, it’s actually more detailed than, I would say, most other freight forwarders or logistics management companies. The main reason for it is because we care about your products and we wanna make sure that they’re done properly. So we will give you suggestions. A big thing that we always tend to see is that HS Codes are wrong. And when you do let a factory ship it DDP, luckily or hopefully you never encounter this, but they may be undervaluing your products. And these are issues that you could run into when they actually clear through customs, and if they go through that random inspection. If you have to submit that invoice and it’s different than what they’re declaring it as now you’re gonna have your product sitting there for a few weeks while you deal with it in customs. Same thing for the clearance aspect, and working with customs to get them that paperwork. That’s time, and time is money. You could be expanding onto your next product. So that’s the value that we get to bring to you. So rather than you doing that anxiety-ridden process that I described before, and figuring out what the best shipping method is, we will take that off your hands. That way you can focus on expanding and scaling up your business, and looking at complementary products, and looking at bundles, and multi-channel, going to Walmart, go into Shopify, doing all these different avenues. That’s really what you get when you’re coming with Noviland.
– It’s interesting ’cause you brought up something there about suppliers undervaluing the cost of the product. And that’s something that you would never even think about. It’s such a minor step in the process, but this actually happened to me. I had a supplier early on reach out and ask me, what would I like to value the product at? I mean he knew what he was charging me. Like, do you want me to put it as $1 or $1.50? It should have been like $8. I mean, he was actually asking me if I would like to decrease it because it obviously would decrease the tariff if it goes undetected. If that had been, when I stopped doing that, went from a supplier went to a freight forwarder, that was the first thing they caught. They’re like, you’re gonna get in trouble.
– Yeah, and if you misclassify it and they have to reclassify it, you are subject to paying twice the duties than if you initially classified properly the first time. Twice the amount. So if you’re talking about the new duties of about 30, 35%, now you’re paying 70%, all your margin is gone. And now you’re on the customs watch list. So you’re more prone to getting those random inspections and paying those additional inspection fees. It’s those little things that a sourcing agent or a trade agent or a factory might not be able to tell you or not want to tell you because it’s not in their best interest. But it’s something that you have to do it by the book, otherwise, you go with all these black hat tactics, same thing with PPC, you do black hat tactics or listings. If you get caught, you’re gonna find out it’s not worth it. But until that point, you might see some benefit in it. It’s just no way to run a real business. There’s one thing I wanna touch on real quick is, I’ve dealt with some factories, and you get that relationship with them, and you’re typing or you’re Skyping them, or we chat or email. But they’re really good about letting you know when they have a new product. Or like if I source a product before and they come out with a newer model, like hey, we’ve got this new model, you want it? Like I kind of enjoy that ’cause it lets me know that they’re coming up with newer stuff and newer products and trying to be better. In Noviland, is there a way, or is there a feature in there that like if I, let’s say a source a barn door hardware? If that supplier comes out with a newer version or a better technology, is that message portrayed to me since I’ve already bought that product once? Or do I have to go out and actually actively look for that new feature?
– So it really depends. Now, of course, if a factory comes to us, the same factory, and they say, hey, I’m making a new and improved version of this barn door hardware, if you wanted to propose that to your client, then we will. And of course, if they just let us know randomly then we’re working on something, it should be coming out in 2021, that will definitely be top of mind and a better feature that we emphasize. At the moment, we don’t proactively look for new products for our users. A big fear of it was a sort of conflict of interest. We didn’t wanna step on anyone else’s toes, whether it be a different business that came to us looking for this newer product. But it is something that we’re sort of developing and working out. It’s funny that you mentioned that though because a lot of times factories do that. And a lot of times it’s because a different person developed that product or they made those improvements. So it’s not the factory making their own product unless they’re selling their own brand, but it doesn’t tend to be them just proactively thinking hey, how can I improve this? It’s someone else that’s making those improvements and then them proposing it to you, or a trade agent proposing it to you.
– Interesting. Do you guys ever, as a part of your platform, ever group shipments together to fill a container to get efficiency and cost? Like if Kris has an order that’s LCL, and I have an order that’s LCL, are you guys able to manage that, to get maybe more efficient costs on shipping?
– Yeah, so we have over a dozen very great shipping partners that we actually work with, depending on the type of shipment, depending on the time of year, depending on the lane even, if it’s going to the West Coast or the East coast, or a fast boat or expedited shipment is what a lot of users tend to know it as. And so we’ll work with them to group those different shipments. And of course, get that within our algorithm. Because we do have a shipping algorithm right in the platform, detects which partner would be best suited for you. And it automatically sort of does that. So you always get an actual cost, this is another benefit of ours. You get a product similar to Amazon, added into a cart, you can enter in 10 FB locations. You can enter in a few on the West coast, let’s say the Midwest, Texas, New Jersey, South Carolina, And you’ll see all the shipping quotes and the customs and import duties immediately. So you don’t have to, you could shop around. There’s no harm in it. But we will tell you exactly what you’re gonna be paying, your landed costs, or your COGS, cost of goods sold, at that time.
– That’s unbelievable because I mean, a lot of times I’ve had shipments come in and then I get hit with the tariff or the duties later in a bill that’s later in a bill, it’s not all in there. And just to streamline that is amazing. How do as a client of yours, how do we pay for that? Does everything get paid through your platform? All the duties?
– Everything is through the platform. We collect everything. We’re a US-based business, so you’re paying a US-based business. We take care of the foreign exchange and everything. And we actually release installments to the factory. So we still hold some sort of power over them throughout manufacturing. So if a change needed to be made or quality need to be improved, it is important that you do have that money in hand because you, of course, you pay them 100%, they’re gonna give you a product. They’re gonna be like well, we have the money. It’s a $5,000 order, you’re not gonna litigate because it’s not even worth it for you. But if you hold part of that payment to them, you’re able to say, hey, I still owe you 70%. You have to make that improvement. Otherwise, you’re not gonna get that 70%. You already bought all the materials, you put in all the work. Luckily our product specialists are very good at that, in interacting with the factories because it’s also not just playing hardball with them. It’s not just telling them you’re gonna do this and you have to do this because they will find a way to cut a corner. So it’s understanding the business culture. And it’s understanding why they’re saying certain things. Why are they telling you they can’t do that? Is it they don’t have the tooling? Is that they’re not confident in the output of it? And we sort of tell our users in those cases, hey this is why they can’t do it.
– That’s amazing. I mean, I cannot wait because, after this, you told us you’re gonna walk us through a little demo. I cannot wait to see what this looks like. I mean this is my least favorite part of the entire process. I gotta admit.
– I think it’s everyones.
– Yeah and I’m fascinated, I’m curious, I’m interested in what goes on. But I hate it. And it makes it is so much like Kris was talking about, there’s so much anxiety. There is nothing scarier than wiring a huge chunk of money across the world, and you’re praying that your stuff shows up where it’s supposed to go.
– And it shows up, right? It shows up at the right quality.
– It’s just tricky. But I do have one final question for you. You’re in Pittsburgh right now. That’s where the Steelers are. We’re in Kansas City, where the Superbowl champs are. Number one, are you a big Steelers fan? And number two, who do you see winning the AFC championship? The Steelers or Chiefs?
– I will say that I’m not a Steelers fan. I’m a Steelers fan by location. And because I have a few neighbors that are Steelers. I’m a Washington Redskins fan at heart. I was born and raised in Arlington. So I have no choice but to be okay with losing. And I’m content with not having any championships under my belt. And so a part of that also comes with wishful thinking. And so no matter who we’re gonna be talking about, I’ll always pick the Skins over anyone else. But I wish the Steelers all the best luck. And of course, let’s see what Kansas City has in the cards for them this year.
– A Superbowl championship. But you have to admit, you have some Kansas City over there in Washington with Alex Smith.
– We do, we do. Take it or leave it.
– But well, thanks so much for coming on.
– This has been great.
– This has been the most fun I’ve had talking. I learned so much. This is an area that I just have no expertise in. I wish I did, but now I’m just gonna work with you guys.
– Yeah, we’ll chat after this.
– So I mean everyone out there, if you’re listening, check out Noviland. I’m super excited to check it out. See what they can do for you. Give up this difficult part of your business to professionals. But again, Francois, thank you so much. We had a blast. And Kris, we’ll be back at this tomorrow.
– Yeah, Francois, don’t go anywhere.
– Yeah, we’re doing this demo, you stay on here.
– See you guys.
– See you, everybody.
– Bye guys.