Is Prime Day Worth It For You? ⎜ Abe Chomali ⎜ EP 117
Ryan Cramer: What's up everyone? Welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and this is Crossover Commerce presented by PingPong Payments, the leading global payments provider, helping sellers keep more of their hard earned money. Hey everyone, what's up? I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and welcome to episode 117 of Crossover Commerce. It's been a while so just wanted to reintroduce myself. If you've been missing me, I know lots of you have since last Wednesday since we've been able to hop on live, but this is my corner of the internet where I bring you the best experts in the Amazon in e- commerce space. So if you're looking for something like that, you've made it. If not, there's plenty of other content out there. But this is a space where lots of people can learn and grow their Amazon and e- commerce business and we're going to be talking about a really cool topic. Today, of course, sharing all insights and important aspects of selling online, specifically we're going to be talking about the number one most, now, I wouldn't say controversial, but more interesting topic that always comes around this time of the year and that is Prime Day. Prime Day is less than a week away. Deals are promised for customers, but does the event itself come at a cost? We're going to do air quotes there, cost for sellers. So I titled today's episode, is Prime Day worth it for you? And you meaning the Amazon seller. A question most people might say yes, but we're going to dive into both the pros and cons of Prime Day itself. Prime Day, again, for most people, it is on June 21st and June 22nd this year. So it's not one day, it's two days. It's always been kind of growing just like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. It's kind of just evolved into a multiple day event. So we're going to see if it's worth it for you. But as always, before we jump into it, Crossover Commerce is presented by PingPong Payments. PingPong inaudible more than$ 150 million a day to over now serving one million customers worldwide. That's one million across the entire world transferring and helping process over$ 90 billion, that's 90 with a B, billion dollars in cross- border payments. That's helping pay virtual assistance, suppliers, manufacturers and helping receive funds from different marketplaces all around the world to your local currency so that you can save more money. That's what PingPong does. And if you would want to go ahead and check it out, it's free to sign up. Go ahead and click on that link in the show notes or the comments section below and go ahead and sign up for today. It's free. Check it out, check out PingPong Payments online as well. But this episode is about myself and my guests, not just me. If it was just about me, I know for a fact we wouldn't make it past season one, but it's about my network of people that I love to talk and bring on this show to help me understand and help demystify the Amazon space, if you will, and help people grow. So about our guests today, Abe Chomali is actually the founder of XP Strategy, an Amazon PPC marketing agency. He's been selling since 1991 to 2018, that's right. That is over, let's do the math everyone, let's do it, close to 30 plus years of selling. We're going to go ahead and round it up and say 30 plus years of selling. Abe has an extensive experience in diverse selling platforms that include Amazon, his own websites and even print ads, which him and I can actually vibe on that to, myself selling print ads back in the day as well. So in 2018, he began leveraging that experience by starting, excuse me, XP Strategy and offering customized advertising solutions to Amazon sellers. Working with sellers in all sizes, Abe actually offers PPC management services that leverage Amazon's numerous options and works to grow in scale accounts efficiently. Love that. So welcome to Crossover Commerce, Abe Chomali of XP Strategy. Abe, thanks for hopping on today. And I just want to first clear the air, this shirt is fantastic and amazing as always. I expect nothing less from you.
Abe Chomali: Oh, I appreciate it. I literally just got it yesterday and I said, what better place to wear it for the first time than on the internet.
Ryan Cramer: That's right. This is the place to do it and I'm so honored that you picked my show to do that. So first and foremost, thank you so much. Shout out to Dave and Elon, the two people that make news, I feel like hourly, if not daily. So shout out to those guys running for president in 2024. We knew it. We knew it would happen and this is just proof. But Abe, thanks for hoping on Crossover Commerce. It's a pleasure to have the one and only Santa Claus of Amazon here. One of the Santa Clauses, I would say. You and norm probably could fight for that title, I would say.
Abe Chomali: I think Norm has the edge on me at this point.
Ryan Cramer: Yeah. Probably for a length of it, but yeah, exactly. But hey, thanks for hopping on today. For your background specifically or for people who may not be familiar with your company or where you're located, where are you talking to us from today around the world?
Abe Chomali: I am in the Garden State of New Jersey in the US. For those of you that are not sure where New Jersey is, it's on the east coast of America. So yeah.
Ryan Cramer: It's the little sister of New York, right?
Abe Chomali: Oh no. It's the big sister of Vermont.
Ryan Cramer: Oh, exactly. That works even better.
Abe Chomali: We don't take second place to anybody. The truth is I was born and raised in Brooklyn, so I still consider myself a New Yorker. I'm just here in New Jersey at the moment.
Ryan Cramer: Oh, you're just temporarily there. Okay. Got you. So that being said, your background as we alluded to in the introduction is quite extensive in selling. You've been selling since 1991. That's fantastic. People are like 2014, 2015 might be as far back as they go, but you've been selling for almost as long as I've been alive.
Abe Chomali: Yeah. I've seen a lot. Starting back in 1991, I'm pretty sure I was still back in college way back then. And I have seen the world of selling things evolve. We started out selling things by telephone and by getting orders from the back of print magazines. And of course, after a bunch of years right around the turn of the century, I can't believe I just said turn of the century, but around the turn of the century, the internet turned into a thing. And basically since 1999 or so, we've been doing some form of internet selling or internet e- commerce all the way since back then. It started out with Yahoo stores. Once regular websites became mature enough to actually do a significant amount of e- commerce, we started our own website and started advertising on Google. And then of course, eBay and Amazon turned into things about 10 years later, 2008, 2009, and we spent a bunch of years selling on Amazon as well. And in 2018, the opportunity came up to help selling or to help with the advertising for a few people I know. I found it interesting enough that I decided to turn it into a business and I transitioned out of selling. And basically the advertising and marketing is what I do full- time now. I find it endlessly interesting to see how my experience translates across all different categories. It's fantastic.
Ryan Cramer: Right. So we're talking about PPC, we're talking about brand registry, we're talking about inaudible even DSP is the new a bell of the ball, if you will. So that being said, you've seen a lot like you had mentioned before. Amazon Prime Day is what we are talking about today, but just because it feels very topical. It's a week away for buyers, but sellers have been kind of been expecting it to be coming around this time for a while now, but only I want to say two or three weeks ago that that was officially announced. What was your initial take on it coming back to originally June of this year, instead of later in Q4 like it was last year because last year was kind of a difficult year, but with the announcements so short of being officially announced to when it was going to happen. What was your initial take on that?
Abe Chomali: So my initial take was welcome back. It's definitely a much better time of the year to have a promotion like this than October was. October was a big mess because first of all, we really had no idea or guidance at all in terms of when Prime Day would happen or even if it would happen. It really just popped up all of a sudden and there was very little ability to plan for inventory or anything else. All of a sudden, we had to plan for not only Prime Day, but how was Prime Day going to factor into Q4? So there's no time to replenish the goods that you need to re- buy after selling through all your inventory on Prime Day. If you sell half your goods on those couple of days of promotions, you're not going to be able to get your goods back in for December. So it was definitely a very challenging time last year. Also, we still were in a situation where Amazon was pretty restrictive. A lot of things had been rebounding, but we were still in a situation where Amazon gave priority to FBM in a lot of cases, Amazon gave priority to PPE stuff, the masks and all those types of inaudible, home-
Ryan Cramer: Sanitizers, things like that. Yeah.
Abe Chomali: Yeah. So they were still giving priority to that stuff. They weren't fully transitioned back into helping sellers sell the real stuff that they sell. Whether it's garlic presses or water bottles or whatever other things we might have to sell on Amazon, Amazon still wasn't supporting full speed sales of those products yet. So it was definitely challenging. Of course, it was good, but it was challenging. This time, it's much better. First of all, it's what we typically expect. If I'm not mistaken, it's been around this week for four out of the five years that Prime Day has existed. So we sort of know to plan around it and sellers that have experience on Amazon have been planning since February or March. We were like, okay, we're going to have a big pop around the beginning of the summer with Prime Day and then after that, we have the chance to reset and get ready for Q4 to works. We had the opportunity to put promotions in place. We had the opportunity to get the goods that we need and to really prepare the right way for it. So I think it's a much, much better day to have the event than what we did last year, for sure. inaudible.
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. And just to call out those two epic days of deals, we got June 21st and 22nd. That's next Monday and Tuesday. Of course, everyone make sure you're marking your calendars. Just as Amazon says, if you have something scheduled, make sure you move it or you change it. So Amazon's telling me to change my schedule and to circle these two days. Sellers initially should obviously be focusing on that because initially you think this would be a good thing, right? What are the good things that come from Amazon Prime Day? It's in the middle of the summer, it's traditionally going to be more often than not a slower time when people are buying goods and they're more likely to be investing in services like travel or vacations or anything like that. This is something like a shot in the arm for a lot of sellers, right? So the pros would be what?
Abe Chomali: Yeah. So it's sort of a nice cap to the spring or the first half of the year. Even if you don't do anything, you will typically see a sales bump of anywhere from two to 3X. That's what I see with people who don't do anything. Just like they walk in the door, just like they did the day before, they'll typically see double or triple the sales without doing anything. So that is a big benefit. And of course all the rest of the benefits are really tied to that. So if you've got the inventory, you'll see a rank boost. And if your competitors run out of inventory mid event, you will be having a more sustained boost than they will. The ranks are a little bit interesting of a situation because if everybody in your space has the same sales boost, it sort of evens out as far as the rank of benefit. But if you can hold on when other people sell out or if your ads are running when other people's ad budgets have run out for the day or for the event, then you'll be able to capture a little bit bigger percentage of the sales that are available and it'll help boost your rank a little bit better. Of course, there is the benefit of selling in a little bit of what might be an off season for a lot of sellers as people finish up their school year and start vacations and get ready for camp, and all of the things that have to do with nice weather outside combined with just the world opening up from what we've experienced in the last year. There is definitely a little bit of a slowdown on Amazon in a lot of categories and this is going to help cushion that, helps us get a little bit of transition with moving through some goods. All of the good things that apply to better sales are the benefits that you're going to get out of Prime Day. It's as simple as that.
Ryan Cramer: Right. And a friend of both of ours, Destiny inaudible actually posted something from Bloomberg today that said May's numbers actually reflected that goods in retail goods actually have gone down for the first time since the pandemic hit. So I thought that was fascinating that as the world opens up, more people are shifting their monies to retail, or not away from retail, but also to services and more like you said, vacations, more events where you can actually enjoy it instead of a tangible good or item. That's why we saw the 2020 numbers to be quite interesting. And I forget the publication actually that touted it, but numbers across the board consistently for 2020 were very high, right? We saw 5X growth or five years of growth, five to 10 for some people in a year. But then in Prime Day, when you look at the natural bumps like Black Friday, Cyber Monday Prime Day, those actually still grew, but they're not as high of a growth as the rest of the year. So there's that still a little flutter, if you will, but not as big as the other ones. Is that just the sheer nature of everyone was shopping online consistently that it was just constant buying online that another big sales online was in as big of a driver as it traditionally is?
Abe Chomali: So it's interesting. This is sort of like a philosophical point that I always have to remind myself about. When we look at the news, we see the trends across Amazon or the trends across the economy. So they might say that the economy is down, spending is down 1. 5% or something, or it's down by$ 800 billion or whatever numbers they might say. And that's all true. It is all good. But for the most part, when it comes to us, when it comes to me, when it comes to an individual seller or an individual account, those numbers really don't apply. What I see with the sellers that I work with is unless you are at the top of your space, unless you own like 40% of the traffic for a certain product, you still have room to grow even if the overall space is shrinking. So even when the space shrinks one or three or 5%, if you don't have the most possible sales, you have room to grow. And that's what I see with a bunch of my accounts. Most of my sellers still have room to grow and they have been growing even as the news says that certain things are shrinking. Yeah. For sure, if you're selling scarfs or mittens, yeah, you're probably selling less right now, but that's a function of the space overall. And even while overall numbers are down, certain things are way up. So things that have to do with travel are doing very well. Things that have to do with outdoor sports, like baseball accessories are doing very, very well. Tees and things like that, people need them right now. Swimming accessories and pool accessories, all of those are doing well even if the entire market is shrinking as a whole. So I try to take those new stories with a little bit of a grain of salt. And I definitely don't want to let myself lose optimism by looking at stories like that. It's comforting to say, oh, I'm not doing great. Yeah, it's because everything is not doing great. No, that is not the case. There are always people on the upswing and you have the opportunity to be on that upswing.
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. And that's always a pain in the picture, right? We get news and we get, quote unquote, facts from different resources that don't paint the entire picture, but we try to use data to paint whatever picture we're trying to at that moment in time tell, and specifically you had mentioned travel accessory is doing really well right now. If you're the neck pillow travel seller that held on to inventory and you didn't bail in 2020, you're looking pretty good right now, back in full force with your neck pillows. So a shout out if you held on through that for those individuals who did that. Travel accessories, like you said, outdoors. Even what, picnics and just like entertainment outdoors, not just low end goods, but high- end goods in terms of projectors, furniture, all that stuff.
Abe Chomali: Barbecue accessories in particular. I have a friend who is a top 50 seller on Amazon and they're always expanding their product lines. They expand category by category. And he came to me about four months ago and said," Abe, I want to get into the barbecue accessories category. What do you think of these products?" And basically, being as I do like to use my barbecue quite a bit, I was able to give him breakdowns on each individual product that he sent me pictures of. And I just spoke to him a couple of days ago, he says he's killing it. He's absolutely got growth and he's absolutely growing significantly with that new category. And that's a guy, if there's anybody that you would think is going to be affected by the big picture slow down, you would think it's a top 50 seller. They own their spaces. But no, he's growing and he's growing at a healthy clip with the new stuff he's adding. So it's there. So growth is there if you can capture it.
Ryan Cramer: I was going to say, you're also a barbecue expert on Instagram. On Instagram, you're posting just delicious food all the time. So I'm always a fan and that's something this summer I'm certainly looking to get into. You said he wants to get into that? Was that a passion of his, or was that something that just data spoke to it and the timing was going to work out?
Abe Chomali: That's it, the data spoke to it. The guy doesn't cook. He's a bachelor and I know for sure that he's eating out like six times a week out of the seven nights. No, basically the data guided him to outdoors being the next space that's going to take off. He doesn't have all the coverage he wants in outdoors. Outdoors turned into cooking outdoors and that's it. He went step- by- step and said, all right, here's a space I can capture market share on. He looked at the best sellers. He said, I can make improvements, I can buy enough quantity in order to take the space that I want and get the prices that I want. I know how to run all my systems effectively, and that's it. I've got a brand that lends itself there. He basically went through all the steps needed to have a successful launch for a brand and he did it.
Ryan Cramer: That's amazing, and obviously a testament. Looking at data, and we've always talked about on the show that data is always going to point you instead of luck, it's going to point to you success in that regards. So, Abe, tell me this, in Prime Day specifically, when we're looking at best practices, a lot of people say investing in PPC is the number one thing. With that regards, that has to be the number one suggestion that you're telling clients. Be comfortable with spending a few weeks out ramping up to Prime Day and then even a little bit after to gain market share is have a budget of what? 4X, 5X, may be even more. What's that maybe baseline investment that you're looking for?
Abe Chomali: I'd honestly say it's situational. And this is where it pays to be careful. So I've been having this conversation so many times over the past few days where everybody wants to get the last minute changes in place and the last minute changes discussed. I go through things a little bit methodically. So the first thing I say is if we start off with a baseline of selling two or 3X without doing anything, how do you feel about that bump in sales? Would you be very happy with that and you'd be done with it, or do you really need to sell much more than that? And if they say, no, I want to sell them much more than that, all right, here comes the next steps of the promotions. And typically the people that are very aggressive about selling much more than 3X over a couple of days, they will have planned in advance and they will have put it into place some of the prime specific promotions. Those deadlines have mostly passed at this point, but they'll put into place lightning deals, they'll put into place prime exclusive discounts. They'll basically do the things that they can to get extra traffic on Prime Day over and above the bump in volume. So for those people, yes, we're trying to leverage every single thing that we can do. But aside from setting up those promotions, the actual work of PPC stuff, it only becomes active right when Prime Day starts. What I typically see and what other people have noticed as well is that for the one to two weeks before Prime Day, performance is a lot weaker. People are browsing and not buying. They are clicking and not putting things in their cart. They are not sure what they want yet and you get a lot of wasted spend, like a lot of wasted spend. ACoSes are up by, in some cases, 20, 30%. By 20, 30%, I mean from 20% to 26%, that's a 30% boost. So whatever numbers you're at, you'll typically see a higher ACoS for this couple of weeks. And also at the same time there's a higher ACoS, your sales are down. So you feel it double. It's one thing to have a higher ACoS with more sales. It feels pretty crappy when the higher ACoS is compounded by lower sales, but it's the nature of leading up to the holiday. So what I typically recommend to people is to scale back their budgets. The buying intent is not so high right now. And almost no matter what you do, you're not going to be getting the sales out of it. Let everybody else spend their money and waste their money in some cases for sales that are not going to come through either way. It's not like you're missing out on sales that somebody else is capturing. So we'll typically go along that route for the week or two before Prime Day. And then on Prime Day itself, for the people that want to sell a lot more and have those promotions in place, we will do most of the changes with budgets. We make small adjustments with bids, but not much because the intent is there and people are clicking on you and whatever positions you've had up until now, they will stay sort of close. Bids across Amazon to go up, but a lot of it is driven by the most aggressive spaces. So people who are spending seven,$ 8 a click in the most competitive categories are going up to 12,$ 13 a click, and that pushes the averages up, but I don't see overall averages in the 80 cents to$2 space going up too much in that time. So what we say the best way you're going to leverage your PPC is by making sure your ads are running all day long. Start watching at 7: 00 AM, start watching until 11: 00 PM and make sure your campaigns don't run out. The better your coverages, the more you're going to have your ads showing, especially as other people who are not as careful have their ads run out, and that happens a lot. The side benefit of that is as other competitors run out of ad budget, your CPCs will go down because they have been pushing up your ads and in relation to you, they're not there anymore. With fewer competitors, those CPCs will be a little bit cheaper. So it does balance out nicely. And the backside of that is make sure to scale back your budgets right after Prime Day as well, because just like people are waiting for Prime Day, people have spent their money on Prime Day and afterwards, they go back to browsing for a few days. So Prime Day ends on Tuesday, I think Tuesday evening. So typically for the rest of the week, for the next two or three days, we'll scale back budgets of it and then everything goes sort of back to normal after that.
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. And even after Father's Day too with that being Sunday, a lot of people... And I thought that was kind of fascinating, you said scale it back. I know some certain people have seasonal products, especially with Father's Day, but that should traditionally have been a week or two before this episode, actually. So we're probably hopefully thinking, unless you're a last minute gift purchaser for Father's Day, you don't want those two to butt up against each other. But Prime Day specifically, that being on the Monday and Tuesday after Father's Day, then afterwards, we're just going to see conversions completely drop off a cliff. That's what you're saying.
Abe Chomali: I think so. What I find, and this is probably a combination of data and my personal experience as a dad, is that Father's Day does not get the same per giftee spend as Mother's Day does. Mother's Day tends to be jewelry and nicer things like that. Dads want barbecue accessories and dads get ties and socks and things like that and lots of handmade stuff from the kids. And it's also-
Ryan Cramer: So lower spend. Exactly.
Abe Chomali: I mean, it's definitely a significant holiday, there's no question about it, but it's more broad- based in terms of the range of where the spend is, so it's not concentrated in a few spots. And again, the actual few days before Prime Day overlapping with Father's Day, anybody who's shopping for Father's Day, they made their purchase a week in advance and it's already delivered by the weekend. Those couple of days right before is for regular retail, not for Amazon. Anybody who missed out on Amazon gifts for Father's Day, they're running to the mall.
Ryan Cramer: Right. You need to do it last second and unless you're available and able to deliver in two hour shipping, which again, not sellers can dictate if that happens or not. That's all on Amazon. That would be the only reason for that to happen. So that being said, what are we fluctuating for? You said deals have already been submitted weeks ago and that's pretty traditional in that regards. Besides your PPC campaigns or anything else that's being submitted and you're running, are we doing anything to price or are we doing anything to deals? What does that look like in order to entice a customer, do you think? Or do you even handle deals?
Abe Chomali: So I handle deals and we try to put in place whatever deals are available. But again, it keeps coming back to that inaudible, what kind of sales are you going to run after? And here's sort of the point that I wanted to get to in a lot of cases. With a lot of sellers, inventory is an actual issue. So they don't have weeks and weeks of inventory in Amazon anymore. With Amazon putting all the restrictions in place, a lot of sellers are running with two or three weeks of inventory and then inbound time for replacement goods is weeks more of time. If you push too hard without having a good pipeline of goods into Amazon, you are very likely going to run out of goods. There's going to be a gap in time when there's no inventory available for sale on Amazon. And the problem there is that if you run out, either you run out at the end of Prime Day or you run out three days later or a week later, you're going to start quickly losing all the benefits of what you accomplished on Prime Day. If you combine that with the fact that you threw a ton of discounts at it, so you basically moved a lot of goods with very little profitability and don't get the long- term benefits of the ranks. It's something to be delicate about and a lot of sellers don't think it through. They just say, I want as much sales as possible tomorrow, that's it. And they sort of realize right afterwards like, oh no, what did I just do to myself? They're feeling good for a day when they look at the numbers, but then all of a sudden, they're out and they don't connect the two in some cases. They just say, oh, I'm out. Well, you sort of threw everything out the window in just a couple of days ago by pushing the goods out so aggressively. So that's really the first question and I encourage everybody to have that thought process. There's also the category of product that you're in. Not every product is probably going to get exactly the same push. So people who are in ultra, ultra niche products are probably not going to benefit from that general traffic boost as much as people who are in the more general categories. So as an example, I have a client that sells very, very unique bathmats. So the top bathmats on Amazon are like black and gray and fuzzy and smooth. That's it. That's where all of the-
Ryan Cramer: The first thing you want to feel right when you get out of a shower, right? Or a bath.
Abe Chomali: That's it. The plainest colors. They're basically matching the most types of decor. So I have a client who has very, very unique ones with unusual patterns and styles and designs. That's probably going to benefit less and there's probably going to be less of a boost from running custom ads with high bids and high budgets than anybody else. Typically, they hop off of the traffic that's coming already and they get shopper searching for two page two, three, five, seven, eight, as they're digging through just the right thing, they land on these products, but they're not going to see something worth spending tons of money to drive traffic to.
Ryan Cramer: So with that being said, I've actually heard on the show lots of sellers tell me that for a couple of years now, one particular was super fascinating. He said for his strategy for Prime Day is specifically to invest in the same amount of PPC, but not to change or fluctuate pricing. Sales actually organically have gone up because of what you had mentioned, buyer intent, has unnaturally been inflated for that day, but they don't follow the pricing changes or they don't have tools like Honey or any kind of Rakuten. Or even on Amazon, the pricing tracker solution, buyer intent has been conditioned to purchase on this day. So his theory was for his brands, again, it's I believe in beauty even, which is pretty competitive area, they've been conditioned to purchase on those days, but has not changed pricing, same amount of PPC and seen sales just continue to skyrocket. Is that a psychology that maybe more sellers should look into and just say, listen, the buyer intent is going to be there? Maybe that's the route we should go on.
Abe Chomali: Listen, I agree with that fully. 100%, I agree with it fully and I practice it myself. I mean, most of what I've been saying right now is that sales will go up even if you don't do anything. And those sellers that you're talking to are describing exactly that to you. Without changing any part of their strategy, without changing their pricing, sales are going up and they're reaping the benefits of it. So yeah, I agree with that a hundred percent. And you see it in retail also. When you go to Target or Walmart, or most places, they don't have the entire store on discount. They've got things that bring people's attention, and most of the rest of the store is just benefiting from the extra traffic of people being offered coming in. I believe very much so that space for Amazon as well. If you are a part of the rest of Amazon, you're going to get benefits from the traffic and enjoy them and take that extra profitability at use it wisely.
Ryan Cramer: That being said too, we were also looking off of Amazon. You see naturally other marketplaces are going to compete with Amazon. You see week long sales from, I want to say, Walmart has a week or Target might have a week long of sales. If you're selling on these other platforms, naturally there would be this intent of other locations for people to be selling on. So that being said, do you have strategies that are similar or maybe DSP campaigns that are also pointing to products on maybe your own website or just that natural sales functionality that we're talking about? People are conditioned during that week to make purchases. Are you running any additional campaigns around your brands or products itself?
Abe Chomali: So I'll go out of my way to say that I am not a DSP specialist. I have somebody on my staff that manages it for a few clients, but I don't make my bones and I don't make my chops with DSP so I won't drive into it as much. The reality is you have to be at a certain sales level to take advantage of DSP fully and up until then, sponsored display covers most of the space in between. Yes, we always want to follow shoppers as they continue along their path and we always want to fill that funnel with as many views as possible. I'm not sure if you've heard of it before, but a well- known thing is that people need to see something up to seven times before they'll actually make that purchase, and they call it the sales funnel. So when they're first interested in something, they might look on Google or they might have their attention caught on a TV commercial, and then they'll start to get more familiar with the idea of whatever it is they're looking for. Maybe they saw it demonstrator on a TV show or something, and those are all the beginnings of the sales funnel. And Amazon PPC is typically right at the bottom of the sales funnel, the closest to the time when the shopper is ready to purchase. So that's what it takes advantage of and that's where it converts. The space in between is typically where a lot of the DSP and display advertising takes its space. So they'll fill up those spots in between to make you also more comfortable and remind you, say, hey, you looked at this product a couple of days ago. We still got it, don't forget about us.
Ryan Cramer: Right. Yeah. Like the old Facebook poke, if you will. Like, hey, I'm here, don't forget about me on the internet. But that's something that I've found fascinating too. It's becoming more prominent, but like you said, the spin has to be there. What about just from a customer standpoint, are customers for your brands good customers when they are purchasing on Prime Day? Have you found any sort of data that tends you to believe that they're not the best customer for you or they might actually be phenomenal customers for you?
Abe Chomali: Well, I definitely haven't seen anything that would suggest that they're not good customers. Returns aren't any higher for that day, and typically whenever you're trying to, if you are pushing the biggest, biggest discounts, you're doing it for one of two reasons. You're doing it either to move a lot of goods because you're heavy on product, or you're doing it to build your brand. And if you're doing it to build your brand and get your product into as many hands as possible so they can get familiar with you, those tend to be good shoppers. They'll get your product, they will love your offer, they'll love your packaging ideally. And then if your products are outstanding, they will remember you when they need something related to it. So yeah, I don't see any drawbacks to the people that are shopping. They're not like Black Friday shoppers. They're not people who are standing in line to clobber someone else for a$ 97 TV. No, those people, I don't necessarily want them as part of my brand. They're not part of most people's avatar, but yes, the people that are shopping on Amazon, they are good shoppers. Amazon shoppers tend to come back to you when you offer them something amazing and whatever you can do to increase your loyal buyer base, you should be doing it, including Prime Day.
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. So people who are watching this either on LinkedIn, YouTube or Facebook, or they're listening to this on the podcast on all of our podcasts channels, Prime Day has been synonymous with the summer. What's kind of next after Prime Day as we continue to through the rest of 2021? Is it focused on Q4 instantaneously once these two days hit or what's kind of the next focus in terms of you as a strategist for your brands moving forward?
Abe Chomali: So yes, you basically always are looking to what's next. So the first thing you want to do is to try and get as many reviews as possible for the sales that you've made. So you ideally should have a good funnel in place for generating reviews. Of course, within TOS. You don't want to be doing anything outside of Amazon's regulations, but you typically want to turn those sales and get the benefit of getting the reviews and ratings out of those. After that, you want to take a minute and say, okay, here's what we sold over Prime Day. Where are we at right now with our inventory levels? How do we feel about the costs that we invested to get those sales? And you start to plan for the next events. Typically, the next event is going to be the beginning of Q4, unless you're in a back to school category, then you've got back to school coming right afterwards. You're immediately in a frenzy zone because you've got to get those goods in. People are going back to school in like a month, so they're already starting to plan. But yeah, the cycle of business is that you've got a calendar and that calendar is event based. And as soon as one event ends, you're already looking at the next event. And sometimes when those events are close to each other, you're already planning from before the last event ended. So I know that with my jewelry clients, they were already making a Valentine's day planning from the middle of December, because you almost immediately have to get stuff in place as soon as Christmas is over. So you better have it ready instead of starting to think about it from back then.
Ryan Cramer: So with that being said, is it more difficult now for inventory with the limits that Amazon almost out of nowhere restricted on brands, such as like the top 50, all the way down to just sellers starting out? How are you even trying to take that into account with your planning for the next couple of months, if not quarters?
Abe Chomali: So the way that I look at it is we've got two separate issues. Issue number one is planning to have enough inventory for all of your potential sales. That's it. That is its own factor. The other thing you need to plan is how to get the goods to be available for shoppers. Now, I'm saying that because it does not automatically mean sending it into Amazon anymore. Right now, the ability to get goods to shoppers is going to be a combination of fulfilled by Amazon and fulfilled by merchant. It simply has to be part of your plan and especially getting close to Christmas time. I know we're talking about something that's five or six months away, but there was a reality that even last Christmas, fulfilled by merchant offers got priority over fulfilled by Amazon competitors. Not even within the same listing page, but even when two products were competing with each other for a search term, a lot of times the fulfilled by merchant listing got preferential positioning. So you want to be able to fulfill by merchant and you need to get those systems in place now. Either hire people or buy some machinery or get a bigger space to be able to fill those orders or do the investigation and find a third- party warehouse that will be able to take care of this for you, but be ready and expect to ship those goods yourself at some point. Now, if you can get that system in place, all of the sales that are available for your keywords and all of the sales that are available for your category will be possible for you to make and you shouldn't be planning on less goods to sell because you can't fulfill everything.
Ryan Cramer: Do we expect there to be a second Prime Day in 2021?
Abe Chomali: I haven't heard anything about it. There might be people who are more in the know than me, but I haven't heard anything about it and there isn't anything that would lead me to think that. I mean, Amazon still has its regular flow of sales. They haven't done any other Prime Day in the first half of the year despite the off season. I don't think that they're going to turn Prime Day into a quarterly thing. Thinking out of the box, maybe Amazon might try other promotions besides Prime Day. It's really the only sales promotion that they have the entire year so they might try something else, but just calling it Prime Day, I think they want to have it as a cornerstone event.
Ryan Cramer: Sure. You almost-
Abe Chomali: There wasn't any other year in which they had two Prime Days, no matter how big those boosts were.
Ryan Cramer: Right. I guess my point, the reason I bring that up and people have speculated this might be the cases you naturally see just like any other retail business, all right, we did this, but what if we stretched it out to two days or a week or whatever that looks like. In my natural thinking as an entrepreneur, but also as a business person would be, how does Amazon continue to capitalize and how do they grow it? Because there is a keystone event, like you said, it's the Black Friday, it's the Cyber Monday. You want those days to be pristine, but they inevitably become a little bit bigger, a little bit longer. You have employees who don't even go home for Thanksgiving or Black Friday. They're just there constantly for a week on end. But that being said, Amazon hasn't shown their cards and they like to keep it closer in hand. My thought would be maybe something like you had said, either category- wise or something that's a little more specific that you see more promotions around the holidays, but that's on their goods. What are other ways that people are promoting and do you think are standing out on Prime Day? I specifically was reliving a conversation and re- listening to my conversation with Liran Hirschkorn of Incrementum. And he said with Amazon Live, that is something that always stands out to me that I always notice on Prime Days. When you have people like a QVC sort of entity that they're saying, look at this great product with all its features, it opens this way, comes with all these different colors. And it really is prominent on these types of holidays. Do you have other customers who are going to be partaking in these sort of promotions or maybe just in general, what are your thoughts on Amazon Live promotions on specific events like Prime Day?
Abe Chomali: So Amazon Live is great. It's still pretty new. A lot of the influencers haven't really figured out how to take advantage of it yet, but there are sellers that I work with who are in a couple of categories where they've got their own facilities. They actually sell it off of Amazon, they sell on QVC and the people there have been on QVC. So they know about presenting their product. They have studio facilities in place and they've been doing lives, and it has definitely been generating sales. Live specific promotions are great and Live specific cross promotions are great. It doesn't entirely change the picture. It's not going to turn you from a second tier seller into a top tier seller, but it's more of one of the ingredients in the pie. So Prime is important, Google ads are important. They're taking more and more of a space in terms of generating sales. The conversion rates for Google ads with a couple of sellers that I work with who are doing that are pretty nice. People are doing Facebook marketing, but that's been around for quite a while as I understand that it's getting more expensive even. Instagram influencer marketing and Pinterest influencer marketing, that's a whole category of its own. And all of those things are helping to drive sales, all of those are helping to drive rank. PPC is vital. PPC is important, but if it's the only thing you do, you probably will be behind the best sellers in your space. They are doing more. The guys at the top are almost never doing only one thing to drive their sales.
Ryan Cramer: True. How are you incorporating those philosophies into your own campaigns? Are you tapping influencers to say, hey, this is a good time to push, whether it's a specific promotion or a deal or a feature, do you do any of that around an event like Prime Day?
Abe Chomali: The way that I do it is with referrals. So I don't do it myself. PPC is a complex world, to put it mildly. I have people that I work with who are Google ads specialist, and I know a couple of Facebook ads specialists. I know a couple of people who manage their relationships with influencers as needed to help drive those influencer sales and I'm happy to make referrals, and we basically all work together to drive those sales.
Ryan Cramer: It's one big happy family, is what you're trying to say. We're here to help with other people.
Abe Chomali: It's interesting. So on one hand, it's one big happy family. On the other hand, I actually tell people that if someone is claiming to be able to handle every type of marketing, be a little bit suspicious. You'll typically see that the people who are the biggest in any individual space are usually focusing on one type, one channel of marketing. You can't do everything well.
Ryan Cramer: Right. And that's why partnerships are always important to know who does well and not stay in your lane, but you want to go with experts who are just very seasoned in what they do, whether it's PPC, whether it's branding, product listing, whatever that might look like. What are your expectations for, I guess, Prime Day this year? Ultimately, we never asked what your expectations are. Are they going to continue to exceed and break records, are we going to see not as a strong Prime Day maybe that other people have seen in the past? What are your 2021 predictions for sellers?
Abe Chomali: So there's definitely some thinking that goes there. I haven't thought about it. I tend to be sort of reactionary when it comes to a lot of this stuff and just take the flow as it goes, so to speak. Okay. Every time people have said that they're shopper fatigue and every time people have said that people are used to Prime Day and every time people have complained that it's all about Amazon products, they have all been proven wrong and Amazon pulls out all the stops. So based on history and nothing to do with what we see in the news, nothing to do with what we see in recent trends, based on history, I'm going to forecast that Amazon's Prime Day is going to beat every other past Prime Day. They're going to figure out a way to drive sales in ways that we haven't seen before. They're going to take advantage of all of the biggest sellers using additional marketing channels to drive traffic to Amazon and I think it's going to end up being the biggest Prime Day ever. Amazon's not done yet.
Ryan Cramer: Great. That's a good question. And I think that when people keep try to challenge the beast, if you will, or challenged the top dog, there's always new ways that they're innovating and they continue to outperform. I think that we look at it from a different lens, not from the buyer lens, but from the seller lens of, we want things to constantly change in our favor or maybe see things that will maybe back us up in our own philosophies or our own conspiracies, if we will, in that regards. But maybe in that philosophy, Abe, I'm curious, what would you like to be known for at the end of the day as an entrepreneur, a seller or an expert in this space when you walk away eventually or retire, whatever that looks like, what do you want to eventually want to be known for?
Abe Chomali: Oh boy, that's a big one. My legacy, so to speak. Honestly, I would just like to be known as somebody that's helpful. Once I have that settled, I sort of feel like everything else is going to fall into place. All of the things that have to do with business success and marketing success and reputational success, that all comes along with being helpful. And I try to be helpful as much as I can, I try to be creative as much as I can and to try to combine those things to work with people. And yeah, I think that's probably the best thing to answer as far as that.
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. And then finally capping off this episode today, ultimately is Prime Day worth it in your eyes still?
Abe Chomali: Prime Day is definitely worth it. Be careful in evaluating where you are and what you're looking for out of Prime Day and it is absolutely possible to achieve the results you want. Just do things carefully.
Ryan Cramer: That's good stuff. And of course, you're obviously working with people on a day- to- day basis. You want them to be successful, but if they want to learn more about XP Strategy or any other content or just want to talk with you or listen to your advice because you have so much more to offer obviously than the one hour we've been talking here today, of course, where can people connect with you? Where are the best ways to reach out in that regard?
Abe Chomali: All right. So I am on all the different social medias. I'm on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. I think I'm on Pinterest, but I'm definitely on Twitter. You name it, I'm there. The most common ways people get to me are through Facebook or LinkedIn. Although the people that find me a Clubhouse have been reaching out to me through Instagram. So all of them are good and I'm happy to help wherever I can. Whether it's through managing ads or whether it's answering general questions or giving feedback, I'm good with all of it.
Ryan Cramer: Of course. And we put your handle for LinkedIn there below your name as well for the video. And then for the audio listeners, when you listen to this, you can actually click on the links in the related content category under the guest's description. So make sure you check that out as well and look up XP Strategy. So is there a plan for you guys moving forward in 2021? What's kind of the vision to cap off the rest of this year for XP Strategy?
Abe Chomali: The vision is a combination of growth and of improving processes. Amazon is changing like crazy and we are putting systems in place to try and help sellers be more efficient. Thank God it's been a year of growth for the agency and it continues to be, and I look forward to helping more and more sellers all the time.
Ryan Cramer: That's amazing. And you guys are how strong now? How many employees now?
Abe Chomali: I've got a dozen employees besides myself and it's a nice little group of people. We get things done.
Ryan Cramer: That's great. And we'll see you at Prosper. You're going back to events. Is that the plan moving forward for the rest of the year?
Abe Chomali: Oh, very much so. So I'll be at Prosper. I'll be at ASGTG. There's another event that's going to be in New Jersey called the inaudible, I think. I'm not sure how to pronounce it, but it looks good on paper. And yeah, I'm going and I'm happy and I'm looking forward to being part of the real human world again.
Ryan Cramer: Right. I was going to say, if it looks good on paper, that's typically half the battle is to entice people to go there and check it out. That's awesome. So definitely check out Abe and his team. Connect with them on social media, if you haven't already, on LinkedIn, Instagram, which is always delivering delicious treats that he's kicking up every day, but also great content and strategy on Facebook and all the other social media platforms. Clubhouse, always contributing as well. Quickly also, Abe, Clubhouse still very viable, do you think is a growth factor? Is that something that you'll continue to use moving forward, do you think?
Abe Chomali: So I have sort of settled down into a certain way I use it. At first, there was a big frenzy of everybody checking it out. I think that that has passed a little bit and whoever's interested in it has found it and has found a way that they're comfortable using with it. But I don't think it's growing like crazy and I don't think it's taking over the world at this point anymore. There was one point where I thought it was going to be the biggest thing ever and nothing can stand in its way. Now I'm sort of a little bit more muted on it, but I definitely like it. There are ways to interact with people that don't compare to anywhere else. It's dynamic. You have groups of people talking about all kinds of unusual subjects for both better and worse. And yeah, it's a nice little piece of my social media, for sure.
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. I love contributing on there where I can, but ultimately we all have work to do and so it's hard to stay on there as consistent as you might need to in order to drive either followers or see some sort of growth potential. But that being said, it's still a great platform. But I know you're always a great contributor on there, so appreciate it. Check Abe out also on Clubhouse as well, everyone. So thanks so much for hopping on, now a friend of the Crossover Commerce, Abe Chomali of XP Strategy. Thank you so much.
Abe Chomali: I'm honored. Thank you so much, Ryan. I appreciate it.
Ryan Cramer: No problem. Thank you everyone, again, for also tuning in. If you're watching this live on video, or if you're listening to this on all of our audio podcasting entities, wherever we might be located. I think I submitted us in five other locations to be available, Pandora. There's so many radio public, there's all sorts of places where you can consume our content. Always coming out now too, I've actually just updated our new website link so you can check out past episodes that are going to be constantly coming up and updated. You see that we're on episode 117 and only episode 45 I think is available on audio format, but we've partnered with some great people over at Casted. They're going to be helping us grow our content and being able to share transcriptions and blogs and just audio formats that are going to be a little bit more snippets and create takeaways in order to kind of go throughout your day. So make sure you check that out. Go ahead and check out that website link in the show notes below and check out our new website that we're going to be really revamping and really leaning into as well. inaudible audio takeaways, video takeaways, as well as transcriptions blogs coming from us, myself. So make sure that you like those episodes and make sure you bookmark that so when new episodes come out, you will be notified as well on all those audio formats. But as always, this videos are on social media; on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. Make sure you like us on social media. And if you want to interact with me, go ahead and find me. You can just search for Ryan Cramer, and I'll be the guy with the headshot or the microphone talking about Crossover Commerce as always. Thank you so much everyone for hopping on episode 117, is Prime Day worth it still? That's the question we answered today, and hopefully you agree or disagree. If you want to go ahead and submit your comments, we'll check those out. But as always, thanks for tuning in to Crossover Commerce. We'll catch you guys tomorrow. Thanks.
Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Abe Chomali of XP Strategy to discuss if Prime Day is worth it for you.
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