E224: Using Sellics for PPC Management and More with Franz Jordan, Sellics Founder

Sellics is one of the tools that has made a huge impact on my business. Today's podcast guest is Franz Jordan, the founder of Sellics, and we discuss how the software started, how it evolved into the all-in-one Amazon tool it is today, and the features that so many Amazon sellers now can't live without.

Born out of a need

Back in late 2013, there were no tools that helped sellers with their rankings on Amazon. Sellics was created out of that need, and it began its early life primarily as an Amazon SEO tool.

Sellics expanded its feature set as the needs of Amazon sellers grew. Today, it has become an all-in-one tool for Amazon sellers: it has a profit dashboard, it shows you sales and revenue numbers, and it has the most comprehensive PPC tool in the world today.

Session problem or conversion problem?

One of the most useful features of Sellics is the ability to see sales and revenue numbers. As Franz explained it, sales is just traffic multiplied by conversion rate.

If your sales dropped suddenly, you can pinpoint the source of the problem based on the formula above.

If the problem is dropped traffic, your listing is suffering from low visibility. You can remedy this by actions such as being more aggressive with your ad spend.

If you have a conversion rate problem, you can look into things such as your reviews, or if someone may have changed your listing without you knowing it, or if you have a competitor who has suddenly become more aggressive with their campaigns.

Superb PPC manager

The feature that has improved our business significantly is Sellics' PPC manager. It has automations that still keep you in control, using it is not as cumbersome as using Seller Central, it has visualizations that keep track of the changes you make, and it shows you the profitability of your campaigns.

It has literally shaved hundreds of man-hours for our PPC person. Before this tool, she used to spend almost her entire workday on PPC, now, she uses only a couple of hours per month–with no changes to our sales.

I made an episode about our step-by-step PPC strategy which helped us save thousands of dollars a month. You can listen to it here.

Full Audio Transcript

Intro: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 224 of the EcomCrew Podcast. So glad to have you guys along with us today. Got a great episode lined up for today. This is one of these things where you try to get people on the show that you really want to talk to and a piece of software that you've heard me talk about that I use every day like literally every single day. I have a bit of a problem actually if anything, because I probably log into it too much is Sellics. And today I have the owner, the creator of Sellics on the show with us.

Before digging into that, I do want to mention 5 Minute Pitch one more time. I know you guys are probably sick of hearing me talk about it. But I'm gloating with pride with this project and I just want to mention one more time another great comment that came in here. This one was a great episode, very thoughtful and respectful feedback to the contestant which I appreciated. The judges are providing a lot of value added and holding firm on a vision of a product with potential to disrupt the market, which I think will drive success for this show and contestants.

That's awesome to hear someone see what we really wanted to convey, right? We really want to first of all, give value. That's kind of the whole idea here is to help not only the people that are coming on the show, but the people watching it to get in our headspace and understand why we can come up with this stuff so quickly because we've been breathing this stuff day in and day out. Scott Voelker, Steve Chou, Greg Mercer, and myself, we all are Amazon sellers, we’re all e-commerce sellers, we’re all business owners. We've been doing this stuff day in and day out.

And without even realizing it, the stuff becomes second nature and we realize that we're giving back to the community for people that are a generation before us, that they're just getting started or earlier on in their journey and they're learning a lot from this. And it's awesome to see that this stuff is coming through in the comments and we are helping people, which is awesome. So, go over to 5MinutePitch.com/launch to check that out today, again 5MinutePitch.com/launch. And if that wasn't enough, there's $6,000 in giveaways over on that page as well, a chance to win a bunch of really cool stuff over at the number 5MinutePitch.com/launch.

All right, so right after the introduction here, we're going to get into this interview with Franz about Sellics. It was a great interview, which is always interesting to hear how things come to be, the features and the functionalities and how the people that make the software perceived how they're being used, and then how they’re actually were being used in our business in real life, definitely a great interview. If you sell on Amazon at all, I recommend checking out Sellics; just always try to see this type of stuff before an interview.

This was not paid, we reached out to him. We do get some free software now. It's actually something I do want to mention my talk to him about this after the interview; he did offer some free software. So I did want to mention that, but that was certainly not necessary to come do the interview and I appreciate the software, which is cool. It's a perk of doing the EcomCrew Podcast as you get stuff like that. But we aren't affiliates and things of that nature. So go check out Sellics. It is definitely good stuff. We use it in our business every day, and I hope you guys enjoy the interview.

Mike: Hey Franz, welcome to the EcomCrew Podcast.

Franz: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to share the next couple of minutes, 30 minutes or so with you.

Mike: Yeah, for sure. I actually think I'm probably more excited than you are because Sellics, I was telling you right before we started recording here that it's the one piece of software that I log into every single all day. I think I use it more than Facebook and social media in general. Like I'm on my phone using the phone app, and always just kind of looking at what my sales are doing. So it's exciting to have you on here.

Franz: Well, I'm glad to hear this. You know, it's always good to meet customers and talk to customers that use the app and using Sellics for such a long time. I mean, I think when you – do you know when you joined? Was it like 2016 or 2017?

Mike: I think it would have been 2016. I mean, it was pretty early on.

Franz: 2017 wow very early on. So you've seen the changes and the development since then, all right cool.

Mike: I have. Yeah, I mean, it was actually…

Franz: That’s very funny.

Mike: A lot of cool stuff has happened to me. To me, the coolest thing that happened was the PPC automation, which we're definitely going to talk about on the show. But that was something that was just like, okay well, I'm obviously in the beginning with Sellics now because it saves so much time. But I don't want to jump too far ahead. I like starting kind of chronologically. And I'm just curious how this even came to be because I don't know the backstory of how Sellics came to be. I mean, were you a seller, and this is a tool that you made for yourself, or was it just something you saw an opportunity in the marketplace and you went for it?

Franz: Actually not. So it's been a — we saw the opportunity. I mean in fact, we've been pushed on this opportunity in some way because a friend of mine, and that's back in early 2014 late 2013 even, he was selling on Amazon, and so he knew that — so me and my current co-founder Joseph, he's the tech guy, I am the business guy. And so, we had a business before where we were very much focused on web scraping, so extracting data from websites. And so, knowing that we were good at scraping, this friend of mine who was selling on Amazon, he came up to us and basically asked whether we could scrape his rankings and build a ranking tracking tool for him so that he could start doing some optimizations on Amazon.

And so, our first reaction was like, come on man, that there must be some solutions out there, there's no need for us to build yet another solution, the 50th Amazon SEO solution. But the reason reality was that we were typing in Amazon SEO in Google, and we literally got three results. So, it was a time where this entire Amazon SEO industry was not really existing. And so, I think that when we launched Sellics, Sellics was definitely one of the very first tools. I think they were very, very few other tools out there before. I mean, it's always hard to tell exactly, but it felt like we were really very, very much on our own at the very beginning.

Mike: Yeah, now it's a pretty crowded space.

Franz: Now, I mean, I don't know how you see it, but to me it feels like there have been like two waves. So it started like 2015, 2016 was crazy; there were hundreds of softwares popping up everywhere. Then 2017 went down a little bit, so many of those of those tools disappeared again. And so, 2018 was maybe a new rise of kind of the second wave with a lot of PPC tools, in particular, popping out everywhere again. So yeah, that's how I see the industry. I don't know what you observe from your end.

Mike: Yeah, no, I've seen the same thing happen. And I have some inside knowledge just from — not in this particular niche, but I've done software development before. So probably what happened is that people had these bright story ideas of how they were going to create some Amazon tools and SaaS products, and the money would just start falling from the sky, and it would be like, they wouldn't know how to spend it all. And then they realized how freaking hard it is to develop software and gave up because it's not easy.

And the problem, the real problem is that it's never done, there is no finish line when it comes to software. And you're also playing with moving goalposts because you're relying on API's and other interfaces with something like Amazon who can change stuff at a moment's notice. And I'm sure they don't call you and say, hey man, I just want to let you know, two months from now, we're about to make this big change, and you should start preparing for it.

Franz: That is certainly — so on top of all the difficulties that you have in any software business, the reliance and the dependency that we have from Amazon and on Amazon is basically an extra challenge. I must say, though, that Amazon has made some significant investment. So, I think at this point, we have partner managers, and they keep us in the loop and they try to align the roadmap and these kind of things, and the actively ask for feedback. And so, I think Amazon has made some great changes there over the past year, year and a half or so.

But it's true that for the longest time, particularly when we started, it was basically, we were sometimes finding APIs that they were not documented, no, nothing, it was just basically playing around a little bit and trying to understand what the hell this API was doing. So, it was the Wild West for a very long time and I think it's getting a bit more structured now, but still not that easy to build these kinds of softwares.

Mike: Yeah. The thing that I got out of that is immense jealousy, the fact that they actually seem to talk to you. As a multi-million dollar amazon seller, I can't seem to get them to come talk to me. So, you're lucky that you guys won a communication with them?

Franz: Well, I think they rolled out; today they rolled out a service where you can basically pay an account manager or something for you, like a specialist. I heard at least there were betaing this program.

Mike: They do have that and it's $2,500 a month if you’re sub 1 million, it's $3,500 a month, if you're in the range that we are, which is one to 10 million, and if you're 10 million, plus, it's 4,500. And I just, I don't know, like I know some people that have taken advantage of that. And for the most part, most people have ultimately been disappointed over a six month period of time because sometimes it starts out good and kind of erodes. But I don't know, I find it to be like the ultimate slap in the face where it's just like, wait, you want me because we're so successful in your platform, you want me to pay for support. This is like unprecedented in any other industry, or anything else in life.

I mean, if you are someone's best customer, you usually get better treatment not told, well, if you want me to actually help you, you're going to have to pay $50,000 a year for the right to have someone actually help you. I don't know, I just found it to be like the ultimate slap in the face.

Franz: Well, it's certainly yeah; I think that my view on this is that Amazon looks at the market. And so I mean, it's a marketplace, right. So you bring together sellers and then consumers and they think that the end consumer is just so much more valuable part in this equation. And so their logic at least that's my opinion, their logic is that if we bring the end consumer, then sellers are going to come no matter what, no matter how crappy the service, no matter how expensive, no matter how bad the tools and everything, so they focus a lot more on the end consumer side and less on the seller side. Even though again, I would also argue that this has changed a little bit in the past, but I agree that it's very uncommon to spend 4,500 for getting support right now.

Mike: I could tell you that I don't have to pay Sellics for extra support. You guys do a great job with support. When I do have a question, there's an interface right in the software, and you don't pay extra for it. So that's just typically how it works but anyway, enough Amazon bashing really. I do want to talk about Sellics and some of the features there. Maybe just to start out with, if you wanted like in your own words, just talk about what Sellics, how would you define what Sellics is as a platform, and where do you see it going in the future?

Franz: So, I think Sellics has evolved. So, we started in the Amazon SEO space, right. So our first version was really about just your ranking, tracking, and ranking optimization. And so over time, by listening to what our customers want from us, we have evolved into what we call today an all in one software for Amazon sellers. So today, the goal is to provide everything that you need as a seller to manage and grow your business on Amazon. That's what we do today. So, some of the most important features obviously is still SEO is still big, but also the PPC manager that you mentioned before. So, managing, analyzing, and automating your PPC campaigns, then we have the profit dashboard that is used very heavily, so analyzing your exact profitability.

That is certainly a feature that many like, and then it goes all the way to product research and review management and inventory management. And pretty much again, everything that you need as a seller to manage and grow your business on Amazon. So, the only thing that we don't really touches on the taxation side. That's something that we don't feel we’re within the best position to service this, but everything outside of this when it comes to the operational side and the promotional side of your products on Amazon, our goal is to cover this and be the one solution where you log in every morning, you have a dashboard that tells you how you're doing and whether you need to take action.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, that's exactly how I use the software. I mean it's I log in multiple times a day. And I don't do it as much as I used to. When I first started selling on Amazon, I was much more obsessed without checking my stats. So it's usually more once or twice a day now, it's not quite as bad. But I love — I mean obviously, like Amazon, you can log in and check just your sales. But the thing I love about the Sellics dashboard is it shows things on the SKU by SKU basis in a very clear, concise format. So you can see, I sold 12 of this widget, and 50 of that widget. And then you can drill down on an item by item basis and see what's going on there with that.

And then you mentioned SEO and ranking. So I mean, we're obviously constantly looking at that as well. And so, we have a bunch of keywords loaded in there and then we'll log in and drill into individual SKUs and see over time, like in a very visual graphical format, where we rank for particular keywords, and we can see if some of the things that we've done, changes we've made on the platform are helping us in a positive or a negative way with our keyword rankings. And so, just again, I find it to be, like, this indispensable tool in our business at this point when selling on Amazon.

Franz: Yeah, I mean, so our goal is really to — so we want to do two things. So the first thing that we want to do is we want to tell you how you perform, right? So that's the profit dashboard. I made money; I lost money, so how you perform. But then the other side is also why did you perform the way that you performed, because only if you know the why only then you can really take action and change your performance, right? So, if I tell you, you lose money, but you don't understand why you’re losing money, then it's hard to turn it around.

So, we always talk about internal data. That is the data essentially from the center. That is the sales and conversion rate and impressions and all these data points. And then we try to add external data, which is more context information and environmental information, like how many reviews that you receive, how are your competitors doing, how are your rankings changing so that you really have the performance and also the why behind. That is kind of how we look at this to really enable sellers to take precise action and not just be happy, oh, I sold more units today but you don't understand why.

Mike: Got you. Yeah, so I mean, let's talk about that a little bit because we use the profit dashboard as well. There was a couple of breakthroughs that we had as a business as we were looking at that one of which, because it'll show you a percentage of sales that are coming from PPC and the true cost of advertising and all the other costs that go into it, which helped us just replace things better, and also get our advertising costs under control. But maybe there's some things I'm missing. So, what are things that you recommend looking at like on the profit dashboard, and those cause and effect measurables that you were just talking about, what are those things that you can be looking at to make effective change?

Franz: So, on the profit dashboard, it's exactly the things that you pointed out. But so what you can do, you're starting from a profit dashboard. So in the profit dashboard you have a list of all your products, right, and you see exactly the margin per product. And so starting from this point, you can basically click on a product, and it will take you to the product dashboard. And so on the product dashboard, you have this one view, where you basically have your top, you have your sales and revenue numbers, and then right below, you have all the figures are basically impacting your sales and revenue. So, the way I look at it, this is say is essentially the units that you sell is essentially sessions times conversion rates, right?

And so if your sales are going up or down, the first question I always asking myself is, okay, well, is it a conversion rate problem, or is it a session problem? And then depending on what it is, the next step is very different. So if it's a session problems, which means that you're getting less traffic and less customers on your page, then just typically indicates either an issue with your organic rankings, or indicates an issue with your advertising where you just get less visibility. So, it's a problem of generating more traffic. On the other side, if it's a conversion rate problem, that means you still get the same amount of traffic that you used to get before but for some reason, those clients or those visitors are not converting at the same rate than they used to convert before.

And so, there it's getting a bit more complex, because it's quite difficult to always pinpoint what's driving conversion rate, but typical things would be you received a negative review, some of your content has been changed by some other people, you have a competitor that’s bidding very aggressively on your product, and now is showing very prominently in the sponsored section on the product detail page. So then there are multiple reasons of why conversion rate is dropping. But I think in terms of methodology, I think you start at the top, you say, well okay, units equals sessions time conversion rate, and then you try to break it down to really get to the level.

And so this view of this product dashboard really allows you to see all those metrics. So you can see sessions, you can see conversion rates, you can see the rankings, you can see the price, you can see the reviews, you can see BSR and all those metrics right next to each other, so that you can exactly understand, okay, what is driving my performance today?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, it definitely makes a lot of sense. And I'm going to use an example here I just picked up while you were talking the last 30 days of a particular, I just picked a random SKU here, just to let the audience know some of stuff that you can get from this, which has been incredibly helpful for us. So this SKU, we've sold $23,032 gross sales. And so, you can look at, within Sellics the breakdown of where the sales are coming from. So, $293 of it was from shipping income, $2,134 of it are from PPC sponsored product sales. So that's 9% of our sales for this SKU are coming through PPC, which I find that piece of data…

Franz: It’s pretty good.

Mike: Yeah, this happens to be low. I didn't try to pick this product but I guess I kind of take because it's lower than lower than normal for sure. But I can see that, and there's other products I'll see that have a very high percentage. And we realize that we're not ranking organically and we're having problems there. And it also will show headline search ads as well. This particular product has zero. I'm not sure why it's not showing up in headline search. It might be the fact that we don't have free products to actually put together a headline search ad. And then the organic sales are 89% or $20,604. But the other part that I love is you can also go in here and look at the costs.

So it will show you in this particular case we had $14,095 in cost, so the FBA fees are 14% of that, the Amazon fees, which makes sense are 15%, but we can look at also PPC costs, which was 2% of our overall costs. And again, that's low, I realized that this one is low, that's not typical, I just picked — we're on the phone here so I just quickly picked the first thing that was at the top of this list. But promo value, shipping costs, actual cost of goods, because you can load in what you're paying for these goods and then it shows you like a true profit number. It's like a modified gross profit number or a clause a net profit number, depending on which like angle you want to look at it from.

But I can look at this SKU and say, okay well, I made at $8,937 in the last 30 days off of this SKU, our profit margin is 39%, we can start targeting these levels. I looked at all of our products and just start realizing things are above the median bar and, things are below the median bar and things I could do to effect change on things that were underperforming mostly which was like lowering PPC, bidding, and raising our price because at the end of the day, there just wasn't enough margin there. And so, I just didn't have a really good feel for this until then. And there was even a couple of things that we were actually losing money on. Like, this is stuff that people don't ever admit or talk about. But this is what happens in business.

And we like to be honest about stuff on this podcast. But man, I tell you, it was super helpful going into te profit dashboard and sorting by, like I did like trailing 30 days. And then I sorted by — you can sort by margin but I sorted by profit, just the number just to see the sheer number. But I did it upside down. So the smallest number was at the top and revealed things that we were losing money on. I was like, holy crap; we're actually losing money selling these products on Amazon. And like, that doesn't make any sense. That's not what we're in business for. And it uncovered that, and it happens so easily because you're rushing from day to day to do a bunch of different things, and you see the sales of a particular product, but don't really understand what you might be spending on advertising or other costs that go into this.

And there were several products that we were actually upside down on, and actually doing it right now, there's still a couple here that they're newer products, we expect these to be here. But these are things I think that are just big leaks in people's business, at least it was in our business, maybe people out there are smarter than I am and I'm just the only challenged person in the room. But I definitely thought it was interesting that I saw that.

Franz: So, one of the things that we get on a quite regular basis is actually, people reach out through our support and they complain about the bug in the profit dashboard showing negative profits. And so, then we look into this and say, unfortunately, it's not a bug, it's really, you're losing money. And so the two main reasons for this typically, either the price is way too low, or ad spend is way too high. So, that's what we see most often. In some cases, like you mentioned, when it's a new product, what we see is that you lose money because the advertising, specifically the coupon site, because you see that if you do some promos, you see the promo value that you hand out essentially in Sellics as well.

And so, the promo value, if you use coupons to launch a product, the promo value, sometimes is eating up your entire margin and a lot more, which you kind of expect when you launch a product. So that's fine in most cases. But if you've been selling a product for two years at the same prize, and you run the same campaigns, and then you login to Sellics and you see that you've been losing money with every box that you send out, you basically, you didn't just box the product, but you put an extra $5 and so on in this box as well, and shifted out to the customer, that is, it's quite revealing. And some users are quite upset about those findings at the beginning, eventually, they're happy to find it out now, because every day and every shipment, and you wait, and you find out later, it's basically an extra loss.

So, I think this is extremely important. And so we have more updates coming to the product dashboard, essentially. So yeah, we will allow you to — I think the most meaningful changes that we will allow you to actually add additional costs. So currently, you can upload your cost of goods, but the reality is that you as a business, you also have other costs, right, except for cost of goods. You might have personnel expenses or rent or some software that you use or whatever it is, and so, you will be able to upload not just the cost of goods, but also those extra costs. And those common costs essentially, are general expenses and then you will be able to attribute those expenses to the individual products and so on so that you basically don't just see the variable costs of selling on Amazon, but also the fixed costs that you have as a seller.

Mike: Yeah, that's awesome, definitely looking forward to having that come out because I'm sure that'll be even more eye opening. I mean, these are things I think that we have pretty under control now, we’ve been studying this stuff in our business but I mean the overhead is a definite factor and if you have a warehouse, employees like you said, software like Sellics or Skubana, which we also use, or Klaviyo, all these different SaaS tools they add up and insurance. And like I said, there's just a ton of other expenses that people just often not thinking about that go into the business.

Franz: What are the other channels that you're setting up? Because Skubana, I assume is for multi-channel, right?

Mike: Yeah, so we sell on Shopify, and also eBay, Etsy, we were doing some stuff on Walmart, but we stopped doing it because we do all of our fulfillment through Amazon and Walmart wouldn't allow Amazon fulfillment anymore, but yeah, we do some multi-channel stuff.

Franz: Cool. All right, that's exciting. And so, do you see Amazon share growing in the revenue or is it pretty stable or even going down?

Mike: So Amazon share has been growing quicker than our other channels, which is really frustrating for me because I don't like having all my eggs in one basket, So, it's like it's starting to feel a little bit just too lopsided towards Amazon. But no matter how hard I try, it just seems like Amazon continues to grow faster. We put all this effort into trying to get non Amazon sales and the sales just end up on Amazon anyway. A lot of the things that we do have a halo effect on Amazon now and part of it is our fault for allowing it to get that big because we pushed a lot of our initial sales, at least to Amazon to try to get products to rank and stuff like that. So, I know it just depends on what day you catch me on, like how happy I am about the situation. But it's definitely, Amazon has continued to grow quicker for us than been off Amazon.

Franz: Yeah, certainly. I was just doing some research about the market share. And so in the US, Amazon and e-commerce is 49% market share. That's up from 43% last year. So they grew by 6% market share over 2018. The second biggest platform is eBay and they have something like 6.8% market share. So they basically grew by the market share, the second biggest player.

Mike: Yeah, that's crazy.

Franz: It is crazy.

Mike: Yeah, no, it's definitely comic knots. And we're surfing on the wave as long as we can. That's kind of how I feel about it. I know everything changes and who knows what the future is going to be. But it's been a great ride so far. I mean, at the end of the day, as I have had a lot of frustrations with Amazon and we've talked about a lot of them on the podcast. But at the end of the day, it's still the easiest freaking platform to so on. I mean, like when we sell something off Amazon, it's more work, it costs us more money, there's more stuff in our ecosystem have to worry about like in our head space.

So, I mean, like I said, at the end of the day, Amazon just, it is a great place for sellers like us, there's a lot of — the problem what ends up happening, and we don't need to get like too down this rabbit hole in this podcast. But whenever there's a lot of money to be made, and people are, this gold rush effect, bad things percolate out of that. I mean, just like any other time in history, whenever there's a great opportunity like there is on Amazon right now, it brings a certain element of people that are just in it for the money or they're willing to sell for less and do a race to the bottom, or they're willing to do unscrupulous things like negative review bombs, or fake product returns, and all kinds of — I mean the dirty stuff I've seen happen over the last like 18 months has grown by way more than 6%, that's for sure because a lot of people are jumping on that stuff.

But we just keep our head down and hope that we don't get in the crossfire that much, and hope that also that Amazon's working on solutions to fix this because it's in their best interest.

Franz: And so I think that's the good news. So I was talking to Amazon, so part of the — I think we're quite happy that and quite fortunate that by now, we do have a more readily exchange with Amazon. And so, one of the things that we try to get across is, what are the interests of the seller community? And so, we try to highlight developments to Amazon, where we think that this is not in the interest of good intending sellers. And so, one of the things that we talked — and so, I met with Amazon I think two weeks ago or so. And so, I was telling them about a lot of those tricks that are happening now with particularly around reviews.

So, in the past year, you used to create fake reviews for your own products. Now, you create fake reviews for your competitors’ products that Amazon finds out about it and you get blocked for creating fake reviews that you didn't order obviously. And so, it was very good for me to see that Amazon definitely is aware of all those things happening. So, I think it would be a mistake to assume that Amazon is not knowing about the things that are going on. And so, they are working on solutions. It's kind of this cat and mouse game. I don't know if you say it in English, but in German at least you have a cat and mouse game.

Mike: That's exactly how it translates. It's funny that that's in German.

Franz: So it's this cat and mouse situation where you basically, Amazon closes something, and then there's a new thing coming up again. And so it's always going back and forth. And so I think, the best thing probably you can do as a seller is to just stay nimble and basically, don't assume that whatever you do today will be the same success factor five years from now. So, it might change. And so, I give this advice to the sellers and in fact, that's one of the big things that we try to do at Sellics as well, because just the same way that sellers are dependent on Amazon, we’re also dependent on Amazon.

And so, we try to have the same philosophy that we don't know what's going to happen with Amazon and their API's and so on. And so, we try to stay flexible and constantly innovate and be prepared for changes, right. I think that's an important mindset to have when you sell on Amazon.

Mike: Yeah, and really anything, right? I mean anything in life, things are always — the only thing constant is change.

Franz: Well said. By the way, that translates directly into German as well.

Mike: Perfect. So we're getting close to running out of time here and I want to be respectful of your time. The one thing we didn't get a chance to talk about yet is actually my favorite feature, which is the PPC manager. So, I'm going to let you talk about a little because it's your baby and I'll probably get too long winded. So, just tell everybody a little bit about the PPC manager and why it is so freaking awesome.

Franz: Well, I think there are a ton of things that makes it pretty awesome. So, generally speaking the PPC manager is the feature in Sellics that allows you to manage, analyze, and automate your sponsored products, and also sponsored brand campaigns on Amazon. And so, I think the three main reasons why — the top three selling points I'd say for the PPC management, first of all, you have a lot of the workflows that you need to do to manage your campaigns are a lot easier to do with Sellics. So, a typical workflow is you have an auto campaign, and on a regular basis, you will copy or transfer those best performing search terms from the auto campaign into a manual campaign, right? That's something that many, many sellers and advertisers do.

And so while in Seller Central this is quite cumbersome way to make exports, and filter in Excel, and so on, and then upload again, in Sellics basically, you just pick on a campaign, you filter for your best performing search term, you select all of them, and then you just have a button that says, transfer to other campaign. And so, by essentially just one click, you can transfer keywords from one campaign, generic campaign. While you do this, you can also pause them in your source campaign if you follow this strategy, right. And so, there are many of those things that are quite painful if you do it through Seller Central, you automate workflows that are you a lot easier, and basically, the workflows are designed right in Sellics setting. So that's the first thing.

The second thing is, and I think that's something that gets many people excited is the automation that we offer in Sellics. So the way I look at it is that basically, when you manage sponsored product campaigns on Amazon, it's basically you're constantly repeating the same steps over and over again. So, at the beginning, you sit down, and you define your strategy, but then executing the strategy is basically the same thing over and over again. And so, our thinking was that, well, why should a seller waste his or her time constantly doing the same thing over and over again if you can just automate this.

And so, what you can do in Sellics is, you can set up rules that will manage your campaigns following those rules that you define. So, a typical rule will be if the ACOS is too high, then I want to lower my bid by 20% or so, right. So, if the ACOS is above 20%, I want to lower my bid by 10%, or something like this, right. And so, this just takes away all the manual work, and all the time that you need to — otherwise, you would need to log in every day, or every second day, and manage your campaigns and then do all of this and that's very time consuming. And so you can reduce all this time that you need to manage your campaigns while and this is very important, while Sellics is staying in control of what is going on, right.

So that's important, it's not a black box in Sellics where you press a button and we automate your campaigns for you, but you have no idea what the hell is going on, but it's quite the opposite. So, the way that we look at this is like you build your own algorithm by using and building those rules. And then the third thing I believe that is very, very relevant, and extremely helpful to sellers is that we have this visualization where we show you all the changes that happened, and again, how this affected your performance.

So, what happens if you run campaigns, and particularly, if you have hundreds of campaigns and so you make so many changes, you add keywords, you pause keywords, change bids, create campaigns, all these kind of things. And so, you do so many of those things every day that basically you have no idea of what you did  three days ago, because there's just so much going on. And again, the same idea of we want to show you how you perform, but also why you perform the way you perform. We track all those changes automatically for you and we display them in a very easily and intuitive graphical way so that you can see what changes were made and then what impact it has again on your performance.

And the reality is only by doing this, only by looking at what you did and how it impacted your performance, only this way you will really be able to learn and understand what's actually working when it comes to sponsored products and what is not working. So, I'd say that those are the three main aspects. I don't know, well maybe a fourth one, let me just add a fourth one. So we have an integration of the PPC manager with the profit dashboard so that you can actually see my profitability per campaign. So most people always look at ACOS but ACOS is not really telling you a lot.

So, it's really how much actual profit are you making taking into account not just the advertising spend but also shipping costs and FBA fees and advertising commissions but also cost of goods, right. And so as we have all this data and the profit dashboard, we can also display you this data per campaign and per keyword in fact, right. So you see exactly how much money you make or you lose per keyword. So that's the bonus number four.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, well said. I mean, definitely could have said that one myself, but I will tell you that the before and after of before Sellics came out with all those features you just mentioned and what the net result for us has been his number one, we had a person that was their full time job or very close to that, they were spending about 85% of their time doing PPC. We have hundreds of products so we're more advanced seller. I realize that not everyone has this many products and it takes up this much time. But it was basically a full time job for her to just be on top of PPC, finding those keywords that you're mentioning, extracting them from automatic campaigns, putting them in manual campaigns, and then bidding up and down.

And she did as good of a job as she possibly could with the situation, which is that it's kind of was basically impossible to really keep track of all the changes that you made, and not just start second guessing yourself like, did I raise this thing too much or lower too much, or didn't I just lower this, now I'm raising it and you're just kind of like all over the place. It was getting to the point where it was difficult. And even though she was doing it almost full time, still, again, couldn't really quite get as good of results as we wanted.

And you over the proceeding few months after Sellics came out without a bidding feature and we started implementing this stuff, she now spends a couple hours a month looking into it, because it's almost all automated, and our ACOS has dropped from 30ish down the like 23, which has added immense profitability to our business. We've saved five figures a month, literally five figures a month on waste of PPC spend is now out the door and it's added tremendous value to our business. And it didn't affect our sales at all. Our sales didn't drop at all, it was just basic wasted spend. We were just over bidding on too much stuff.

So, the net result for us has been awesome. And yeah, I mean, I definitely want to thank you for coming on and talking about Sellics today. And I wanted to ask some of the future stuff that Sellics is coming out with, but we kind of ran out of time. So, somehow we just have to have you back on and talk about some of the new features and things that you guys are working on, because I'd love to hear about it. But I do have one personal question I want to ask real quick.

Franz: Sure.

Mike: I've been wondering about what the software that I miss dearly, which is, it used to report conversion rates on the product like cockpit view of the product ranking. Is that is that something that you think is going to come back? Because I guess I just assumed it was like an API thing that Amazon changed and got rid of that information and I'm hoping that something like that will come back someday.

Franz: So the way that we got this data point is by basically scraping Seller Central, right. And so yeah, there are various things, were various changes that basically made this close to impossible. And so, I think I would assume that this feature will maybe possibly come back, but then in a different way. So in a way that Amazon is actually providing a real API for it. But I get that this is very relevant feature, it's being asked a lot. And trust me; I'm probably one of the biggest advocates for this feature. So yeah, we've been thinking about different ways to get it. But at this point, I cannot give you any data. So I think it's very much dependent on can we actually convince Amazon to share this data, because this data is actually so valuable for sellers that it simplifies your setting activities dramatically. And so I hope that we can convince Amazon.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, for us, it was probably one of the most – it was the most relevant data point for us that we would look. And now we have to go back in Seller Central and try to find this, and it's not plotted out in that visual way and it's not easy. But what we found is that by getting your conversion rate up, that was the most effective way to boost your organic rankings. So we were spending time on split testing and trying things and seeing if it can move the needle from a conversion rate perspective. But now, it's a lot harder for us to get that data than it was before. So that's why I wanted to ask.

Franz: Well, yeah, and I'm very glad you asked because it's always important to know that one of the values that we have in Sellics is listen to the customer, right. And so, it's always important to get this kind of feedback. And so, we keep track of all the requests that we have. And so, I'm just going to add an extra request to this feature. And I definitely, I am 100% on your side here; I think there is tremendous value. And so, yes, so, what I'm wondering a little bit is if you have a 2016 account because it's running for some of the old accounts still. So, if you have a 2016 account, I will look at your site, I’ll see if there's anything we can make happen, at least for you. I'm hoping that we would like to have a solution for the entire customer base that we serve, but maybe there's something we do for you.

Mike: I'm an only child, I only care about myself. I'm kidding obviously but yeah, I mean, I love that feature. That'll be cool.

Franz: I'd be wondering why you did the podcast if you just…

Mike: Oh man, well again, thank you so much Franz for coming on today. It's been awesome talking to you, hopefully our paths will cross in person someday at one of these events or when you're — I know you're coming to the states, but I'm not going to be where you're going to be right now but hopefully one day we’ll…

Franz: I’ll be at the Prosper show actually. I don't know if you plan to go to a Prosper show?

Mike: I just had someone else asking me about that. I made a commitment starting last year to only go to events that I speak at because I did seven last year and that's like way more than enough. I'd love to go to Prosper but if they don’t invite me to speak, I’m going to just stick with the ones I'm speaking at.

Franz: Yeah that makes sense. I mean it's a great event though, but I mean I get it, events are very time consuming and so I guess that seven events is definitely too much. But well, I'm pretty sure we got to meet that at some point. So thanks for having me on the show. I really appreciate it and thanks for having me.

Mike: Thank you as well.

And that's a wrap folks. Hope you guys enjoyed this episode of the EcomCrew Podcast. You can go to EcomCrew.com/224 to get to the show notes for this episode. If you have a newer or intermediary e-commerce business, you're just kind of getting started especially if you're looking to import from China or you're looking to build a seven figure brand, launch products on Amazon, those are the free courses that we offer guys, free courses, 100% free, no credit card, no commitment of any kind, EcomCrew.com/free to go check that out.

All right, everyone, that's going to do it for this week's episode. I want to thank everyone for your support as always of the EcomCrew Podcast. I don't say this often, but if you do have a chance, go over to iTunes and leave a review. It is quite helpful and we really appreciate it. And until the next episode, happy selling and we'll talk to you soon.

Michael Jackness

Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.

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