We use today’s episode as a chance to thank all the listeners and reviewers who have left their feedback for us. We appreciate the comments and questions you guys leave for us. Speaking of questions we answer a 3 part question from one of our listeners, Colin.

Colin left a 3 part question that we have dedicated today’s episode to. He asked us “what we could recommend for promotional material in a product’s packaging?” “what do we think about seasonable products?” and “how do you plan for holiday inventory?”

We answer all three of these questions and share our thoughts on the subject.

Some of the things we covered today are:

  • When to pay the fee for non branded Amazon boxes
  • How to promote your site without violating Amazon’s agreement
  • The pros and cons of seasonal items
  • The challenges of inventory during the holiday season

 

 

If you have any questions or anything you’d like us to discuss on the podcast please go to ecomcrew.com and fill out the contact form. Also we would really appreciate if you would leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Full Audio Transcript

Mike:   Hi, this is Mike.

Grant:  And this is Grant.

Mike:   And welcome to this week’s edition of the EcomCrew podcast.  This week we are going to be doing a listener question that came in and actually turn that into an entire episode for the podcast.  It was kind of a multi-part question.  Reminded me of Back to School, the old Rodney Dangerfield movie.  Teacher’s like, “I only have one question for you,” and he just like gets all excited and it’s like 27 parts and he’s like, “Oh my gosh.”  But it’s actually a pretty cool question, something that I think would make a pretty good episode for a podcast anyway that we might’ve done at some other time, so hopefully it’ll help him out and it’ll hopefully make a good episode for all of our fans here.

So before we get started this week, I just wanted to mention the promo that Grant and I are running for the free hour of consulting.  If you leave a comment on this post, tell us why you would like to have a free hour of consulting, we will put you in the drawing.  We’ll be doing that sometime later this month in April and announce the winner and the only caveat is that we ask to be able to record the hour of consulting we do with you but you can ask anything you like and we’ll do our best to help you out and potentially turn our reporting into a podcast or use that for some other soundbite or maybe we won’t use it all, but we just want the opportunity to do that.

And also before we get started this week we wanted to take an opportunity to just thank a few people who have taken the time to leave reviews for us in iTunes.  We’re just going to read a couple here that came in over the last month and, Grant, you want to kick it off and read a review here?

Grant:  Yeah, so we’ve got Wilt on Tilt.  I love that name just from the poker background.  And Wilt says, “I’ve been following Mike for a while now from his blog and other pursuits and I think he and Grant can do a great job talking about ecommerce.  It’s one of my top choices each week.  Thanks and keep up the good work.”  And then –

Mike:   Cool.  Thanks, Wilt.  Obviously it must be someone that does have a poker background because of the tilt thing there, and he’s been following me for some reason.  I feel like I have a stalker or something but yeah, thanks for the review there, Wilt.

Grant:  Okay.  And next we’ve got Bradley C. and Bradley says, “Fantastic podcast with actionable advice.  These guys clearly know what they’re talking about and given their track record of success.  Not to mention they’re both all-around good guys.”  Hey, thanks, Bradley.  Hard to find that in the business world and I –

Mike:   Bradley obviously hasn’t met us in person yet.

Grant:  Apparently not.  We kick your golf balls away from the tee when you’re not looking.  That’s the kind of guys we are.

Grant:  Yeah.  And lastly, we have Haden Weeds, and Haden says, “These guys have had the experience to back up every single thing they say and it’s wonderful and refreshing to hear.  They know what they’re talking about and are able to share their knowledge in an easy-to-digest way.  10 out of 10 and five stars.”  So thank you, Haden.

Mike:   Yeah, thanks, guys.  Definitely appreciate the reviews.  I mean these reviews help up rank a little bit higher in iTunes and get us out there for all the people that don’t know about us yet, so definitely appreciate the time to go over there.  really definitely appreciate that.

And I think this is the first listener question podcast we’ve done in a couple of months.  We get some questions that come in now and then.  We either just respond to them in email or don’t get a chance to answer all that we get obviously but the few that come in even with the few listeners that we do have, including my mom and I think Grant’s sister or something maybe, but –

Grant:  I’m pretty sure my dog listens here and there.

Mike:   The dog.  Yeah, that’s probably about it.  But I mean we get some good questions and this one I think would be a good, solid podcast.  You know, sometimes it’s kind of hard to fit these in if we’re talking long-winded about some other stuff, but I think this is a good half hour chunk here.  It’s in three parts.  Let me read part one here.  This is Colin, by the way.  So thank you, Colin, for sending this in to us.  And you can just email us at [email protected]  It’s actually our email address that we’re using for this right now.  Tactical’s one of our domain names that we’re going to be developing into an ecommerce site at some point and we just haven’t gotten around to making EcomCrew email addresses yet, but thanks again to Colin for sending this in.

So part one here is, “So I have a product I’m in the process of making, boxing, branding.  I’m also going to send it to Amazon FBA to test the market.  What can I include inside my product’s packaging in terms of marketing materials?  I think you mentioned that you cannot send coupons.”  Grant, do you want to take this first part and I’ll add any other thoughts I might have?

Grant:  Sure.  So I think the boxing and the branding is fantastic, especially if it’s going to go on Amazon.  And not a lot of people know this about Amazon, but I would say 70% to 80%, I believe, of the distribution centers, the DCs, actually carry non-branded boxes.  The rest of them, you end up getting your product shipped out in an Amazon box, which is great for Amazon because they get to put their logo on your box.  And you actually have to pay $1 for it not to have the Amazon logo and I actually do that.  Do you do that too, Mike?

Mike:   I do, yeah.  For anything that we send out multi-channel, we send out in an unbranded box.  But I think what Colin was asking here is actually say I’m in the process of making and boxing and branding.  I think he’s talking about like for his actual product and what he can put inside the package for marketing materials.

Grant:  Yeah, so I was going to talk about that too.  So he’s got his own box, right?  And he’s really trying to solidify his brand and Amazon has such a strong brand that like you might as well try to put your own brand inside the Amazon box no matter what.  And my assumption is that at some point he’s going to branch off onto his own, but maybe I’m making that too far of an assumption over here to jump off Amazon.  But I am definitely a big proponent of protecting your brand and we’ve both said on this podcast that trying to make sure that you control your brand is a huge thing.  And, Mike, with ColorIt, you really leveraged Amazon to help launch your brand, right?  I mean that’s essentially, in a way, what Colin is asking here I believe.

Mike:   Yeah, we used Amazon to bootstrap our brand and get it running.  Obviously, it’s hard to kind of, in one sentence, know exactly what he’s asking here but I think – because he says he’s going to send to Amazon to test the market so he’s obviously going to be selling the product on FBA, he’s wondering what he can put inside the package in terms of marketing materials as far as a coupon and discounts or other things to get them back to his site eventually so it is kind of chicken before the egg.  I’m not sure if he’s planning on launching his site first or what he’s planning on doing there specifically but I think he’s asking about like the box that he uses to market, not the box that Amazon sends it out and repackages and does the shipping part but I think the actual package for his product.

Grant:  Right.  So with the marketing materials, as far as I know, if you’ve got your own box and you put anything in the box, Amazon can’t really open up that box and figure out what’s in there.  And maybe I’m wrong, but if I have a box that’s branded CuttingBoard.com on that side, there’s nothing wrong about that and I can put just about anything I want in there.  I think the only thing that you can’t really do is violate Amazon’s terms of service in terms of saying, “Hey, leave a review.  I’ll give you XYZ,” type of deal.  I’m actually not totally familiar with exactly what you can’t do.  I’m sure there are rules, but as far as coupons to your own website go, I don’t see how they can prevent you from doing that.  I don’t know.  What do you think, Mike?

Mike:   Yeah, it’s definitely a gray area because I mean 100%, it’s definitely expressly against Amazon’s terms of service.  I’ve actually looked into this, read some threads on the CF forms about it and so I’m a little bit more up to date on it and it’s something that we were doing, quite frankly, in the beginning because I didn’t know any better, and luckily we’ve had all of that stuff sell through now so we don’t have any products that are in Amazon right now that violate that.  But as Grant said, like how the heck are they possibly going to know?  But I always err on the side of caution with Amazon.  I don’t want a situation where a customer returns something and like leaves that in the box, Amazon opens it up and repackages it or something and then sees that and that’s what trips it off.

We’ve actually done a promotion now where in every package that we send out for ColorIt, we have a URL that I don’t want to give out because it’s for customers only.  So we have a URL that comes in our package that is a bonus for 10 drawings.  So if you do buy one of our products, you can see that inside all of our products and I’ll have this insert.  And that’s not against Amazon’s terms of service.  So you can do things like warranty information, you can do things like assembly instructions or more information about this product, like use instructions or how to get the most out of this product and also include something like a bonus like what we’re doing.  But what you’re not allowed to do is try to get them offsite to purchase.  You aren’t allowed to say, “Come to our site and buy one, get one free,” or –

Grant:  Right.

Mike:   “Here’s 10% off your next order at ColorIt.com.”  That’s expressly against the terms and I’m sure you’ve bought stuff off Amazon, Grant, that has had those types of slips in there and so it’s kind of like how are they going to know?  But if you do get caught, it’s a pretty bad slap on the wrist.

Grant:  Right.  And that I can totally see.  I mean it really depends how obvious you are, and like you said, it’s a gray area.  I put, for example, car instructions with every cutting board that I have and they have my name on them, they say CuttingBoard.com, and arguably, you could say, “Well, it’s got your name.”  It is, but that’s also my brand and I don’t know if I’d call it a secret but that’s a little bit of our angle, that our brand is our .com. so it’s really hard to differentiate the two.  But with ColorIt, I’m pretty sure you just say “ColorIt” as you brand, right?  Not “ColorIt.com.”

Mike:   We have both in the box.  I mean the brand itself is ColorIt but on every box it has our URL, which is not against any TOS.  I mean we basically design a box and a package and inserts and everything as if you were selling it anywhere, including a brick and mortar store.  So legitimately, if we were putting these products on the shelves at Barnes and Noble or Walmart or whatever it might be, we package it the exact same way that we would if it were there.  And I think if you take that approach, you’re probably going to be okay.  You don’t really see a lot of coupons on the stuff on the shelf that you buy at Walmart to go back to people’s site and get it at a discount, but you might see assembly instructions or care instructions and stuff like that so I think Amazon’s basically the same as any of these BAM stores.

Grant:  Yeah, and that’s fair.

Mike:   One more thing on the packaging, and I don’t know, Colin, if you were asking this specifically or not but I’m going to just mention it since we’re talking about it since you’re in the process of making and boxing and branding.  We put a lot of effort into our packaging to the point where, in some cases, we’re spending more money on the package than the actual item.  And I read a survey or study that someone did, and it’s been a while now, it was either through a mastermind or a forum, where a guy was doing an experiment with the same exact product.  He’s a white label seller that was taking the same exact product and sent one of them out in a poly bag under one brand and then another one of the same exact thing in a nice box through a different brand and it was the difference between a five-star review product and a three-and-a-half-star review product just from the package.

So if you look at pictures of our pencil packaging for instance, or even just our books themselves or anything that we’re doing nowadays – like we just got a bunch of new IceWraps fitness products that are coming in that actually just cleared customs today.  That was a pretty fun email to get.  Pretty excited.  But we’ve spent a lot of work on packaging.  On our pencils, we use a really thick magnetic box.  We pack inside that box.  So first off, we use full color artwork on the outside of the box.  It looks really pretty.  And then the pencil case goes inside the box wrapped in tissue paper and then we use an insert – we’re talking about inserts right now.  So our insert goes on top of that and on the insert, we have a one-side chart where you can test your pencils out like with circles on the back on it where you can color and just see what the color’s going to look like before you use it in a book, and then the other side’s basically, “Thank you for purchasing this colored pencil set and if you go to this URL, we’ll give you 10 bonus drawings just for purchasing and thank you so much for being a ColorIt customer.”  And then we obviously wrap the whole thing in shrink wrap and the presentation’s amazing.  And I know what we’re doing is working because as a part of our comments and emails and review and everything that we get, people specifically mention the packaging and how wowed they are with our packaging so I think it goes a long way to getting you a higher rating.

Grant:  Yeah, and I’m completely in agreement with that.  It really depends on your price point on how crazy you want to go, and to an extent, of course, the product.  For example, with cutting board oil, I’m just not going to package it.  There’s just no point.  Funny enough though, I actually did have somebody say, “I wish this was packaged so I could give it as a gift.”  But I think that actually illustrates what Mike was saying even better, which is that a lot of people are trying to buy for other people and sometimes what you couldn’t even imagine you would want packaged, some guy wants packaged.  So it really does make a huge amount of difference and I actually have a product that I imported – those t-shirts that I got, which are a very premium, high quality
t-shirt and I’ve actually not put them on Amazon because I just don’t have the packaging right yet and I really want to make sure that the packaging is correct.  I’m getting those shirts for about $6 or $7 I believe and I think I’m going to have to spend about $2 on the box to make it to be what I want it to and that’s going to be domestic.  Unfortunately, I just didn’t have enough volume to get it overseas.

Mike:   Yeah, I mean packaging obviously can be tough but if you’re trying to source it in the U.S., it’s definitely more expensive.  We’ve talked about it in the podcast.  I know Michelle’s found some packaging companies here in the U.S. that are fairly reasonable.  The downside is then you have to package it yourself unless you give it to a service to package for you.

Grant:  Right.

Mike:   That’s kind of the pain in the butt part.  So we try to get all that done overseas if we can, and we’re doing some clothing stuff ourselves.  We’re actually going to be using some like artisan recycled paper boxes that have like a window in them, like a plastic kind of window in the front of it for the baby clothes stuff that we’re doing and kind of fits our theme of it being organic and good for the planet, so the box itself is biodegradable and it looks really nice.  So I think packaging is definitely a major part of it.

Grant:  Yeah.  And there’s no way I’m putting t-shirts in a box, man, so that’s why it’s got to be $2 dude.  I just can’t do it.

Mike:   That’s why they’re still sitting in the garage.

Grant:  Yeah, that’s exactly why it is.

Mike:   Yeah, so moving on from the boxing and packaging and all that stuff, let’s read part two of the question here, which is, “What do you think about seasonable products?  I know it goes against building a long-term, sustainable business model, however I’m thinking you might have listeners who already have a career or maybe just have an idea for a product that will likely sell only during one timeframe of the year.  Should I avoid a product like this that’s seasonal?”  What do you think, Grant?

Grant:  I think seasonal is generally a good thing because it gives you time during the rest of the season to do something else and seasonal is a great way of taking advantage of something.  The one thing I would say about that is if you can make it any season other than winter, that probably is going to be fantastic for your personal life because everybody during the winter time is usually visiting family or trying to have fun and not work.  I’m already stuck working because I have my franchises that I own and during the Christmas season, there’s no chance I can ever get away.  So I’m just stuck doing that retail thing.  But if Colin can get a seasonal business that does great in the springtime or summertime, I mean that would be fantastic I think.  What do you think, Mike?

Mike:   Yeah, I’m going to [inaudible 17:40] so we don’t start beating each other up here.  But I’m going to think the exact opposite opinion.  I’m not a fan especially with FBA.  When you’re doing FBA business, because of their six-month storage fees, I am not a really big fan of seasonal products.  It’s really difficult to know each season like how much you need to order, and especially if you’re ordering products from overseas.  So to kind of set up an example, let’s say you’re selling Halloween costumes or you’re selling Christmas lights or something that’s basically a quick shot seasonal product like that.  I mean if you’re selling Christmas lights, you would need to start planning basically in January or March this year so like right now.  We’re recording this episode in early April.  You’d have to be planning out for this Christmas light order, getting an order, getting all your inventory in, which is going to be a huge outlay and you’re not going to really start getting sales until October I would imagine, maybe even November, and then if you didn’t order the right amount of inventory, you’re going to run out and you’re kind of one and done for the year.  And if you order too much of it, now you’re stuck with it in January with no way to sell it unless you sell it at a fire sale.  I don’t know what people would be using Christmas light for in January. So then you’re either stuck with disposing the lights because they’re so cheap they’re not really worth shipping back, or ship them back and wait until next year to sell them.

To me, if you’re doing lots of other stuff and you have the money behind you to do it, I think that it’s a very lucrative opportunity because I think complexity is your opportunity or this type of problem is maybe an opportunity for people that are like me that just don’t want to deal with that.  But I think if you’re just getting started, it’s a huge risk.  You have no idea like how much inventory to order and your best case scenario is you sell out.  I  mean that’s really the best case scenario and it’s like buying and selling stocks; you always wish you bought it cheaper or sold it higher when you look at the chart afterwards.  And then if you end up buying too much inventory you’re just stuck with it.  So what do you think about those aspects, Grant?

Grant:  So I have firsthand experience of seasonal, like I said, from retail.  And the reason I’m going to disagree (get out the boxing gloves over here, man) is I’ve seen what those little tiny kiosks in a mall can do and it just is mind-boggling to me, especially during the Christmas time.  And just to give an example, I know you don’t shop a lot but you’ve probably been to the mall and you’ve seen those guys flying around the little mini drone toys or RC cars during the Christmas season, right?

Mike:   Yes, I have been to the mall, Grant.  I do get out.  No, I’m just kidding.  I’ve seen those things flying around.

Grant:  Yeah, you do know there’s a thing called television and that on this thing there are shows, right?

Mike:   Yeah.

Grant:  It’s a Pulp Fiction quote for anybody that’s not a Quentin Tarantino fan.  But in the last few years, the radio control cars and drone have been like a very big thing and at the mall where we have one of our stores, there were about three different kiosks that were all selling more or less the same items and funny enough one of them was actually those little – I don’t know what you call the – hover skateboard things.  It looks like the mini Segway that the kids have.  But anyhow, those were the ones that got banned off Amazon because they all started lighting on fire.  These guys would make somewhere on the order of $50,000 to $70,000 within a span of a month.  And I’m talking profit.  And I’m not saying every kiosk does that much but some of these guys had a pretty big kiosk where they would even take over an entire abandoned store space, and the calendar people, those kind of guys, they just blow through inventory.

We have one guy in our partner group and he was actually just selling spatulas and they had sports logos on them such as your Seahawks spatula, your University of Washington spatula, your WSU spatula, and nothing very creative, right?  You buy them for $5 and he was selling them for $15 and doing a pretty good profit and two weeks before Christmas even rolled around, he started getting somewhere around the order of 200 to 300 sales a day, started having to get more inventory.  Then he realized about a few days in like people are buying many hundreds of these a day and he just couldn’t keep up.  And he alone did somewhere around $30,000 to $40,000 in profit just from selling these spatulas.  And while online and Amazon is going to be somewhat different, the idea is that if you have a product that you know is going to be pretty popular – and I think the problem is that Colin doesn’t really know how popular his product is going to be, but if he has a fairly good idea and it’s seasonal, if you have the product at the right time that’s seasonal, I mean I think they just blow up.  There’re so many businesses that are seasonal generally.  Ice cream is kind of in there for summertime for example.

Mike:   I would say even ice wraps, which is obviously sell, that seems to be seasonal more so in the summertime.  Obviously people are more active.  And now, through the years, I mean we’ve definitely seen a huge pickup in sales, which we saw last year around this time, and right now.  But I mean, even still, when things slow down in September, October, November when the weather starts to turn colder or if people don’t need ice wraps as much, at least we’re still selling stuff in December and January.  We get rid of the inventory at Amazon and don’t have that long-term storage fee problem.  That’s kind of where I’m coming from with it.

Grant:  Sure.  And I think what our disagreement is that we don’t exactly know what Colin has.  Like if he’s selling a snow blower, then I’m going to say that’s probably going to be a bad idea because, unless you’re in Alaska or Minnesota, there’s only three months out of the year where a snow blower is even remotely useful and come June, what are you going to do as a snow blower?  Yeah, exactly, right?  You just sit around waiting for a sale and hope for snow and it’s just not going to happen.  You don’t run to Canada.  So yeah, it really does depend but, for example, like a product that does extremely well would be cured meats.  And Hickory Farms, for example.  They just blow it out of the water every holiday season.  The rest of the time it’s like, “Who are those guys?”  And they do sell, they just don’t sell a lot.  Somebody’s going to go buy them, you just don’t really know where to find them all the time.

Mike:   Yup.  No, I agree.  So I mean it sounds like we have even some interesting conflicting opinions here.  Just depends on what your tolerance is for risk and specifically what your product is.  It’d be interesting to know what it is you’re looking at specifically so we could maybe visit this again on a future podcast but it sounds like we’re kind of divided in some ways but agree in others on this one.  I think that probably covers it.  What do you think?

Grant:  Yeah.  And in the next line of questioning, Colin does ask, “How about pre-holiday ramp up?” and he’s saying that some items aren’t really seasonal and more so the large percentage sell during the holiday season.  I’m not actually sure.  Did I read that right or am I interpreting that wrong?  That’s a little –

Mike:   I think he’s just saying some products, while they sell all year, you sell more during the holidays, and how do you deal with that?

Grant:  Ah, right.  Okay, so it does sound like it may sell outside of the Christmas season and whatnot and what steps are we taking to ramp up to Q4?  I don’t really think I have that many steps to Christmas.  I know cutting boards is a very holiday-driven business.  We do double our sales during the holidays so I just double my inventory.  But I don’t really do anything crazy.  And in terms of sourcing, I think, especially if you’re going overseas, like you said, Mike, then you’ve got to really, really be preparing right now for Q4.  Otherwise, you’re going to be completely hosed if you’re not completely set with your POs by this point I believe.

Mike:   Yeah.  I definitely agree.  I mean last year, we missed the ball on this quite a bit.  It was our first year operating ColorIt.  Luckily, I guess (if you want to use that), I mean IceWraps isn’t really a seasonal business or really a Christmas business.  It’s pretty flat lined throughout the whole year, and I did mention summertime sales are stronger but it’s not like 10,000% stronger or something crazy.  And yeah, they’re kind of boring Christmas gifts.  We don’t really get a lot of IceWraps orders for Christmas.  ColorIt, like I said, it was our first year and we were just like totally unprepared for it.  I mean we had a ton of sales in December and completely blew through out inventory.  We’ve been unprepared again on our pencil sets, which we’ve been out of now for a couple weeks and we’re going to be out for a couple more months, which is really frustrating.  But when we reordered right now, we actually took into account for Christmas.  So we ordered just an excessive amount because I don’t want to run out again.

But it’s tough.  I mean if you are going through your first Christmas and you don’t know, and you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s tough.  Basically, anticipate – if you have a product that you think would make a good Christmas gift, I would expect 3x to 4x for volume for a five- or six-week period.  I mean, Grant, you can probably speak more to this.  I mean cutting boards obviously are a Christmas-y kind of gift.  How were your sales last Christmas?

Grant:  We had to do some emergency reorders like we did the first year, which was kind of ridiculous because sometimes you make the same mistake twice, right?  I think the problem is that when your baseline keeps moving, the goalposts just keep moving on you, it’s hard to really predict.  And our growth has been just, year over year, in the exponential range as opposed to the linear range.  So I think in 2013, we did something like $70,000 to $80,000 during the season and we were just barely getting inventory on time.  We were always late by like a week or two and I think you remember it was just all sorts of chaos.  And this time around, I said, “Well, we did double what we did during the normal time but our rankings just blew up during the holiday seasons too.”  So we were doing probably triple what we did last year and so that I was very unprepared for and we definitely ran out of inventory.  I was just stuck.  You probably remember.  You saw the images I sent you: just piles and piles of boxes overflowing, just floor to ceiling kind of boxes everywhere.  And that was with our 3PL and if we didn’t have  a 3PL it just would’ve been a terrible situation.

Mike:   Yeah, it’s tough to plan.  I mean, like you said, it was our second year with CuttingBoard and the luxury that we have with CuttingBoard is that we’re ordering from people within the United States that can get us the product fairly quickly, with an asterisk of if they haven’t run out of stock.  And very quickly, it’s kind of funny too.  I know who you’re laughing about specifically.

Grant:  Oh, I can’t say their name publically.

Mike:   But yeah, I mean it’s a tough position to be in obviously, but it’s even worse when you’re ordering from China.  If you get to be in the second, third, fourth week of November or the first or second week of December and you realize you don’t have enough inventory, it’s just game over.  If you’re trying to order from China, you can prepare for next year.  It’s like better luck next year kind of, like the Super Bowl’s over and maybe you’ve got a shot in 2017.  So yeah, my recommendation would be do whatever you think that you need to order; either double or triple it.  That might get you close.  If it’s a product that’s going to sell well during Christmas (I mean, again, you don’t really know for sure), just use some reasonable intuition and if you think it’s something people would gift for Christmas – I mean we never expected ice wraps to be gifted for Christmas and they weren’t really.  We had stronger sales in December, but it wasn’t spectacular.  But again, with coloring books and cutting boards, sales were out of control for a few weeks throughout that year.

And the other thing you need to plan for, which we didn’t know about last year as well, is that Amazon takes significantly longer to check things in during that time of the year so you have to plan an extra week or 10 days because it just seems like stuff sits on their dock up on a tractor trailer.  We ship in things on pallets and it was just sitting there and sitting there and sitting there and you’re just crying because like this stuff’s on the trailer and it’s showing 0 in stock on Amazon but there it is sitting in their parking lot somewhere and yeah, it was frustrating.  So all things to be thinking about.  And I know it’s crazy we’re sitting here talking about this in April, but we’ve already started making plans for Christmas, and by the time we get back from China (Grant and I are going to be headed to China in a little bit), I want to be completely prepared for the Christmas season: have all of our orders in, know that we’re going to have stuff delivered, no later than September have it on our dock and in our warehouse and ready to go so we’re prepared for it this year.  And I think that we are.  We’ve made some really big orders and some really big bets on our products.  We just ordered over a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of stuff and most of that is stuff that we’re planning on selling in the holiday season, which could talk about another whole episode of cash flow.  It’s hard to be laying out that kind of money for stuff that we aren’t planning on selling until towards the end of the year.

Grant:  Mm-hmm.  Yeah.  Cash flow is a problem.

Mike:   Cash flow’s king.  As they say, cash is king.  So cool.  Well, I mean that wraps up the three-part question that Colin had there and that worked out perfect on timing for this week.  So again, just as a reminder, if you guys are interesting in the free hour of consulting, please head over to EcomCrew.com and comment either on this post or the one from the last week or the one from week before that.  There’s three of them out now that are available for commenting, and then next week and the one after that will also be available for commenting and let us know what you think of this episode or the other episodes and/or ask a question or let us know why you think consulting would be good for you and we’ll consider all that.  When we’re picking someone at random, we’re going to use just a random number generator to pick the winner.  So until next week, thank you guys for listening and we will talk to you then.

Grant:  All right.  Take care.