Thinking there was more to this and inspired by a family member who had launched an Amazon business, Devon decided to try his hand at developing travel products for pets and selling them online. He found a manufacturer, developed their first product (a pet toothbrush) and got to work learning the nuances of selling on Amazon.
What started as a side gig quickly grew into a full-time job. Toothbrush sales were steady, so Devon and Ashley set to work developing new products, refining the packaging, and connecting with distributors.
Next Level Pet has found a profitable niche, but as any business owner knows, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. Here are some of the lessons learned from their hard work.
1. Start Lean
Before launching on Amazon last summer, Devon did some market research to see which products were selling on the platform. He found that there wasn’t a lot of competition in the pet hygiene space, and the products that did exist had few reviews and uninspired packaging.
It immediately felt like an opportunity.
“Garlic presses are the poster child of the most overwhelmed product on Amazon. Toothbrushes were the opposite of that,” he explains. Since his goal was to get his feet wet, it made sense to start with an inexpensive item that could be manufactured and tested easily.
“Garlic presses are the poster child of the most overwhelmed product on Amazon. Toothbrushes were the opposite of that.”
After settling on the toothbrush, Devon reached out to 20-30 manufacturers, proposing a unique variety toothbrush pack with better package design than the competition. Initially, he shipped the goods straight to Amazon, so all he had to do was set up the page and get the products.
His process has since changed a bit, “Now we send everything to a warehouse in LA first,” he says. “Amazon charges a lot to hold onto extra inventory, so we give them a month or two worth of inventory and hold the rest.”
2. Think Long-Term
There were a few other challenges working with Amazon, including their rule that a product price on Amazon has to be the lowest on the internet. Still, Devon found that the compromise was worth it because the company also handled trickier aspects of the business like inventory, shipping, and even customer service. But despite the ease associated with the e-commerce giant, there were downsides, too.
“People on Amazon call it “Amazon crack” because it’s so easy and instant and you can get great sales. You don’t need any awareness or marketing at all. But at the end of the day, they can shut your account down for a variety of reasons you may not have control over.”