Some of my chat logs discussing: Ecom, Hiring, Fulfillment, Shipping, Manufacturing and Modeling

June 7, 2017

As I don’t have a lot of time to sit and write out long blog posts I thought I’d share some of my Skype group chat logs. I still spend hours talking in groups on Skype and there’s some really good stuff.

Skype is great in that it’s real time and you can get engaged in a discussion but then that content is lost. I love being able to go back and read my old posts from years ago. So in an effort to catalog some of my ideas permanently I’ll post them here.

This was from the Skype chat: STM Ecom Mastermind

So I apologize in advance for the formatting. I’m not a guru, I have nothing to sell you. 😀

[6/6/17, 3:15:20 PM] John Monarch: there is almost no way to brand drop shipped product – you’re right. you control almost nothing about the user experience which is a huge killer
[6/6/17, 3:15:55 PM] John Monarch: even things like the user guide/manual being in broken english make people question the quality
[6/6/17, 3:16:34 PM] John Monarch: clients of ours get returns with “feels too cheap”
[6/6/17, 3:16:39 PM] John Monarch: for specific products
[6/6/17, 3:17:32 PM] Jason Akatiff: that’s interesting John
[6/6/17, 3:17:39 PM] Jason Akatiff: we do initial tests with drop ships
[6/6/17, 3:17:51 PM] Jason Akatiff: Then move to branded products with custom molds, boxes and documenation
[6/6/17, 3:17:58 PM] John Monarch: it makes the most sense
[6/6/17, 3:18:55 PM] John Monarch: we’ve had some funny returns from products that include a manual from China (they moved to us from drop shipping but didn’t change anything about the product), including “I CANT READ CHINESE HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW HOW TO SET THIS THING UP”
[6/6/17, 3:19:44 PM] Jason Akatiff: hahahhaa
[6/6/17, 3:19:49 PM] Jason Akatiff: Hack and slash
[6/6/17, 3:19:49 PM] Jason Akatiff: 😀
[6/6/17, 3:20:01 PM] Jason Akatiff: Talking with a friend he has VA’s answering his FB comments
[6/6/17, 3:20:07 PM] Jason Akatiff: he’s like “I don’t want to know”
[6/6/17, 3:20:11 PM] Jason Akatiff: Jason Akatiff shakes his head
[6/6/17, 3:20:35 PM] John Monarch: that may have been acceptable with smash and grab garcinia stuff but it kills you in legit products
[6/6/17, 3:21:15 PM] Jason Akatiff: Lot of guys still operating under churn and burn
[6/6/17, 3:22:51 PM] Carlos: Guilty as charged
[6/6/17, 3:23:57 PM] Jason Akatiff: Jason Akatiff gets excited for FB to shut down drop shippers 😀
[6/6/17, 3:24:17 PM] John Monarch: oh yes – there will be a day of reckoning for that
[6/6/17, 3:24:19 PM] Carlos: But my estimates for bulk come out to break even at best
[6/6/17, 3:24:34 PM] John Monarch: especially with FB running “How was your purchase?” surveys
[6/6/17, 3:24:55 PM] Jason Akatiff: Crappy model Carlos, I’d rework your model from the beginning
[6/6/17, 3:25:08 PM] John Monarch: > But my estimates for bulk come out to break even at best if you are doing proper inventory planning it never should break even, even with the higher cost of US shipping. if you’re doing all air freight maybe
[6/6/17, 3:25:14 PM] Jason Akatiff: we import, do great CS, etc and make 100% ROI’s on spend
[6/6/17, 3:25:35 PM] Jason Akatiff: We do boats with stop gap air
[6/6/17, 3:25:46 PM] John Monarch: so many people in this space, even those doing tons of volume, strictly use air just because of instant gratification
[6/6/17, 3:25:53 PM] John Monarch: we deal with it all the time and it blows my mind
[6/6/17, 3:26:04 PM] Jason Akatiff: just going to hire a order management, logistics supply chain management person in house
[6/6/17, 3:26:22 PM] John Monarch: exactly – spend time to do proper inventory forecasting, work with the warehouse/fulfillment center to plan, and save literally thousands per shipment on freight
[6/6/17, 3:26:32 PM] John Monarch: air is a good stopgap if you blew up without warning
[6/6/17, 3:26:54 PM] Jason Akatiff: We decreased our domestic shipping costs around 50% as well
[6/6/17, 3:27:07 PM] Jason Akatiff: warehouse close to port as well saves on transfer costs
[6/6/17, 3:27:19 PM] Jason Akatiff: But it’s a business…. Not a money making scheme
[6/6/17, 3:27:33 PM] John Monarch: well – this isn’t tooting our own horn, but if you have one warehouse it should never be on the west coast
[6/6/17, 3:27:47 PM] Carlos: I agree it is a crappy model, every day I die a little inside. Although it is extremely profitable it is definitely not sustainable nor something you should feel proud of doing
[6/6/17, 3:28:05 PM] Jason Akatiff: We started with UT, but now are moving to Jersey and LA
[6/6/17, 3:28:17 PM] John Monarch: considering 63% of the US population lives east of the mississippi river, and close to 80% east of the rocky mountains, it’s just pissing money away to be west coast shipping only
[6/6/17, 3:28:28 PM] Jason Akatiff: Lot of transfer costs
[6/6/17, 3:28:31 PM] Ken Riu: Jason or John, are you able to provide how much you’re paying/kg by boat or by air?
[6/6/17, 3:28:31 PM] John Monarch: LA – los angeles or louisiana
[6/6/17, 3:28:34 PM] Jason Akatiff: across the US from China
[6/6/17, 3:28:39 PM] Jason Akatiff: Los Angeles
[6/6/17, 3:28:40 PM] Carlos: I should be more thorough in my research for a better operation
[6/6/17, 3:28:51 PM] John Monarch: see I avoid california like the plague
[6/6/17, 3:28:58 PM] John Monarch: we’ve been investigating either a Vegas or Reno facility
[6/6/17, 3:29:03 PM] Jason Akatiff: 30% of our buyers are in CA it seems
[6/6/17, 3:29:16 PM] Jason Akatiff: Costs to much to move the inventory away from LA
[6/6/17, 3:29:27 PM] Jason Akatiff: doesn’t make sense from all the analysis we’ve put in, and it’s a lot
[6/6/17, 3:29:39 PM] Jason Akatiff: Transfers costs to fulfillment centers is just to high to make it worth while
[6/6/17, 3:29:48 PM] Jason Akatiff: way better off with places close to Long Beach
[6/6/17, 3:30:13 PM] John Monarch: freight can be expensive, I hope you’re sending shipments straight to NJ on the boat
[6/6/17, 3:30:22 PM] Jason Akatiff: train
[6/6/17, 3:30:43 PM] Jason Akatiff: We bid out through a few different freight forwarderes
[6/6/17, 3:31:13 PM] John Monarch: intermodal yeah
[6/6/17, 3:31:20 PM] John Monarch: it’s cheaper to just go via panama canal though
[6/6/17, 3:31:23 PM] John Monarch: if you have enough going
[6/6/17, 3:31:52 PM] Jason Akatiff: right now only about 10-15 containers per month
[6/6/17, 3:32:07 PM] John Monarch: that’s still a good amount and would be cheaper to send direct
[6/6/17, 3:32:17 PM] Jason Akatiff: Going to get much bigger as we go into Q4
[6/6/17, 3:32:49 PM] Jason Akatiff: been pricing out DHL’s Ecom solution to see if we can get them competitive. That would be ideal as they have centers world wide
[6/6/17, 3:33:10 PM] John Monarch: china -> east coast should only add like $100 per TEU
[6/6/17, 3:34:01 PM] John Monarch: especially since more eastern ports are dredged out to support Panamax class ships (y)
[6/6/17, 3:34:15 PM] John Monarch: first one was Charleston, which was big for our clients
[6/6/17, 5:07:38 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: @Jason Akatiff, realistically, how long is the process from testing(dropship) to stocking up on white label inventory to remarketing it?
[6/6/17, 5:19:02 PM] Jason Akatiff: Well testing can be however long until we validate the product
[6/6/17, 5:19:38 PM] Jason Akatiff: Then we have to locate manufacturers, get samples air freighted, review the samples, negotiate deal terms,
[6/6/17, 5:20:04 PM] Jason Akatiff: then from there is around 30ish days to manufacture. Depending on if they have the raw goods
[6/6/17, 5:20:17 PM] Jason Akatiff: We do mostly molded stuff
[6/6/17, 5:20:42 PM] Jason Akatiff: Then a few days to port, then 20-30 days to boat
[6/6/17, 5:20:55 PM] Jason Akatiff: then lands here and customs is from 1-7 days usually
[6/6/17, 5:21:07 PM] Chun Y.: how much do you need to pay for the molds?
[6/6/17, 5:21:24 PM] Carlos: You have a team in place that handles all of it and you just supervise?
[6/6/17, 5:21:27 PM] Jason Akatiff: for most of the stuff we’re doing we don’t pay, we’re dealing with vendors that already have the prodcuts
[6/6/17, 5:21:40 PM] Jason Akatiff: I have a single person that runs my product dept
[6/6/17, 5:21:46 PM] Jason Akatiff: She’s doing this now but it’s getting too big
[6/6/17, 5:22:02 PM] Jason Akatiff: so we’re in the process of hiring a buyer/supply chain/logistics manager
[6/6/17, 5:22:59 PM] Jason Akatiff: They’ll probably handle our shipping relationships as well with like DHL, USPS for our outbound orders
[6/6/17, 5:25:22 PM] Carlos: Sounds like a solid plan
[6/6/17, 5:26:04 PM] Carlos: You used to run A4D, right? Did you transition into ecommerce a while back?
[6/6/17, 5:35:56 PM] Jason Akatiff: I still own A4D
[6/6/17, 5:36:17 PM] Jason Akatiff: We still do mostly network rev
[6/6/17, 5:36:22 PM] Jason Akatiff: Have an internal division
[6/6/17, 5:36:26 PM] Jason Akatiff: for media buying
[6/6/17, 5:36:35 PM] Jason Akatiff: And then we have an Ecom division
[6/6/17, 5:36:55 PM] Jason Akatiff: Where we’re building brands, testing products online, then eventually will roll to retail
[6/6/17, 5:39:29 PM] Chun Y.: how are you managing everything and still be so active on skype groups?
[6/6/17, 5:47:54 PM] Jason Akatiff: well I have a team
[6/6/17, 5:47:58 PM] Jason Akatiff: We’re 40+ people
[6/6/17, 5:48:03 PM] Jason Akatiff: 18 on the network side
[6/6/17, 5:48:06 PM] Jason Akatiff: 6 on the product side
[6/6/17, 5:48:09 PM] Jason Akatiff: 6 on the media side
[6/6/17, 5:48:13 PM] Jason Akatiff: And the rest is Ops people
[6/6/17, 5:48:25 PM] Jason Akatiff: Ops/Tech
[6/6/17, 5:48:45 PM] Jason Akatiff: Most of my time is strategy and talking with the team
[6/6/17, 5:49:05 PM] Jason Akatiff: every once in a while I get in the trenches and build pages and run media as well. Been doing that for 2 products this week
[6/6/17, 5:49:12 PM] Jason Akatiff: Should say teams
[6/6/17, 5:54:34 PM] Jack Altunyan: Goals 🙌🏻
[6/6/17, 6:11:54 PM] Chun Y.: do you set KPIs for everyone?
[6/6/17, 6:14:54 PM] Jason Akatiff: Oh yeah
[6/6/17, 6:14:56 PM] Jason Akatiff: process
[6/6/17, 6:15:16 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: i believe KPI is only necessary for business that is stable
[6/6/17, 6:15:34 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: i wasted so much time on it when the business model keeps changing
[6/6/17, 6:17:11 PM] Jason Akatiff: Outcomes is really what we’re about
[6/6/17, 6:17:27 PM] Jason Akatiff: Goals and outcomes
[6/6/17, 6:29:31 PM] Jason Akatiff: Daily stand ups and goals of deliverables are really helpful. I sit I a daily meeting with our ad team and ecom team everyday. Review action items, what’s on deck and where people are stuck.
[6/6/17, 6:30:20 PM] Jason Akatiff: Also, we run creative brainstorm, review of data ad new concepts meetings 2 times a week
[6/6/17, 6:31:08 PM] Jason Akatiff: I hire operational experienced at running large teams to run the dept
[6/6/17, 6:37:11 PM] Chun Y.: the daily stand up meetings how long do you usually do it for? 15-30 minutes?
[6/6/17, 6:40:07 PM] Rio: On 6/6/17, at 6:31 PM, Jason Akatiff wrote:
> I hire operational experienced at running large teams to run the dept
how can you find these people?
[6/6/17, 6:43:38 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: have to be very specific on what you want them to do for the best fit
[6/6/17, 6:44:00 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: i’m learning the hard way
[6/6/17, 6:44:45 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: i spoke with FB rep, their hiring process is like 1-2 weeks
[6/6/17, 6:45:00 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: they go into a series of interviews will all team members
[6/6/17, 6:46:25 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: and it has to be a unanimous yes for them to hire. if you have funds then you can afford to give them a higher salary and when job resonates with them.. they will come
[6/6/17, 6:46:37 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: have to be specific
[6/6/17, 7:16:14 PM] Jason Akatiff: 15-30 yes. Creative meetings are 1 hour
[6/6/17, 7:16:57 PM] Jason Akatiff: As far as hiring I look for people have managed teams for 10+ years. Hired and managed over 50 people each
[6/6/17, 7:17:27 PM] Jason Akatiff: Ideally had been at companies our size and then grew to the next level. Typically by head count.
[6/6/17, 7:17:46 PM] Jason Akatiff: We’re 40 ish and every with me has built to 150+ people
[6/6/17, 7:17:57 PM] Jason Akatiff: My product leader managed 1700 at Lego
[6/6/17, 7:18:43 PM] Jason Akatiff: As far is hiring if tgis I new I’d talk with a lot of recruiters and d tell them what you want the person to do and they’ll give you an idea for role
[6/6/17, 7:18:56 PM] Jason Akatiff: Low level = tactically experienced
[6/6/17, 7:19:15 PM] Jason Akatiff: Mid = managing people based on other people’s systems and strategy
[6/6/17, 7:19:33 PM] Jason Akatiff: Director has built systems
[6/6/17, 7:19:44 PM] Jason Akatiff: Vp builds strategy and execution plan
[6/6/17, 7:19:50 PM] Jason Akatiff: C builds vision
[6/6/17, 7:20:45 PM] Jason Akatiff: So depends on what you need.
[6/6/17, 7:21:17 PM] Jason Akatiff: If you need someone to come build stuff which I assume you do your someone director or above
[6/6/17, 7:26:45 PM] Jason Akatiff: Interview process for someone at that level is at least 3 separate and buy in by leaders. Then usually 46 hours out having some drinks and dinner before I commit.
[6/6/17, 7:27:17 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: what’s the drinks for?
[6/6/17, 7:27:31 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: and dinner?
[6/6/17, 7:27:56 PM] Jason Akatiff: I have to work with this person. Want to make sure I like hanging out with them and we communicate well.
[6/6/17, 7:28:46 PM] Jason Akatiff: Often times in an interview people have their game face on. A long drinks and dinner talking about the business let’s me see how they really are as their guard comes down at some point.
[6/6/17, 7:29:03 PM] Chun Y.: how do you do commission/stock for positions on that level?
[6/6/17, 7:30:08 PM] Jason Akatiff: I don’t as I don’t want people that work for me for money. Sales we do. But everything else it’s awarded after they come on board and proven themselves
[6/6/17, 7:30:29 PM] Jason Akatiff: We pay well. 5-10% over market. So it’s not like they’re working for free
[6/6/17, 7:32:41 PM] Jason Akatiff: We have an option pool in the company so people do get options and vest when they’re in a management role when they show they’re here for the company and add value. We don’t use it as a hiring tool.
[6/6/17, 7:33:06 PM] Jason Akatiff: If someone comes to work for you for money they’ll leave for money.
[6/6/17, 7:33:29 PM] Jason Akatiff: Good people are always in demand
[6/6/17, 7:33:42 PM] Michael: @Jason Akatiff your blog really inspired me
[6/6/17, 7:33:48 PM] Michael: 😀
[6/6/17, 7:34:15 PM] Anindya Lestari: ^^ +1
[6/6/17, 7:38:32 PM] Jason Akatiff: Ah thanks. I need to write more. Just been to busy
[6/6/17, 7:38:50 PM] Jason Akatiff: I love the real time of skype. But what sucks is the content isn’t everlasting.
[6/6/17, 7:48:00 PM] Chun Y.: ‘making poster with Jason’s advice and putting on wall’ now it’s everlasting 😀
[6/6/17, 7:49:01 PM] Jason Akatiff: it’s funny both of my talks at AWE are going to correlate to planning and make strong decisions on the frontend from a strategy and planning perspective.
[6/6/17, 7:50:36 PM] Jason Akatiff: None of which I did for years. But wow it makes such a difference. And even light goal setting. People ask me for advice a lot and my first question is always what’s your goal. Cause to run a 200 person team and build a 1/2 billion dollar company is very different then making a million a year. The clearer the plan and vision the great the chances of success.
[6/6/17, 7:53:02 PM] Jason Akatiff:
[6/6/17, 7:53:14 PM] Jason Akatiff: One of my slides from my presentation. Just happened to be working on it now 😀
[6/6/17, 7:53:18 PM] Jason Akatiff: but correlates
[6/6/17, 7:57:15 PM] Daniel Gempesaw: what’s your goal Jason?
[6/6/17, 7:57:29 PM] Jason Akatiff: 500 million a year in rev with 150 or more employees
[6/6/17, 7:57:41 PM] Chun Y.: in 5 years?
[6/6/17, 7:57:46 PM] Jason Akatiff: Have around 4.5 years left to get there
[6/6/17, 7:58:02 PM] Jason Akatiff: but if it happens in 2 past that I won’t be upset 😀
[6/6/17, 7:58:31 PM] Jason Akatiff: We have some pretty strong Ecom models now. So we’re working on building automation for a lot of the finding of products and testing of them
[6/6/17, 8:00:47 PM] Jason Akatiff: that’s the great things about goals. If you fall short and only do 250 million did you fail? Not really…
[6/6/17, 8:00:54 PM] Anindya Lestari: Anindya Lestari has enabled invitations, you can now invite people to this chat
[6/6/17, 8:00:54 PM] Anindya Lestari: Anindya Lestari has disabled invitations, people cannot be invited to this chat anymore
[6/6/17, 8:01:04 PM] Jason Akatiff: I like to set really big goals because you approach problems differently.
[6/6/17, 8:01:13 PM] Jason Akatiff: You can’t be thinking about a single product
[6/6/17, 8:01:23 PM] Jason Akatiff: you can’t be thinking about a single campaign
[6/6/17, 8:01:48 PM] Jason Akatiff: it’s great to learn that stuff in the trenches but at sometime you have to pull back from the tactical and move to vision and strategic
[6/6/17, 8:08:07 PM] Chun Y.: Do you get in the trenches during the building of the models and then let the team run it afterwards?
[6/6/17, 8:08:26 PM] Jason Akatiff: I’ll go test stuff myself a lot of times
[6/6/17, 8:08:30 PM] Jason Akatiff: When we first started Ecom
[6/6/17, 8:08:45 PM] Jason Akatiff: I built and tested the first things and proved it out first
[6/6/17, 8:09:08 PM] Jason Akatiff: Then I hired and gave it to people
[6/6/17, 8:11:13 PM] Jason Akatiff: People usually come to you with a lot of ideas how to accomplish things. But they may not work for you business. If you pay them a lot you should let them do it their way for a bit. The bulk of the time this involves it not working like you want. But that’s ok. Then they listen and you can slowly coach them on executing your strategy. Then at some point they’ll bring their own knowledge back in and blend it all together.
[6/6/17, 8:12:31 PM] Jason Akatiff: But I like to let people operate fairly autonomously.. meaning I give guidance and direction but don’t hand hold. I let them make their own mistakes, learn and then give them the tools to measure success and failure. All good people will rise to the occasion. It doesn’t go as fast as you’d like ever but everything takes time….
[6/6/17, 8:18:55 PM] Chun Y.: All good people will rise to the occasion. How long do you usually give to prove themselves?
[6/6/17, 8:20:02 PM] Jason Akatiff: I find 2-3 months to get their bearings and struggle for a while. Then start giving more and more guidance.
[6/6/17, 8:20:14 PM] Jason Akatiff: Then at 6 months they should be having a little bit of an impact
[6/6/17, 8:20:46 PM] Jason Akatiff: then at 1 year they should be having a good impact. Then at 2 years they should be bad ass
[6/6/17, 8:20:54 PM] Jason Akatiff: Keep in mind this is someone with 20-30 years of experience
[6/6/17, 8:21:05 PM] Jason Akatiff: still takes that much time it seems no matter what


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