One Acupuncturist's Long and Sordid History with FIR
(Warning: it's a long story)
So as I mentioned, I was the guy who had OM Infrared a few years back. I absolutely looooooved those FIR heating pads - and so did my customers! When they worked.
Yup, there ended up being a ton of issues with the wiring in those and a good 10-20% of them crapped out within a few weeks. (Ironically, the 10 or so mats that I had in my clinic worked perfectly right up until I switched them over to the new VYV mats a few months ago).
So it just got to be too much of a pain in the ass to keep doing OM Infrared, dealing with all the returns really bummed me out. Of course I didn't want to be selling stuff that I didn't feel 100% confident in.
At that time, my clinic really blossomed to the next level as well and we opened our first satellite office. I put OM on the shelf.
However... over the past few years that I haven't been in the FIR game, I've heard from countless people - "When are you going to get more FIR heating pads in? We need more and our patients want to buy them too!"
So I've had it in the back of my mind to reboot the FIR business, but ONLY if I could find a product that I could be extremely confident in!
So about a year ago, I ordered samples from about a dozen different manufacturers and test drove them all personally. Last year at this time, I was under a ton of stress and I hadn't been sleeping well at all. I'll never forget the first time I used the VYV mat, I felt that old familiar FIR tingle kick in and I drifted off to the first deep, peaceful sleep I'd had in weeks.
If I hadn't have had the bad experience with the OM Infrared mats, I would have been sold then and there, but the OM experience taught me to really do my homework. And I did! And after a year of time and over 200 VYV products in my orbit we haven't had one technical issue reported.
The Great Amazon Experiment
Right from the beginning, I knew I wanted to sell VYV Wellness products on Amazon. For one thing, it was such a pain packing and shipping all the OM products by myself that I just wanted to take that off my plate (BTW it's wayyyyy easier now with the Shopify website I'm using - it's actually rather fun). But also, let's face it, Amazon is a behemoth and can get a product in front of millions of people.
So back in March, I hired an Amazon consultant (yes, that's like a career now) and we began putting together a plan and strategy for getting in the Amazon game.
Now, if you've never sold anything on Amazon, let me tell you - it ain't easy. I honestly have no idea how anyone does it without the help of a professional like I used. There are countless details, legalities, and policies to navigate and a zillion hoops through which to jump.
So I put in a large order with the manufacturer and got to work with my consultant setting up my Amazon "store." And I'm not kidding, I did my homework. There's all sorts of software out there now where you can "spy" on your Amazon competition to see everything from how many sales they have each day to which keywords in their listing are the ones that are getting people's eyes on them. So using all this data, we created a kickers listing.
All through the summer, I waited excruciatingly as my products made their way across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal and up the Eastern Seaboard to the Port of NY/NJ. I actually tracked the ship they were on via a phone app that let's you see where any boat in the world is - what a world we live in, huh?
Now, one thing that I found a bit surprising is this: while Amazon is amazing on at getting orders out to customers in no time at all, getting products IN to Amazon is rather slow and inefficient. I guess you can't be great at everything. But it definitely added to my excruciating anticipation to have to wait a few more weeks to actually get my products to Amazon once they arrived in the port.
So now, it's go time! Finally! It was such a mix of terror and excitement, but with a few clicks of the mouse, my Amazon listing was finally up and VYV Wellness was officially a thing! Time for the sales to start rolling in, right?
Well yeah, they actually did. Slowly over the first couple of days, then ramping up more and more. Holy shit! I did it! But wait...
Hmmm, everybody who ordered the VYV mat was getting the VYV wrap. And everybody who ordered the VYV wrap was getting the VYV mat. Noooooooooo! The manufacturer had completely reversed the Amazon bar code labels on my 2 products. Major buzz kill.
But, not the end of the world according to Amanda, my consultant. We immediately put in a "removal order" with Amazon whereby they ship your stuff back to you. The remaining inventory (I didn't ship it all to Amazon to start) was in a warehouse near me in CT. So I had the warehouse guys redo the labels correctly and set up a new delivery to Amazon. We'd still have time to get our inventory to Amazon for the all-important holiday shopping season.
What I didn't know, and what the warehouse people didn't notice either, was that the manufacturer had not only put the wrong labels on the front of each product, they put them on the back as well. You know where this is going.
Now by this time it's mid-October, and the sales I had when I was first on Amazon were nothing compared to this time around. Woohoo! But again, people were getting the wrong item - not every time now, but enough where I had to pull the products again. Ugh!
So the thing about Amazon is that your "ranking" is this all-important thing. You're ranking goes up as your sales go up and as reviews roll in. You know why you buy on Amazon. You buy the thing that you see on the first page that has the best combination of price and good reviews, right? Well, my rank was climbing, but we knew it would take a big dive if people kept returning the products because they were getting the wrong ones.
But the thing that will absolutely destroy your ranking is if you run out of inventory. And that's where we were heading based on our sales rates and the prospect of having to do another removal order and shipping new inventory in to Amazon.
So along with Amanda, I made the heart-rending decision to pull the plug on my Amazon listing. According to Amanda, it's far easier to start a completely new Amazon store than recover from poor rankings.
So that's where we are now and why I'm selling and fulfilling orders myself. I couldn't be more thrilled with and proud of the VYV Wellness products themselves, and the reviews we received on Amazon along with the response from my current customers has me super excited about the future of VYV!
So for now (as of mid-December 2019) I'm trying to sell as much of my remaining inventory as possible (hence all the great sales I'm offering). As I write this, I'm working on a new order from the manufacturer in order to have that complete and shipped by the time Chinese New Years rolls around and China shuts down for a month.
Once my new inventory arrives in the Spring, I plan to reboot my Amazon store, fully armed with the knowledge and hard lessons learned from my first attempt. Without the mad rush and pressure of trying to get started on Amazon during the holiday shopping season, I look forward to slowly growing my Amazon ranking over the course of 2020 and be fully prepared for the onslaught of the holidays next year.
So that's my story. And if you've actually read this far, I'm impressed - thank you! In the meantime, you should really take advantage of my trials and tribulations and get your VYV products at the massive deals I'm running to move my inventory and get back on Amazon!