Melisa Vong is an expert when it comes to leveraging Amazon’s infrastructure to build brands and companies. I wanted to know her thoughts on why Amazon is so successful and how companies and brands can leverage it. Here’s what she had to say:
Hey Melisa, can you tell us a little about who you are?
“Who am I?” Now that’s the million dollar question we all ask ourselves! I guess it all depends on who you ask. If you ask my mom, she’d tell you I’m her pride and joy. My business partners and social media friends on the other hand might think I’m some internet entrepreneur living her best life, my clients might think I’m some Amazon FBA expert or E-commerce wizard, and to my hedgehog I’d be his savior and reliable food dispenser. I like to think of myself as a fierce serial entrepreneur who inspires people to chase their dreams and help take their businesses to the next level through strategic branding. On a more tangible note, I own and operate several e-commerce brands within the health and wellness niche as well as beauty space. Additionally, I provide consulting services to brands that wish to expand their retail presence into the Amazon marketplace as well as assist in brands that need a helping hand to scale up their current Amazon strategy.
Can you give us a look into your background story?
For me, the hustle started young. When I was in second grade, I would take my allowance money to the flee market and purchase these “surprise bags” which would contain 4 to 5 little trinkets or toys in them for $2. I would then sell them for $1 to $2 a piece, netting me a pretty profit to do it all over again or buy other inventory like chocolate bars to sell. When my parents separated, my mother had to support me and my sister on her own so at 12 years old I went out and got my first job which was going door-to-door selling newspaper subscriptions for my local newspaper. I wanted to help in any way that I could and watching my mom work so hard to provide for us really lit a fire under me and instilled a hard work ethic like no other. She is a huge inspiration for me and is also a huge health nut which is what put me on the path of creating my own botanical based skincare company while I was working in car sales. Fast forward, I was able to quit my job to go full time with e-commerce and now own multiple businesses within the wellness and beauty space and also help others launch and scale their own brands which has become my main focus right now.
Why do you think Amazon has become so successful?
Melisa: Jeff Bezos doesn’t hold back nor is it a secret why they are one of the most successful companies to date. Every year, Bezos writes an open-letter to his shareholders and he’s done it for the last 20 years. In his letters he provides a lot of insight on why Amazon has seen the success it has and one of the driving factors that he repetitively writes about is building the business with the consumer’s best interest in mind. Amazon is a customer centric business whose brand ethos revolves around providing the best possible experience for their end user. For example, 2 day prime shipping and in some instances same day shipping or even 4 hour shipping by drone. Amazon is always at the leading edge of innovation and continually finds ways to please the masses.
With competition only increasing in the online space, it is crucial for online brands to provide a better buying experience from ordering their product, to opening in their living room, and support for the remainder of the product life cycle. This is what is going to separate the lasting brands from the short-lived. In today’s e-commerce marketplace, especially with the growing trend of dropshipping and products often taking weeks to arrive, business owners often lose sight of the bigger picture of putting their customer first and should think about taking a page out of the Amazon playbook.
How can business owners learn from Amazon?
As I mentioned, it’s crucial to focus on building customer centric brands. Find ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors in terms of the quality of the product you provide or the actual buying experience itself. Whether you have faster shipping options, better packaging, complimentary gifts, 24/7 customer service, or creative ways of interacting with your customer, you need to think about ways you can do things better because that’s what’s going to get a conversation going about your brand and have your customers talk about you to their friends, family, and followers.
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”– Jeff Bezos
Amazon is absolutely crushing it when it comes to fast shipping times and customer service. And if you can’t beat them, join them! What do I mean by that? Well you can actually sell on Amazon’s marketplace by becoming a seller on their platform. Most of the sellers on Amazon are regular people like you and me. Stay at home moms, baseball loving dads, and business owners alike are all selling on Amazon! Last year Amazon accounted for 49% of all online sales – now that’s a pie that I’d like a piece of, I don’t know about you. That’s not the only reason people and business owners should consider selling their products on Amazon. There is already a lot of organic traffic on Amazon, their customer service helps streamline customer returns and refunds, plus you can leverage their fulfillment centers and shipping infrastructure! To find out if selling on Amazon is for you, check out their website here: https://services.amazon.com/selling/getting-started.html
What inspired you to delve into Amazon and Ecommerce?
Melisa: Two words: growth potential. I enjoy reading and keeping up to date with the news and the various trends that are developing in the business world. I repeatedly kept on seeing articles stating that Amazon’s growth wasn’t slowing but INCREASING. In fact, last year they accounted for almost 50% of all online sales which is huge. I knew that this was something to take a deeper look into so I rolled-up my sleeves, made it my mission to know each and every step there was to growing a brand on Amazon and then made it a reality. To think we will live in a time where retail giants like Sears, Toys’R’Us, and others are slipping into bankruptcy is eye opening. As more and more of these indicators flash green for e-commerce, its imperative for entrepreneurs and other growth hackers to pay close attention and back the trend.
If someone were to emulate your journey so far what are the most important pieces of advice you have?
Melisa: The value that a strong network provides is unmatched. Having passionate and dedicated people in your inner circle at the beginning can almost guarantee success. The saying “you are the average of your 5 closest friends” is 100% accurate despite how cliché it may seem. If everyone you hang out with loves watching football, odds are you will as well. For me, if someone is in my core group it’s because they are better than me at something. You never want to be the smartest person in the room and the goal is to surround yourself with like-minded people who would prefer to build an empire rather than pressure you to go to the club on a Saturday night. Don’t get me wrong, letting loose and having a good time with your life is essential to the process, but you have to feel like you’ve earned it first. Some people have it the other way around: they’ll party first, and then feel bad and get to work. The key is to work first and reward yourself with the fun or relaxation that you’ve earned AFTER.
That being said, everyone’s path is different and the strategies that have worked for me, may not work for others but the main principles of success are usually consistent and applicable across all business models and life in general.
Are there any important projects that you’re working on right now?
Melisa: Since most of the brands I am working with are mostly in the scaling phase, I am free to shift my efforts to different projects. At the moment, I see a large opportunity in the marketplace for existing legacy brands to cultivate a new presence online. Giant household names that dominate the shelves in retail are increasingly getting crushed online in search results. A big play for me in 2019 is to assist companies with in migrating their brands from retail to Amazon or their own e-commerce channels and to help them stake their claims on the online platform’s vast customer-base. I am always looking for ways to scale and automate my businesses so most recently I have partnered with some other brilliant people in the industry on an Amazon automation program which I think is a game changer for anyone that wants to diversify their income and have an e-commerce business on autopilot.
Where can our readers find you on social media?