Large legacy companies should probably just purchase smaller nimble companies with amazon selling experience. The acquisition does not even have to be in the same exact industry. If a large company has been selling to wholesale channels for the past few decades, it is extremely difficult for them to adapt to the quick moving pace of Amazon. I recently saw a Mercedes ad that said “to change is to stay competitive. To change often is to stay the best”. This couldn’t be more accurate to remain ahead of the pack on Amazon.
As a part of my interview series about “Five non-intuitive things you need to know to run a very successful Amazon business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Jacobs. Andrew is the CEO of JAM Paper, a leading manufacturer and retailer of colorful office supplies. Headquartered in Northvale, New Jersey and founded in 1954, JAM Paper offers wide range of color envelopes, plastic envelopes, colorful paper, two pocket presentation folders, gift bags, labels, binders, portfolios, and office supplies. Under Andrew’s leadership, JAM Paper has expanded from a chain of New York City stationery stores, to a leading international office supplies ecommerce company. JAM Paper manufactures over 15,000 of their own items, which can be found on top retail sites including Amazon, Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, Quill, WB Mason, Target, and https://www.jampaper.com/
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
JAM Paper has been a specialty retailer since 1982. After joining the business in 2005, I decided we could further stand out by manufacturing items ourselves, that didn’t yet exist in the marketplace. In 2007 I started to import / manufacture our own branded items. In the beginning, from 2007–2011, JAM Paper® brand items were only sold in our stores, or on our own website.
In 2011, I remember asking our management team, “do you think anyone would buy JAM Paper® brand items on Amazon”? At that time, we didn’t even have item number or UPC’s assigned to the items. Many items were hardly even labeled.
I applied for a trademark, I registered with GS1 for barcodes, I eventually registered for Amazon Brand Registry, and I figured out how to load a few dozen items on amazon.
At first, I fulfilled every item myself from our store shelves. Eventually I taught our warehouse staff how to fulfill the orders. Soon we were shipping hundreds of orders a day for Amazon with a dedicated Amazon fulfillment team. And a few years later, we were shipping thousands of orders a day.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?
I have been an Amazon seller since 2011 and I have been a FBA seller since 2014.
I have built out dedicated marketing teams that sell on Amazon USA, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Italy, Amazon France, and Amazon Spain.
We are an 8 figure Amazon Seller and we regularly maintain a 100% positive feedback rating.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
We have been able to grow and scale to levels far higher than ever imagined possible 5–10 years ago. And due to the consumers shift from traditional retail, to google, to amazon, we are well positioned to continue aggressive growth for the foreseeable future.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In the beginning, I took my own photos and wrote my own descriptions. I had the great idea of using a scanner to scan every item that could fit in a scanner. As you can imagine, this was a big mistake — every image was extremely flat! Also, it turns out that I’m not the best writer. Every title and bullet point I wrote, eventually was redone by my writing team.
I quickly learned the only way to grow, was to hire a team. And my first hires were brought on to work on the areas I was weakest in.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Amazon is constantly launching new features such as Video, Amazon Storefronts, Enhanced Content, etc. The second you think you can get comfortable, and just focus on building out existing features, something new launches that you have to understand, test, test some more, and eventually decide to invest in or pass on.
When you have 1000s of products, every new feature means potentially hiring new people to implement. We are fast to test, but just as fast to pull back when a new feature ends up not being the right fit for us. We keep a close eye on ACOS at every step of the way.
Ok. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. You are a seasoned Amazon expert. Can you share with our readers five, non intuitive, insider tips, in order to be as successful as possible on Amazon? Please share a story or example for each.
- Every product title should include your brand name. It’s important to build brand recognition wherever you can.
See below for our item vs a competitor’s item. Which brand will you remember?
2. Whenever possible, include your brand in your images. Its another opportunity to build brand recognition. And load as many images as you can!
3. Include your brand name in your ads!
4. Make branded videos!
5. Create an Amazon Storefront. Its free!
Amazon sellers have a reputation for being great guerilla marketers. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
Large legacy companies should probably just purchase smaller nimble companies with amazon selling experience. The acquisition does not even have to be in the same exact industry. If a large company has been selling to wholesale channels for the past few decades, it is extremely difficult for them to adapt to the quick moving pace of amazon.
I recently saw a Mercedes ad that said “to change is to stay competitive. To change often is to stay the best”. This couldn’t be more accurate to remain ahead of the pack on amazon.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
All commerce should be ecommerce!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Fake it before you make it!
We were “pretending” to be this large brand on amazon years before we actually were. By acting like a large brand, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
It’s a tough question because the amazon seller community is still in its infancy stages. I have met most other large sellers at conferences over the past few years. It would be interesting to have lunch with a middle market PE shop or investor who truly understands the power of Amazon. We are looking to aggressively grow our Amazon presence in the years to come!
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!