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How To Master Amazon: “Use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk” With Will Tjernlund & Eldad Shashua

We are big believers in Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Mechanical Turk allows you to rapidly survey humans about any subject. We use it to ask them which pictures they like best, what they would search to find the product and to see what a customer is willing to pay for a product based on the images. […]


We are big believers in Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Mechanical Turk allows you to rapidly survey humans about any subject. We use it to ask them which pictures they like best, what they would search to find the product and to see what a customer is willing to pay for a product based on the images. This gives us some amazing data since we can limit the surveys to people of certain demographics. It is great to have keyword data from third party software just like everyone else, but at Goat, we like to also see what actual human beings think about our product. Using the surveys allows us to optimize for the human side of things and the product conversion rate instead of just optimizing for search volume.


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 Will Tjernlund. Will is an experienced Amazon seller, vendor and consultant. He has sold millions of dollars on and to Amazon through Professional Grade Products. For the last few years he has run Goat Consulting, an Amazon agency that helps brands scale on Amazon while protecting their brands.


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?

In 2012 I started selling on Amazon out of my Aunts basement while I was still in college. I had learned how to private label products using Alibaba from my older brother and was dead set on making this work out and scale. After having some minor success, my brother and I started selling out of my family’s warehouse (My family owns a +70 year old manufacturing company) by sourcing many different types of products and creating a few brands. From there, brands and people started to take notice and I was invited on many Amazon podcasts and was invited to speak at many Amazon conferences. After hearing my story, many brands would ask how could I do this for their company. This is where Goat Consulting was born. My brother still runs our original business while I focus 100% of my time on Goat Consulting

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?

One of the reasons I am authority about selling on Amazon.com is because I have seen so many different examples of how to make a buck on Amazon. I have sold everything from dog wheelchairs, to industrial refrigerators. I have consulted for billion dollar electronic companies and have also worked with venture backed startups. I have seen every angle of selling on Amazon over the last 6 years and have a deep understanding of how the market works, no matter what the niche may be.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

The most interesting stories that happened to me was when my repricing software failed. Many sellers use software to reprice their products depending on where the competition is priced so they can increase their chance of winning the Buy Box. Well, one day my repricing software had a glitch and priced all my products down to $.01 . Almost all of the products were sold instantly and I was stuck we no money and no inventory. I was on the phone the entire weekend until, luckily, the problem was resolved and we were able to cancel many of the orders with no penalty.

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?

One of the biggest mistakes I made was when I attempted to private label a knee scooter (look it up). We did not put much thought into the customers mind set and we paid the price for it. Two things that really stunk about knee scooters was that

  1. If anything was wrong with the product at all, the customer was FURIOUS. They are sitting there with a broken leg and cannot move since we forgot to supply them with a wrench or whatever
  2. All the customers needed the scooter for a limited time and would return it before 30 days. A customer would use the scooter for three weeks and once they felt well enough they would return it for a full refund. So sales were great, but 30 days later we had pallet after pallet of knee scooters returned to us. We had so many returns that we had to have an employee rebox the ones that were in good condition and try to sell them on eBay

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

YES! I am currently working with some very cool companies that have access to many of Amazon’s beta programs. On top of that, Amazon Advertising is really taking off and we have been in talks with Amazon and the future seems to be very bright for anyone selling or advertising on Amazon!

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?

We are big believers in Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Mechanical Turk allows you to rapidly survey humans about any subject. We use it to ask them which pictures they like best, what they would search to find the product and to see what a customer is willing to pay for a product based on the images. This gives us some amazing data since we can limit the surveys to people of certain demographics. It is great to have keyword data from third party software just like everyone else, but at Goat, we like to also see what actual human beings think about our product. Using the surveys allows us to optimize for the human side of things and the product conversion rate instead of just optimizing for search volume.

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. 🙂

I am on the board of directors for the Minnesota Council for Economic Education. Our goal is to increase financial literacy in teachers, students and our community. If I could inspire a movement, I would inspire a movement that encourages financial literacy. I can’t believe how many people I talk to who have no idea how loans, banking, stocks or bonds work. In my point of view it is crucial for everyone to understand how these systems work to make sure they have a bright future.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Find a specific niche and learn more about it than anyone else in the world”

I am very lucky I got obsessed with Amazon and specifically selling on Amazon.com. I could have easily spent my time elsewhere and became the MySpace expert.

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 🙂

I would love to talk to Jeff Bezos or any of his execs that are in charge of Seller Central. I think I would bring a unique perspective while at the same time ask them questions that are important and relevant.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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