Our 2018 Tory Burch Fellow Sashee Chandran is the founder and CEO of Tea Drops, organic pressed teas that dissolve in hot water. They’re a fan-favorite among the likes of Chrissy Teigen, Michelle Obama and Oprah. They’re also an Amazon bestseller–Sashee sells 100,000 units on their marketplace each year! That success has given her major credibility when it comes to sourcing venture funding. Sashee participated in an ask me anything-style Q&A on our Instagram to answer all your questions about making Amazon work for, rather than against, small businesses.
Q: How do you handle shipping of a perishable food product without issues of melting? Also do you find Amazon profitable?
A: Perishables are fulfilled by merchant if they can’t be stored at room temp. Tea Drops sells as a third-party seller and Amazon pays every two weeks like clockwork. When you sell 1P [first-party relationship], you get paid net-60 with lots of random fees deducted.
Q: How do you stay organized and keep track of insights from Amazon to best maximize sales on the marketplace?
A: We log into our seller dashboard often. We also partner with Elevate Growth Group to help accelerate our sales.
Q: You mention influential women who use your product. Did you reach out to them first before using their names? I want to know how to best utilize our customer base that also includes some pretty big names.
A: Typically if it is already listed in a publication, we use that knowledge as public knowledge. However, we would never divulge customer information unless publicly stated by the celebrity or figure.
Q: Do you manage shipping in-house or do you use a third party?
A: We now have a 3PL (third-party logistics company) to manage shipping to the Amazon warehouse.
Q: How do you keep your products relevant in your market?
A: We are always looking at tea trends and customer asks. That was a big driver in our decision to launch Boba kits this summer. From idea to launch, it took about 1.5 months
Q: Any product description secrets? How do you stand out on Amazon?
A: Be as thorough as possible in your description and anticipate any questions might one have about your product. For us, that means addressing how our teas actually “dissolve” and the tea fiber that sits at the bottom of your cup. Having visuals and photos in your listing to demonstrate this is a big plus.
Q: Do you pay additional fees to be at the top of the search?
A: We do engage in Amazon advertising and keyword bidding. Amazon has gotten better with additional placements that help you highlight more of your brand’s differentiation.
Q: Is selling on Amazon actually profitable?
A: Yes. Less profitable than your website for sure, but you can work to make it a profitable channel over time. It’s a more expensive channel to sell on, so make sure to bake in all your costs into your pricing structure!
Q: Does your brand ambassador program generate sales or is it most helpful for brand awareness?
A: It actually achieves both!
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