Best Practices for FBA Private Label Brands Looking to Sell

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • What has led to the increased demand for FBA businesses—and how will the marketplace change in the next two years?
  • Alex Kopco explains why he is drawn to Amazon private label businesses and entrepreneurs
  • How Alex leverages consumer insights to improve products and brands
  • The benefits of using brokers as a primary source of deals
  • How FBA investors and aggregators can be more proactive when finding companies for sale
  • What private label sellers should do before deciding to sell
  • How Alex vets a business for meaningful growth potential
  • What differentiates Forum Brands from other companies looking to buy private label brands?

In this episode…

What should FBA private label brands do to prepare their businesses for sale? According to Alex Kopco, if a business founder wants to achieve a smoother sale, they should be as open as possible with potential buyers. When vetting businesses to buy, he looks for sellers who allow him to get under the hood of a brand to see what he’s working with.

In order to move the selling process along, Alex recommends that sellers prepare all business reports, financial records, and information necessary to close the deal. They should also be proactive and open about notifying the buyer about potential issues that may arise in the course of the purchase—such as pending trademarks, a lack of stock, and any other issues that could affect business operations. This way, both the seller and the buyer can be confident in the sale.

Alex Kopco, the Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Forum Brands, joins James Thomson in this episode of the Buy Box Experts podcast to talk about the best practices for FBA private label brands looking to sell their businesses. Alex discusses the importance of both parties being open and transparent during the selling process, why he uses brokers as a primary source of deals, and how his firm differentiates itself from other FBA investors on the market. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.

The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.

Buy Box Experts prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management.

Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com.

Podcast Episode Transcripts:

Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.


Intro 0:09

Welcome to the Buy Box Experts Podcast where we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

James Thomson 0:18

Hi, I’m James Thomson, one of the hosts of the Buy Box Experts Podcast. I’m a partner with Buy Box Experts and the former business head of the selling on Amazon team at Amazon, as well as the first account manager for the Fulfillment by Amazon program. I’m the co-author of a couple of books on Amazon including the recent book, Controlling Your Brand in the Age of Amazon. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. When you hire Buy Box Experts you receive the strategy optimization and marketing performance to succeed on Amazon. Our company also supports investors with due diligence services. Go to buyboxexperts.com to learn more. Before I introduce our guest today, I’d like to send a big shout out to the team at Disruptive Advertising. For off Amazon advertising, Disruptive Advertising offers the highest level of service in the digital marketing industry, focusing on driving traffic, converting traffic and enterprise analytics. Disruptive helps their clients increase their bottom line month after month. Go to disruptiveadvertising.com to learn more. Today, our guest is Alex Kopco, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Forum Brands, a CPG operating company that buys FBA businesses and grows brands into world class consumer brands. Prior to Forum Brands, Alex earned his online credentials with nearly 3 years at Target.com followed by nearly 6 years at Amazon.com working in vendor and product roles. Alex, I’d like to welcome you to the Buy Box Experts Podcast today.

Alex Kopco 1:52

Thank you so much for being here.

James Thomson 1:54

Let me start Alex with somewhat of an obvious point. FBA private label businesses are a hot commodity these days, what has happened to generate this recent interest in such businesses that were quite frankly, these companies have been around since the beginning of the Amazon Marketplace.

Alex Kopco 2:11

Yeah, you know, I think there are a couple of things that we’re seeing. The first is folks who maybe normally wouldn’t have taken a second look at online marketplace opportunities other than needing to restock their shelves at home themselves right are now taking a second look. And this is what frankly happened to us was when the covid 19 pandemic hit, we my co founders, Brenton Howland, Ruben Amar and I were exploring industries where we thought our three collective very different backgrounds could come together to add value. And the e-commerce space was something that was obviously being impacted by COVID. You know, not just from, Oh, I can’t get toilet paper at my local grocery store anymore. But all the way up through, you know, really thinking about jobs and the way that Amazon themselves as a major employer, as folks were being laid off from restaurants and hotels, and you know, throughout the hospitality and other industries, Amazon was aggressively hiring 10s and hundreds of 1000s of people. And so when we looked at this space, you know, it became not just about, you know, buying and selling goods on Amazon, it became much more about diving deep into the ecosystem that Amazon and other marketplaces have built, which is really this ecosystem of entrepreneurs. You know, I think when people hear the word entrepreneur, they picture Mark Zuckerberg, or Jeff Bezos himself, and it’s very folks who tend to come from a tech based startup world, very much tend to overlook the inventors, the brand growers, the people who are on Amazon’s marketplace for a whole host of reasons, but many of whom are there because they identified a customer need, and they’ve set out to solve it themselves, whether by direct sourcing, or by invention themselves. And so that was a really interesting value proposition for us. And, and as we saw, you know, really a five to seven to maybe 10 year pull forward of consumer behavior to the online shopping space, having, as you described, worked there for nearly a decade myself. I was really excited to jump back in, I had taken about a year and a half off and missed it every day. You know, e-commerce has touched my life long before I worked at Target long before I worked at Amazon. And so it’s a space that continues to be attractive to me. It’s a space that I know best. And so it more and more was feeling like a natural fit for the three of us. And it’s proven to be that.

James Thomson 4:49

So, all this new excitement, all this new investment in the space. What do you think’s going to happen over the next two years? As more and more investors, more and more new money jumps in and look These types of private label sellers.

Alex Kopco 5:03

Yeah, I think I think we’re gonna see, really both sides of the marketplaces affected on the seller side on the, you know, inventor and entrepreneur side, I think that we’re gonna see a lot of folks already, you know, we’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of these sellers. Now really since the pandemic set in. A lot of these folks were people who started selling to supplement their summer income because they were teachers, yes, or they were night nurses by night, and Amazon sellers by day, or they were college student roommates who were looking for some extra pizza money, whatever the reason, a lot of folks built this nice business where they knew, you know, roughly, I’m going to bring home X amount in profit, and that’s going to sustain a lifestyle that I have within the pandemic hit. And suddenly, the sellers by no real, you know, many of them by no real incremental effort have an x 15 x their businesses, and the burden of ownership has gotten to be just so large, that a lot of folks are being faced with the prospect of hiring a team needing to invest in warehouse space themselves, or trying to, you know, work around all the regulations now that Amazon has had to implement inventory wise, you know, we’re coming out of the holiday season. And so those things have opened back up, but just the sheer volume has made it so that many sellers who got into this business for a specific reason have found themselves frankly, drowning, as what we’ve heard, and so I think, you know, as as companies like ours are coming in with the purpose of identifying fantastic brands, and being able to bring our expertise, our capital, frankly, and our team behind these brands that we believe in to take them to the next level. That’s a great value proposition for sellers who, you know, the, for whatever reason, have decided that this isn’t what they want to do full time, despite the fact that it in many cases has become their full time job. And then I think, on the flip side of the marketplace is the consumer, I think it’s great for consumers. You know, there are 10s, hundreds of 1000s of different sellers just on Amazon alone, let alone on all of the more category specific or niche marketplaces like chewy.com, etc. Wherein, you know, it can be questionable. This is the value of reviews, right is that I don’t know the difference between microphone a and microphone B. But I’ll read the reviews, I’ll ask the questions. And as a consumer, I sort of build this mental model of what might represent quality, the ability to have a company like us come in, and really double triple down on product quality on response to consumers, on ensuring that our detail pages are accurate, that our pricing is fair, that we take care of our customer first, and we place consumers at the core of everything that we do, that helps consumers win, because it fosters trust. It fosters this desire to want to interact not only with us, but frankly with marketplaces and with online experiences. And for many consumers now because of the pandemic. They’re placing their online orders for the first time. As you know commonplaces, it feels for me, because I’ve been in this industry so long, you know, there are still millions of people who never really gave it a second thought and who now are having their first impressions made by their interactions with these marketplaces, we think there’s a great opportunity for us to come in and help sellers help Amazon help other marketplaces and help brands deliver a better first impression. And, frankly, third, and hopefully 10th impression as well.

James Thomson 9:04

So let me ask you, Alex, you and I both spent time at Amazon. And while I learned a lot about business models used by ingenious sellers, leveraging the Amazon channel, wasn’t until I actually became an FBA seller myself that I realized how hard it is to maneuver through the Amazon Marketplace, and remain profitable. I learned a lot. I’m glad I learned that. But I’m glad I don’t do that anymore. Let me ask you what has drawn you specifically to this space, in terms of when you look at the types of people that you’re now talking to the subculture of online entrepreneurs. It’s a little bit different than typical entrepreneurs. I’m curious, what’s drawn you to this or what unexpected surprises Have you had talking to folks in this space where you said, never covered that in business school? Don’t know what that’s all about to tell me a little bit more there.

Alex Kopco 9:53

Yet, James. It’s funny you say that. This business is so hard. It really is. And it’s It is, I mean, it harkens back to my time at Target as a supply chain analyst. And here I am a decade later every day still learning things about sourcing, still learning things about flows of goods and forecasting, inventory and demand. And you know, these are really interesting problems to solve. The ball really draws me and what draws Brenton and Ruben and I, the three of us to this space, is the stories. You know, I mentioned that this, this word entrepreneur carries with it a certain mental picture of who that is. And you know, we’re talking about sellers on Amazon as entrepreneurs themselves, many of whom are more successful than most would be entrepreneurs here in Silicon Valley, because they’re able to build sustainable businesses. What we love is the stories, you know, we’ve got, we hear stories every single day from folks who, you know, inherited a warehouse in Texas from their dad, and they said, what should we do with this warehouse? What to do with an empty warehouse, and they came across, you know, a blog post about selling on Amazon. And so just by sheer willpower, they had never been in e-commerce before. But they had this space. And they said, what could we put in here? Well, we sell tractors, why don’t we put things that help tractors go in our warehouse and sell it on Amazon, and they’ve built a great business out of that. And so it’s this sort of hustle. And you mentioned Business School, too, you know, there is certainly not how to sell on Amazon classic Business School. And so the vast, vast, vast majority of the folks that we’re talking to, are people who you would see in line at a Starbucks, who you might, you know, bump into their cart at the grocery store, and you would never know that they’re running a $5 million Amazon business, because they identified a niche, they have a passion, they’ve poured their blood, sweat, and tears, and they’ve told their stories about the brands, this is actually you know, I’ll even extract from Amazon, the direct to consumer space is just a fascinating space, the ability for people with great ideas, to connect with consumers all over the world, in a way that that resonates the most with consumers is such an awesome outcome of the internet, as bad as you know, a rap as social media gets, I mean, I can’t tell you how many things I’m buying off of Instagram now, because their targeting is so good. Because I do, I’m struck in the endless scroll by a product that catches my eye and the story that it tells and the way that I can imagine it fitting into my life. When I walk through a store, you know, the end caps maybe tried to give a little bit, but they’re really trying to hit that middle of the road approach. I’ve been there. I worked at Target, you know, direct to consumer just gives you so much more power to tell the story. And that’s what’s most compelling to us. And it feels great, it feels great to hear these stories, and to see the success that people have had. And in some small way ourselves not only contribute to their success, because we provide the opportunity for them to be rewarded for the work that they’ve put in and enter the next stage of their life, whatever that may be to them. But we also very much believe in being the best stewards, the good shepherds of those brands going forward. You know, for us a great outcome is, you know, a brand that we’ve acquired this year, last year, whatnot, you know, five years from now, that seller is still purchasing those products, and they’re still seeing how great their brand is. And it’s everywhere, and it’s on their Instagram feed. And it’s Wow, I made this thing

James Thomson 13:41

So if I think of the Amazon Marketplace, for better or worse, often defined as a place where consumers go looking for better, cheaper versions of products. There’s lots of accessible manufacturing capacity that people can easily get access to, that draws people towards building private label brands, people who haven’t otherwise said, One day I want to grow up and be an entrepreneur, well, now it’s easier than ever. How does an investment group like yours, leverage that enthusiasm? recognizing that a lot of these companies, they’re not necessarily companies you’re going to acquire. They’re not even necessarily companies that you’re going to seriously talk to. But there’s all these ideas floating around in the marketplace. How do you leverage that in a situation where again, you may not necessarily be buying some of these companies, but you want to capitalize on the ideas?

Alex Kopco 14:30

Yeah, yeah, it’s a great question. I mean, I think there’s two components to it. There’s the scientific and there’s the unscientific Yep. On the scientific side, I mean, the the internet gives us the power to gather data, like the world has never seen like no Quinta bytes of data or whatever making this number up, but an enormous amount of data every single day generated by the internet, the collective wisdom That comes out of that is an incredibly powerful, powerful product development tool. And I was in product at Amazon, we used consumer insights to guide the features that we put into our products to guide, you know, I worked on Amazon’s brick and mortar expansion team. So when you’ve walked into an Amazon Books, or an Amazon four star store, the pop ups we’ve had, or Whole Foods, my job was to think about customer interactions within a physical space that was still representative of Amazon. But that was surprising. And, and so the power that comes from being able to deeply understand consumer preferences, you know, gives us, I think, the ability, therefore, to tailor our products, and improve the quality of our products to meet customer’s exact needs stated or otherwise. The unscientific and sort of more fun aspect of it is the community. And it’s, you know, we’re members of dozens of Facebook groups and Reddit groups, and through our network of advertising partners through our network of brands that we’ve looked at, through our investor network, and through frankly, my network, and the networks of my employees, many of whom have people who, again, you would not expect that they were, you know, multi six, seven figure, Amazon sellers, but there they are, you know, it’s so much to about your You’re right, we probably aren’t going to invest in, you know, a shoe apparel company tomorrow, that’s doing $25 million a year. But we want to have the conversation with that person, because that shoe apparel company used to be $0. And they had to think about, again, how do I operate a direct to consumer brand? How do I stand out? How do I use customer insights? How do I leverage my own network, and the stories that we hear, you know, there are common threads that you can pull out their common understandings, you know, that apply, regardless of whether you’re selling a shoe or a paper towel. But there are also a lot of product specific nuances that can be harnessed and can be tested and can be learned in a digital space where you don’t have to worry about, you know, switching out an end cap or your forefoot run at Target or Walmart, you know, you have kind of an unlimited sort of shelf space to play with store to play with ways to get in front of consumers. And so that’s been a really powerful and interesting space is just having the conversations and building up the networks.

James Thomson 17:36

So Alex, a lot of investors and aggregators have relied heavily on brokers as the primary source for the deals. What do you think of that approach? And how do you supplement that approach with? You talked about your network? But how do you see companies being more proactive and going and looking for companies that may not yet be for sale?

Alex Kopco 17:57

Yeah, that’s a great question. So to address the first point about brokers, we have a great network of broker partners, we are in touch with many of them daily, if not weekly, they provide such a necessary service. Because you’re right, there are hundreds of 1000s of sellers out there, you know, how do you differentiate between those that are selling for the right reasons. Those that, you know, have a sound core business, and aren’t, you know, for lack of a better term doing, doing some shady things, you know, the, the, the internet is great. But there are also some elements that could be improved, you know, and so the brokers provide a necessary gating function, where they’re actually looking into, you know, many of them have their 100 plus point, checklists of questions that they’re fully vetting sellers through. And they’re identifying the most qualified and so that’s, that’s, that saves a ton of time for us. But it also makes the conversations that we have with those sellers more fruitful, because we have sort of gotten the fact finding, you know, out of the way and we read on the core of the business, why did you start this? Why are you wanting to exit now? Why is this the right time? What would it take one of the questions you love to ask our sellers is, what would it take for you not to sell? What would it take for you to continue to operate this for five years? And there is not a single common answer. I don’t even think we’ve heard the same answer repeated once when we’ve asked that question, because there are so many different motivations, but all of this comes through the sort of broker lens and the broker funnel. And that’s really powerful for us. 

James Thomson 19:56

Sorry. Please, Alex, please.

Alex Kopco 19:57

I was gonna say the second part of your question, I think Was but how do you sort of expand and become more proactive? And the reach outs? Did I?

James Thomson 20:06

Yeah, because what I’m seeing is a deal will hit a broker, and literally 10 companies will all be sifting through the same deal. And so it becomes a mad rush to figure out, where are the deals that are worth doing. And everybody’s looking at the same deals? Well, that’s, that’s fine for the seller. But for the buyers, at some point, there’s too many people in the room.

Alex Kopco 20:27

Yeah. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s a great question. I think it’s one that all of us are thinking about continually. There are a variety of ways that we are employing to identify brands that span I mean, it basically boils down to at its core. It boils down to the product, you know, for us, it is using our sort of internal processes, our, you know, proprietary tools, our data to identify products that we believe in, that we believe could be, you know, we’re not, we’re not here to try to be, you know, the next unicorn, we’re here to try to build multiple brands into unicorns themselves. Yes. So our belief is that we can take this brand that we’re going to go purchase, and we can expand the product line, we can make it, you know, synonymous with that category. And in and of itself, that brand can stand up on its own. And so for us, it boils down to the quality, it boils down to the belief that we have a lot of it again boils down to the story, that that comes with the product, but also that we believe we can tell moving forward, hey, look, this is as the shepherd of this brand knouse. Yeah, this is something that we believe in. And so for us, a lot of it is, you know, we’ve even had conversations with sellers where I was shopping in a physical store and saw a product that was interesting, and did some research online, got in touch with that person and just had a conversation. And you know, many folks are not at a point at which they’re interested in selling for, again, as many reasons as there are sellers. But there’s something to be learned from every conversation. And so, you know, our point of view is there is no wasted chat, there is no wasted time, as long as it’s in the service of trying to identify the best possible brands and the ones that make the most sense for us. But the sellers that we trust the most and who hopefully, you know, we believe will trust us.

James Thomson 22:38

So let me ask you, you, you’ve had an opportunity to talk to a lot of companies that are putting themselves on the market. What are some of the best practices that you’d like to see some of these brands pursue before they decide to sell? Ie? What could they be doing to make your job easier to be able to vet them effectively?

Alex Kopco 22:57

Also a great question. And you know, one of the things that Brenton Ruben and I talked about and Brenton and Ruben’s backgrounds come from a lot of investing, they’ve collectively executed over 30 m&a deals. They’ve been focused predominantly in the technology sector consumer technology, but their laundry list of due diligence items are comprehensive, to say the least, but incredibly useful. And one of the cores to our success, we believe is that we try to be as founder friendly as humanly possible. And that’s not only from how we structure deals, but it’s actually the diligence process itself. So one of the things that we push very hard for is actually to reduce the lift on the seller as much as possible. And so what that looks like for us is, you know, they can grant you access to their reports, and we do all the heavy lifting, we will pull the reports that we need, that we need. And so, you know, best practices are, I would say, be open minded to, you know, sort of opening up the hood, and letting you know, the prospective buyer kind of gets under the hood and sees what they’re working with. I think as proactive as sellers can be in identifying things like my trademark is still pending. Or I went out of stock in the month of December because whatever reason, you know, holiday was bigger than I thought, right? I mean, these are not these aren’t, no one’s going to be penalizing you for these things. 

James Thomson 24:39

You need to have thought that through and know that potential buyers are going to find those issues so why not be prepared to hack legislation?

Alex Kopco 24:49

Exactly. The worst thing is to come out the other side and suddenly the buyer has some buyer’s remorse because they identified that that trademark they thought you had is actually still paying for, that’s not part of the purchase. And so now suddenly, there’s other legal fees potentially the deal even falls through for a variety of reasons. And that’s something that is just an unnecessary expense both monetarily and in time. And so to the extent possible, being proactive to the extent possible, having you know, sound records from your financials, whether, you know, you’ve used the same bank account, both for your Amazon business and for your personal business, yes, proactive about separating out those expenses, those that are truly Amazon, because it’s just going to save a lot of time and hassle down the road. Better yet, open another bank account for your Amazon account, and, you know, funnel, the Amazon dollars through that and run your Amazon business through a business account, you know, those are the types of things that to the extent possible, packaging up the business for sale, is a great thing, because it saves time. This is also where I think brokers are super helpful because they actually start to get that process underway. Where a lot, it’s there’s a lot more, I would say, interaction between us and a brand if we haven’t gone through a brokerage, because we are helping them think about their business, not just as this side thing that they were doing. But as a thing that inherently itself holds value, a proper business, not a lot of inventors and entrepreneurs and sellers on Amazon have really been considered before. 

James Thomson 26:31

So on that concept of you’re looking at companies that may not necessarily have gone through a broker, I imagine you’ve had situations where you’ve looked at the business and said, Oh, my gosh, look at all the growth potential in this business, and the seller wants or that the company wants to sell. We look at this. And we say, you know, we could do three months of work, and we could double this business. Tell me about situations like that, where, you know, inevitably, through your lens, you can see growth, growth, growth, growth, growth, it’s just that they need investment, or they need a better focus on one aspect of the business. How do you mean, it’s exciting to look at businesses like that, but how do you think of situations where, you know, there’s clearly a lot of growth through your eyes, but the seller is not viewing that as growth?

Alex Kopco 27:18

Yeah. Yeah. Another great question, James. So we’re actually talking to a brand who fits this category to a tee? And we actually, we actually frame it as a question. It’s part of our checklist, which is, and I mentioned the one about, what would it take for you not to sell for us? Right? Similarly, how are you thinking about growth? And what we’re curious about is, yeah, I mean, are there things, frankly, first of all, that we’re overlooking? Are there you know, what are sort of those first three month things that if the seller had an unlimited amount of money and time that they would go do but then we start to marry that up to how we’re viewing the business. And part of this is building our mental model for the business, right? We might look at something and say, Look at all this potential, look at how great this is. And then we get it. And it turns out, we pull 10 levers and nothing happens. Yeah, the thing doesn’t budge. And so part of this is us getting our heads around, like okay, what are realistic expectations? What are the things that we believe very firmly that if we pull these levers, it’s going to have a meaningful impact, and very often, these sellers are going to know better than us, right? They’ve been operating these businesses for two, 3, 10 years. And they themselves in many cases have pulled a lot of levers that had, you know, a middling effect, a part of it is just to help us get our belief and our expectations set. But the other thing is, we’re very transparent with our brand, with any brand prospect that we have. Our number one goal is to have a mutually beneficial outcome. And that does not mean that we come out having paid a super cheap price, and we triple the business in three months. That means that the seller walks away feeling like they were fairly treated like they were respectfully treated, like they were fairly paid. And we walk away again, with that mental model and that firm belief that we can take this thing zero to one not in, you know, 10 years, but in a year or two years, right. And so, that’s, that’s really what it’s all about. That’s why we focus so heavily on the relationship up front. That’s why we focus so much of the effort of the diligence process on ourselves, rather than on the seller, because a terrible outcome is you spent a month going through all this rigmarole and hassle that we’ve just lumped on top of you. Also, by the way, while you’ve not been focusing on the business or you’ve been trying to keep you know, the lights on a little bit only for us to turn around and say, you know, actually we think it’s worth half. You know, actually we don’t like it anymore. We’re gonna just walk away. I mean, that doesn’t serve anybody that doesn’t serve us. That’s a waste of our time. That’s a waste of their time. And so to the extent possible, it’s really all about transparency. It’s really all about, again, the belief in the business and the product.

James Thomson 30:12

Tell me how do you differentiate yourself from other firms, other investors looking at companies like private label sellers? You know, here’s the pitch. I mean, what does Forum Brands look like, compared to everybody else?

Alex Kopco 30:26

Yeah, I mean, the biggest thing for us, I’ve said before, I’ll say, again, is that we want, we want sellers to know that when they exit their brand, and hand over the keys to us, that the brand that they have built from scratch, that they have poured their blood, sweat, tears, time, money into is going to a place going to a home, wherein it will thrive. And so, you know, we are sort of this, we view ourselves as the next logical step for you know, many times brands kind of take on a life of their own. And they become greater than the sum of all of the, you know, parts and thoughts and people that go into it. That’s what we believe we can provide as a platform is a springboard is the gasoline that we’re pouring on an already burning fire, to take it to the next level. And so are a couple of the points of differentiation for us. Number one is just, you know, our collective backgrounds, we have experts in investing, we have experts in due diligence, we are experts in e-commerce, we have you know, as a data driven, proprietary platform, that gives us the ability to really go zero to one from day one, when we’ve taken on this brand. And so we are both investors, and owners and entrepreneurs and operators ourselves. We’ve got, you know, with my growth Team 30, 35 collective years of Amazon experience in and of itself, let alone across all the other parts of our business. Number two is we are as seller friendly as possible. I’ve talked about how much of the burden of the diligence process we take on ourselves, because we want to make this as seamless, transparent, fair as possible. That is absolutely critical to us. And then the last piece is something that we haven’t really talked about that I think quite a few folks in this space do. But it’s something that’s really important to us, is the sort of performance incentive attached to the deal itself, which is in a form with us of earnouts, which, again, is not unique to this space, but it’s something that, you know, for us, we’re not just looking at these brands and the sellers as Okay, we’ve identified this, we’ve turned over a rock and we’ve found a gem, and now we’re going to do everything in our power to not let anybody else know about it until it’s ours. And then you know, we’ll go do these things. Our thing is to say, look, we’re going to keep you on after the point of transition. And we’re going to give you opportunities to earn more than we were willing to pay for this based on performance. And that’s our opportunity to do two things. Number one, it’s our opportunity to continue to learn from the seller. I mean, like I said, these people have been operating this business effectively, for a long time. And there is, you know, we are humble enough to know that we do not have all the answers. There are so many things that we’re learning, we said earlier on, that this business is hard, it’s really hard to do these things. And so there’s a lot for us to learn. But secondarily, you know, again, we want to make sure that the seller walks away feeling fairly treated, that they’re excited about where this is going, the benefits to them, as well as the benefits to their customers. Right, many, many sellers have formulated great deep bonds with their core customers. And that’s something that and their suppliers, quite frankly, too. We’ve seen a ton on the supply chain side of these really powerful partnerships. And so it gives us the ability to find the right ways so that everybody involved in the value chain all the way from the day at the you know, rubber is sourced and Indonesia all the way to the day that the customer takes home their great product and opens the box and is surprised and delighted that everybody’s happy and that that transition is as seamless as possible. And that’s something that we are absolutely wholly committed to. And so it all kind of goes back to keep saying it fairness, trust the relationships. We are operators at our core, and it therefore does us no good to burn any bridges.

James Thomson 34:51

Alex, I want to thank you for joining us today on the Buy Box Experts Podcast. For those of you interested in learning more about Forum Brands, please visit for forumbrands.com

Alex Kopco 35:01

Thanks so much, James.

James Thomson 35:04

And now to finish today’s podcast, I’d like to share some final thoughts. For third party sellers to be successful on Amazon, a critical lever will be soliciting feedback from customers. We at Buy Box Experts are really big fans of the team at eComEngine and it’s tools that help Amazon sellers to simplify the process of messaging customers of Amazon orders. To learn more, go to ecomengine.com. And with that, I want to thank you for listening today and I look forward to joining you next time on the Buy Box Experts Podcast.

Outro 35:35

Thanks for listening to the Buy Box Experts Podcast, be sure to click subscribe, check us out on the web, and we’ll see you next time.

Meet the Speakers

Alex Kopco

Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Forum Brands

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