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Ep. 036 Does Manufacturing in the United States Help Sales?

September 1, 2017

This week’s Amazon Insider, Eric Heller, recruited some of the first sellers to the Amazon Marketplace. In this episode, we discuss manufacturing in the United States or other countries and whether that makes products sell better.

I want you to pretend for just a minute that you’re an Amazon shopper. Imagine you’re shopping for a mermaid tail blanket and you’re comparing two different ones by two different companies. One blanket is made in the United States and the other is made in China.

Now, ask yourself the following questions.

Does where it’s made impact which product you buy?

Does where you have your own products made have an impact on sales?

Do products made in the united states have higher conversion rates?

We’re going to be discussing all of that in this episode.

“There’s a huge difference between made in USA and made in China,” said former Amazonian, Eric Heller.

Eric recruited some of the first sellers to the Amazon marketplace. Now Eric runs Marketplace Ignition. They help some of the biggest brands manage their products on Amazon.

“In other words what I mean is ‘Made in the USA’ is an enhancer,” says Eric, “”Made in China’ is probably just the kind of thing you don’t put on there.”

So in other words, if your product is made in the United States, let shoppers know about it. If it’s not, customers likely already assume it’s made someplace else. And that’s not a bad thing.The majority of goods sold in the world are made in China.

“For example, the A to Z guarantee that Amazon provides adds a ton more things and I think we’re so many years passed when people used to say ‘that’s cheap crap from Taiwan,’ right? Do you remember growing up that people used to say that?” Eric says.

Customers aren’t searching Amazon for things made specifically in the United States. For this episode, I searched “USA made” on Amazon.

The first result is a leather wallet Then an American flag, which makes sense as a USA made product. The third is handkerchiefs.

When talking with Eric for this episode, we did a similar search, although it was a couple weeks ago and our results were different than my most recent ones.

“So my estimation based on search volume is people aren’t searching for it,” says Eric,”If you’re not searching for it then the next question is well,  if you add it in, is it a conversion enhancer? Maybe.”

It’s estimated that “Made in the USA” is searched about 20,000 times a month. The term “tube socks” is searched about the same. So let’s compare that to another broad search term, the term “gifts for men” is searched around 300,000 times a month.

Now another item that popped up in my recent search is dog treats. That’s a product that customers will be looking to see where it’s made because dogs have died by eating bad dog treats. Anything like that, food, cosmetics, really anything in the consumables category, it definitely matters where it was made and customers will be looking for that information.

“Would you buy baby formula made in you know Cambodia? I’ve been to Cambodia, it’s really nice, but I don’t suspect that it would sell a lot of baby formula if you advertise it’s from there,” Eric says.

Customers automatically assume most products come from someplace else besides the United States. If your product is made in the United States, you can add it to the title, but if it’s not, no need to give customers that information in the title.

Eric told me that Chinese shoppers are particularly consumed with where their products come from.

“Chinese buyers are most focused on safety and health for products that they ingest or eat or wear or touch their bodies or the things that relate to babies,” says Eric, “In fact, they’ll pay a lot more to get what they think is expert quality.”

I find that really interesting. Especially considering a number of products made in China. Look at Apple, their products are all made in China, however, they do something different to set their products apart. If you have an iPhone, look on the back, it says “Designed in California. Assembled in China.”

“Like there’s something about, ‘Oh, it’s from California, it must be better, right?” says Eric, “I don’t think it’s worth dwelling on beyond putting it as an enhancer or a modifying to something you’re already doing to make the product great.”

There are several key differences between manufacturing in the United States and manufacturing in China.

  1. Prices are lower if you manufacture in China.
  2. Production time. Chinese manufacturers can move incredibly fast to create your product.
  3. Shipping. Getting your products from a remote city in China is not easy and can be expensive. Having products made in the United States means the finished items get to you or a Fulfillment Center a lot faster.
  4. Language. Much Chinese have learned English and often I’m really impressed at how well they speak English, but there are still communication differences that can cause problems.

If you are manufacturing in China, you probably communicate with the people that work on your products pretty regularly. There are a few things to know about the Chinese culture that can ultimately improve your products.

  1. The Chinese care a lot about relationships. The more you work on improving your relationships with your factories, the better job they’ll do for you.
  2. Chinese people are also very competitive. This why the counterfeit problem with some Chinese sellers can get bad. The Chinese desperately want to win, even if it’s just by a little bit.

Earlier this year we interview Noah Herschman, a former Amazonian. It’s because of Noah that you can buy a flat screen TV on Amazon. Noah now works for Microsoft in China.

Noah has a lot of advice for private label sellers who are sourcing from Chinese factories. He suggests you meet the people who run the factories you buy from. Remember, the Chinese value relationships. If you cultivate a relationship with them, they’ll be more helpful.

Noah wrote a whole series of articles about Chinese selling culture.  It’s good for anyone selling on Amazon to read. You can find those articles by clicking here.

Here’s a final note about Made in the USA products. Yes, consumers care. Shoppers, including Chinese shoppers, view products made in the United States as higher quality. However, shoppers also care about price. So as long as the product isn’t something like food or health products, shoppers won’t be looking at the origin.

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