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October 07, 2020

Episode 7: Amazon Product Bundling Strategies

Bundling on Amazon and in life - Episode 7 Sell Rank Win

In This Episode

Meet Renaissance woman, Kristin Ostrander of Mommy Income. She’s a 7-figure seller with 17 years of experience in eCommerce and 12 selling on Amazon. Learn more about wholesale bundling and Kristin’s tips for managing life and a successful business.


Tommy Beringer:

What's up, you data-hungry Amazon sellers? This is your host, Tommy Beringer of the Sell. Rank. Win. Podcast from MerchantWords, and in this podcast, we give you the answers to your most burning questions, actionable insights that you can take away and implement into your business today, so let's go ahead and dive right into today's episode. What do you say? Let's go. What's up, everybody?

In today's podcast, we're going to be speaking about wholesaling on Amazon using the FBA model, and how to bundle within the wholesale model, and especially some extra super tips and tricks towards the end and some pro advice, so stick around and we're going to go ahead and dive right in right now. Let's go.

All right. Welcome to the Sell. Rank. Win. Podcast from MerchantWords. It is episode seven, and we have an awesome, awesome guest on for you guys.

Today, I'm so excited to have her on. She is a seven-figure seller with 12 years of experience on Amazon, and 17 total years in E-commerce. She is also a podcaster, speaker, teacher, author, and I don't know what she does not do. She is amazing. Without further ado, Kristin Ostrander from Mommy Income. How are you today, Kristin?

Kristin Ostrander:

I am fabulous. Thanks so much for having me on.

Tommy Beringer:

Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you for coming on and joining the Sell. Rank. Win. Podcast with us here at MerchantWords, and I know our guests are going to get a ton of value out of this, especially having a professional on such as yourself. What do you say? Let's go ahead and dive right in and give them what they're here for.

Kristin Ostrander:

Sure. Let's go.

Tommy Beringer:

All right. Let's do it. Kristin, tell us a bit about yourself and how you started selling on Amazon.

Kristin Ostrander:

Oh my, that's going a long way back. Honestly, what I used to do before this, I was young married, so my husband and I got married. I was right out of high school. He was a little bit older than me, but pretty much high school sweethearts there. We actually had a baby right away, and so it was like I was waitressing, he does commercial construction, so he was working, and we were kind of ships passing in the night.

We kind of needed the income and both of us needed to work as being just young people and things like that, and I was looking for something ... I was still taking some college classes, and I have like two years of college, but they kind of forced me to drop out when they said, "You've got to declare a major and start picking major classes, otherwise, you can't take any more classes," and so I kind of was like, "There's nothing here for me." I've looked at every curriculum, every single career job opportunity, and I was like, "Just nothing appeals to me," and so I continued staying at home with my little one, and as my second one was born, I discovered eBay. I was a buyer on eBay at that time, back when you could write paper checks to eBay. That was a thing, and I was a buyer and I thought, "Well, why don't I try selling something?"

I had bought my daughter, and she was kind of a newborn. I bought her this Easter dress. It was really expensive and foofoo, and I was like, "Well, she wore this for like three hours, and now, what am I going to do with it?," so I sold it on eBay and I was surprised at how fast and how much money I could pretty much make on that, so I started selling my kids', their toys, their clothes, things like that, to basically just get them new stuff because we were still running a really tight budget, and it was always feast or famine. My husband was either working like a ton of hours or there was no work at all. Being in Michigan in the winter was not great for construction, so I was just looking for something to just kind of make ends meet, really just kind of get my kids the stuff that they needed, and I started going to yard sales to pick things up.

I've also went to the dollar store, and back then, when DVDs were a big deal, they had name brands, DVDs that people would recognize at the dollar store, and so I decided to try my hand at selling those on eBay, and I was pleasantly surprised, and so I drove around from dollar store to dollar store for over 200 miles around me, with two little kids in tow, buying up these DVDs and flipping them on eBay, and I really hadn't looked back since, and then I discovered Amazon. In 2008, I started to sell on Amazon.

Tommy Beringer:

Awesome. I love speaking to my guests because they always have that entrepreneurial spirit and that fire, and I just felt it in that answer right there, where you came from and where you are now. It's just so amazing and how much of a life-changer, just being an entrepreneur in a general sense and just having that fire, continuing forward, and just never ... If you ... You never lose.

You always win or you learn. That's my philosophy, and you just keep moving forward, learn from your mistakes, and you'll eventually prevail. That's how I see it, and I think that's the same way you see it as well. Yeah, that's a lot of good stuff right there. When you got into Amazon, this is interesting, you are doing the wholesale model, and you're doing it with bundling.

I do the FBA model and I bundled myself as well, and I know how important bundling is, so what is wholesaling in bundling look like on day-to-day for you for the listeners out there that may not know what the wholesaling model is on Amazon?

Kristin Ostrander:

I exclusively do the wholesale bundles. I buy from wholesale companies, all of ... Any products you can think of out there has a wholesale distributor. I buy from it wholesale companies, and then I bundle highly complementary items together in single bundle packs, or to create variety, as well as value for the customers, and I put those things together and sell them on Amazon in multiple different niches, and it's really, really worked well for me. The greatest thing about bundling is the sky is the limit as long as you have creativity and research at your fingertips, to be able to see what customers are looking for in buying, and it just increases your profit margin because you're paying one fee per listing, you're paying one fee for all the different things altogether, instead of paying a fee for each item you're sending in.

It's one bundle and it's got multiple items in it, so it really helps to save some time and money, and they're replenishable. I can continue to resell the same ones without doing the same research over and over again.

Tommy Beringer:

Now, I think you're called the ... I mean, I don't know if I'm getting this right, the Bundling Queen, but how ... Tell our listeners out there, how important is bundling?

Kristin Ostrander:

I feel like bundling is super important because honestly, I tried wholesale at the beginning. I moved from thrifting to retail arbitrage, and then into wholesale, and I was greatly discouraged by starting wholesale right away because I was maybe misinformed or I had this preconceived notion that I was going to go into wholesale companies, and the retail price versus the wholesale price was going to be like at least 50% off. I was shocked to learn that that's absolutely not the case, and with Amazon fees, as much as they are, which I don't complain about because I know how much Amazon does for us as far as storage, and shipping, and customer service and things, but with that fee, there was just no way to make money on the things that I was researching for wholesale, and so I was starting to figure out, "Well, how can I still buy wholesale and still try to increase my profit margin?" I thought, "Well, what if I put two or three items in one package, and then it reduces the amount of fees I have, plus the customer is getting something, a little bit more special?," and, "Hey, if they buy, say shampoo and conditioner together in the same listing, then it's, you're reducing your carbon footprint with only one box, one package, one fee, one click." We are like a one-click society.

Everyone wants to just hit Buy It Now, and it's shipped to our door in two days, and so it really appealed to not only me as a seller, but them as a buyer, and when I first started, it was such a success, the very first bundle I made, that I just couldn't stop.

Tommy Beringer:

Absolutely. Couldn't agree more. I mean, bundling, saving money for yourself and making an awesome experience for your customer is super important. Totally agree. Are you currently stretching into any other marketplaces right now?

Kristin Ostrander:

Currently, I'm expanding into Canada. It seems like the easiest way to break through into the global marketplace, but I haven't found the right profitable calculation to do more global markets at this time.

Tommy Beringer:

Got it. Got it. Yeah. It's always smart if you can, to stretch into those global marketplaces and increase your top-line revenue. Now, with the wholesaling, I would assume that you need some type of authorization letter from these companies to go ahead and sell their products on Amazon. Is that the case for you?

Kristin Ostrander:

Well, I always encourage permission from dealers or from vendors, and things like that to be able to make sure that they're aware that you're selling on Amazon. The greatest thing about bundling is that you can offer something different to your vendors and distributors to where, for example, if they're a no Amazon sellers allowed type company because they're been burned or they've had too many issues, I present a different way and say, "I'm using your product within my gift set or within my kit that I'm making, and therefore, I'm not directly competing with you or other Amazon sellers that are selling your products because I'm presenting the product in a unique way," and oftentimes, I'll get yeses from companies that will say, "Sure, you can use my product in a bundle." If you're creating a spa gift set and you're using a particular brand of soap, or cleanser or something like that, oftentimes companies will say, "Well, yeah, sure. You can represent our brand in your gift set. That's no problem."

Some companies do say no too, but I always encourage people to get permission. You don't want to have to deal with issues if someone comes back to you and says, "You're not authorized to sell this," and then you did all this work for nothing, so always getting permission upfront is very important.

Tommy Beringer:

Absolutely agree, should get that permission upfront so it doesn't bite you in the butt later on, because especially if you're selling a ton of these things, selling a ton of these bundles, then it would not be any fun for this company to come knocking at your door later and say, "You can't sell this product anymore."

Kristin, walk us through the process on how you reach out to these companies in order to get the product for your wholesale business.

Kristin Ostrander:

The process first is just reaching out either through their website or if you've gone to a trade show, which I highly recommend when this COVID-19 crisis is over, but going in person and speaking with reps or getting catalogs from trade shows, but if not, visiting a manufacturer's website and going to either their Contact Us form or become a distributor, become a dealer, become a reseller, whatever their lingo is on their website. Usually, they have a fill out the form account. You just open an account with them. If you're a legitimate business, you have a tax ID number, a reseller's license, you open up the account, and most of the time, they'll let you know about their policies. If they have a no Amazon policy, it's probably one of the first things that they'll say before you even fill out the form, is, "We do not support third-party sellers. Go elsewhere," or whatever, so making sure you fill that form out.

Then, once you get the catalog, then you can start looking at things that make sense to go together to be able to start getting these accounts and looking at the products that, starting to do your research and looking up, "That's where I get my catalog," and one of the first places I go to is MerchantWords, to see the supply and demand that's going on with particular products. It's actually part of our 12-step process that we use for our product research in our Wholesale Bundle System, to be able to vet supply and demand and see what the competition level is out there and what you can bundle with what.

Tommy Beringer:

Very cool. Yeah, we love that you use MerchantWords, thank you so much, and that you see the value in everything we provide. Now, I had a question about the wholesale model. What was attractive to, about the wholesale model? Why the wholesale model, instead of say FBA? I think you said you went from retail arbitrage, so going into wholesale instead of to the FBA model, why the wholesale model?

Kristin Ostrander:

Actually, to make a quick correction there, we do use Amazon FBA.

Tommy Beringer:

You do use FBA? Okay.

Kristin Ostrander:

Yes. We are 100% Amazon FBA. We just ... Though, the products or the business model that we choose to go with within FBA is wholesale bundles, rather than just like strictly wholesale where you're selling single unit items or private label or whatever we're using the wholesale bundles as we do 100% FBA.

Tommy Beringer:

Right. Right. Sorry about that. I misspoke. I meant private label model, not FBA, so yeah. Got that straightened out. Thank you for that. I wanted to see if you have seen any difference between profitability, between the wholesale model and private labeling.

Kristin Ostrander:

Certainly. I'll give you my experience with private labeling and the difference between the two. Actually, I coined the term poor man's private label when I started bundling, because when I first ... This was about five or six years ago. When I was first looking into private labeling and I was getting tired of the retail arbitrage model, although that worked very well for me back in the day, as it became more and more risky and higher and higher competition with price tanking and everything else, I was looking into wholesale, as well as private label.

At that time, it seemed very, very expensive to try to go to international or even stateside companies and put all this money and time upfront to create a brand, to create a specific product, or tweak an existing product, and go through the samples and ordering and manufacturing, and all this back and forth that tied up a ton of capital and a ton of time when you weren't going to see the results of that profit for quite some time, and so going down that road, I realized, "This isn't going to do for me right now. I can start the process, but I still need to do on what I'm doing to make some income while I'm exploring private label." When I did bundling, I realized it had all of the same benefits as like a private label product would, because you are in fact creating a brand new product listing on Amazon with a combination of products, so it's very similar to the private label business model, only you can start out small. You don't have to order tens of thousands of something and have them shipped from overseas and manufactured. You can use existing products and create a new product bundle with existing products, and you can test it out on a smaller scale to see if it's working.

Now, if it works really great and you sell out, then you have another opportunity to pursue even creating your own similar product via private label or continue to do the wholesale business, the wholesale bundles business model, without all of the lead times, and manufacturing issues, and international importing, and things like that, that they come with private labels, so it really is kind of the alternative to that. The gap between regular wholesale and private label, I feel like is the wholesale bundles business model.

Tommy Beringer:

Have you checked out the virtual bundles yet? It's a feature from Amazon. I think it's something new. I don't know if you use that at all. I've been looking into that. I just wanted to see if you knew about it and what your take is on that.

Kristin Ostrander:

Great question. Yes, I know about it and I'll give you my two cents on that. This is Amazon's attempt at bundling, and one of the biggest downfalls that you see with the virtual bundling is that Amazon is just suggesting that people say, "Hey, if you bought this, other people are buying this. You can kind of put it in this virtual bundle," but what they're not doing is putting it all in the same package and shipping it off at the same time, so what happens is you order what Amazon's calling a 3 Item Bundle, but then, it comes in three different boxes, and one arrives on Tuesday, and one arrives on Thursday, and one arrives on Friday, and if you were sending a newborn baby gift set to your granddaughter, who just had a baby, that is super awkward and it's also kind of tacky.

Tommy Beringer:


Kristin Ostrander:

There's certain things that might work for it, but it's also, you can't replace human creativity, and that's the part of bundling that I love so much, is being able to be creative and creating products that, what customers want, but also thinking through the fundamental thing that makes a bundle sell well is thinking about the customer and the who, what, when, where, why and how of how they're going to use that product, how it brings value to them, what they're going to do with it, how they're going to use it, and then pairing those things together. You've got to solve a problem or meet a need with a product, whether it's private label or a bundle or anything, otherwise you're throwing away your money.

Tommy Beringer:

I love that answer. Then, you can't go ahead and have that nice packaging and have all those items in the packaging and have that experience for the customer as they're opening it up, so it's going to be, like you said, it would be awkward if you had like a set of diapers, some cream or whatever it is, is being sent, and it's not all in that one packaging. It kind of messes with that experience though, for sure. Kristin, we're going to wrap this podcast up. We always like to keep it short and sweet and filled with value, which you have provided us, and we always, at the end of every podcast, like to provide our listeners with one pro tip that they can take away today and implement in their business today, whether it be from PPC, from bundling, from SEO. Whatever you choose for that tip, give it to our listeners, please, and I know you're going to provide some great value here.

Kristin Ostrander:

I think the key, no matter what business model you do, no matter what you decide, no matter if it's Amazon or not, what I've learned over the course of being a business owner for 17 plus years is consistency is everything. It doesn't mean you have to be present every single day, 24 hours a day, working on your business, things like that, but be consistent at whatever you do and give yourself a commitment time. If you're new to Amazon or you're new to a specific business model, commit to a specific period of time. My personal preference would be six months to a year, and give it your all and be consistent for that period of time. People give up far too soon in our instant gratification society right now.

Everybody wants everything right here and right now, but those of us who have been around the block a few times and have been around a little bit longer know that time, and consistency, and commitment is the only thing that's going to get you any result that you desire, whether it's physical, whether it's business and financial, whatever that is, consistency, and time, and commitment.

Tommy Beringer:

1,000% agree. Never give up, guys. Either win or you learn. You never lose. Just be consistent, follow-through, and things will happen for you guys. Kristin, let the people out there know where you can be found if they want to reach out to you.

Kristin Ostrander:

Sure. You can go to You can find me there and learn all about the different products and things that we offer there, YouTube channel, and of course, The Amazon Files Podcast is always available to listen to.

Tommy Beringer:

Awesome. Thank you so much, Kristin. Very happy to have you on. Thank you so much for spending your time with us on this podcast. I know your time is extremely valuable. Just wanted to say thank you from myself and everyone in MerchantWords. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Kristin Ostrander:

Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Tommy Beringer:

All right. Thanks, Kristin. All right. Thank you, guys, so much for listening, and if you got any value out of this podcast at all, please let us know at the place that you listen to it at, whether it be iTunes, Stitcher, or whatever it is. Give us some love, give us an awesome review, and let us know, maybe some things you want us to talk about on the next podcast.

Until next time, guys. Stay awesome and be awesome.