September 19, 2019
Talking With The $400k Day Ecom Legend Steven Tan | RBM E15

Talking With The $400k Day Ecom Legend Steven Tan | RBM E15


Hello and welcome to iStack Training’s podcast,
The Robust Marketer. I am super lucky to be here today with Steve Tan. Now many of you
will be familiar with Steve Tan and his brother, Evan Tan, and some of their amazing exploits
that they have been putting together in the eCommerce space. My first exposure to Steve
was a post that he made on Tim [Bird’s 00:01:13] Facebook buyers group where he showed screenshots
of his first $400,000 day. That’s a big day by anyone’s standards and I was just absolutely
blown away. I instantly starting digging in and researching about who these guys were
and what kind of numbers they’re doing, so I’m very glad to finally get him on the show.
I’m sure, as he’s told me, that’s just one of his stories. He’s got several other ones
going on and he’s here to talk a little bit with our audience about his eCommerce success.
Welcome to The Robust Marketer. How are you doing, Steve?
Hi Eric. I’m doing well. Thank you for having me on your podcast today. Appreciate it.
Yeah man, excellent. Our video is frozen here for a sec here. Try turning your video on
and off. Okay, let’s see. Okay. Yup.
All right. We’re back in business. Okay perfect. First hiccup overcome. The first thing that
I like to do on my podcast is the guest tells a little bit about their marketers hero’s
journey. What brought you from starting out? How long have you been doing this and what
are some of the key steps along the way that brought you to where you are today?
I think I mean mindset is very critical for me. I started back in 2006 selling physical
products, not on eCommerce stores, but on eBay, so probably that’s my first step in
how I got started with selling physical products. It scaled to a point whereby I’m doing probably
40, 50k per month and I felt that it’s really hard to scale furthermore. I kind of like
started to look for solutions whereby I could have everything on my own store rather like
on a platform whereby I can control my sales funnels, I can get my email address from all
the customers, I can do follow-up everything, right? So eventually we ventured into doing
our own eCommerce stores. Started with a blog, kind of like the old
before WordPress. We dabbled with HTML pages, then luckily eventually Magento came out,
but it’s like a really, really heavy solution. Probably back in ’07 we started exploring
Magento. ’07, ’08. But things really picked up for us mid of ’08 to ’09 whereby we started
scaling probably around 3 to 400k per month. The peak was 500k. We can’t go through 500k.
Anything more than that, it’s like unachievable for us. But it’s pretty consistent. The era
is just crazy back then, because like there’s literally not much people using Facebook.
We were spending about 1 to 200k per month with Facebook like then, so like your a super
big baller when you are spending 100k back then. They treat you like king, they give
you all the AP access, they’ll give you a lot.
But it’s so much easier right now, because there is pixels. Facebook has evolved so much,
like made it so easy for all these advertisers, which is why I’m sharing a lot with all my
friends and people who’s getting interested in eCommerce, because there is no better time
to get started, because you guys have Shopify right now. You can get set up like a star
in just literally a few minutes or even for a newbie it’s like 10, 20 minutes or just
like a few hours right? Facebook ads probably just takes you a few weeks just to really
get good at it. You know, familiarize yourself and it’s all about testing. Back in the days
we don’t even have pixels. You have to use custom codes, custom third party tracking.
There’s now like all this convenient stuff ever. Yeah.
Yeah. It is. You’ve obviously come a long way. So you first started hitting your big
success in 2007, 2008 you were saying? And- Yeah, 2008, 2009, yeah.
2008, 2009. And then since then, what has it been like? Like what allowed you to get
over … Did it peak then, or has it continued to go up? And then what do you attribute like
being able to get over that next hump. It kind of like peaked during then, then we
did some different startups, we did some crowdfunding, we did some tech startups, consumer electronics.
It did pretty well. We did a few million in some of the startups that we did. You know,
things go up and down. Met some bad partners, got cheated in a lot of business. So at that
point of time it’s like we’re still pretty young, you know? Young and naïve probably.
So you’re going to meet a lot of people that’s going to [inaudible 00:05:56] because you’re
successful in a way that they want you to invest your time and money, right? It kind
of brought us down to a point of where we lost a lot of all the money that we earned
during our young days. So it’s pretty up and down ’till all the way
that I kind of like so sick of it. I even got into Forex for a few months just to see
… Because the mind during at the time of where everything crashes you kind of get into
a really bad mindset whereby you want to try to salvage whatever you can just to get reach
again quickly, right? But chance is that you know that when you get into such a bad mindset
and you want to get rich quick, you’ll just try something that’s not stable, that’s really
high risk. So I got into Forex for a few months for 20k, blew it in just a few weeks and I
figured out it’s not something I really want. So one of my really good friends just said,
“Why not just go back and do eCommerce, since you guys are good at it, right?”
It kind of gave me a wake up call after we had like a 24-hour chat. You know, this guy
who is really my good friend gave me a wake up call. So I went crazy and I just thought
I really need to get up to speed with what has changed and everything. And for us to
just go back and do drop shipping, it’s so easy compared to all the startups that I have
been doing. It’s like a no-brainer. Like none of effort and energy required to do a startup
and compared to a drop shipping or a Shopify store is like probably just 1 or 2% of what
it’s like doing a startup. So yeah, I mean we scaled really, really aggressively
really quickly. Even in the first month we did like high six figures and continue to
do like seven figures the next month and we scaled more. Since then, we did multiple eight
figures or 80 since then. Unbelievable. And you’re gearing up for your
biggest Christmas ever, I would imagine. Yeah, so this year we’re going to make sure
we crush hard on Christmas. At this point of time our Philippines team is 100% virtual,
but I have a lot of offices in Philippines before, but obviously because of the startups
close and open, right? You have to open your startup, close your startup. I’m kind of jaded
in a way that I don’t really want to have like physical office and I’ve spoken to a
lot of good friends, gurus that told me, “You know, just keep it virtual.”
But I think I came to a point of time that I really want to start a new office again
in Philippines. I like the startup vibe, the Facebook style, Google style kind of office,
so we’re going to probably buy a big office next year in Philippines and have everyone
work from the office in kind of like a hybrid, physical and virtual setup.
Cool. We have a team in Manila and they’re just amazing and I haven’t visited them there
yet, but I just saw today, there’s a team of 30 that iStack has in Manila and apparently
the sense of camaraderie in the Philippines, in this office is just unbelievable. Like
they’ve made it a great place to hang out, so people are sleeping there. They play a
weekly poker game, like they have this big poker tournament all the time. Just the way
that things have kind of come together there. I think it makes a lot of sense and I think
you might see some benefits from having that. That being said, the remote office thing is
absolutely wonderful. I split my time about two days a week at home and three days in
the office and I really enjoy having that balance. For me personally it helps a lot.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Sounds good man. So we used to have a team of 50 people in
Philippines, also in Manila, so we were in the Ortigas area. It’s really nice that they
work really quickly with their co-workers. In Asia especially probably in China or in
Singapore people don’t hang out with colleagues on the weekends, but in Philippines they’ll
go out for a movie, they go out for bowling. I mean the vibe is just really strong. They’re
becoming really good friends, they do hang out during the weekends with their families
and so forth. It’s also depending on the company culture obviously, but I think those are people
that, if you treat them really nice, you get rewarded like 10x your investments.
Yeah. In my experience I’m a pretty nice guy anyway, but the quality of their work is just
astounding. The design, the development. So you’re using design, development. Do you also
have a lot of customer service reps in the Philippines as well?
Yeah, mainly all the customer support are from the Philippines, and because they speak
really good English the rates are reasonable, so I’ve been telling a lot of my friends,
“Please don’t spoil the market rates,” because it used to be 2, 300 U.S. but right now probably
of this search of demand for customer support reps, these guys are just going crazy. On
Upwork they’re charging crazy rates, like, 5, 600, 7 to 800, so it might seem cheap in
the US or in Europe, but this really … everyone is spoiling the market rate because they think
it’s still cheap, but it can be cheaper. But I’m not saying that we should underpay all
those people, but you should only reward those that are really exceptional and good and up
to par and not like just across the board everyone gets the good rate, you know, everyone
gets like super high pay. It just spoils the market for a lot of people sometimes.
Yeah, I can imagine. So you’re now operating at this super high scale. What are some of
the tools? Have you had to build out at the scale that you’re out when it comes to fulfillment
and customer service? Have you had to build out your own software tools at all, or have
you been relying on external tools? And if so, what are some of the tools that have really
made a big difference for you guys that have allowed you to scale to the heights you have?
I think we do use some tools. It’s like local, custom-made. It’s more for logistics, because
you have to integrate with your warehouse WMS tools whereby it takes care of all your
logistics, your warehouse management. We do have like an experienced manager in place
for that, so he takes care of all the setting up, the integration and everything for that.
Other than that we don’t use a lot of Shopify apps, mainly because of if sometimes it’s
used too much, it’s going to slow down your store. There are some apps that’s not really
ethical that steals your data. But overall we just use minimal apps on our stores. A
lot of things that we do are actually integrated directly into the store, so in a way we do
some custom-built apps, mainly for our logistics. But the rest would be just …
I think most of the people are using custom currency conversion, Wheelio. We used to,
but we stopped using urgency apps, like those countdown timers. We stopped using that. We
really don’t use much of the apps right now, so the scaling would majority come from Facebook
ads. We diversify a lot of our traffics. We do a lot of SEO. So SEO accounts to probably
10, 20% of our- That’s incredible.
Yeah, 10, 20%. Give our volume it’s still good money. We don’t do native ads for now,
but after talking with James probably we would be interested to test it out too. But Google,
Google AdWords, [GDN 00:14:11], Google Search, SEO, Facebook. Facebook is still the majority,
because it’s so much easier to scale with Facebook compared to any other traffic source.
Yeah, when they like what you’re doing you can really put the pedal to the floor. You’re
scaling to these incredible heights here. Are you running into policy often? Do you
have a strong relationship with the policy team there? You obviously have a rap, they
were treating you like a king early on. No, not now.
No? Now it’s a struggle? I mean like we do have good relationships
with Facebook obviously given the spend we’re doing, so they do advise us on what kind of
creatives we should avoid. They obviously can’t tell you off the bat for every single
creative you upload, but if there’s problems they’ll work with us to get it resolved instead
of just shutting you down for no reason. If your ad got removed there’s usually a good
reason why, like what happened, so you know what exactly happened instead of being in
the dark. Interesting. Let’s just talk logistics a little
bit, about the kind of scale you’re working with. We talk to people that want to get into
drop shipping. Most often the easiest thing for them is to go and get Oberlo and get Shopify
and just flip things from China. Is that how you started?
Yes, when we just got started. I mean when we got started the unique advantage is being
like we have been in China for more than ten years, right? So we’re so familiar of where
to do all the procurement, all the purchasing. Off the bat we didn’t even use AliExpress,
because it’s kind of like for beginners, because it’s more expensive. We usually just source
from locals. Local websites like [inaudible 00:16:14] or 1688. There’s a lot of different
sources that we go to, but being able to speak the local language and having a team there
in China does help a lot. It sorts out all this.
Basically we can’t consider ourselves as drop shipping, because we do hold a lot of inventory.
Multiple, multiple six figures of inventory in our warehouse. I’m not sure if you have
seen the video. We have a big warehouse in China that does all our logistics so yeah,
you could check it out. I shot a quick video on it.
Yeah I will. I showed everyone in the group a tour of my
warehouse in China. Basically it takes care of all our fulfillment and logistics. Pick,
pack, ship, everything is done there. Once our procurement team does the purchase everything
gets shipped to the warehouse. Everything is labeled properly, so every time when they
pick, pack, ship, everything is scanned, everything goes through the system, so it’s very systematic.
I don’t exactly know the super nitty gritty details of every single step, because you
have to hire professionals to do that for you. I mean it’s not the CEO’s job to know
every single shit that happens in the company. But definitely do only considering having
your own warehouse, logistics, everything, when probably doing at least high, 5 to 600k
per month. Then probably consider, because anything below that, I don’t think it’s really
necessary at this point of time. I mean you can easily get sourcing agents
or people or even your sellers could do that for you. Like AliExpress sellers. Once you
have a good relationship with them, they’re usually more than happy to source other single
products for you, because they get to earn money from that. I have a few good friends
doing high six figures and they only rely on AliExpress sellers, which they came to
develop a relationship in a way that they could help them become their sourcing agent.
They could cut out AliExpress essentially, but the relationship is forged through Ali?
Yeah, they are forged through Ali. They establish the trust and everything in there, then they
will say, “Okay, I could help you source this product.” In a way when you started selling
more, you approach them, “Hey, do you have this product?” They will just tell you, “Okay,
I could source this for you,” because it is so easy for locals just to type it in, get
some samples. It’s just so easy for locals to do it and because they speak the native
language there. So step one, speak Mandarin or have a partner
that speaks it. Yeah. I think just getting started, don’t
worry too much about it. Let’s start off with AliExpress, get everything setup properly,
getting to know your suppliers, get to forge a relationship out of it and probably start
off to see if they are open to … Usually try not to go for the super big sellers, because
they kind of don’t give a shit for you, because you’re small and to them probably they don’t
even know you’re going to scale hard enough. But most of them I would say, if once you
show numbers, once you show the scale, I will probably say eight out of ten would be more
than happy to take on more business, because why not, right? It’s free money for them.
They’re just going to buy it for you, ship it for you. They get a cut, so yeah.
Yeah, but for you guys and your ability to scale, like newbies aside. Obviously that’s
great advice for newbies getting in there, but with you guys having your own warehouse,
was that a big game changer for you in that way? You were able to pull in feeds from all
sorts of different products and house them in one spot. Does that just make it easier
to procure things at massive scale? Yeah, definitely. For sure. I would say it’s
a unique advantage that we do have. Anyone that’s seven figures should definitely have
their own fulfillment setup in China, because the cost savings, the processing speed, the
ability to scale. I mean not all suppliers can scale 5 or 6,000 order per day and not
necessarily you’re going to get all the suppliers to be able to have stock. Usually there’s
a point of time whereby we buy out the entire China market supply. It’s like we are scaling
so aggressively like everyone is out of stock and we have an agreement that only they can
sell it to us, so any copycats who try to get into the game and try to sell the same
product, they don’t even have inventory. So eventually they are just going to refund all
the customers and take the loss for all the ad spend.
That’s a unique advantage that we do have sometimes, depending on how hard we scale
and how new the product is. If the product is really mature, super a lot of sellers and
manufacturers, then it’s probably harder. But if it’s a new product, probably you’ll
need five or six big manufacturers. We can easily usually buy out the entire market for
that. When you posted about your $400,000 spend
days, that was on one store essentially. Yeah.
Now can you tell me, is that one product or is that multiple products within that?
Multiple, yeah. What’s your general approach?
Multiple products. It’s kind of hard to scale on product to that scale, but probably we
have like a few winners for that and it’s actually much easier to scale with several
potential big winners, but definitely one big winner combined with four or five small
winners and then you can get to close to 400k. Or else it’s very hard. It’s very hard.
And working the up sales obviously where you’re- Yes.
So they’re tightly-themed products. The products where you have an audience in mind ahead of
time. You probably have been building that audience. You probably have pixel data on
that audience. Can you give me one of the ways that you would use in order to scale
an audience to the heights that you’re talking about. Is it just based on the fact that you’ve
achieved that scale in the past and therefore your pixel has learned this amount? Or are
there any hacks that you have for ways that people can hack to scale that? Because it’s
just a matter of spending. I would say probably like the product. The
product and your ad copy, your landing page. There’s a lot of factors that takes into account
on how you could scale to these kind of heights, because if you are spending a lot of money,
obviously you’re … Anyone can spend a lot of money, but does it convert? Does it get
sales? Is this product something that people want? Do you have inventory for this product?
Is there any potential that you are not able to ship all this products, but you have a
lot of sales for that? All this has to be taken into account, but I would say definitely
concerning how aggressive you are. Because for us, whenever there’s good profits we’ll
just scale it and we use a lot of different techniques and strategies on how we scale
it, so it’s definitely not just a single strategy that we’re using and not just because of the
product or not just … It doesn’t just account to the strategy or product. Everything comes
into play in all this scale. So I think it took a while for us to get there,
but definitely it’s hard to get there, because with all the crazy amount of things you have
to do. You have to make sure everything is right before you have to scale, or else you’re
just wasting ad spend. I think there was one time that we tried to scale really hard and
the product doesn’t … I mean the whole market is just that small, right? But we’re trying
to force this product to have more sales and it doesn’t work, so we tried scaling it to
probably almost 100k per day and it just died off from there.
And so it was wasted spend essentially. Yeah, yeah.
How do you guys deal with shipping times? I know that’s an issue. I know that Facebook
is starting to talk about sending surveys to users after they’ve ordered products online
about when they got their products. I guess having your fulfillment center speeds things
up a little bit. Is it a concern, the length of the shipping time generally?
No. We don’t even have concerns about that, because we don’t have three to five days processing
time, which it’s already a lot, right? That’s almost a week. If you take into account five
… Let’s just say five days, right? AliExpress sellers have like five days processing time,
so from the amount of five days processing time, takes about another two more days to
get to the ports and everything. Essentially you’re wasting already one week, right? That
is the reason why most of the AliExpress sellers have crazy long shipping times, because you’re
working through an AliExpress seller whereby they have tons of orders and your order is
just … Just one of them being backlog all the way to five or six days later. For us,
every order … If we have inventory, everything that comes in on the same day gets shipped
out on the same day. Perfect.
There’s no delays, there’s no processing times. If we have inventory and it’s not shipped
out, someone is going to answer for that and someone is going to get fired for that, you
know? I mean having everything in-house for logistics, I would say is definitely an advantage
and something that you could actually speed up a lot of the things that it’s not used
to be possible. So it’s definitely more cumbersome having all this space that you need, all this
inventory, all this people that you have to hire. It’s like a very manpower-intensive
role when you’re setting up your warehouse. It’s not like you can set automation for all
this virtual stuff. It’s hard, but I would say it’s definitely worth it when you’re scaling.
But everything less than 400k per month, I wouldn’t even consider setting up all this.
Yeah. No, that makes sense. Can you tell me, is your customer base truly global, or is
it still mostly based in the United States? Very global. I would say US is definitely
one of the biggest markets for sure, but not 100%. US probably accounts 40% overall.
Wow. 40, 50%, yeah.
That’s interesting. It’s still the biggest one country, but if
you’re missing out on the other countries, like UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, all
the English speaking countries, you’re definitely missing out on a lot of money and Europe is
a very good market for us too. So if you’re not doing Europe market, definitely putting
a lot of money on the table. Is there a Chinese market for these products
or is it really just for the decadent West? I would say definitely yes, but very competitive,
because you are sourcing from China, right? Unless you have a really strong brand, because
Chinese people like to buy French, US made stuff, right?
Yeah. So unless you could do white label or you
rebrand something that’s so special and you have a really strong brand, you can resell
it from US back to China, but essentially everything is made in China. I’ve seen a lot
of good brands doing that, but if you are just doing drop shipping, I don’t think it’s
feasible because the competition is just cut throat in China, man. They undercut you like
crazy. Like on [inaudible 00:28:04], oh man, you have to check the prices. Like it’s just
ridiculous. Interesting. Yeah, that’s a very good [inaudible
00:28:09]. Maybe we just need to get big production centers in the heartlands of the United States
where they’re struggling over there, and then they can sell it back to China to be like,
“Made by Americans.” Yeah, I mean like definitely there’s always
a demand for like made in America, because I mean it’s just like the culture.
Yeah. Like Asians, we just like to by US made or
European made. We believe the quality is so much better than China. I think it’s just
like the culture thing, so definitely a good market for that, but your branding has to
be strong and it has to be so powerful in a way that people, oh, they’re willing to
pay like 10x the price, right? Yeah.
For sure. I know now you can’t just establish that overnight
necessarily. No, it’s a pain. In my Mastermind a few weeks
ago, the Phuket one that I did, a lot of them are trying to transition over to doing a long-term
brand, which is good for sure, but I shared my experience and what I did for my brand,
because a lot of people has a misconception of building a brand. They thought, “Oh, maybe
you’re building a brand that’s just creating a logo, having a logo, a slogan and putting
it on a product. That’s branding.” That’s not true. When we’re talking about branding
it has to be consistent from top to bottom. You have to care about your customers, you
have to have a company culture, you have to have good vision whereby you can share with
your employees and everything, right? It’s like all the startups that I’ve done is kind
of like Silicon Valley startups that we are trying to really build something to be really
big, so you have to be really prepared when you’re going to be invested in doing a brand.
I think I shared a lot of my experience during the Mastermind so that people know what they’re
getting into rather than just like, “Oh. It’s just a logo. It’s just a slogan. That’s it.
I have a brand.” Yeah. Superficial. A lot of people have a superficial
idea of what a brand takes. Yes.
Very interesting. One of my questions was, in a last podcast I did with Malan Darras,
who is one of the original affiliate media buyers who’s … He’s really good at finding
products and making them work essentially, so my question is what is your approach to
sort of fast-follow products that are already working in the space that you reveal through
niche finding and SEO tools and things like that? Have your biggest wins been through
pioneering a product and being more or less a first mover on some of these big products?
Definitely the biggest winners you have to be the pioneer. I mean you definitely can
try to be a copycat. I mean this is like an open, very transparent market, especially
with all the spy tools, but you get to a stage whereby you realize that even you know this
product is a killer and let’s say you are selling something that’s super selling super
well, and I’ll try to take it and I’ll try replicate your success, not necessarily I’ll
get the same results. It’s just strange, but Facebook does, you know … I’m not so sure.
They probably give them preference to early adopters or people that could start early,
because if you have been testing enough products you would just realize that it doesn’t work
that way. Like I could take all the best selling products
that I know and all the best winners, all hot selling products and I will just slap
it on our page and probably because of different niche or some of them are general stores,
you know, it doesn’t just work. I honestly hope it could be that easy, because with all
the tools that we have, all the research team that we have in place, we basically know every
single hot selling product, but it doesn’t work that way. It’s probably because something
to do with our targeting, probably a pixel. There’s a lot of factors, but sometimes if
you test enough products you’re just going to get better odds of winning at this game,
because it all boils down to testing different kind of products, the SOP’s, the systems you
have in place. I was telling the Vietnam crowd that I was
doing an event last week, even that we got so drunk, we have hangover, the whole team
is still running by itself, because you have a good SOP’s in place to make sure that all
this products are being tested day in and day out without fail. Even without us, me
and Evan, not being in the business, everything is still running as it is. Yeah, that’s called
a real business in my opinion, yeah. Nice, so that you can get away with being
hungover. I love it. Yeah. Exactly.
And spending an hour talking on a podcast with a daft Canadian. Fantastic, well that’s
… I had another question too about when you’re dealing with Facebook at the scale
that you’re dealing with, when you’re spending as much on Facebook, are you using the automation
tools that Facebook provides? Are you interfacing, for instance, with their API to spin up campaigns
quicker? Or is this done through Power Editor and slogging away, duplicating campaigns and
things like that? We use a variety of tools to do that. We don’t
have our own custom-built API. I don’t think it’s required for now. I mean we’re not at
the scale that we’re spending hundreds of millions per year, so I don’t think it’s necessary
to custom-build your API. Probably you’ll be better off using a third party, so they
do recommend us to use a lot of Smartly. Different kind of … A lot of Facebook partners that
can help you scale. I think it’s not necessary right now for us, and especially [inaudible
00:33:56] the fact they have to charge you a percentage of your ad spend. I think some
of them do take 5 to 10% of your ad spend, which I don’t like it, because we’re spending
a lot, so obviously 10%, it’s a lot of money for us. I would rather just hire tons more
media buyers in the Philippines, because I mean good media buyers in the Philippines
are probably just a few thousand U.S. per month. Compared to a percentage of the ad
spend, I could literally hire 50 people, right? I don’t see the benefits of doing so.
But we do use Facebook automation tools, the inbuilt ones with some easy automation like
increase budget. I mean all this are free, so just use it. Of course don’t expect it
to be as sophisticated as Smartly, because it’s free. But it’s just a matter of time
whereby Facebook is going to come up with something that’s as powerful as that. Because
I’ve seen Facebook starting to kind of copy some of the features from all these different
tools. Nice.
And putting it all into Facebook, so we still use a lot, a lot of Power Editor and we do
use like [inaudible 00:35:15] and Espresso from time-to-time to mass create ads, but
yeah, I mean it’s like I wouldn’t worry too much about using all this super tools until
you’re at a super bigger scale. At least like multiple six figures.
That makes sense. Now what about video ads? A lot of people talk about eCommerce and video
being the only way to go. What’s your mix on video to static when it comes to advertising
for eCommerce? Video is definitely a good one for us and
Facebook reps does highly recommend it. They told us even if you’re trying to do static
photo ads, try to just put it into animation so that it’s video in a way. But I do still
run a lot of photo ads. I think I still run about 20, 30% of photo ads in our overall
campaigns, because it’s still works. I mean if the majority of everyone is like … I
mean the market is like this, right? When everyone sees someone is doing this thing,
everyone flocks to do the same thing, so everyone is leaving the photo space in a way, so you’re
going to be able to kind of capitalize when all the marketers are not doing photo ads
anymore. So probably you could be the big guy in photo ads where everyone is just concentrating,
everyone is just pitching video ads. Definitely video ads is big for us, no doubt, big for
us, but I’ll definitely diversify. Usually we try to diversify in everything we do. Business,
ads, traffic, everything we do is diversified. Nice. Another thing that was brought to my
attention that’s like a really key aspect to scaling your sales is responding to comments
on Facebook ads. Simple things like when someone has a question you respond with a product
link. There’s all this stuff that’s happening through customer engagement. I was going to
say what percentage of your business is derived from this strong attention to the customer?
And specifically responding to Facebook ads. Do you see a large portion of sales coming
from that? I think it’s helpful, but definitely not critical
in a sense that’s crazy, so that we do have social media managers replying to all those
messages day in and day out, 24 hours, but it’s a good practice I would say. But I won’t
say it’s to a scale whereby it affects your business critically in a way, but it shows
people that there’s someone responding, so it gives more engagement, gives people more
trust that they’re speaking to someone that exists instead of just a viral video.
Nice. Super good. I know we’re pressed for time today. I think we’re just coming close
to an end year, but I want to first of all say we’re super excited that you’re going
to be coming to Affiliate World Asia in Bangkok on December 6th and 7th and we’ve also just
come to an agreement where you’re going to come to Facebook Master Live and talk about
there. If for some reason that changes we’ll edit this out, but I don’t think so. I think
it’s going to happen, so we’ll make sure that that’s a big hit.
And then talk a little bit about what else you’re up to. I know you just had this Mastermind
in Phuket that James van [inaudible 00:38:28] came back with raving reviews about the people
he met and all these silent killers doing just huge, huge numbers in eCommerce and he
also was talking about how he was like a giant there, because yeah, I’d just see these pictures.
He’s just such a big dude, which was funny. But talk a little bit more about what you
have going on. What you have coming up. I know you guys have a really big conference
coming up pretty quick. Yeah, so this coming Saturday we have … I
think it’s one of the biggest eCommerce events in the world. It’s our first event that we
set up in Singapore, so part of the reason why Singapore, because I’m from Singapore
and I felt that I … I hate flying, so I definitely [inaudible 00:39:09] fly all the
way to the US where all the golden nuggets and all the big speakers are there. This year
probably because of, like, I have good relationships with all the speakers, so I kind of invited
them to Singapore, because Singapore is a really nice place, really safe, really clean
financial city of Asia. A lot of the few speakers have already been to Singapore and they loved
it, so I was thinking why not bring everyone here, since there’s such a big pool of marketers
in Asia, Bangkok, Singapore, Malaysia. Philippines, yeah.
Yeah, the demand here is just big, if not bigger than the US. Definitely one of the
big perks is having all this amazing speakers in the short two days. You now, generally
it’s a lot of people flying all the way from the US, all the way from Europe, I mean North
America. Everyone is just coming. I think we have people flying all over 20 or 30 countries
just for this coming Saturday event, so we’re super hyped up. We’re so pumped. We really
want to see how far we can bring this event to.
And your speaker list is incredible. Like literally every person that I’ve come across
in this eCommerce space is going to be there. Did you get Firestone to come out?
No. Ezra, he wanted, but he doesn’t enjoy flying more than 24 hours, which is [inaudible
00:40:47] from New York, so the flight time is just crazy. He wanted to try to come, but
it’s too far for him, so probably next time if we do eCommerce World Summit in US, definitely
he’s going to be one of our candidates we’re going to … I like Ezra a lot. He is a really
down-to earth guy, very, very knowledgeable, very willing to share all his stuff so yeah,
he’s definitely one of the first speakers that we reached out to, but unfortunately
he doesn’t enjoy such a long flight, so- Yeah, I found the same thing. I was trying
to get him to come to both Berlin and Asia and Bangkok and he was not into it, but yeah,
I really enjoy his persona as well. He’s really down-to-earth and really he’s not just about
… He talks about all sorts of things on his social profiles and stuff, so he’s an
enjoyable guy. Yeah. Definitely, definitely. Yeah.
That’s really cool. Okay cool, so here’s my last question. As marketers, we’re in this
pursuit, we’re trying to scale our businesses to massive heights. What is it for you? Like
why do you do this? Everyone likes to win, so that’s a part of it, but what are the things
that are like what you would consider a peak experience? What’s a peak experience for you?
Because I feel like we do a lot of this work so that we can have these amazing experiences
in life and for you. It’s funny, because I’ve seen some of the awesome pictures. You’ve
had some peak experiences. I’ve seen the Gucci bags and the amazing cars and all that kind
of stuff, but what really floats your boat these days?
Definitely I think, as you said, everyone likes to win, right? And I think for me personally
I really wanted to make back whatever I lost in the past ten years. Like being cheated,
being lost in business investments. I just really want to scale this really quickly and
as big as possible so that whatever I have lost through my bad decisions or bad partnerships
in the past can be recovered in this next few years.
I feel like you’re going to do it. Yeah, we’re already there, but it’s just like
I’m really aggressive and ambitious in a way, because I want to be a really big company
in the past, so I reduced my ambitious projects, so next year we’re going to focus a little
bit more on softwares, doing a little bit on the side some trainings, some of the Masterminds
that I’ve did, meeting more people, joining people’s masterminds. And definitely our main
cash cow are definitely eCommerce right now, so definitely looking to diversify this business
a little bit more just in case this business is not as good as before, were not affected.
But definitely I still see a huge, huge room for growth including ourselves and the overall
market, because there’s such a huge demand for our physical products.
Everyone is buying day in and day out. There’s more online buyers every single day, so I
don’t see any risk in this business going down anytime soon.
No. It’s the biggest opportunity of our generation, I feel like, right? I’ve been part of affiliate
marketing for over ten years and I’ve seen trends come and go, but this one is something
else and this one is … yeah, it’s open to a lot more people than traditional affiliate
media buying would have been in the past, just because there’s a lot more to it. You’re
able to invest in products, invest in niches, build out your audiences. It’s something that’s
super exciting. I’m super happy to be a part of it as well.
Yeah, that’s awesome man. It’s a good time, definitely. For sure.
Nice. Well that sounds like a good note to end things on. Thank you so much for coming
to The Robust Marketer today. I really appreciate it. I really look forward to meeting you in
Bangkok. I think we’re going to have some fun times, share some great information.
Awesome. Thanks so much for having me today. Okay.
All right. Talk to you soon. Bye.
All right. Bye.

13 thoughts on “Talking With The $400k Day Ecom Legend Steven Tan | RBM E15

  1. Don't Want To Watch All The Way Through?
    Skip To A Chapter The Peaks Your Interest!

    Chapters:
    [00:01:23] – Introduction

    [00:02:22] – Hero’s Journey 

    [00:05:24] – Key Turning Points That Drove Us To The Top

    [00:08:15] – Gearing Up For Christmas

    [00:09:15] – This Is What We Call Camaraderie

    [00:10:57] – Customer Services And The 10x Mentality

    [00:12:12] – Outsourced or Custom Software?

    [00:14:50] – Our Relationship With Facebook

    [00:15:46] – First Steps To Build A Ecom Empire

    [00:18:35] – Building Strong Business Partnerships

    [00:19:09] – Beyond The Language Barrier to Purpose

    [00:20:04] – The Advantages Of A Centralized Warehouse

    [00:21:44] – $400k A Day! Is That Really Possible?

    [00:22:30] – How To Scale Your Business To Such Heights?

    [00:24:31] – Shipping Times: Strategies, Solutions & Best Practices

    [00:26:38] – Who’s Your Audience?

    [00:27:25] – Cutting-Throat Competition In China

    [00:28:25] – China’s Obsession With American Products

    [00:30:40] – First Mover or Fast Follower?

    [00:33:15] – Powerful Facebook Ad Campaigns

    [00:35:48] – Photo or Video Ads? Which One Wins?

    [00:37:09] – Audience Engagement: The Holy Grail of Sales

    [00:38:42] – MUST-Attend Event!

    [00:41:58] – Deep Down, What Drives You?

  2. Great Interview. Steven is right. i tried Aliexpress drop shipping.. the processing time and shipping to South Africa takes forever. I lost clients while waiting for orders to be delivered. Rather buy and keep stock and do quick delivery.

  3. Fiz uma compra no Brasil não sei se é sua equipe, porque o cara que narra a vídeo da aula do modulo de integração do Brasil, parece que está morrendo, nem ele mesmo parece acreditar no que fala… Solicitei o cancelamento e o suporte aqui é péssimo.

  4. I made a purchase in Brazil I do not know if it's his team, the guy who narrates the video of the integration module of Brazil, it seems that he's dying, nor does he seem to believe what he says … I asked for the cancellation and the support here It sucks.

  5. Mr. Tan. I dont want to watch your advertise when I watch youtube. you wave your hand your arm like a retard or hiphop singer. pls stop it!

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