Seller Sucess: 5 Questions With Amazon FBA Seller Mordechai Hoffmann
April 28, 2020
Mordechai Hoffmann has two settings: drive and hustle. In the past decade, he’s advised dozens of Amazon companies to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in sales. He’s recently jumped in as the e-commerce director of OrthoStep, an up and coming shoe care startup.
Oh, and did I mention he’s not even 30 years old yet?
With a clear vision and incredible insight into the e-commerce industry, he took the time to answer a few questions about Amazon selling, e-commerce scaling, and how the marketplace has shifted (and will continue to change).
When and how did you enter the e-commerce world?
My career started out in a very niche online watch company. They had their own website, but they were doing Amazon and eBay as well. I was the jack of all trades over there; I got my hands dirty in every aspect of the business which provided me with the foundation of my e-commerce career. From there I started my own e-Commerce company and also worked for an amazon-only business that was focused on the seasonal space. After a few years, I became the Director of E-commerce at OrthoStep, where I’ve helped drive 8-figure sales.
Amazon is great, but the real name of the game at OrthoStep is diversification: In addition to Amazon, we’ve created our own website and we have recently launched on eBay and Walmart as well. We are actually working on a rebrand for our product line that will be finalized in the coming months, which was done so we don't have to rely on Amazon alone to build our brand.
How has the Amazon game changed since you started?
Amazon used to be a haven for people doing retail arbitrage. It was easy to just sell anything on the platform and avoid RO complaints from the manufacturers. It was also very simple to do private label since there wasn’t much competition. You could easily import some products from China and scale a business relatively quickly.
This has all changed. You must run Amazon as a proper full-time business in order to be profitable. Amazon is an everchanging platform and you have to adapt in order to stay alive. There is no silver bullet to building an Amazon business quickly. Quite frankly it’s not that easy to build an Amazon business that is profitable within a few months. It takes a lineup of unique products, brand awareness, and ingenuity to scale properly.
One thing we’ve focused on in recent months is killing products that don't perform well after we exhausted all means instead of pumping money into them. We’ve also eliminated some of our oversized items due to FBA fees going up in those categories.
What do you attribute to your success? What can you tell me about your process?
My success comes from my experience. We all make mistakes, but I’ve learned from my mistakes in order to avoid more costly ones down the road. I had one product that I truly believed in and poured a ton of money and time into it against the advice of my boss and peers. It was basically DOA and we had to kill the product right away. I learned the hard way to take advice and critique from others.
I have somewhat of a simple process for success: Create a brand and products that you would purchase as a consumer. Don't go the cheap route and expect customers to be kind to you. This will inevitably lead to negative reviews and high return rates. It's a long journey, but if you do it the right way and have someone experienced guide you along you will succeed.
You wear a lot of hats right now; how do you stay on top of everything?
My first thing is to always use a reminder/to-do app and schedule everything in my calendar. There are a few software platforms that I use for Amazon that make my job easier. I won’t plug them here, but it is a must for every seller to have a basic set up for accounting, inventory management, and data management.
You have managed to build quite a few revenue streams. Why it's important for Amazon sellers to diversify?
I know many people that have gotten either their account or their product shut down by Amazon for one reason or another.
It can be hard for a small business to diversify, but the foundation for a long-term e-commerce business should be building a brand, not just selling on Amazon. It’s easy to build a website; it takes virtually nothing to create one on Shopify.
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