This is a very exciting opportunity for anyone looking to enter the quickly growing health and wellness niche that was born out of the 2020 pandemic. Based in the UK, this Amazon FBA store quickly skyrocketed over the past several months as the worldwide demand for health and hygiene hit new levels.
This store stands out as their merchandise is evergreen, it just happened to hit a sharp rise during the pandemic.
Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background? How did you start with Survival Supply?
I’m a web developer who’s built e-commerce sites since the early 1990s. I have a good mix of technical and commercial skills, and a track history of starting successful Amazon FBA ventures over the last decade.
I’m always behind my screen, whilst my partner is more of an outdoors type. Building Survival Supply together gave us a fun project to do together during lockdown.
Are you managing stock in your own warehouses? If so, how much are you keeping on hand?
We’re lucky enough to live in a 4-bedroom house with a double garage, so we’ve forfeited the garage in favour of keeping stock. It’s made for some amusing stories for couriers who have delivered 7 pallets and had to leave them on our drive! The problem is that the empty boxes are now taking over our lives, and I think they are multiplying.
We currently have around £50K worth of stock on hand – some at home, some in the Amazon Warehouse. One of our best-selling brands is very popular, and although they are UK based, the lead time was over 5 months from our initial purchase order. Therefore, we made sure we bought as much as we could for when the winter rush kicks in.
Are your customers exclusively based in the UK or are you selling across all of Europe? What about the US and beyond? If not, are there opportunities to expand geographies?
We had good sales in France, Italy and Spain, however, due to problems with delivering to these countries during the COVID-19 crisis, and Brexit regulations upcoming, we have stopped selling there for now. The administration involved wasn’t worth it, despite them being profitable – this was set up as a residual business with as little hands on involvement as possible, and we were dealing with customer queries about missing parcels every day.
Although this business can be run from anywhere in the world, because the best-selling products are hygiene based, you have to be very careful to abide by particular laws in each territory. For example, to sell to the USA on Amazon, you need to be registered to sell pesticides – which is odd as these products don’t contain pesticides – and you can only register to sell pesticides if you’re a US Citizen (an ITIN number isn’t enough).
The huge global opportunity is in Saudi, where we received 100s of orders – however, we ended up unable to fulfil these again due to COVID-19. Anyone who can strike an import / export deal over there will be looking at gold in the long run, provided they avoid products with an alcohol base.
How many current subscribers do you have? What is the cost per acquisition? Lifetime value?
We haven’t focused on getting subscribers, as the website wasn’t built until after the demand was established through FBA. Therefore our CPA is currently nil. However, we do have the postal addresses for more than 5,000 of our previous customers.
We were not allowed to retain email addresses or telephone numbers due to the contracts under which they were obtained, however, due to the nature of the products – which are legitimately effective against COVID-19, verified by the British National Health Service (NHS), and independently tested in laboratories – there is the argument of both legitimate interests and vital interests for retaining the other customer data under GDPR. An interested buyer should seek a second professional legal opinion if they have concerns, however, we will have no hesitation to contact existing customers again on these lawful bases.
What sort of marketing programs have you run in the past? What is working? What isn’t? What might you recommend that you haven’t yet tried?
We haven’t had to do any big marketing to date. With everyone suddenly becoming more conscientious about hygiene, the demand for our products has soared. The particular brands we sell are often number one sellers for hygiene on Amazon – the benefit of that is, no promotion required. The downside is a highly competitive Buy Box.
The one thing we have done is a £1 a day Google Adword spend so that we appear when anyone searches for an exact match on the company name “Survival Supply” or “Survival Supply UK” in England. It’s a popular name for companies, and we wanted to make sure that the website came up on top when one of our previous customers was looking for us.
The huge marketing opportunity we see – and the direction we’ll go if we don’t sell the business at this point – is postal marketing. The potential for Survival Supply to become a mail catalogue company is massive. It bypasses the cut-throat nature of online marketing, and reaches existing customers for a fraction of the cost.
We’ve recently started emphasising that by doing no-rush deliveries, and opting for monthly subscriptions, our customers are helping to save the planet. Instead of delivering everything within one day of getting an order, if we make a trip to the courier depot just once a week, we cut our Co2 emissions by 85%. It’s the opposite ethos to that of Amazon where everyone wants everything immediately. If you’re willing to wait that little bit longer, you will save money and the environment. Survival Supply is an ethical choice.