Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

The Biggest Takeaways in Ecommerce for 2018

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Andrew Youderian is the founder of eCommerceFuel, a private community forum for six to eight figure eCommerce sites. After getting out of finance and buying and selling two eCommerce businesses, Andrew saw the need for a platform for the 7-figure eCommerce community. Looking for a space where this group of exceptional entrepreneurs could bounce ideas and information off one another, he started the website and has never looked back.

In addition to the forum, eCommerceFuel holds a live annual event, publishes a yearly “state of the merchant” report, and now hosts a job board exclusively for the eCommerce domain. We spend this episode discussing the results of their 2018 state of the merchant eCommerce report.

Episode Highlights:

  • This year there were about 450 survey participants with an average store income of $2.3 million.
  • Andrew shares the three big takeaways from the survey.
  • Which niches are growing versus which are stagnant or shrinking, according to the survey.
  • The fastest growing stores have a high component of Amazon revenue to them.
  • A strategy that some bigger merchants are taking is to use Amazon as a way to help launch a brand, then taking the cash and momentum generated from Amazon to help build offline presence.
  • We discuss top trends in shopping carts, email marketing, help-desks, and product reviews.
  • We learn that eCommerce revenue values seem to be generally going up across the board.
  • Which business models are experiencing the most growth and why dropshipping may have made a bit of a comeback last year.
  • What the fastest growing eCommerce categories are among the survey takers.
  • Who the favorite entrepreneur was from last year from among the top in the world.


Mark: Hey Joe, how are you?

Joe: I’m good Mark! How are you doing today?

Mark: I’m doing good, I’ve been busy these past week doing a few interviews.

Joe: You have?  You have been slacking and then picking up that slack and doing it more yourself. Thank you!

Mark: I think anybody who’s been listening to our show knows that you’re not a slacking on this, but I’m just trying to play catch-up here to your three(3) episodes to everyone that I have done. But, I’ve been catching up this week and I’m really excited about the someone guest that we have coming up weeks. And one of the first ones is Andrew Youderian, whom we both know well from E-commerce field.

Joe: I do! You know I tell the story often. The first time I went to an E-Commerce field event was in Nashville, I think it’s 3 or 4 years. but I remember saying specifically that when I got back, you know, I talked about it. I heard more intelligent E-Commerce conversation in 24 hours than I heard in previous 24 months. It’s an exceptional group of entrepreneurs and they help each other on a regular basis which is incredible.

Mark: Yeah, I think, there are couple of groups out there which I have zero hesitation endorsing and have told people that they need to be a part of it. If anyone listening is in E-Commerce, E-Commerce Fuels is a private form that requires that you apply in order to get access to it, you have to have a business of a certain size to be able to get in. Some of the most intelligent that we know in the space and the most successful people that we know on the space are members of that form. It’s a really, really good community. They have an event that they put on every year which is one of our favorite events to go to, all the E-Commerce feel alive. So, one of the things Andrew does every year though, because he’s got all his members, you know, several hundred members who have successfully E-Commerce stores, is he surveys them and he puts together a full on report called ‘State of E-Commerce’ or ‘State of the Merchant’. Can’t remember the exact name of it. But this entire interview, he and I are talking about this report because the data in here is awesome! It’s really, really cool! You get to see how fast are businesses is growing. What percentage of businesses are Amazon. We get to sift through (2.55) revenue side. What is the typical breakdown by channel. And one of the cool businesses data in the report this year was what niches are growing versus what’s shrinking. For example, one of the cool things that got pointed out when we talked about a little bit is, men’s clothing and accessories was among one of the fastest growing sectors. Conversely, women’s clothing and accessories was one of the ones that was stagnant or declining. So, we go into, what’s going on there! Lots of really cool data in that report.

Joe:  Interesting! Interesting! Andrew is a super nice guy! Full of integrity and character in the whole E-Commerce Fuel Group is a reflection of him. I believe so, let’s just jump to it, see what he’s got to say!

Mark: Absolutely! Hey Andrew! Thanks for joining me!

Andrew: Yeah! Thanks for having me here in Mark appreciated.

Mark: Alright, you are joining me from a van obviously.

Andrew: Yeah, look like a total sketch fall hair. It’s kind of a old Mobil office I have. I’m on the road with the family and when I need to do podcast or interviews or phone calls, I usually come out here coz it’s little quieter. As you know, we got kids, it can be tough to do inside with kids and ah.. Yeah, so here we are!

Mark: I love it! Yeah, you’re not the first guest to actually show up in the vehicle. We had Chad Annis on a while ago and he was on his RV. He’s been doing it for nine months, just living the RV life for nine months. But I know you’re out there, just kind of traveling around and on a vacation, so to speak, with your family, right?

Andrew: Yeah! We’re just kind of doing, doing a little trip. We love to get out of Montana. You’re from—you’ll appreciate this. I mean you’re from Minneapolis, you know the winters can be a little brutal up north. We’re in Montana and trying to get out of town and get us some more climate, you know, 2-3 months, the winter and work along the way but trying to get a little more vitamin D in the body, so that’s what we do.

Mark: Yeah! Our winters been super long here, my wife has told me that if it’s goes on for a few more weeks, were leaving, she doesn’t know where, were just going to  go. Not move, were just going to  go somewhere. I’m going to  come home and she’s just going to  say, “get in the car.” So, see this, you and I know each other from E-commerce feel but I’m going to  let you introduce yourself to our listeners and kind of your background and what you do.

Andrew: Sure! So my background is- I’m trying to get from the beginning as brief of a story as possible at my points. Got on a school, working finance for couple of years and kind of invest in making world and learned a lot, got a lot of great experience but decided that didn’t want to sell my soul to the corporate world, so quit and was looking for an opportunity to start a business and only enough, got into E-commerce, started selling CV Radios. I ran that business for a number of years, kind of two years into that. Start a second business, selling trolling motors, knowing E-commerce space, drop shipping business and couple years after that I just found that I was meeting a lot of people doing similar things that I was and it’s kind of interesting very isolated, entrepreneurs in the E-commerce space. You know it’d be really cool if there was a community for these group of people so, started, it was called E-Commerce fuel which ended up evolving into a community for a high six (6) and seven (7) and eight (8) figure E-Commerce store orders. So I’ve since sold both of those moving E-commerce businesses. Now, my primary fulltime gig is running that community which in the ways, I try to add value in our team choice. To add value is through light events which Mark you and Quiet light has been generous enough to sponsor and support so thank you. Through live events, through a private forum that we have, kind of curated [inaudible 0:06:11.1] forum of people with experience in space and then through some proprietary software’s that we’ve built. So that’s my story and what I do.

Mark: Yeah, and for anyone that is not familiar with the E-commerce fuel and the forum they’re associated with, really, really valuable. I don’t anybody who’s a member of that forum who doesn’t consider to be one of their top resources. And the conference put up every year, it is phenomenal. We go to a lot of conferences, absolutely love E-commerce fuel. Here in the E-commerce space we have a store that’s six (6), seven (7), eight (8) figures. I don’t know where you are with your registrations or what you’re doing for accepting your memberships but tough work in the resource.

Andrew: Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

Mark: Yeah. So every year, you do a survey of the members, performance survey of the members of your forum and it’s the State of the Merchant Report. Tell me a little bit about that and how you put those report together and what it talks about.

Andrew: Yeah, so, I wanted to try to get a sense of what was happening with Merchants and that sudden figure range, ’cause you–Forbes will put up reports about, you know, the fortune five hundred (500) and you hear these stats about your target in Amazon and that’s interesting but it’s a very different world when you’re in that kind of size business that I was in, that our members are in. And so every year, I put it together like you mentioned and just– it’s a survey of about 50 questions. This last year we had about four hundred and fifty (450) people respond. The average size of the store owners responding was about two point three (2.3) million and we put together a lot of stats. Everything from— We put together everything together from: where the people are from, and what type of businesses they have , conversion rates, revenue growth, how Amazon is impacting their business, all those kind of things. So, yeah, that’s the kind of the survey in a nutshell and there’s kind of three big take aways that I can go into or if there’s something else you wanted to talk about first , we can do that too Mark.

Mark: Yeah, so let’s go onto the three big takeaways and for anyone looking at this, there’s –this is freely available online, the and we’ll link to it in the show notes. And probably, I hope for a member, I’ll link to them an e-mail that I’ll send out people as well about this podcast, but lot’s are really good data in here. So you do this every year, you pour over the data and you take a look at the– you know, what’s important, what were the big takeaways for you these year?

Andrew: Yes! So the big takeaways, let’s say for the last 2018, really 2017 but published 2018 was this incredibly strong year for growth for kind of that seven (7) figure store owner demographic. Revenue, year over year, revenue was up, thirty eight (38) % and only about eleven (11) % of stores didn’t see any growth at all, so like last year- you know it was in it’s high twenty’s (20’s) or twenty five (25), twenty six (26), you look at E-commerce in general it tends to grow in a twenty (20), twenty two-ish percent range. But this year was just an incredible year, really strong growth. That was one. The second thing was, was that Amazon was a driver for a lot [inaudible 0:08:57]. This isn’t surprising but it’s you see, how much Amazon is contributing to merchant’s revenue. So, last year, the year before this, Amazon was supposed to be responsible for about twenty (20) percent of overall revenue so let’s say, you know- of a someone who’s near a million dollars in sales for an average store. Two hundred thousand of that would’ve been generated from Amazon. This year was up to twenty-eight (28) percent so this year, two hundred and eighty (280) thousands of their million dollars in revenue was coming from Amazon. So Amazon’s definitely making up a bigger portion of merchant’s pie. Counterpart of that though is, Amazon also is generating more headaches and complaints for people so we looked at the number of people every year who say that- you know, we ask them what their biggest challenge and struggle in their business is, and this last year, the number of people who said Amazon is the biggest struggle or one of them was to almost 3X. And this wasn’t just people complaining that Amazon was killing their business, saying that they were drop-shipper and “Oh no, all my sales are dying because Amazon was stealing them” that was only a small fraction. Probably, you know, twenty (20) percent of people complaining, thus majority of them were complaining about things like Amazon’s being more competitive, I’m too reliant to, I’m tired of dealing with some of their terms of service and policies or things like that. So Amazon’s more up to a greyer revenue but also there’s also additional overhead burden with that. And finally, the last big takeaway was that conversion rates increase dramatically across the board for all sellers. The rates were up about twenty five (25) percent- you know, year over year. So, last year conversion rate on average was at 2.10 percent this last year it jumped up to 2.664 percent, right on that range. And, you know that was, probably the most surprising step for me for the whole survey because, it’s difficult enough to bump up your conversion rate by twenty (25) percent across a single site but to see that across a group of twenty (20),  four hundred and fifty (450) stores on average and I thought maybe, you know maybe what we were saying was that you can be seeing more people shift to manufacturing or product labeling which tends to have a much higher conversion rate than let’s say drop-shipping. But I saw that conversion rate boost across all different store types from drop-shipping to just reselling, to manufacturing and so, hard for me to explain, I kind of hypothesize that perhaps our community is getting a little bigger and merchants are maybe getting a little more advanced; the economy and the US particularly has done well this last year. Whatever the reason something back there, those were probably the three biggest takeaways that I have to work for.

Mark: Alright, so one thing that I’ve always found interesting about your report is the percentage of sales that Amazon takes from some of your largest stores. What are the data show–if you remember of hand, I don’t know if you have the report in front of you, but what are the data show from your largest stores and how much they are actually getting from Amazon?

Andrew: Let me see here if we actually calculated that this year, so I don’t think we actually– Let’s see, we have– we measured a couple things, we didn’t get the actual revenue from, you know, what percentage of the revenue Amazon was generated by stores that had a lot on Amazon but we did measure was kind of revenue growth for different stores if they weren’t selling on Amazon, if they were selling on Amazon, or were Amazon was sixty (60) percent of their revenue. So when you break it down that way, Amazon, you know, stores aren’t selling on all on Amazon, they’re growing in about thirty (30) percent. Stores they’re selling a little bit on Amazon, you know some of them are growing in about forty one (41) percent and stores where Amazon is, you know, makes up to sixty (60) percent plus of their revenue, they’re growing at fifty one (51) percent. So, you’re definitely seeing the fastest growing source, definitely have a very high component of Amazon revenue to and the same thing too for income growth, it follows kind of lock step with the income that people are seeing as well.

Mark: Right, now I’m just going to  go through this here, one chart that I see is the Amazon dominance trance. Amazon as a source number channel, looks like you have twenty six (26) percent there?

Andrew: Yep, so that’s twenty six (26) percent of merchants listed Amazon as their number one channel up from twenty (20) percent last year.

Mark: See, that number right there, actually is almost staring ’cause it seems like with the restore I see, it may have started flying with the website and then they move over to Amazon and Amazon took up all of the revenue. This is showing what seventy four (74) percent are still have other channel as their dominant channels or maybe they’re just so diversified, What’s the story behind that?

Andrew: That’s good question! I think it’s a lot of our members are, I would say probably three quarters of them for whatever reason don’t– are not a primarily–they have a very good presence off of Amazon as well and maybe, I don’t know if that’s just culture or part of it’s to the [inaudible 0:13:20.7] silver screening and who we kind of bring in to the community but I think that might be more of–a bias of our community as to maybe just a general market thing ’cause you see, as you said, a lot of–it’s probably under what you’ve expect to see. So I’m not exactly sure, I think part of that might just be a demographic work community report.

Mark: I think it’s fast– I think it’s useful data, especially for people that have an E-commerce businesses who’re think that they want to make Amazon their pear play. I’ve talked to a few business owners they’ve said wildly, “I’m going to focus my attention to-on Amazon because, it’s for the money, yes, and why would I take away my other efforts from Amazon and make as much money.” But it appears as if you do have a number of stores that are doing that seven (7) and eight (8) figure revenue almost, without Amazon being that dominant channel.

Andrew: yeah definitely and I think what a lot of the savvy merchants that I see in our community doing in any kind of floss and secret to Amazon is, it’s hard to pass up free money and easy money and granted that Amazon’s getting harder but still it’s a pre-power form and conquering opportunity even in 2018. But their mindset much of the time is use Amazon as a way to help launch a brand, to help generate some cash flow and then use the momentum you can generate from Amazon, Use the cash you can generate from Amazon to help build your off Amazon, your own dot com, your own web store presence, because all fully that’s the asset that you own and i’s much less rescue than being be-haunt by Amazon going forward so I think that’s a strategy a lot of us, as bigger merchants are taking.

Mark: That’s absolutely see as well with Amazon is that launch process tends to be. You want to be testing your products and been able to launch a brand so much faster because of the size of the market place. Let’s talk real quick about software. You guys have a very cool part of your community where your community rates software that they’re using and it’s feedbacks. So you have like a star rating. If somebody wants to find like a good shopping card or what shopping card they should use, or maybe help desk software. You guys have a whole record of software within the community that rates that, right?

Andrew: We do, yeah, and so part of it is the ratings like you mentioned another part of it, and maybe more telling is– is the usage stats. We have about a thousand members in our community and our software goes out and crawls all of our member’s stores on a weekly basis and uses an integration we’ve built with to be able to tell what all of the members are using. So we can tell in a real time that “Oh, you know, forty four (44) percent of our members are on Shopify this year versus, you know thirty seven (37) percent last year.” Whatever it is. So we can get stats on what people are using but also people– our members who rate the software as well as, with essence, what’s– you know, what people like.

Mark: That’s– that’s pretty cool. So what software would you say is really– sum of the people should be paying attention to in 2018? What’s really been growing quite a bit over the past year?

Andrew: I’d say, you know, search shopping biggest one’s and that’s probably become as a surprise to people but Shopify just dominates in this area, you look at that thousand-ish area in our community and I think probably about forty (40)– Four hundred and twenty (420), four hundred and thirty (430) of them succumb, you know, over forty (40) percent close to forty five (45) percent use Shopify and the number of people we’ve seen switch to Shopify from Magento over the last two (2)- three (3) years is just unbelievable, they’ve done a really good job capturing that market shares. So, on a shopping card side, that’s when I’d say, the other four well kind of three that we have within the– still the merchant E-mail marketing, Mailchimp is the number one. They’ve got two hundred and eighty two (282) out of our top  one thousand and Clivio’s to seventeen of our top one thousand. So both those are kind of the leaders there. Fairly close. Help desks, we’ve got Zendesk- is the top to use, sixty one (61) out of a thousand use them, but help scouts pretty close behind there and they get slightly better ratings. And I would be surprised if we didn’t see a flip-flop of that seen help scout come on the top over the next year. And for product reviews, Shopify parse based on the facts that people use, Shopify is reviewed, built on reviews the system has most popularly used. YAGPO used to be that number one spot but they dropped to number three (3) this last year. Partially, they got great functionality but I think a lot of the kind of experience that I’ve heard from stores is just their pricing is getting quite a bit more expensive. And so you see, companies like Stem Dot ayo who offers similar functionality at a much lower price might come in, they’d jump up significantly this year up to the number two (2) spot. So, those were kind of the trends I’m seeing. For disclosure we’ve had the Claygo sponsor of our podcast. YAGPO use to sponsor us and Shoprite sponsored us in the past.

Mark: Right so that might be infusive but I’d want to share something, cause I think you’ll actually appreciate this. I’m working on a client right now and hopefully, let’s say business here soon, tell me last time you heard this: He’s on Yahoo! shopping card.

Andrew: Well occasionally we get somebody on the forum saying “Hey, I’m on Yahoo! stores, should I migrate or how do I migrate.” It’s always an entertaining thread to read. Yeah, that’s– curious people laugh.

Mark: When they told me that, It’s like “Woah, I haven’t heard that for at least like five or six years. It used to be the gold standard that everybody used.

Andrew: Well,  I think- I mean, if you look in the cell that’s probably a decent positioning stand point for someone who’s careful of migrations and reason. I’d still say “Hey!” but you know, I’m sure there’s some incredibly converting Yahoo! store sites out there but you can probably modernize and probably get thick enough conversion, it’s a rebrand, it’s a nice value out of your– if you’re going to  buy this thing.

Mark: Yeah, that’s an interesting listing, which I’m sure a lot of people will be looking at once it comes out but yeah. So , let’s talk a little bit about Magento and fact that there’s– I seem I heard a little bit, my only foreign in E-commerce that I wrote a blog post on this years ago but it was kind of disaster for myself. My foreign in E-commerce side, what with Magento and– My goodness, I had so much trouble with it. What do you think the problem is with Magento. Are they just losing out at Shopify or are there problems that are kind of inherent at Shopify.

Andrew. It’s– I think it really depends year-use case. It’s–Magento’s incredibly powerful. They’ve got a decent eco-system for a lot of their extensions but it’s just so complex. Like I’ve been on multiple shopping cards; Zencard, Shopify, Magento. And by far, the hardest one to customize was Magento. Even just changing layouts around on the homepage was a nightmare and I– so I think, I think the problem is, is that it’s-it’s very powerful but it’s much more complex than your average store owners specially in the seven (7) figures is going to  need. When you look at the benefit of having full customization verse’s the benefit of ease of administration and up key maintenance Shopify or another Host solution just makes, just makes more sense. And I think that there, when you think about it, if you do actually need to have access to the code base to be able to fully customize your site which is definitely–there are definitely stores out there that would be able to create custom functionality, be able to put together custom integrations that you can, with maybe some hosting solutions if the IPI’s would allow it. If you need a hundred percent customization there are other cards out there that maybe– a little lighter way or quite as heavy and resource intensive and hard to customize as Magento that are probably a better option for people on that seven (7) figure range.

Mark: Yeah, alright, cool. I want to go to the first point that you brought up, and that is, that revenues are up across the board from a review that you’ve seen, which this is something that is seen across the board as well with the business that were selling right? The business that you’re selling, the values just seem going up, up, and up. And I don’t know if this is a maturation or the industry just businesses that have been around longer and now are a richer skill or– really what’s behind it? You make a point in your report here about– where is it? That would be the margins, the cross margins seem to hold up as well. Can you come on a little bit on the margins that you’re seeing on E-commerce. I think the margins here– seen: growth margin, average of 39.2 percent and that margins of 17.4 percent. What is the trend to start with bend with that and over the past few of these revenues growing that’s all same level?

Andrew: Yeah, So this is something that surprise me, with how much Amazon is growing and how, you know much it’s supposed to talk about. Our margin bends this opportunity. You would expect that margins to come on with more pressure this year. What I found was that they didn’t slide as much as I thought they would’ve. Tiny bit but not very much, like you mentioned, the growth margin was 39.2 percent I think last year was a little bit higher, like 39.7 or 8 percent so it sled like a tiny bit but not much and same on the net merchant this year it was 70.4. I think last year it was 70.8 or 9. So it came down a little bit but nearly as much as I was expecting to see and if you look at the margins of stores for selling primarily on their own platform versus that are primarily selling on Amazon. This might be interesting for people, the growth margin for people primarily signed on Amazon is thirty six (36) percent versus 40.4 percent selling by their own store. And neither I expect that because Amazon takes a fee and new work fees that pays on top for Veer store. But even when you count for all the fees and the advertising you get bend your own store versus Amazon. You’re still going to  set a better margin selling on your own stores 17.7 percent after all said and done versus Amazon which is 16.6 so that’s kind of hell of margins broke down this year.

Mark: That’s fascinating! Something that I feel being of interest with a lot of buyers is this average growth by business model and the format. So obviously with E-commerce you have a lot of different ways that you can do E-commerce and I’ll get buyers sometimes say “Men, I want to buy a business.” “What are you thinking of?” “E-commerce.” “What type of the E-commerce?” I don’t know. Okay– You have to understand like, in E-commerce there’s some significant differences. Drop shipping had growth of 32.7 percent recently 27.6. I’m actually a little surprised to see more growth in the drop shipping category than in reselling category.

Andrew: I was too. I was very surprised to see that. And one of my guesses about why that was, just a guess but this last year, Shopify bought Oberlo, I believe it’s that pronounced, the integrator with Ali Express. You kind of have seen a significant up taken in people using that drop shipping from China via AliExpress model this year or last eighteen (18) months and I wonder if that– part of that is a responsible fact ’cause looking back at last year’s report, if I remember correctly, drop shipping was– had the lowest growth. I think our selling beat it out. So, I wonder if that is what potentially changed the tides on things.

Mark: Yeah, possible. And in all fairness you list here the percentage of stores that are also have flatten beckoning revenues and drop shipping seems to be just kind of  split right down the middle here. You have thirty three (33) percent, basically growing thirty three (33) percent that are flat or declining so they’re also– although they’re doing okay there is a number that are also in a hurting category.

Andrew: Exactly! yeah, Exactly, about a third of drop shipping business is at either flat or in declines. So last year, again surprisingly it’s–I was– seeing the numbers, having a drop shipping business myself, whether reasons I sold that business was because I saw they had wins with drop shipping, it’s pretty much more difficult with Amazon and with some other forces and last year you stated, the merchant fifty (50) percent of drop shipping stores were either flat or declining. And that’s come down significantly where you’re only thirty three (33) percent or in that category now. So I think part of that is potentially or below, I think part of that is just an improved year. But when you look at the stores in the other categories in rough shape, either stalled out or shrinking, you’ll see much smaller numbers. Any more from fifteen (15) to twenty (20) percent for all the other categories, reselling private label, manufacturing. So yeah, so definitely some stronger areas, I think still drop shipping– there is still drop shipping business I think that work well. It’s just a much harder nut to crack and you really have to be able to have a good way to add value outside of the product because you’re resetting commodities and come on in and sell this as well. So it’s just trickier to get right at it.

Mark: Right! And I think there are some industries back with the shoverey I had into E-commerce with doing gun safes. It’s going to  be not very realistic to the warehouse. Gun safe in most cases once you’re doing very large volumes just because the shipping cost or so, so high regardless what you’re doing.

Andrew: Right.

Mark: So there are some businesses that land themselves to that. I think it should be no surprise to anybody that private label and manufacturing seem to be the biggest winners with forty three (43) and forty two (42) percent on every forty three (43) percent both the categories were growing and only twenty one (21) of fifteen (15) percent of those categories respectively were shrinking.

Andrew: just to clarify mark, that’s– so for private label and manufacturing that’s the actual revenue growth rate per year. So private label will be growing like forty three (43) percent and manufacturing growing in about forty two (42) percent per year.

Mark: Okay! Good! Good clarification. Fastest growing category. Is this something that we could ask all the time or what businesses are hot now? Which should I be looking for a buyer or looking to buy something? At the top of your list pet supplies which isn’t a huge surprise whenever we get a business that deals with pets. Oh men, I think just flies out the shelf when I get someone with inquiries on that. But I’m well surprised about food.

Andrew: And I’ll put on a disclaimer on here. We have forum of fifty people respond, you break down, let’s say twenty (20) or thirty (30) categories. We do not have growth bust to this as I would love and I imagine that if we got– if we have five (5) thousand, I’m sure that this numbers might be a little bit different. Take this with a little bit of a aggression that if we didn’t have–we had almost no data points, these are coming off to history businesses to come off you know. It’s nine (9) or ten (10) or more businesses so-. But yeah food is on there and I’ve seen, and I told you, a handful of businesses doing well in the food space over the last year so, That was little surprising but yeah, definitely nonetheless. It was coming in about fifty six (56) percent year over year. And again another carry up for this is again our stores are in a small in a high six (6), seven (7) figure range a lot of them so, you probably want to see high gross rates here than you would, just across the board for any businesses but still strong show food.

Mark: Yeah! and probably one of the most eyed- piece of data that I’ve seen in to support in again. I’m focusing a lot on this one category because I think it’s going to  be interesting for a lot of our buyers. Men’s clothing, thumbs up! Women’s clothing, not growing as fast. Such an interesting this really.

Andrew: Yeah! I mean it’s not even-it’s a huge gap. Fifty three (53) percent, men’s clothing and accessories versus twenty eight (28) percent in woman’s clothing and accessories and I think it’s– I think part of that is just you have– I mean woman’s fashion, I think is more saturated, more– just traditionally. And I think you’re starting to see more interesting kind of men’s apparel come out. Specially direct to consumer, men’s apparel and– yeah it’s almost current twice as fast ’cause I just think there’s more room than there is much competition. There’s still, I mean your apparel, not an easy place to be in but men’s versus women, I think men’s probably much easier place to make money right now.

Mark: Yeah, absolutely! So, last, put them in a do with the steadily commerce– clocking pretty quickly, I think this is probably the funniest question I’ve seen, anybody ask on survery about your favorite entrepreneur. How did you select these four entrepreneurs. And the four that you choose likely just set anyone, let’s see: Ian Moss, Richard Branson, Mark Cuban, and Jeff Basels. Some of those makes sense, how did you slot those four?

Andrew: Oh, I got to have Basels on the right ’cause he’s the you know, king of E-commerce. The other, I was just trying to come up with, with four well-known billionaires, the idea of being cool, do you know what billionaire who you want to have lunch with and just top up of my head once that came to mind that were worth the billion dollars at least is Ian and kind of just came to me quickly was those four, kind of those than that.

Mark: I’m actually surprised Ian Moss by large margins.

Andrew: (laughs) You want to be the– Almost thirty (30) percent it was Richard Branson, second was twenty five (25), Cuban twenty three (23), and Basels. Surprisingly or maybe not so surprisingly given this is an E-commerce survey and– some people in here, a little help with the others as well, was Basels with 22.2 so–

Mark: I’m not surprised at all. I was really hoping back think we are can you get to it this time, so maybe we can do it at future episode, I was really hoping to talk a little bit about you’re experiences on your own businesses, your own E-commerce businesses and what that was like  because you self-sold, you didn’t use appropriate off those and I think the first one you did– Didn’t you do a public auction with that?

Andrew: First one? I did and it was kind of strange and I think you were kind enough to retouch me after that and give me some tips and talk to me about it in a real gracious way. I did it was reverse auction, so the way it worked was like I listed the site– well first it was– everything was publicly transparent as you know most of the sales that you do, fairly quiet about the financials, the instance, the data. And I– the options, I published all the financials, all the key things, there was a few things I held back that might have been easy to rip-off the business with but ninety (90) percent, for PINO balance sheet, all I can have set, I made public  and– so that was one part. Second part was I do the answer, reverse auction and so the price started at a hundred and ninety to eighty five thousand dollars, and then every week would drop by ten thousand dollars until somebody decide they wanted to buy it and I had someone, I think at the first week of before evening drop, and take it up. So it was kind of a very unorthodox way to sell a business and only the first one to say I think I lacked out on getting a great buyer from the out set that we work well together and close the deal. I very much could’ve blown it in my face, but -yeah. A little bit different.

Mark: If somebody wants to look at that, you can do a search on Google for E-commerce fuel and sign  E-commerce business. I believe it actually come up in the third results, if I’m not mistaken or we can make it easier and link up our show notes, and some one will like the post .

Andrew: Also, new link for the show notes and also if you could Google E-commerce fuel reverse auction or reverse auction “” That’s the name of the business that might pop-up as well.

Mark: That’s right, remember that new E-mail do you have? I mean it was completely selfish forums on my part, I just wanted to be in front of the audience so–

Andrew: (laughs)

Mark: But see you got a lot of really cool resources available in E-commerce field obviously there is a form which is you have to apply for in order to get in to say no that you’re going to  get high quality members there. You guys also have a job board that you release in week. I think it’s so , discretion it’s so often to people who buys site and who want to have fines with good confidence and help. I don’t really recommend anything to people but you guys just recently started up a job org.

Andrew: We did, yeah! That something we saw was a both kind of a gap in the market and also just like you said, something our members are having a hard time with was finding a really good quality E-commerce talent. and our job award is focused on E-commerce directors or managers kind of high level. You know people they can run an entire operations for an owner as well as exceptional marketers PPC, E-mail Mark any things like that and exceptional customer service reps so people that are really good on customer service over the phone or email or chats. So that’s our job board list in the positions we really focus on, and try to– try to build a community, a job board that’s healthier so that when you run a store, you know where you can go to get in front of an audience of people looking for dispositions and if you’re lucky to get the E-commerce world it’s a great place to going to  be able to find an opportunity, hopefully to get plugged in and you can actually find that at

Mark: you’re going to  owe me a lot of thanks, I’m going to  send them, all on the show notes.

Andrew: , So Mark, I will happily send you as many links– [inaudible 0:32:58.6] I bet that won’t be a problem.

Mark: Of course, it’s been an awesome state of Merchant report, this is your second doing it, is that right?

Andrew: Second year doing it, hope to do it every year. And yeah– this is the second year.

Mark: It’s also lot of work to put together but there’s few things I look forward to. As one of those things I look forward to, I think there’s actually really good data insights in this report. Anyway that’s been invite, or anyone who’s in E-commerce space in general. This is something that you want to check out for sure. If you are not familiar with the E-commerce fuel I would definitely recommend checking them out and I know I’m completely endorsing you, this is not something I normally do but I really do believe we should do in over there at E-commerce fuel. I know so many members there that they become friends of our company and personal friends as well. I like to brag about things that I think will actually help people and honestly your group is out there helping a lot of people in space.

Andrew: well thank you, I appreciate the kind words, Mark. And one thing I wanted to mention just on a say the merchant if you’re a daily geek and you want the add the numbers or your smarter than me which is almost certainly the case and one plots some more insights from these, we make all of the data just openly available so you can go to the webpage for this post and download the full data set so by all means a stats measure or try to do the best I can but if you want to -if you have insights you can plot of it we do make whole data set available for people so,

Mark: Yeah! and if you pull on any insights send an email over to Andrew, just let him know. I’m sure he would love to see it.

Andrew: I’d love to hear about it, yeah , please do.

Mark: Cool, Andrew thanks, so much for coming on, I hope to have you on some time in the future. Really, really appreciate it.

Andrew: Mark, thanks for letting me, you know, the invitation and for the support that you’ve given the- to our fans, to our community over the years. Appreciate that as well

Mark: Cool, alright, well hey, enjoy that vacation!

Andrew: Thanks appreciate that!

Links and Resources:


State of the Merchant 2018

Story of Andrew’s first eCommerce site sale

eCommerce fuel job board

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