SMFH- Amazon Just Fined Us $26,000 😠

Well, it’s been a fun 72 hours boys & girls…

We launched our Black Friday sale.

Shopify went down 5 minutes afterward.

Amazon whacked us with a $26,000 bill for storage that we didn’t see coming.

My mom went on a first date.

Lots of fun takeaways for you this week but damn am I excited for an incredible holiday season. We’re more prepared than ever and if you aren’t it’s not too late. I’m going to use this week’s send to drop some last-minute advice on things I’m learning now or wish I knew last year.

Our New Email Secret

Before we get into any of this I want to give a massive shout out to my new Miami friend Michael Diesu. As I’ve said many times over the past few years, making friends in Miami is a challenge. Between the Lamborghini flexing, the yacht rentals and it just being the most transient city in America, it’s hard to find the real ones. While beating my ass in pickleball last weekend this dude filled me all in on what he’s building with Revenue Roll and how they are helping a ton of my friends grow their email list by a crazy amount.

There are probably many times throughout the week when you feel like your e-comm success is out of your hands. Supply chain, payment processing, humans on your team, social media algos, and Google/Meta/iOS platform restrictions and rules around ads. 

Just like me building this newsletter audience, everyone knows that building their own list of customers or potential shoppers is the long-term money-printing game. Unfortunately, many of the best names that could be on your list aren’t on there yet. 

If you thought you were already getting this, you’re not alone. Here’s how this deception happens:

Platforms only give brand owners half the picture of their data. And times have changed: can’t rely on regular old “pixels” anymore, because that data only consists of an IP address - and is only good for 24(!) hours

If those pixels were a car, they’d be a Ford Pinto. Might get you from A to B, but not in style (and you can count on unexpected unwelcome surprises along the way.)

So what’s Revenue Roll? In simplest terms, Revenue Roll is the “Rolls Royce” of pixels. 

The Revenue Roll strategy fattens your list, filling it with your highest-intent buyers by putting you back in touch with them.

Mike and his team can help you get more at-bats with your highest intent customers. It’s totally compliant, doesn’t burn brand or delivery server reputation, and integrates easily into existing workflows.

They are currently doing a 3-month money back ROI guarantee for all new customers that come through from CROSSED Commerce. Take a look for yourself here or introduce yourself at [email protected]. Honestly, there’s no better time than this makes sense than with the holidays as we expect to be able to add 3-5x more emails than normal. Especially when email is 20%+ of revenue.

Last Minute Black Friday Adjustments

We’re essentially 7 days away from the Super Bowl. 6 if you count me and my Australian market. If you haven’t finalized everything don’t worry you’re not alone but you can only accomplish so much. So here are my last minute tips that Chris from last year wishes he would have known.

1) Start the day with a checklist of the 2-3 things you 100% have to do. Don’t check your email. Don’t Slack people back (unless its your boss and you don’t want to get fired). Put yourself away. Hell stop reading this newsletter you’re already messing up. Do these 2-3 things now. You are going to feel like shit and stressed throughout the rest of the day until you get them done. Just sack up and do them.

2) Update your welcome and abandoned cart email flows to include your holiday pricing and sales messaging. Real life example last year we ran a sale for one of our products that was 25% off. When customers got their email flows a few days later it showed the standard price and made no note of the sale. Big lost revenue opportunity.

3) Click your URL email links! I just went through all the 10+ Australian email flows that we have set up (welcome, abandon, browse, etc.) and was in SHOCK to see that alot of the URLS were sending traffic to the USA website. When our old email agency copy and pasted the flows from our USA Sendlane account to our Australian one they never changed the website. So for the past four months, Australian customers have been getting emails that send them to a website they can’t even check out on. So fucking stupid. No wonder email revenue was down. So damn happy I found this yesterday.

4) Review your current acquisition costs & sales costing to see if the models you built out weeks or months ago are still profitable and make sense. Last Friday we had a tough conversation with our ad agency as our CPA’s were coming in a bit higher than expected. Our ROAS target on Facebook was a 2.4 in order to make Facebook sales profitable with a contribution margin between 15-20% per sale.

We were coming in at like 1.9-2.1 given the day and we saw that our CROSSNET H2O product that we had scheduled to mark down $10 would not have been profitable with our current CPA on Facebook. Old Chris woulda said screw it lets keep the sale, hope for the best and probably would have looked back and said wow we just lost money on each and every sale. New Chris isn’t spending money to lose one. Give me a profit on each and every order.

5) Your employees are trying to plan their holiday schedule and vacations. If you haven’t already done so take 5 minutes and let them know what days they are going to have off. We’re shut down Nov 22-27th and Dec 22nd - Jan 2nd this year.

6) Have your entire team go through your website on mobile for last minute feedback. Yesterday we found that our Gorgias chat bot was halfway hovering over our add to cart button. We also found that our popup was firing a bit too soon on entry and that the discount that customers get when they enter their email wasn’t automatically adding to the cart. These three changes took just a few seconds but are things I wish I had caught months ago.

7) If you’re in a position where you’re profitable and you’re trying to get that profit down just a bit for Uncle Sam’s sake reach out to all of your vendors and ask to prepay for a discount in 2024. I hate locking in long contracts because things change on the fly, but if there’s a vendor that you 100% know you’re going to be using next year paying up front for a discount can’t hurt! For us we know we’re gonna be using things like Quickbooks, Finaloop, Adobe, Shopify, etc.

8) Plain text emails perform exceptionally well. In a sea of stylized graphics and beautiful emails, the human plain text email from the CEO or Founder always performs great and cuts through the noise.

9) Be vulnerable and be real. This week we got CRUSHED by Amazon. We were not aware that we shipped in too much inventory for the holidays and that Amazon was going to be charging 3x the normal shipping cost for the holidays. This was our first time working with Amazon during the holidays so we can chalk it up to a rookie mistake. We saw in the Fall that our storage costs at Amazon were way cheaper than our 3PL so we thought hey lets just have Amazon store it for us.

We then woke up to a $26,000 bill for storage and see three more like this on the horizon. The only thing we can do is discount the product massively, own up to it, and tell our customers we’re in a tough spot. To remove the inventory its going to cost us $55,000. So I’m going to send an email out to our customers saying we’ve marked the product down to the lowest price in company history to avoid the Amazon storage bill next month.

10) Don’t lose too much sleep. There’s always next year. Regardless of how hard you work on this holiday season there is always going to be regrets and things you wish you did differently. Jot them down, remember them for next year and keep building.

Let’s Hang?

I’m heading to NYC first thing tomorrow morning and will be staying in Chelsea. If you’re in town and want to grab a bite or a matcha let me know! If anybody has must stop at coffee spots or lunch recommendations please let me know! I’m heading up for a wedding on Saturday and then back in Connecticut for the entire week with family.

Aaron and I are hosting our ever event in San Francisco on Dec 5th. We don’t know anybody there so it’s going to be fun trying to fill up the room with 50+ incredible brands over the next few weeks. Black Friday will be done so I think we can all use a reason to get a little rowdy and celebrate. If you’re in town or know somebody in SF, send them this invite.

Besides that, I got nothing else for you. Make sure to check out our new partners at Revenue Roll as I honestly think they’d crush getting more emails for you. If you have a question about Black Friday, want to pick my brain or just say hi shoot me a note back at [email protected] 

See you in NYC!