case study 2017 sushi

Case Study 2017: Sushi

I like naming case studies after food. It’s like an ode to android or something. You get it.

I’m creating this case study to go over the product launch start to finish on a $500 challenge. I managed to find a product that seems feasible, and here’s where we’ll go over from start to finish.

How I Picked The Magic Sushi

My perfect private label product has to meet a few criteria

  • Price point that’s between $15-35
  • Size – No limitations
  • Minimal competition
  • Not a lot of complaint possibilities (it can’t arrive broken)
  • A product I can source easily without worrying too much about MOQs
  • One that I can sell at least five a day.

Okay, before you panic about what competition, MOQ and oversized dimensions are, stick with me.

Using Jungle Scout

I use Jungle Scout as my number one tool of choice when it comes to product research. It’s tried and true, and with the amount of data Greg Mercer’s team has by now with all of its users I’m willing to bet its data is more reliable than any other scouting tool out there. I like to go to and just put in any item to see where it will take me. After brainstorming in categories I have interest in, I found my own sushi.

The first product shot is for “sushi” which is the “all encompassing” keyword. I’d like to land in the first page of results for this one, but will be tougher than my second goal keyword that’s below this one.


This is for a more narrowed down “spicy sushi”. It yields less results, and you can see how sporadic the results are.


Now, I did the math on both pages and if I land 10% of the existing business by making it to page 1 I should hit an average of 393 sales for keyword 1 or 378 for keyword 2. This is different from the average sales as I’m trying to determine how much business I can capture if I get 10%.

10% of business is much more than my goal to sell 5 units per day. I only want 150 sales a month so 393, and 378 respectively so you can guess who’s happy!

As an additional measure of checking what sales looks like, I took the “average sales rank” for sushi at 11,050 and put it in the free Jungle Scout sales estimator. For sake of not giving up my category, I put an example of the estimator to the left. The sales were similar to my category of choice. I also put in the average sales rank for “spicy sushi” to check out this keyword too. All systems are still go!Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 11.55.39 AM

Now let’s start narrowing down what you look for in the competition.

Look at the Competition

When I look at the Jungle Scout snapshot, I’m looking at a lot of the columns. First we figured that we can get well over 5 sales a day. Now, I look at how many reviews the competition has. My highest review is 100 for my top keyword and 455 for my other keyword?! If you look at the rest, all of them are well under 100 reviews and I know with my email sequence (more later) I can capture maybe 1 review for every 50 sales. Let’s be reasonable, most people hate doing reviews unless their complaining about the product. But I know that if there are some with 0 reviews, they’re probably doing nothing to capture their reviews, and likely don’t care about listing or PPC to boot.

Next thing I took a look at were reviews, again, there are 3-4 star reviews in there. This means I can find weak points and see about offering a superior product. Maybe the current one is flimsy, breaks easily or the packaging is off. All points I can take to my supplier and improve upon.

Last, I like to look at who is selling the product. As I mentioned, Amazon or AMZ is the big seller in most of these. This isn’t a big concern as I think I’ll be able to compete against an unoptimized listing. I’ll be able to give my listing the attention it deserves and AMZ will just see their listing as another drop in the bucket. In “spicy sushi” there’s a lot of merchant fulfilled sellers too. I know that the product is harder for some to package which could be the problem. This is greats new for me who have the packaging materials and tools to get the job done. I alternatively have my own fulfillment team who can help me out should I go that route.

Go Ahead and Order Samples

Once I’m happy with the product I want to go forward with it’s time to order samples. Samples can range from $30-100 based on what company you are buying from and what you want to see. Some you want to see quality, others you may wish to check out what customizations can be made. Most often you’re paying for freight and the sample itself is free. It does depend on where you plan on ordering product from, you may want to check the most common site, for manufacturers. My product is being sourced from the US of A, so I wont be deep diving into Alibaba for this case study. The short version is, you’ll need to order samples and examine quality. You’re also going to determine how well manufacturers communicate, English fluency, and even how quickly they respond. If you have a company that takes 2 days to respond where everyone else does 1 day, that does make a difference. If some answer all of your questions, and others ignore them, that’s important.

Production Time

When you’re happy with samples, you’ll discuss your order terms, production time, and when you can expect the product in your hands. If you need custom packaging, inserts or labels, you’ll want to handle this now. You’ll also need to consider an inspection company. Some prescribe to using an inspection company each time. I’ve built my own risk tolerance and for small orders do not even consider it. If I’m only spending $500 on a test run, I’m not going to pay $200 for an inspection. If I have a lot of moving parts and spending $10,000 you better believe I’m going to pay for a $200 inspection.

Where I’m At Now

Well, you’re caught up with me! I’m waiting for product to arrive, and I’ve got one small shipment showing up this week so I can get my listings up and photos done. The following week, I have the remainder showing up. I’ll be offering two quantity variations for this product. I’m debating between a “five pack” or “six pack” and then my medium “10 pack”, I’ll also be building out my listing with a 25-pack offering just in case I want to go that way later down the road. Here are my costs to date:

Costs Notes
Brand Costs $0 I already have logo, and site
200 Inserts $48.99 ($0.25 each) I haven't ordered yet, but this is next on my list.
600 Units of Product $250.24 ($0.42 each) This is per unit, not per pack I'll be offering.
Total $299.23



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