Today’s guest is an expert at taking a product from concept to high-volume sales at Home Depot, Lowes, Wayfair, Walmart and Amazon. He is the President of Retail Band, an eCommerce agency that works with brands and retailers to manage and accelerate sales online.
He also hosts the Page One Podcast, which features thought leaders on topics ranging from channel strategy, tariffs, influencer marketing, product launches, and how to grow ecommerce with big box retailers.
Please welcome Luke Peters.
- 0:54 – Luke Peters Good at
- 3:09 – Luke’s Background
- 6:23 – Tricks on Online Store
- 8:04 – Entrepreneurs Calculated Risks
- 14:55 – Tips from Expert
Learn more about this guest:
Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Luke Peter’s what’s up. How are you doing? Doing great. Beautiful morning. And a lockdown here in Southern California. We’ve got sunny weather and go surf this morning. So it’s a great day. Good. Yeah. Thanks for jumping on learning from others. I got speaking of California. Got it. Got my little California hat on here.
There you go. You can’t see it here, the listeners, but yeah, I like it, California. I heard, um, I was talking to another guest the other day and in California and they were saying that it’s crazy. Cause the beaches are just like Floyd. Well, you know what, you know, it’s interesting is there void everywhere except where I live.
And I got to tell you, it’s just packed this morning. It’s like, Oh, it’s too much. It’s like, everybody’s coming to one, just the Hines of each to go. Cause I heard Huntington peaches. So yeah, exactly. Yeah. Well, let’s start with usual two questions. So question number one is what are you good at? And what are we going to learn from you today?
Sure. So what am I good at? Um, I think I’m, I have a lot of passion out about business, so I think I’m good at optimizing the business and understanding all the details of the business, I guess like any entrepreneur should, but a lot of them sometimes stick in one part of the business and I love to get involved in the whole thing.
And then more specific into that is I love like marketing and sales, digital online. And, um, so hopefully I can share some of those, some of that wisdom. Yeah, we’ll do it. Uh, number two is what are you not so good at? Well, it kind of goes hand in hand, so not so good at sometimes I do get too much into the weeds.
So I heard from a really smart guy, uh, Roland Frasier, actually really great guy with a digital marketer. And he said, you know, you guys all should focus. On innovation, not optimization. So optimization is great. And that’s how you can really fine tune a business and become an expert. But, um, you know, at the same time, sometimes you can get too much in the weeds.
And fortunately the last couple of years, I’ve been able to hire on a great team to do a lot of that stuff, but that’s an area they’re probably asking too many questions. I don’t know what it is, but I find that maybe it’s my style of asking questions, but sometimes people think. You know, that I’m, that I’m assuming they don’t, that I’m kind of getting into their business when really I’m just curious areas that can kind of like, as a leader, that can be a problem because I kind of have to make sure people know that, Hey, I’m just asking this how to curiosity, not to assume not to, you may have seen the same thing I do.
Yeah. You know, it’s funny. Cause I was just chatting with, um, my podcast editor the other day, his name is Kevin and I said, Hey Kevin, how long does it take you to do this? And this and this? And he’s like, Well, this is like the third time you’ve asked me that in the last couple of months, their problem with like the way I’m doing things, I was like, no, no, no, no, no.
Like, you know, I get what everybody else does on the team because I’ve done it myself, but I haven’t done the editing that you do. So I’m just curious, like I want to know though. Yeah. I can relate to you on that one. Well, What you do is you take products from concept to high volume cells. And it’s some big box places like home Depot, Lowe’s Walmart, and, you know, even online like Amazon.
So let’s go through the career journey and get us up to speed on where you started and how you got to where you’re at. Sure. So I’ll, I’ll go through it quickly. But, um, I was like, I grew up in a big family. My, the way I saw you did too. And you have like seven siblings or seven? Yeah. Okay. So I was a family of 12.
We’ll be better. Not, yeah, so big family. And, um, I always had to work, you know, we always had these paper outs or whatever. So anyways, fast forward for college, I had my own swimming pool business paid. For college, got a degree in microbiology and was, uh, ended up being a hazardous waste scientist afterwards.
And it was kind of a boring job. And my little brother is doing, you know, making money, selling things online. Didn’t go to school and I’m driving a truck, you know, from Huntington beach to Glendale, which is like two hours when there’s traffic through LA and I figured something was wrong. And so that’s right.
Kind of learn some SEO. This is around 2001 and. Um, I dunno if you remember that there’s steam still may exist, but I had a Yahoo store as my first website. Okay. And built it out on Yahoo and they had their own kind of language actually kind of had to lay, uh, Erin coders to do, to do special tweaks to it.
Yeah. So that’s how I started. That was e-commerce. So that was like 100% e-commerce did that all the way to 2012. Started a couple of new businesses that were new brands and started wholesaling my brand instead of just direct to consumer. And that was a big change, a big pivot in 2012, 2013. What was, what made that such a big change?
Just because of the sales volume or just the way you operated. So in, so here, so here, so if people remember back right around 23rd, like before that time, that was a big inflection point. Because before that time, Amazon was strong, but really no other strong players in our category, at least for online, meaning the big stores, they weren’t good at SEO.
They weren’t really good at online marketing, but then they started waking up right around 2012, 2013. So like in the search results, Where we would like dominate a lot of categories along with one or two of our patients letters. All of a sudden you start seeing target home Depot, Walmart, you know, and you figure, all right, you know, our Mark, you know, our SEO is probably not going to beat these guys.
They’ve got. A lot of money and big teams. And, um, so in our category, um, we knew that it, it probably makes sense to sell to them instead of trying to outspend them. And, uh, it’s an interesting thing because you think your margins are going to be lower, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Uh, you do have to kind of.
Adjust your overall pricing strategy and everything, but, um, yeah, it was a big pivot. So the pivot was selling a hundred percent direct to consumer to sane. We’ll still do direct to consumer, but we’re going to wholesale to these other guys and actually learn how all these channel sales work as well. And then I figure, you know, for a brand you’re going to have a lot more eyeballs on your product that way too.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting that you say margins don’t have to be lower because that’s a common thing that I hear too. It seems like you either absolutely love your relationship with Walmart or absolutely hate it. Like is there what’s what’s the trick? Well, keep in mind that this is mostly online at the, you know, at the beginning and even still now, mostly online with some in store as well.
So, um, the trick is there’s a lot of tricks. The trick is start out with very good margins, have a lot of wiggle room, a lot of wiggle room because every single time they’re just gonna, they’re gonna do their job. Which is to, to, you know, clawback some of that, every which way, understand what the agreements are.
Don’t think that you can necessarily change where it go. She had all of the agreements, but just to understand all the little things and to get Dean for along the way, make sure you got that built in so that, you know, you’re good too. Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. You’re in the swimming pool business. I think you’re the third guest that has been in that.
And I would have just, it would have just, I, I know the businesses out there, but it just sort of never crossed my mind as like a consistent type of thing that guests would come on. So just a little side note, that was interesting. And Yahoo stores, those were painful. I remember optimizing those for a couple of clients.
Um, probably the last Yahoo store I seen was like eight years ago and it was just brutal to work with on the backend. Oh, yeah. Yeah, they got their own. We had to hire somebody out of Russia or Ukraine or something who like, cause there is a language that they use on the backend if you want to make adjustments.
And I think all of us what you’ve been around a while too, we’re probably all kicking ourselves that we didn’t create a Shopify like system. Like everything was so hard to work with, you know? And now you’ve got Shopify. Yeah. Well, one of the things that you mentioned before we jumped on, was that a topic or passion is that a you can, it’s healthy to take calculated risks.
And I think that’s important for entre. That’s a good topic to discuss for entrepreneurs. So especially kinda earlier entrepreneurs, because given the current economic circumstances, I think that. Scares away, even more entrepreneurs than usual. Um, so how, how do you, you know, what’s your take on calculated risks?
Um, you know, just, uh, I’ll let you open up the conversation on that. Well, I mean, you have, well, first of all, you can’t do anything without risk. I mean, there’s risk in everything, but I would say. I would flip it and I would say there’s more risk in not acting and starting a business or looking to start a business and being in control of your future destiny.
So if for younger entrepreneurs, especially, um, there’s actually a lot more risk in just being okay with where your career is not actually. Starting something yourself, because when you start something that’s an issue, you’re basically creating an asset for yourself. Just like if you bought a house, you know, you have something that tangibly is worth it’s value, no matter what happens, let’s let’s just, let’s pretend you paid it off.
You always gonna have it, like the market’s going to go down or up and it’s tangible more tangible than say, you know, a stock. Um, and, but, so when you build skills for yourself, It’s actually less risky. And, and so when most people talk about risk in the early stages, they’re not talking about investing a lot of money.
They’re usually talking about, do I leave my job? Do I pick, do I start this business, which is risky? And why is it risky? Cause they’re going to lose some personal free time. Yeah. You know, so, so I would, I would flip it and I would say it’s risky or not to do that. I agree. And more as of late, because of the economic circumstances, I’m talking to other people that even before the world melted, you know, a month or two ago, um, a lot of people, I mean, you being an entrepreneur probably have similar conversations with friends and peers where they’re like, man, I wish I could do my own thing.
I just can’t pick a path and. And now those people are amplifying that message like, Hey, I’m, I’m really nervous about, um, you know, my job stability. And, and that’s something that I, I appreciate with entrepreneurship is that you have a greater control over that. So I agree that, you know, you put the risk in your own hands instead of somebody else’s.
So nonetheless, it’s scary, but if you look at it from. Further a step back. I agree with what you’re saying. Um, what’s did you have to take any, how did you start? Okay, so you’re, you’re doing the two hour traffic drives. You realize that something’s off and you could be doing something better with your time.
Did you have to take any calculated risks to jump into launching your own thing? For sure? Well, I mean, definitely a time risk. I mean, out of family, married, living in a small condo and, um, the job was, I mean, definitely I had. Thoughts of Whoa, this is like very secure. I grew up with my parents owned a donut shop.
So I was working at a donut shop when I was 10 to 12. I mean, they always feel, you always had to make a living and I’m thinking, okay, well, at least I’m guaranteed money here, but I wasn’t guaranteed very much cause it was a government job. So you’re you literally are guaranteed. It’s a crude bureaucracy, but, um, What would happen was the risk was starting late all day.
All night I would work. We were working 12, 14 hour days with my wife and all weekend, you know, cause you’re building out a business and then you’re buying inventory. Um, but in a lot of cases we were fortunate because we could drop ship. So cash flow was good. You know, you would sell the good, you maybe out terms with the company you’re dropshipping with you would collect the cash, but there’s risk everywhere.
There’s risk with charge backs, there’s risks with customers you’re dealing with and fraud and investing your time into something that may not pay off. So, but definitely not like, you know, I had to drop a million dollars on anything. So it was, it was a, it was a fortunate time to start a business and to kind of cashflow and we bootstrapped everything.
Yeah. Now, do you, do you practice what you preach like is, is, uh, how, how much of what you do is running your own inventory versus do you do consulting as well? I do. I’m I’m back and forth. I did start up another company called, uh, retail band. And so that’s fun. So that’s digital. Consulting for more like on the strategic level for companies.
So, because there’s a lot of companies in our space that are in store only believe it or not. I mean, there’s so many companies that don’t still online sales and now more than ever the last month they need to. So yeah, I do some work in that space. I’m just kind of limited and, and I’m picky with who I work with just cause I don’t have a limited time, but it’s a lot of fun.
Um, I just love sharing knowledge and seeing how I can solve a problem. So what’s an average day, like for you then. Well, so an average day is, um, you know, I wake up pretty well. It’s kind of really, you know, some, uh, you know, just be answering emails in the morning and six or something and having a cup of coffee.
And then after that, let’s depend on, I’ll tell you the shutdown now we’re locked down. So the lockdown day is, you know, I’ll do that. Maybe seven to eight o’clock might be having breakfast with the kids or something like that, hanging out a bit. And then, uh, later on, um, could be a workout surf. Mountain bike just quick workout or run with the kids.
And then all of you either go to the office. So I do still go to the office quite a bit. I’m like the only guy there, we have a big, you have 120,000 square foot distribution center. So it’s me. And then like 10 warehouse guys right now. Everybody else is out of the office. Yeah. From the office or today I’m just working out of the house and then, uh, you know, I’ll do that until.
Six, something like that. So that’s one guy for every 10,000 square feet. I think you got the social distancing spaced out reasonably. It’s a, it’s a great setup for you guys. Is there. Is there a necessity to go to the office? Or is it something that you just enjoy a change of pace? Well, it’s, it’s a little bit of everything.
Um, I enjoy it because I know I can be really focused and, um, also, you know, they’re working there, so I think it’s good if I’m showing up as well. Um, and. I love being there just cause it’s my company. So I love seeing the product, checking in, seeing how the guys are doing, um, making sure that they feel supported.
And then, uh, those are the main reasons I think. And then the cool thing is my daughter’s down. She’s a lockdown she’s so she’s worked. She has a great job as a, she’s a, um, partner marketer and she’ll come in with me as well sometimes. So that’s kind of fun. Oh, cool. Yeah. How old is your daughter? She’s 21.
Cool. Yeah. Um, well, let’s kinda, let’s kinda pick your brain and your area of expertise then and give whatever tips we can tell the listeners. Um, you know, this is your space, so I’ll let you talk. What, what, what should I be asking? Hey, Hey Luke, I wanna, I want to grow my business and sell more online. Where do I, where do I start?
Well, okay. So I think the first thing is that. Get a good mentor. Um, I know this is advice, but it is amazing how many people.
So first thing is seek advice, seek, help, talk to people like physically, like as a human being, you know, like we are. And it’s amazing how, um, often that doesn’t happen, you know, the people want to go to your blog and they want to try to implement that in their business, or they want to like, You know, and they can be sped along your path so much quicker if they work with somebody successful.
So find that in like an example would be, if someone’s at work, here’s a perfect example. You know, we have employees and sometimes to solve a problem, I found it 99% of the time you pick the phone up, you’re going to get a better result. And a lot of people love to just send emails, you know, and there’s a lot of waste of time in that.
I know email’s convenient, but I’m talking about if it’s a big problem. You call the other person you think goes on to other entrepreneurs, you know, they don’t do that. They don’t want to do that for a number of reasons could be confidence and a few other things like that. But I would say start there because frankly, I think most people don’t have the right tools.
They might have the right intention, but they don’t have the right tools to do it successfully. And that’s gonna increase their odds of success. Yeah, it’s just the same old. You don’t know what you don’t know. Um, I have, um, my wife’s nephew, I’m mentoring, uh, right now. And, um, it’s fun too, for me. It’s, it’s enjoyable to give back and I think that’s important for a lot of other early entrepreneurs to understand that, you know, put the ego aside, put the insecurity aside.
Most entrepreneurs have been there and there’s a sense of giving back that, that. They want to help you. And it’s interesting. You talk about call versus email. Um, a lot of times I can, you know, you can probably sense when the conversation with somebody comes to you and says, Hey, look, I got a question.
They email it a lot of times I’ll reply back and say, here’s your answer, but this probably opens up more questions. So just call me on round two. Let’s save us both time. Alright. So pick up a mentor. Um, they expedite the learning curve and then what’s, what’s something that you. That you just see consistently that is, um, either a mistake that new online retailers make, or just a little hack.
And I hate to say the word hack, but you know, like tip that you just see over and over and over. That’s like online e-commerce one Oh one that can, that usually helps a lot of the people that you see jump into your space. Yeah. Well, the thing, so another hindrance would be, and again, this is like really new entrepreneurs.
Is that they, they, they got gotta just launched. Like they have to jump and start doing it. And because, you know, you learn so much from those failures and a lot of them don’t, um, they kind of still hide behind the scene there. They’re kind of creating something, but you know, you know, you have a business when you ask someone for money and they tell you yes or no.
That that’s when you know, so yeah. You can hide behind things and do all and do all these things, but, and then, you know, you’re pushing that date off cause you don’t want to hear no and you just like hurt yourself for six months or nine months. So you just gotta, you gotta, you gotta launch, you gotta actually do it.
And then of course, with the mentor, because the mentor will like. Shoot down your idea or tear it up and say, no, no, no, no. You gotta look at this angle. And then as far as the success thing goes, you know, more and more for, yeah, my retailers now you gotta really, really niche down or niche down, whatever the pronunciation we’re using is, you know, you hear that a lot, but.
Um, I, a hundred percent believe in that, um, type of model now, you know, I’ve already luckily gotten an established brand and we’re out there in the marketplace, but still the better we, we still practice SEO, even though we’re selling to all these big guys. And, um, you know, when you get your product, as an example, we’ll sell cigar humidors okay.
And that product, and that is a very niche product. And you think about it only enthusiastic in that category. Want one? And when you get it in the hands of one of those enthusiasts who writes a blog or whatever people are buying, because when you really nice down and do a category, usually there’s a lot of passion underlying, or sometimes there’ll be a lot of passion.
And when there’s passion in that category, Those are the best ones to get into because then the people you’re doing business with are going to write about their experiences with the product. You can then partner with them. I mean, I wish we did more and more of that. Um, but that would, you know, as people look to identify where you go and we’re talking about a product business here, but there’s, you can kind of find similar ideas with service, but it would be like nice down find something that people are somewhat passionate about.
And then try to get into those categories, plus the intense higher, I mean, you know, my background is SEO and it’s the same thing where, you know, people come in and they say, Hey, um, why don’t we, we tried to target this word that has a bazillion searches. Well, because yeah, 999 million of those bazillion.
Yeah. Unrelated to the intent that your customer has. You’re going to waste time on it. Even if you did show up and get exposure for whatever. The the higher volume is it’s the wrong audience. You’re going to waste your time on the phone. You’re going to waste your time on emails. You’re gonna have tons of returns.
So you gotta I’d way rather have a high converting offer with a smaller audience that was more streamlined and seamless than all the problems that come with going too broad, a hundred percent David. And the other thing is I think this is good for entrepreneurs to know, but if you’re good at something, first of all, we all think.
We’re not that great. A lot of us, you know, like there’s always a thing like, dammit, why didn’t I do this better? Or, you know, I should have been better, but if someone really is good at something and they can kind of measure themselves against maybe their peers at work, then they probably have something special.
Like they should actually, they need to realize that, wow, maybe they, this is where their business could be, whether they’re a good marketer, but using your SEO example. It’s a good one because I think, um, I just wanted to comment on that is I’ve taught people. Um, SEO over the year, basic of I’ll do it for a living like you do, but we incorporate it.
So he wants selection and thinking about when you’re putting in, say an article or some sort of content piece together, why it’s so important, it is amazing how hard it is for people to pick it up. And, you know, we’ve been doing it a long time. So for us, we get it. So if people are listening and they’re in, they’re not confident, but on the other hand, they are getting feedback.
They’re really good at something. It’s, um, it’s hard for people to duplicate that, and that may be the area that they have, their gifts that they should go down. Yeah. I think a lot of people refer to it as imposter syndrome. Did you ever run into that with you launching your business where you were hesitant, even though, even though you said, Hey, I think I have a knack for this, but I don’t know if that’s my thing.
Yeah, no for sure. I think everybody has it. I definitely have it in, in moments that are challenging. Like, you know, we have things like tariffs hit us and stuff like that. So we’ve, we’ve had big, challenging moments. Um, one thing I am fortunate is I usually just do things before I kinda young. Like I just do things, you know, before I like dig too deep sometimes, which is this it’s usually you’re supposed to be more research, but I usually I’ll just like, Do things.
And that is, can be pretty good for entrepreneurs because sometimes if people over analyze things, it just can like kill them and slow them down. Yeah. So I want to go back to kind of something you were joking about, you know, you have a business if you ask for money. So, so are you saying that if somebody says, yes, you have now made a legit business, if they say, no, you got more crawling to do.
I mean, in, in, in principle share, like, you know, if somebody says yes to your offer, You’re onto something right there. And if somebody says, no, you got to find out why they said no, so yeah. Yeah. All right. As we get kind of closer to wrapping up, I want to ask you about, um, you know, there’s a lot of different online marketplaces, so there’s Amazon and Walmart, um, you know, Wayfair or whatever now.
Is there any parting advice you can give to the listeners as to where they should start? Because I assume it’s very similar to when people come to me and say, Hey, should I do SEO versus paid ads versus social media? Like pick one and be good at that first, before you dilute and spread yourself too thin.
Is that the same concept when you choose your marketplace? Uh, you know, there’s a couple of ways you can look at it. Um, Listen, we do business with all of them, my level, all of them. But I’ll tell you that. Uh, I mean, I’ll tell you, what’s been publicly stated by Amazon, is that they in one, one way or another, I don’t want to misquote it, but in one way or another, they don’t believe in brands.
Okay. They, they, they want to connect the buyer. Right to the product and, and they don’t believe in brands and brands. It’s a value because usually brands are optimizing a product. They’re making a better quality product. They’re also servicing their customers better. So if someone’s building a brand, you got to own it on your own website.
That would be actually my advice. Now it doesn’t mean that Amazon can still be a chunk of your sales, but a lot of folks are Amazon only. And it depends when you, at the very beginning, there’s a lot of things I know now that I, which I knew at the beginning. So at like right now, what I know is, you know, as you get older and you look at your company, what, what the enterprise value is, if your company it’s based on certain factors, how diversified your sales are, um, what type of reoccurring revenue you have and all of these types of things.
I mean, there’s a gazillion of, and that’s a whole nother discussion, but from the very beginning, people should think about that. Do you want to have only one. Marketplace that that owns you. And trust me, a lot of people are in that position. And I used to love those companies. A couple of years ago, they were very weary of those companies.
Now they love brands that own the customer on their.com. And so from the beginning, I would advise people if they can. And that’s where you niche down, you own the customer. Do all those things like build your email, social media lists and, um, And then you can go to Amazon and Walmart and all those others.
Yeah. Yeah. It is really interesting to see. Um, it’s cool. The opportunities that Amazon creates, but to me, it’s terrifying the concept of being locked in underneath somebody else’s. Umbrella, you know, just like you said, you can have brands or products that Amazon loves today, and then tomorrow there’s Amazon basics version of it and they don’t care about you anymore.
It’s just like that fast. And that’s terrifying to me. Yeah. There’s no relationship. I mean, there is at the bigger level, luckily in our case, you know, we have vendor managers and so there there’s a different level, but when people are starting out, they’re not going to have that. And you’re probably going to sell him on seller central and, um, It’s, uh, it’s definitely worth creating your own brand, your own customers.
And you learn a lot by doing that too, because you have to get all of these skills and all the skills are transferrable to Amazon, like marketing your own site. It’s gonna be very transferable to Amazon. And, um, it’s just, Amazon is a different platform with different rules. Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. All right, everybody Lou Peters, I appreciate you jumping on learning from others.
retailband.com. Um, I’ll give you the floor to close it out and tell us any other ways. Tell us about your podcast. You got a podcast too. Yeah, I have the page one podcast. Um, I interviewed a lot of, uh, guests that are in our category of a home and hardware. So these are brands that are winning today. You know, they could be, they could be in store.
They could be mostly online. It could be a mix, but we’re interviewing a lot of leaders from consumer product, a brand, but also a couple of other guests, you know, on negotiating experts just interviewed a really awesome author and a bunch of other people that are mixed in. So it’s a very. Again, I’m practicing what I preach.
Cause it’s, it’s a nice down and that’s called BMP on podcasts with the number one. Yeah, very cool. It was interesting. I looked at it before we jumped on and uh, I appreciated the parallels, uh, to you implying the importance of page one in the search results on, I think there’s a screenshot of home depot.com.
Like you got to shoot those first results and how it just transfers same over to my world of search engine. So very cool. Look, Peter’s retailband.com. Thanks so much. Alright, thanks Dam.