How to Build a Passive Income Revenue Stream with Branded Products

When I first started working on AmazonBasics, there were still struggles with budget, figuring out what were must haves and nice to haves in developing new projects, whether products would be successful, and the usual challenges of a startup.

At Amazon, most of the time new projects have limited time and resources to prove their value. They’re usually started in a single team as a single idea, then grow once they’re successful.

Today, AmazonBasics is in every category in Hardlines (Home, Garden, Kitchen, Home Improvement, Consumer Electronics, Automotive, and more). When I first joined, we were JUST in Consumer Electronics, and undergoing the difficult process of becoming a standalone business, now that the market and the process had been proven. This is just in five short years.

So how can YOU do this?

This guide is for entrepreneurs who have steady income to commit to a passive income venture – either by already being sellers with a steady wholesale income or service business owners looking to stop trading their time for money.

The first task is to define who your target is, and thus what your brand stands for.

AmazonBasics is aiming for the economy shopper who is interested in a deal. Quality only needs to be good enough to last for an estimated year’s worth of usage. The AmazonBasics mouse or keyboard are completely no frills but consistently work.

So who is your target market?

In my course, I use pregnant women with disposable income as my target segment. This is because I knew that I would only have one biological child (my husband already had a little girl when we met) and I decided to learn everything I could about pregnancy and nursing. Additionally, I had a rough early and rough late pregnancy, so I learned as much as I could about how not to be miserable. Lastly, I live in one of the top cost of living cities in the US, and worked for Amazon, and could afford to buy products that would solve my problems as a pregnant woman.

If you don’t have a person that you can market to based on your own experience, run some surveys. While this is a little more effort, you can create silly Facebook quizzes (what color is your personality) add in various behavior questions, add in a few demographic questions, and voila – you have a potential target audience.

Alright, that seems do-able… but how do I make the products… passively?

The critical aspect of developing and selling a product line is that it IS a lot of work … but it doesn’t have to be a lot of work for YOU.

Our team has six team members who used to work on Amazon’s own private labels. These ranged from Pike Street to Ruby & Ro, to Strathwood, to AmazonBasics, to Amazon Elements – there isn’t a category on Amazon that we don’t have experience with.

Once you decide on your target market and your target customer avatar, and set your budget; we take care of the rest. All that you have to do is pay the bills and make final decisions through a weekly check-in.

Here’s an idea of how we conceptualize the product development process

This might seem complicated, but we make what is a truly complicated process to do correctly a step-by-step understandable process. And yes, it IS complicated, anyone who is telling you to buy on aliexpress or alibaba, import products without any regulatory or safety verification, and then sell on Amazon is advising you badly and could result in you getting sued. Honestly, it could result in them getting sued too for providing poor advice!

So let’s go into each of these areas and explain how this works for our “Done For You” clients who work with us monthly.

Idea to Source

The first step for us is to research product ideas for a few key inputs: competitive landscape, product features, and safety/regulatory/quality product testing and registration requirements. As my uncle used to say, Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Of course, he often added a 7th P to the list! And my uncle was pretty much always right, which is told us regularly too. Without planning well, developing detailed specifications, planning out the compliance strategy, the rest of the project struggles to perform well. Excellent setup is key.

Your effort: Approve the product type

Compliance/Risk Management

This is where we at Cascadia really shine. Our goal is to completely reduce your risk of getting sued to zero. We work with laboratories, with governmental agencies, recommend insurance providers, and help you feel utterly confident in the product you’re offering for sale. Further, preparation and product testing to verify prototypes can help you be confident in your star ratings. This saves a ton of money in returns and discounts!

Your effort: Pay for any laboratory testing or registrations that are required, and pay for the production run

Shipping & Logistics

Once your products are done being developed, we support getting you set up with an appropriate shipping provider. We’ll book the quotations for you, handle any efforts in China such as kitting or fumigation, if needed, and receive the products at our receiving warehouse in Monroe, Washington, which is in close proximity to the cost effective Port of Seattle. We then take care of shipping it to Amazon for you.

Your effort: Approve the results of the testing and production inspection, and approve the booking

Marketing & Launch

It used to be that you could just put items up for sale on Amazon and they’d sell. That’s really not realistic now. We work with top notch web designers, visual designers, photographers, videographers, and advertising specialists to build your web presence. Our goal is to help you build up a long term following on social media and your website, so that every new product you add to your lineup, you can easily launch to your own list, get reviews, and kick off on Amazon.

Your effort: Approve the marketing plan, pay third party providers

It cannot seriously be this easy?

It really is! When you work with a team that gets product development on Amazon at such a fundamental level, having launched over two THOUSAND products for Amazon’s own private label brands, you don’t have to HOPE for a good outcome. You can rest assured that we will pick and develop solid products with a great selling proposition to help you build your brand, and work with world-class providers who can support you and us in making this project a reality.

When launching a new business, there are a few ways for new business owners to invest. Our Done For You service assumes that you have more money than time. If your approach is more time than money, then I highly suggest our course, which is a much more affordable way to get started with your own branded products business.

Dermarose lifestyle photos with a Model by Cacadia Seller Solutions
Click here to learn more about our course

What has made this process easier for others you’ve worked with?

The number one trait that makes our clients successful is decisiveness. Because we can do all the work you need us to do, the primary key feature of a successful products entrepreneur is a willingness to jump in and commit to the process. This is what at Amazon, we would have called the Bias for Action leadership principle. Jeff always said that with about 70% of the information, you had an excellent chance of knowing enough to make a good decision, and the lost time is worse than a decision you may have to backtrack on.

The second trait is a willingness to listen to advice prior to making that decision. We will always support the client’s final decision, but just as at Amazon, it’s a leadership principle to Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit. What this means is that we’ll respectfully disagree with our client’s direction if we think it’s unreasonable or wrong, but as you are the ultimate decider for YOUR business, even if we ultimately disagree, we will commit to the final decision and do our best to make it as successful as possible

The third trait of a successful client is a willingness to backtrack when a decision was poor. At Amazon, this is called “Are Right, A lot” – basically it means not sticking with a bad decision, or less than stellar decision, and immediately correcting course so that ultimately, your decisions are right, a lot. It doesn’t mean never admitting to a mistake; it means owning your mistakes, learning from them, and never making that mistake again.

So if you’re so good at this, why aren’t YOU doing it?

We are! We have a brand of products aimed at… you guessed it… pregnant and nursing women. It’s focused on women who have disposable income and are committed to buying only the best for themselves and their baby in terms of organic ingredients and products free of negatively impactful chemical components, and sustainably sourced and developed products.

At Amazon, a critical aspect to long term success was diversification of income streams. Not only does Amazon sell its own branded products, but it started by selling other brand’s products, and then Amazon launched the Marketplace, so that a portion of every sale goes to Amazon. Then they started selling computing space, and custom developed devices, and now content creation.

Here at Cascadia, we believe in the idea that because we can do this so well for ourselves, back at Amazon and now, we can definitely do it beautifully and with experienced professionalism for you. And that we SHOULD have a Done For You program to diversify our own portfolio of revenue streams.

We believe this is why our successful business owner clients should establish an additional line of business as well. Whether you are successfully wholesaling and want to add your own products, or you own a spa or counseling business and want to develop custom lines of creams or gift bags, or perhaps your own custom therapy aids – we want to help you do it, on and off of Amazon.

I am ready to explore more!
About the Author
Rachel Johnson Greer is a global business strategist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs increase their internet product sales, curate their brand image online and avoid catastrophic legal threats. After getting her MBA in international business at Seattle University, she spent nearly a decade at Amazon working in product development. Since then, Rachel has founded companies that reached both multi-six figure and multi-seven figure growth in under three years.

As a business coach, she supports clients in everything from international product expansion to 4x-ing their sales through online retailers. Rachel is frequently sought out by the media and has appeared on the Today Show, CNBC, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. When she’s not working with clients, she’s scaring friends at parties with stories about the most problematic online products she’s found in their homes. She lives in Seattle, Washington.