Generations Of Wealth

Generations Of Wealth | Ann Sieg | Mastering eCommerce


In today’s digital jungle, eCommerce success isn’t for the faint of heart. Mastering e-commerce requires a blend of strategic planning, technological savvy, and a deep understanding of consumer behavior. Navigating through this terrain demands adaptability to stay ahead of the curve and carve out a profitable niche in the competitive marketplace. In this episode, e-commerce expert Ann Sieg shares the ins and outs of mastering an eCommerce business from online marketing to working from home and to building with family. Stay tuned to Ann’s conversation with our host Derek Dombeck and gain the skills and insights needed not only to survive but thrive in the competitive world of e-commerce.

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The 3 Pillars Of Digital Success And Their Role In Mastering eCommerce With Ann Sieg

In this episode, I’ve got Ann Sieg with me. Ann comes from a completely different background than anything that I’ve experienced with or anybody that I’ve talked to on this show. She is a fellow mid-Westerner originally. We have to respect that. If you wouldn’t mind, say hello to everybody. Tell us a little bit about yourself and we’ll dive right into it.

I’m excited to be here. I love generational wealth concepts, building, etc. That’s my whole story. I built my business with my three sons and my husband. My husband and I have had businesses for most of our 40-year of marriage. I encouraged our sons. I homeschool for 12 years with our 3 sons. The eldest got inspired to recruit his brother who was four years younger, “Mom, we’re going to start an eBay business.” I had nothing to do with that. I did not fund it. It was all on them. They placed the orders and they did the whole thing except, “Mom, we need a five-star rating, you got to get to the post office,” the very same day.

That’s all I knew. That’s the only part I had. My eldest was in 11th grade and the middle son was in 7th grade and off they went. We encourage entrepreneurship in the family because that’s the cloth which I was cut from. My husband and I, our first foyer was a dino kid grow chart that we sold to the Science Museum of Minnesota. We tried to sell that all over the country. This is before the internet by the way. We’ve done that most prominently online. I’ve been online for twenty years. I love being in the online space.

I do love face-to-face interaction to have a better balance, but it has been an incredible and amazing experience. In my first ten years, I was teaching lead gen and funnel building through a program that we had. That was primarily to a specific niche called network marketers. That’s my niche. We made a pivot into eCommerce ten years ago. We have a training and mentorship platform for eCommerce selling. That’s online. It’s been a lot of fun. I love working with people. I love building teams of people and helping people. What I love and am passionate about is strengthening the family economy.

Relying On A Single Platform

I have many questions because I’m brand new to your space. I know about eCommerce, but it’s not my forte. My wife Tracy did for many years run her own eBay store and dabbled with that. It was something she did. My first question for you is when eBay was popular, when you put all of your eggs in that one basket and you’re going to have an eBay store and then they change their regulations or their rules, do you have any control over your business? How do you protect yourself from something like that?

That speaks to multi-channel, which you go, “Do I have to?” With advertising, YouTube has been our main wheelhouse, bread and butter for paid advertising that is, but it’s a one-legged stool. Anytime you’re in business, you better adapt to the fact that you’re going to have to be multi-channel, whether that’s multiple eCommerce platforms, advertising channels, or whatever it may be. It’s a fact of life. We had a windshield replaced on a business in Minnesota for twelve years. We did many windshields. He had about twelve different dealerships in the Twin City metro. What broke us at the end of the day, came to the advertising practice. The state of Minnesota rolled out a new law, that wiped out all the little moms and pops. That’s a whole story behind that. In life and business, it’s all about the hard-learned lessons.

Life and business are full of hard-learned lessons. One key lesson is embracing the need to diversify. Share on X

To your point about the regulations only, it’s what you have to do to embrace this. You’re going to have to diversify. It means having you learn yet another platform, whether that be in advertising or eCommerce. We’ve had many people learning eCommerce who then came to Amazon to learn that. We’ve mostly been promoting Amazon, but you better have a backup to that too. It’s always about backup. That’s the nature of the base. It’s become all the more needful. When you’re in the online space, things pivot and change quickly. It’s breathtaking. You have to be adept, not be nimble, and embrace the fact that things are not going to stay the same. As soon as you’re sitting in your easy boat and you are like this, that’s when you better be ramping up for the next. You better be doing it because something is going to come.

Getting Started In E-Commerce

That’s across every business. Of course, eCommerce, but real estate is the same way in what we deal with every day. How do you get started? If somebody is like, “I like what Ann is talking about,” what’s the beginning? Do you have to have a product? Do you have to build a team? Start us in infancy and take us through.

It can be very confusing. If you start to tippy-toe into that space and you’re starting to do keyword searches, you’re going to start getting inundated with keyword searches for all these different sourcing methods. You’re going to get confused very quickly. It helps for someone to step back and give you a global view of the industry in eCommerce. I’m going to address Amazon more because that’s been the big 10-ton gorilla in the room. They’re over 51% of all online eCommerce sales.

You are going to see the whole wide swath of sources from China, “Shouldn’t I be doing Alibaba?” Should you be doing wholesaling and drop shipping, which is against Amazon’s terms of service? Should you be doing wholesaling? You’re going to hear all these things. You’re going to hear about Shopify. Before you know it, it’s this whole big slurry mess.

The way I try to help clean up the big slurry mess is I liken it to a swimming pool. When you have a little toddler, you don’t take them over to the deep end, have them climb up the ladder, and do a deep dive in. For example, Shopify is the most challenging because you have to be very good at running ads. You need to know your return on ad spend, all these metrics and numbers, let alone selecting the right product. Rather we want to start in the shallow end of the pool.

We won’t have that context unless someone can paint the picture for you because we have taught almost all the methods I told you about. We start people with what’s called retail arbitrage. All arbitrage means buy low, sell high like flipping houses. There is a massive advantage to starting with retail arbitrage and it’s this, you’re only going to sell products that are already selling. Anything above and beyond that, the risk factor starts to go up.

As someone new to any industry, you want to get in the most risk-free bucket as possible to mitigate risk and a greater likelihood of success. You don’t know that unless someone paints a visual for you. We start all our members with retail arbitrage. Typically, for the last ten years, that’s how long we’ve been doing it, over 10,000 students. We started with retail arbitrage with Amazon. In 2024, we’ve integrated eBay into it. Only in that eBay truly is faster, cheaper, you don’t have to pay a $39.95 monthly, etc.

The difference between eBay and Amazon is this, Amazon is the beast. They’ve got the algorithms and the data far better than eBay. What that means is you can use the Amazon data for your eBay business and leverage the data that Amazon gives. I know this sounds a little confusing, but for the last ten years, we’ve always started with Amazon. We’re saying, “Get into eBay, then have it in your back pocket as you move forward with Amazon,” because the two can work in tandem very nicely if you know how to do that through what’s called multi-channel.

The biggest takeaway here is to start with retail arbitrage. I’m going to give an example. I’ve got a glass case and I remember I bought this at Walgreens. Let’s say you source this from a Walgreens, an eyeglass case. You’re going to be able to scan it as long as there’s a UPC code on the product. Amazon is going to look and see if it’s in their catalog on an app that they created. Someone do a little buzz and all of a sudden this data is going to come up. There’s only one field that’s empty and that is what is the cost at that store. You put in that cost and then it’s going to go in a microsecond. It’s going to show you what your profit would be. It’s going to show you the competition. You have to know that. You have to know the sales rank, etc. You can go scanning through a store and know very quickly, “This one.” It’s not like they’re all going to be winners, but it’s that speed of having that app.

I’ve done tons of that in the twin-seating metro area. I have a girl in Wisconsin who owns a prep and ship center. She comes in on the weekend with a truck and a trailer with her friend. They do about $30,000 to $40,000 worth of products on a given weekend in the Twin City metro. They take it back to her prep and ship center. They get prepped and they ship it in the Amazon warehouse. It can be very lucrative. It’s doing $600,000 a year in the grocery category through local retail arbitrage.

They’re going and buying the product, physically paying sales tax on it or what have you, and then reselling it, and the sales tax gets paid again.

Some are able to get a resell certificate so you’re not having to pay that. There are five states in the union where they don’t have retail tax. You and I both have it, I’m in Arkansas and it’s here too and it’s higher than high. In any case, they pick up every municipality. Everyone is getting their little piece of the pie. There are some states where they don’t have that, but you can get a resell certificate that is accounted for when you do your metrics there and when you’re making that decision on what retail tax is included in there as well. That’s in essence what you do. You buy that and then you can flip and sell it. There’s online arbitrage where you do it via the web. We have a list of 500 stores that people can go to and do it online. That way, you can automate it by sourcing out overseas to some VAs in the Philippines.

Finding Profitable Products

Give us an example. You’ve got your eyeglass case in your hand, but what type of margins are good and what’s worth messing around with and what’s not?

I have a gentleman. He is a Wall Street banker. He would love to be interviewed but he can’t because of his profession, but he gets 20% profit. He runs a tight ship. His flip rate is every 30 days that these products cycle through. In other words, they’ve got a very high sales velocity. He gets about a 20% profit margin on his products. Here’s the visual I give. You can have your dollar sit in the bank against inflation. You’re losing value on your dollar.

When you have a turn rate of every 30 days, that dollar will go through and pull back 20% profit on average for this gentleman. Flip again, month two, flip again. That’s a dollar flipping through conceivably twelve times during the year pulling in a 20% profit. He runs a very good ship and he is a numbers guy, he is a banker, but that is what is possible and that’s what we tell people to aim for 20% to 25%.

Additionally, we teach something called discount stacking. The coupon clipper types and it’s now all done through apps and everything. I can’t think of the programs now, but where you build up credit money as your user resource, points, and that type of thing. When you lower the cost of that product, it increases your profits. One of my trainers gets about 50% of the product for her profit because she’s good at bringing down the cost of acquisition.

How we pay for things within our real estate company, we often use credit cards with airline miles or points like that. Do you ever encourage your students to incorporate those types of programs as well?

Yeah. Anything you can to increase your profitability as you decrease your cost and any kickback returns that you can get by using these programs. I had a girl who went to Kohl’s and it was $1,300 for retail arbitrage products and she paid $97. She had a screenshot of it showing on our membership. When you line up your ducks in a row and you know how to leverage all those mechanisms, all those different tools and resources, you can bring down the cost significantly. It’s more effort, but once you learn something and you get that streamlined, it becomes second nature.

Outsourcing Vs. Self-Managing

I’m going to go back to the beginning. We’re tiptoeing into this. Now we’ve talked about a few different ways of doing it. If I’m brand new and I’m getting started, how do I know what products to do? Should I outsource something? Should I do it myself? All these different things.

I always recommend people learn it first. You’re not going to be a good manager, you’re not going to have good governance over your systems if you haven’t done it yourself. It’s blind leading the blind phenomenon. It sounds awesome, “I’ll just outsource.” We’ve seen that to be a disaster. At the end of the day, whenever you do a higher outsource, you are the one who is responsible for making sure they’re doing quality work. You are that person unless you develop a leader of the team, which can happen, but then you still have to make sure they’re leading the team properly and checking the metrics and whatnot.

When you outsource complex tasks, you ultimately hold the responsibility for ensuring quality work. Share on X

Part of my personality disposition is I want to know and understand it so that no one can woo-wink me. You could tell this lady doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I’m going to have my eyes all over this. I know what I’m talking about. I want to be informed of when I hire and bring somebody on. In terms of the starting point bar none, it’s arbitrage, flip and sell.

There’s no better faster way because here’s the difference. With any other method, you’re going to have to do paid advertising to get the eyeballs no matter what. That risk, whether it’s wholesale or private label, you don’t know that your listing with paid advertising is still going to monetize and that you’re going to have that return on ad spend. With retail arbitrage, you can do paid advertising. However, we teach to go wide and not deep with retail arbitrage.

Strategies For Successful Retail Arbitrage

When you’re retail arbitraging, primarily you have a 30-day window for the money to flip by the time you buy the product and list the product, it gets sold, shipped, and paid for. Is that about right?

For someone who has a good well-run business and account, the highest I’ve ever heard is 30 days. That’s all predicated on a number of factors. Probably the main one is sales velocity. You know that. Amazon gives these data points. They don’t want you making dumb mistakes because they don’t want your products filling up their warehouse and taking up space. The number one is what’s the rank? I was in the groceries in a household, I scanned the number one product in that given section.

It was kind of bars for food and then it was a lunchable tray thing, August, September, back to school stuff. I go, “Am I seeing one?” That means it is doing probably thousands per day. It’s the number one product in that category, but then two a lot of competition if others have found it, which is very likely. You have to know the competition and the rank. It’s knowing the correct data points and how to interpret them.

Is there any way that you can set up software that can help with these systems, anything that you can help with on that topic?

For Amazon, because it has attracted many third-party sellers, that’s the label we’re given by Amazon, there is a tremendous amount of apps that have been developed around the Amazon ecosystem. However, that being said, you need the right app at the right time for the right sourcing model. That’s a big conversation because there are many different sourcing models. I’ve been talking about the arbitrage model, which probably requires the least amount, albeit even for online arbitrage, there are three different software that you can go deeper into doing online. There are specialties. One of our trainers has gotten very good at that. I’ll speak at the simplest level because I’m big about positioning or setting people up for success with what is the simplest way to get going and not overcomplicating things.

Obviously, the most important relative to Amazon will be Seller Central. You do need a Seller Central account and it’s $39.95 a month. We have training for getting your account set up because when we talk about eBay, you can set up that account super fast. In Amazon not so much and it’s because they had a lot of fake sellers come to the platform and they had to raise the bar. They even send you a postcard with a code to make sure you are the person you say you are and that you live where you say you are because they have a lot of fake sellers.

Anyway, the point is you are going to need Seller Central. That becomes how you manage your store. From there, you’re going to get Amazon’s seller app. It’s complimentary from Amazon, it’s free relative to you do need your Seller Central account because you’re going to have a store name under Amazon, a subfolder pass Seller Central is $39.95 a month then you’re going to need the seller app, which is free. It comes with that.

Above and beyond that we are tied in with another app company that does an API interface with an online tool that we built. I’ll say the name. It’s called AZInsight. It’s fantastic. It created an API integration with the two, ours with him. That’s about it. In time you might get what’s called a repricer. To me, everything is only relevant to where you happen to be in your business at that point.

In a repricer, you get to help manage the pricing of your products so that you don’t lose money and that you max out the profits. It’s going to cost money. You want to wait until you get enough products in your store to even merit needing software like that. I’m not a big proponent of people getting a list of apps and running out and buying apps. It’s about where you are at in your business and what is needful for you for where you’re at. That’s pretty minimal what you have right there.

The Longevity Of E-Commerce And Its Biggest Pitfalls

One of the things I love about your story and the fact that you’re able to do this with your family and generations of wealth, that is one of our big sticking points. We want to be able to pass on knowledge to the next generation. What do you feel like is the longevity of this business? Can it be generational? You have to be able to pivot when things change in eCommerce, but what does that look like for you and your family specifically?

To me, it becomes infinite. It’s one of those things that once you get into a space, the opportunities start to unfold before you. I’ll give you some examples of what our family has considered. There’s been this rise and phenomenon of the prep and ship centers. When we first started training, one of our trainers was the second person in the US to have a prep and ship center. It means, for FBA sellers, rather than you doing that, you can have your product sent to a prop and ship center. They’ll send it to Amazon’s warehouse for you.

We’re like, “There’s this supplying the picks and shovels of a deal.” It truly becomes expansive of what you can do. We’re a training company, that picks and shovels, supporting people to come in, get their business set up properly, and get set up to scale and grow. What I inevitably see with my own sellers is, “There’s an opportunity for me to have a prep and ship center.” There are many ancillary services to support this rather big industry that’s not going away. COVID gave a huge boost to it.

I have an eye for where is this thing going. The extreme would be my eldest son was my first business partner. He’s in eCommerce stock trading. He’s choosing that as his specialty because you can invest to become a seller or at the opposite end of the spectrum is, “I’m going to invest into the winners, the ones that have gone public and I can invest in and trade in.” He has a shipping center in Greece, for example, that he’s got stocks in. That’s a broad spectrum.

For me, that’s the beauty of when you come into an industry, the web around it is far bigger than the actual sellers who are in the middle of this thing moving the products. I get interested in the bigger picture, what is surrounding and supporting this industry, and then getting a piece of that. I’m training over here and my son is in eCommerce stocks and training in companies that are involved in the ecosystem around this.

That makes a lot of sense when talking about how quickly Amazon changed over the last fifteen years. The number of buildings they’re building, the fact that they’ve but put together their own delivery service instead of using third parties all the time. It blows my mind. I go back to my own history. I’ve been in business for 21 years and certainly, we all have goals and we hit some, some we don’t.

To think in that same 21-year period, this has all grown into a multi-trillion-dollar industry. I’m making that up, but I’m assuming I’m pretty close. I look at, “What have I done in the last twenty years?” It’s a little daunting. To think about eCommerce starting as an infant and being what it is now is amazing and what it could be twenty more years from now. It’s crazy to even dream about. As we start to wind this down a little bit, I have a question that I ask almost all of my guests, what should I have asked you that I haven’t?

Probably the biggest pitfall I always think of is most people want to know, “Buyer beware. Tell me, be honest with me.” One pop right into my head that I’m happy to share. This may maybe a newer topic. It is tremendously a buyer beware. What I have noticed in the market space is people are terrified. The biggest fear they have is whether this is a scam. They’ve won it but, “Who’s going to be ripping me off?”

I get it. I’ve been online for twenty years. I’m very comfortable here. I’ve had some very good experiences and I’ve had some where it’s like, “Seriously? What are you doing?” There’s a lot of people who want a piece of this pie and they’re trying to throw things together out here. They’re very inferior operators. It’s typically the business challenge that they have. What has happened in the industry is it brought in a plethora of would-be people, especially when you learn about funnel building.

I won’t rattle off some names, and they’re pretty much throwing stuff all over the place. It gets to a point as a consumer who wants to learn to go, “Who’s the good guy? Who’s the bad guy?” There’s that. Do your due diligence. Here’s the one that’s the most dangerous in my opinion because I’ve seen many failures. It’s called the Done Yor You, where they’re going to run your whole store for you. It usually starts at $30,000 and can go up to $100,000. I’ve talked to many people who have lost money plopping down $30,000 and their money is gone.

I hate to say that about the industry that I’ve been a part of for twenty years, but that’s the worst one. I have good friends I’ve known where I was like, “You should have talked to me first.” That’s like having a business partner. You don’t even know this person. They’re going to control your Amazon account. Seriously? Let’s be grownups.

When people get starry-eyed, you cannot imagine how many stories I’ve heard of people plopped down own and buy from China too. They bought a whole container full of silicon ice cubes and they’ve sold 2 or 3. Guess what? The market changes in nine months by the time you worked this whole deal and you got it into Amazon. Get your education. I have videos on my website that speak to these bigger global view issues because unsuspecting people can get lured in and lose their shirts pretty correctly.

This is something that sounds very simple to do. However, anytime something sounds simple, we all know that there are little nuances and tricks to everything. You either make all the mistakes yourself or step on the shoulders of a giant that’s been there and done that. That’s what we’re very much proponents of. We all want to help each other grow. That’s a part of that. I appreciate you being here. Is there any other contact information for people that they can follow you or are you on social media or are you pretty much keeping to yourself? redirects right to my eCommerce business school. If you search for me, it’s probably going to take all roads leading to that eCommerce business school. I have a personal profile, but I think it got maxed out quite a while ago. That’s the main way if people are curious. We got a ton of free content. I’m a big believer in that. I want to encourage those who are tuning in. I love entrepreneurship. It’s in my blood. I was selling Christmas bells when I was about seven years old in the neighborhood. I love commerce. I love business. That’s awesome that you help nurture people through that process in your show.

Realistic Income Goals

With having great guests like you, my goal for all of my audience is to be able to have multiple different streams of possible income. I do want to ask that question, what is a realistic income goal for people as they get into eCommerce? What’s possible? There’s realistic and there’s possible.

I would say realistically, hand to plow, getting focused on this. You can do a $4,000 to $5,000-month business with Amazon. You’re going to have to know your numbers though. You can’t be sloppy and schlocky. You have to be focused on your numbers. Some people don’t want to deal with that. You have to. It’s a grown-up way of running a business.

In terms of what is possible, the banker guy that I spoke with has got a team of about twenty. He’s in India. At first, he had them in the Philippines. He says, “I’m going slow.” He is at about $600,000. He’s in his third year and he’s more, “I’m going to do it right before I go big.” That’s mostly with an eye towards his numbers. I imagine he should be able to do $1 million in 2025 or conceivably by the end of 2024 because of the people systems he is getting in place. That’s where you can get your scale as long as they are good producers.

I appreciate your time having you on the show and giving everybody a perspective, especially the real estate investors out there. Let’s be honest, we all have spouses, kids, and other people that we may want to help be entrepreneurial. I’m going to go and have my kids tune in to this show and say, “What are you doing with your life?” Thank you for coming in. I appreciate it.

Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

For everybody else, please share this and all of our episodes. Go and give us ratings and reviews and jump on Facebook. Go to the Generations Of Wealth Facebook page. Get involved in that group. We’ll see you on the next show. Go out there and live your vision and love your life. See you all.


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About Ann Sieg

Generations Of Wealth | Ann Sieg | Mastering eCommerceAnn Sieg is the author of three widely acclaimed books on how to attract customers online and generated over 4.2 million in sales from her first e-book over 13 years ago. This all as a result of Ann and her husband losing their auto glass business almost overnight due to a new state law. Ann took her little “side-hustle” business and doubled-down…taking her sales from 2K per month to 90K per month in three months’ time. It was more than enough to bring her husband home. She went on to build an online empire… network marketing, info marketing, affiliate marketing, creating and selling her own products… Ann did it all… to the tune of $20 million+ in sales.

Ann’s training has impacted hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to achieve online success all while working from home. But nothing has matched the rapid success of her e-commerce students. It’s not uncommon for them to see cash flow in the first few days or weeks of starting their businesses. And others have achieved 6, 7, and even 8 figure incomes – many through her free training alone. Ann is passionate to help 1000 people make $10,000 a month and build their own family economy working from home. Ann’s Main Pillars: Online Marketing, Work from Home, Built with Family.

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