Seller Spotlight: Q&A with Private Label Shoe Mogul Jay Kaplan
Jay Kaplan’s passion for the shoe business came long before Amazon. He started selling shoes at a flea market in 1980. He then went on to sell shoes wholesale and retail throughout the 1980s. He ran designer shoe sales in hotel ballrooms and made his place in the industry.
In 1991 Jay ran a sale at the Omni Park Central in Manhattan. According to Jay, nobody sold so many shoes in six days than he did that week. You can find a short video of some of the highlights on YouTube. Later that year, he opened a designer shoe store in Hollywood, Florida. The store made history and the news. Many of his favorite news clippings can be found on Kaplanshoes.com.
Now in the age of Amazon, Jay is back in the shoe business with a unique and sought after concept – Italian quality shoes at fair prices. By cutting out the big name department store, Jay is able to bring beautiful leather shoes to Amazon.
What does your typical day look like?
I eat, sleep, watch TV, run errands and work on my Amazon business. I’m not happy if I don’t feel like I’ve learned a couple important things and accomplished a couple things toward my goal of becoming the hottest biggest designer in the world. It sounds vain, but I feel like it’s my destiny and health issues sidetracked me. Love and family are the most important thing to me but now is the time in my life to focus on my shoes.
What’s your favorite part of the selling process?
I love when I have a problem and after days of sitting on the phone and computer it gets solved and I watch technology work. I also like going to my home page everyday and seeing how many shoes and what styles people bought and login into Payability and see how much money is eligible to transfer into my bank the next day.
“Thumbs up to Payability. That’s one call to Amazon support I no longer ever have to make.” – Jay Kaplan
What advice do you have for sellers looking to grow their business?
Ask yourself: Do you feel lucky? I’m old and have been around the block many times and if I’ve learned anything it’s don’t give advice about things you know nothing about, so I try never to give advice.
If you feel you’re on the right track: don’t work smart work hard. Don’t make excuses for not doing your homework and then the work. Amazon is unbelievable, but its like the real Amazon. It’s a jungle with all the tools you need to learn and overcome all the issues. It took me a few months to get everything approved and create a listing, but they wouldn’t approve my photos after an expert helped me. I got busy and frustrated and figured this is just too hard and I don’t know if Amazon is the best image for my Italian high end fashion. A few months later someone gave me a tip on how to get the white background to get approved. My white shoes look terrible but most of my photos are awesome. I’ve taken 5,000 photos in the last year and I keep getting better and my shoes are selling more every week. Work at it and when you’re down you’re in the process of getting better.
How do you put your Payability money to work?
It feels good to get paid so I can pay my suppliers who are waiting to get paid. My creditors like when I pay them quicker probably because they can pay their creditors too.
Do you have any other tricks to maximize your money?
For me I work hard everyday and pray harder. Be skeptical of short cuts.
What’s your next big goal as a seller?
Raise money to buy more inventory and step by step expand my categories in the finest apparel in the world and hottest fashions to sell direct to the public at Amazon prices. My goal is when people hear JAY KAPLAN they think very high end or the best, but affordable online with free two-day shipping and free returns on Amazon. I’ll lose out to the mass markets like Payless and Nine West, but I’ll be happy knowing how people love my stuff and don’t have to sell their house to afford it.
What’s the biggest challenge of being an Amazon seller?
For me being an old timer, I’m challenged with learning the Amazon platform and taking advantage of all the great tools they offer. I grew up having to do many things the old fashioned way. I miss the simple life, but I could never give up the miracle of the 21st century.
I can sell to everyone in the whole world from home. I’m learning every tool available no matter how hard they are to learn. I need a lot of money to sell world wide, so these tools will help me reach my goal.
What’s the biggest benefit of being an Amazon seller?
WOW! Got more paper. They give small businesses a chance to get off the ground that don’t have the money and resources to succeed at retail with very little cost and risk. And they offer unbelievable potential. For me it’s a way to sell direct to the public through FBA with free 2 day shipping and free returns. The cost of returns in shoes is prohibited without Amazon’s advantages. Think about it. It’s hard to buy shoes without trying them on and returns are one of the highest no matter how good the product is. I could go on and on and on and on.
Do you sell on other marketplaces?
I was, but I’ve decided to be exclusive on Amazon now. I want to focus all my resources where I feel it will pay off. For me, focusing my time and money here is a wise choice. The truth is no one can compete with Amazon for online sales. Everyone tried and no one succeeded. Amazon did something smart, they didn’t try to ride two horses. They didn’t open retail stores until recently. They geared themselves to master online shopping. They were online period and that was one reason for their success.
Jay Kaplan’s high quality shoes are leading him on a path to success paved by Amazon’s two-day shipping and free returns. The possibilities are endless.