In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Jason Hanan, the co-founder, and CEO of AZ Seller Kit, an automated pricing business intelligence software for Amazon sellers, shares his personal journey into eCommerce how he as an NYC retailer successfully adopted e-commerce.
From bricks and mortar retail outlets to online e-commerce shops, inventory management is a key tool to make sure your business can keep your customers satisfied. With the technology available today, this doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. Yoni Mazor from PrimeTalk discusses the importance of proper inventory management for your business.
In today’s interview, PrimeTalk chats with Jason Hanan, the co-founder, and CEO of AZ Seller Kit, a tool kit of innovative software that can help you better navigate the tricky world of margins, inventory management, and ad spend. Up to today, they have helped 138 companies earn more than $7 million dollars on extra revenue.
Jason Hanan describes his journey and experiences from his retail days in Manhattan to the state of his current agency, AZ Seller Kit. So if you’re interested in having a more streamlined seller experience on Amazon, or if you’re simply curious about this unique New York Tale of ups and downs, then this episode is for you!
Link to the Az Seller Kit website.
Get more info about GETIDA’s Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.
Find the full transcript below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of PrimeTalk. Today I’m really excited to have my guest. My guest today is Jason Hanan. Jason is the co-founder and CEO of AZ Seller Kit, which is an automated pricing business intelligence software for Amazon sellers. So, really helps Amazon sellers deal with all their pricing and do it automatically in order to get the most sales and also the most profit. We’re going to touch a bit more about that later. But in the meantime, Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason Hanan 0:35
Amazing to be on one of these! Very excited, I’ve watched them before. It’s a lot, a lot of fun to be on one!
Yoni Mazor 0:40
Alright, our pleasure. Thank you for coming and joining us today. Alright, so today’s episode is going to be the episode of Jason Hanan and your story. So it’s going to be all about you. It’s you’re going to share with us: Who are you? Where are you from? Where did, where were you born? Where’d you grow up? How’d you bring in your professional career and all the way to e-commerce? So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Jason Hanan 1:02
Sure! So I grew up in Brooklyn till I was about 18. I went to the Yeshivah Flatbush. I was very, very proud and happy to be part of Yeshivah Flatbush, it was great. Went to college at Baruch, which was also a very nice experience. Which I’ll tell you a little bit about in a second..
Yoni Mazor 1:20
Baruch College is in Brooklyn as well, or It’s in the city of Manhattan?
Jason Hanan 1:23
Baruch is in Manhattan, actually on 25th Street, 25th and 23rd they have campuses, which ended up working out well for me. I used to, when I was about 18, I was commuting to Jersey City on a little bus that would take me to my father’s retail store in Union City, New Jersey. And uh, he got a call from my uncle at the time, aléha hashalóm, he passed away, basically asking if we wanted to be involved in selling videotapes and CDs in Manhattan on 14th Street.
Yoni Mazor 2:02
Which year was this, just for perspective?
Jason Hanan 2:04
This was in 1996.
Yoni Mazor 2:05
So 1996, during college years for you, you reach out to, you cross the river, New Jersey to the west side, you know, for being in Manhattan, and essentially have family members who are in the retail game of entertainment, CDs, music, video games and so forth.
Jason Hanan 2:25
Exactly. So when we have the opportunity to get involved in that, instead of sitting on a bus, I didn’t ask twice, I told my father “Yes, let’s do it”. I was, I remember sitting in class when my father called and saying “100% I never want to go back to Union City, New Jersey again”. So we started our retail stores there. It’s called Entertainment Outlet. We, at one point, had three stores in Manhattan on 14th Street, one on 40th Street…
Yoni Mazor 2:52
What was the name of the store again?
Jason Hanan 2:53
Yoni Mazor 2:55
Jason Hanan 2:56
Yep, some high-volume stores. And you know worked our way through the, all the transitions in you know, that happened from VHS tapes to DVDs…
Yoni Mazor 3:09
So, 1996. VHS was still…
Jason Hanan 3:11
VHS was still something. Yeah, the biggest movie we had was Titanic. Titanic came in, people lining up with the Titanic VHS paying $20 for a VHS tape. I don’t understand it. But it was definitely, really it was fun to sell.
Yoni Mazor 3:28
You say historical, but it’s only 1996. So it’s almost like talking in the 50s when people are waiting in line for other things that today seem silly to all of us.
Jason Hanan 3:37
It really, yeah, it was definitely, we would have when CDs came out. We had lines around the corner. When a new Jay Z CD would come out or Notorious BIG CD would come out. It would be, it was definitely a lot of fun.
Yoni Mazor 3:53
Yeah, so this is the real New York life right? The cultural life, but you said that the oldest stories were especially in Manhattan? Midtown? Downtown? Spread-out?
Jason Hanan 4:02
We have one in Midtown across from Bryant Park, which was you know, definitely an upscale location.14h Street was a little more grungy. And then we had a store on Broadway. And the funniest part about the store on Broadway is when we opened on Broadway, on Canal Street, everybody told us that’s the best location you ever gonna have! You’re a genius! Miserable failure…When we opened on 40th Street, they said terrible idea and that ended up going really well. So it was, you know, you never know, but we were definitely, did really well, thank God, with our you know, the two stores, 14th and 40th Street, and we ran those businesses all the way through till about 2014 we still had those retail stores.
18 years. Even though what, uh, streaming? When did really streaming kick in? If you can look back and let us know.
Jason Hanan 4:53
Yeah, it was, really probably, you started to see the writing on the wall by about 2012. You started to know that it was gonna be, you know, a problem. The prices on everything started to come down, which was good. We were selling for cheap. But it got to a point where you can’t pay rent in New York, even if the cost of goods is free. Like we were buying new CDs at the time for a quarter and selling them for $5. But…
Yoni Mazor 5:22
Not enough volume, not enough demand.
Jason Hanan 5:24
Yeah. How many pieces can you sell to pay rent for $20,000 a month, or whatever you needed to pay in, in Manhattan? So at some point, it was time to close. But we were lucky enough, while we were doing business, we got into the wholesaling of DVDs. And were actually racking other retail stores. So we would go around and we had a guy who would go into, like your local 711. And all those DVD racks that you see in different locations, we used to have a rack in every gas station in the tri-state area, which you know, we grew that business out of, you know…
Yoni Mazor 5:59
And what year did this start? The racking business or the wholesale business? When or how did you develop this? What was the story of this?
Yoni Mazor 6:05
That was, so when the prices of DVDs started to come down, I would say around 2009-2010, where the bottom started to fall out a little bit, we, there were a lot of closeouts available. And we were big users of the product. So we took that, you know, that closeout model, and really through the help of, and probably a consistent story: it’s always a friend or family member or somebody who said, “You know what, why don’t you try this in my store, I have a retail store or a discount store. See if a rack of DVDs might work for, you know, cheap, we sell for $5, maybe we can make money, you can make money, let’s try it”. It worked in that location, then we, you know, the word spread, we built the business. And we, you know, we did that for quite some time, probably till, we did that for about five or six years, where we really weren’t
Yoni Mazor 6:55
When you found out that, you know, that’s kind of the new medium or outlet for this, the secondary market, you can say, you said the primary market for consuming multimedia and culture through CDs, movies and so forth, you know, when into streaming and online, and the primary mode, which was a, you know, tapes or CDs became secondary, but there was still a market for that.
Jason Hanan 7:15
Exactly. It was exactly a secondary market. And then part of throughout this, I would say entire process going all the way back from 2003. We were selling on Amazon as third-party sellers.
Yoni Mazor 7:28
Okay, so yeah, so now we’re, I guess, we’re gonna, so, we had a trail of, you know, your retail stores up to 2014. And then, you know, you branched out to essentially wholesaling to secondary markets with the racking, as you mentioned. And now there’s another trail where you entered the world of e-commerce. So let’s touch on that. Take us there, you know, the year that it started, and, and the, you know, how things rolled out from that point?
Jason Hanan 7:49
Yeah, so in 2003, we were, we had a basement in our retail store at 40th Street. And we, you know, again, you’re in retail, so you have inventory, which was you know, so that it really was just a matter of listing it on Amazon, and no one else was really doing it at the time. You know, it’s 2003. So it was definitely, you know, it was easy, easy pickings so to say.
Yoni Mazor 8:12
So 2003, you decided to, I guess, you know, branch into e-commerce. When the first choice was Amazon? Or Ebay? Or?
Jason Hanan 8:21
It was actually Amazon and eBay at the same time because they were kind of neck and neck back then in 2003. And then we saw pretty early on how much easier it was to, you know, for both the shoppers to shop on Amazon as it was as opposed to eBay and how much easier it was as a seller to actually get the product onto Amazon. So I remember the day like it was yesterday, it was like something like 2007, we bought a DVD on sale from Amazon for $14.99. And because they were having a crazy deal, and they shipped it two days later it landed, you know, in our store, and we sold it three days later for $24.99.
Yoni Mazor 9:06
On Amazon or in the store?
Jason Hanan 9:09
On Amazon. I said I gotta buy stock in this company. These guys just made money on me twice. And I made money in between! This is ridiculous!
Yoni Mazor 9:18
So this is 2007. This corn drops in your mindset saying this is an unbelievable market because it has a built-in demand like no other. It’s something that is, something that, selling to, for $1 might sell tomorrow for two or $3 and people will buy it. It’s a no-brainer. You know, it’s almost like a goldmine with opportunities to make money in all these pockets.
Yoni Mazor 9:36
Exactly. And we really had the, I’m gonna say, the magic formula of having a retail outlet where you could experiment on Amazon. And if it didn’t work, you could always sell it in the store. So it really allowed us to, you know, take chances and be more, you know, and then we had, it was really a perfect storm where when we had the retail stores and we were selling to other places at the same time, where we were really very powerful buyers of the product. And we were really able to find the best place to put, you know, each piece of merchandise, whether it was most value online, most values in our store was not in another store. And it really was a lot of, it was definitely a nice sweet spot on Amazon, we’re nice, we’re still, DVDs we’ll still sell.
Yoni Mazor 10:24
So it was a lethal combination for you guys to have the opportunity to really enjoy the best of all worlds, online, your own physical stores, wholesale to other stores, and really know where the products can succeed best and just also buy cheaper and cheaper because you’re buying such a large volume. So 2003, you started 2007, four years later really dropped the cone on you? And what was the next station for you guys? From that point on, at least online?
Jason Hanan 10:51
Alright, then, you know, once it starts to hit, I would say by 2014. We’re looking at the future. And, you know, people I remember used to call me and say you’re in the DVD business, like, you know, when are you, you know, when are you selling a house? Like you’re obviously, you know it’s cute, but you’re obviously going to be in trouble here. So we would say that I don’t know. So far, we’re okay. But we knew the other shoe was gonna drop at some point. And probably around, you know, 2015, you know, my brother actually used to work with our company together, we were all partners, he went off on his own because we kind of, you know, the business was not succeeding anymore. But we did almost unknowingly have this extra piece in Amazon. And in software that we built all the software to run our business on Amazon. And we didn’t realize that it was, actually had a lot of value. So my brother went to work at another company, the name of his company was RBX. So he owns and manages their e-commerce division now. At the time…
Yoni Mazor 11:57
He works at RBX or he owns RBX?
Jason Hanan 11:59
Now he owns the retail, he owns the e-commerce portion of RBS.
Yoni Mazor 12:04
So RBX is a recognized brand and he owns the online e-commerce rights to sell the brand online. So he started this, partnered in this online licensing, I guess agreement where you can market online, but he started what, in 2014? 2015?
Jason Hanan 12:19
Let’s say 2016, 2015 or 2016 is when that started, I believe they were when they were trying, before he had gotten there, they were trying to do e-commerce without Amazon. So when he got to the company, he was there to open both retail stores and anything direct to consumers. And, you know, he basically told, you know, one of the other partners that if we want to do Amazon, you know, this is what, you know, my brother and Lenny, who’s my, the other co-founders, like this is what they do, we should talk to them. So we would talk to them as friends. You know, like, okay, we can help you get set up if you want, I guess, you know, and they said, How about if we pay you? Like, Hey, wait a minute, that’s interesting. Like we actually have something, like you would pay us to? They’re like, yeah, we can’t warehouse this stuff. We don’t know how to do any of this stuff. And we’re doing you know, we’re doing an e-commerce website only and it’s floundering, and you don’t know what to do. Okay, we know we were looking to do anyway, we said, let’s try it. And then thank God, the RBX brand, you know, took off with really, you know, my brother leading the…
Yoni Mazor 13:32
So RBX is a brand, its apparel, sports and outdoors, undergarments. And, you know, your brother branched out into for an opportunity with but sucked you into even more into the world of e-commerce, realizing that effectively to now we can call it becoming an agency.
Jason Hanan 13:51
Exactly, that was step one to becoming an agency. So, which we didn’t even know I don’t even think the term agency existed at the time. But you know, that was, you know, that was really the beginning of realizing that we had a skill in, you know, listing creation on Amazon, warehousing in Amazon, and just knowing that other people really didn’t have and was sellable.
Yoni Mazor 14:15
Yeah, I wanna… Yeah, I want to mention again, that you started in 2003, 17 years ago, and by the time of the year 2015/16, you got such a vast and deep knowledge and experience in the marketplace. So for you, It seems so obvious, but for others, was like heaven and earth you over the all the way in the skies, they’re down there, like help me get up there. I’m more than willing to pay for the flight, you know, so…
Jason Hanan 14:38
Yeah correct and we literally had no clue that, you know, all of this software that we had developed to, you know, do report to understand our business.
Yoni Mazor 14:47
Yeah, I want to touch that. When did this happen? This, you know, you dabbling into technology, software creation? What was the story of that? Where does this need come from? Tell me about that a little bit.
Jason Hanan 14:57
So we’ve been… It’s kind of, it’s definitely funny because both my brother and my partner, Lenny, were much more software-driven. And I always had this belief, you know, I have, thank God, I have a very good memory, I can remember details from here till the end of time. And I always said that no computer can do better than my head, I’m against whatever technology you want to do, you know, you can play with but you know, whenever I would go on vacation, they would have to do my job. And they would come back and say, There’s got to be a better way. So eventually, over the years, they were able to convince me that if I could take what’s in my head, and have it talk to software, it’s much more efficient. So took me a while too, you know, to…
Yoni Mazor 15:43
How long? A few weeks, a few months, a few years? What was the…
Years and years until I was really able to say, you know what, I’m willing to try and put, you know, into software, what’s in my head? As far as..
Yoni Mazor 15:58
What year did you guys write the first code?
Jason Hanan 16:01
Which year? Ummm… this is back from probably 2010 until I started really, you know, allowing for, you know, what was in my head to be put down on paper?
Yoni Mazor 16:13
And what was the main purpose of the software when you started, you know, first writing the code, what was it supposed to automate? Streamline?
Jason Hanan 16:19
Well, it was always, the beginning was automating buying processes. So if I’m, and again, this is back from the DVD days, before we’re an agency is, you know, I’m trying to, you know, manage, we were, you know, there are 14,000 SKUs, and we’re trying to figure out how to do, you know, make buying decisions and pricing decisions and do all these things. And, you know, me and my, you know, the big head was like, I got 14,000 SKUs, I don’t need the sleep, I’m just gonna manage everything myself, I can handle buying, I don’t need reporting, I know what’s going on. And eventually, you know, I was, I was convinced and made to realize that, you know, if you can just put rules into software and, you know, and get what’s in my head into a computer system, then…
Yoni Mazor 17:07
Essentially the algorithm that’s running in your, you know, in your mind and your brain, write it into code. And instead of doing 14,000 SKUs, or market research, you can do 140,000, or more and find all these treasures.
Jason Hanan 17:18
Exactly. And that really was, I was definitely, you know, I’m gonna say I’m not, I’ve gotten better, but I definitely was stubborn, you know, back in the day, but I’ve definitely learned to understand the value and the power and the efficiency of using software to, you know, to make decisions.
Yoni Mazor 17:39
So when the software was done, and all that said and done, were you the only user or who else was using it?
Jason Hanan 17:45
So, we each, I mean, it was basically it would be, you know, our entire staff would end up using our software for different purposes. So, you know, my brother, Adam was the financial person, so he was using software to, you know, understand the financial side of the house. You know, Lenny was always in charge of shipping, advertising, and, you know, managing the internal staff to actually get things done. So he’s creating tools to help manage inbound shipping, to help label creation, you know, each piece of the puzzle was, you know, needed to have different software to make things more efficient for whoever was using it. And, you know, honestly, I was the last to the party because they were always developing software for themselves. And I was always trying…
Yoni Mazor 18:30
Your components were more on the purchasing end. You know, inventory management and purchasing.
Jason Hanan 18:37
Exactly, buying, management, pricing. That was always my, that’s still is my baby. Like, I live that, I love that. And, you know, that was… so I was last to jump on board the software train in our company. And once I finally, you know, let that into you know, our business, it was really a very big difference in how you can grow from there.
Yoni Mazor 19:00
Nice. That’s pretty cool. So you mentioned your brother was in the business. So yeah, you know, because you’re brothers I don’t have to ask how you guys got to meet each other and connect. But I guess, Lenny, so the question is directed at Lenny became, what’s the story of Lenny? Share with us today. He’s your partner with AZ Seller Kit. How did you guys meet? What’s the story there?
Jason Hanan 19:17
So, so Lenny lived four blocks away from me our whole life. So we were very tight family, friend, childhood friend, you know, you know, close family, my cousin…
Yoni Mazor 19:31
Oh, cousin. Okay, got it.
Jason Hanan 19:33
My cousin, he was, at the time, which is kind of funny how the world works. He was working, my brother was at a different company called RCS where Lenny was working there. And they both, pretty much within two months, I think it was like I don’t even remember what year 97/98 or whatever, is very, very early on. came on board to work with you know, Entertainment Outlet, this, you know, new company and it was… Yeah, with me and my father at the time, and my cousin, whatever uncles. And my father told me, trust me, we need them. I was like, really? He’s like, you’re gonna see we need them, take them. So we, you know, they both came on board and it was immediate growth with more people that, you know, had brains and were involved. And you know, Lenny’s been, you know, we’ve been partners, you know, for you know, since then we have
Yoni Mazor 20:27
20 plus years, yeah, 20 plus years. And what were the dynamics, when you first started the store? Who owned it? Was just oh, you, you and your father, you and your brother?
Jason Hanan 20:40
So when we opened the store, it was actually me, my dad, and my uncle who used to be in wholesale. And, you know, his family were, you know, they were very, you know, very generous in the way they handled the situation. And, you know, they also, they knew that my father’s business at the time was a health and beauty aid store, and Rite Aid opened across the street. So we were in trouble. So they said, I know that you know how to run retail. So we have this opportunity to sell, you know, closeout videos, and used CDs and different products that they had. So let’s see if we could, you know, get into this partnership together. So we were partners in that for a few years until we eventually, you know, parted ways, philosophical differences, they really wanted to focus more on wholesale, we had different, you know, ideas in retail. So, you know, that was a few years of being partners with them, which was, you know, great, we still are, you know, very tight with that family, and I always give them credit for everything that we have is really because of them. And we, you know, and then at that point, it was me and my father, and then we brought in my brother, and you know, and Lenny, you know, back in the day, until we, you know, just it was a lot of evolution or a lot of changes.
Yoni Mazor 21:52
So, New York City style, you know, in New York City, in a way, it’s, I don’t know if it’s still like this today, but back then there was like, you know, in this marketplace of New York City was probably over a trillion dollars. It’s all it’s almost like it’s on Amazon, where things are fast. When you, when you get to hit something, it’s a boom, and then the growth and, and then you move on to another part of town. It’s just, that was kind of the New York state of mind, as I say, back in the day, but today, I think much of that trade shifted into our e-commerce on a global scale. You know, because we’re in the pandemic age, you’re going to New York City. I mean, you tell me do you ever go there at all? Do you go visit Manhattan at all? What’s his status right now, give us a status report.
Jason Hanan 22:32
You know, I lived in Manhattan when I was 18 years old till I was 34 and 43 days, I lived there for a lot of years until we actually closed the store. It didn’t really make sense anymore. But Manhattan is definitely, you know, I love it. Every time I go back, I love it. My brother still lives the