Louise, thank you for, staying up very for what appears to be very late at night through that window behind you. Thanks for making time to chat and look, I'm going to hand it over straight to you and just get you to explain who you are, what is QueryStax, a little bit about your background, and so on.
Yeah, of course. Well, first of all, James, thanks for having me. Just to give you a quick update about myself, my name is Louise. I'm the founder of QueryStax. QueryStax, the story goes back about five years. I actually started selling books on Amazon with a business partner and that was in 2015, when it wasn't really brand selling on Amazon. Mostly your neighbors selling things out of their warehouse garage. So we saw an opportunity there, to work with brands, to list their products on Amazon, and to get them started.
So from there, I had an agency for four years. Within that agency we spent a lot of time creating reports manually for the brands that we managed, that's how QueryStax started. It was actually an internal tool initially, for us just to funnel all of our client data into a database. And then from there, reports would be generated automatically, which saved me a ton of time before client meetings and helped when our customers said, Hey, I'd like to know this random piece of information. Instead of going into Seller Central and having to spend time downloading things, we could just automatically download a report.
So that said, we have two main products at QueryStax. We have the initial reporting service, which a lot of other agencies use, also brands. And then we have a database storage service where brands that are looking to get their data out of Amazon and into their other tools. Push data into Snowflake or whatever BI tools they're using. That's a product that's built for them. So hopefully that's a good enough quick overview.
Oh, that's, that all makes sense, Louise. Thank you for that. And I guess just talking about brands, right? Everyone's talking about brands and how brands are selling their businesses to aggregators and, you know, to preparing for a sale and all that. So I think you are in the hot seat, right? You kind of see how the journey of preparation goes. So, in your opinion, like where does sellers struggle most in terms of preparing their businesses for sale? Like specifically in terms of data prep?
Yeah, so I mean, we definitely work with sellers, pre-exit to make sure that they're prepared. I would say there are a few ways in which brands struggle. The first is, the most basic is if the brand hasn't been storing their data. That data isn't all there because Amazon doesn't store all of it. The good news is we can backdate some of that data, but some of it does get lost.
I would say that also, just in general when sellers are trying to sell their business on their own, there's, we do see sometimes that the value alignment between the aggregator or the buyer and the seller aren't always aligned. So, you know, the seller is trying to understand, or the seller needs to understand what the buyer is looking for in terms of value within a business. And it's really important that they understand within their data and just within their processes, where that value is derived, how they can sell that and how they can use it to increase the value of their business.
I would say that sometimes sellers also just don't know their numbers well enough. Aggregators are pretty sophisticated in terms of the people that they've hired for M&A. They do good work and they don't miss things. So, as a seller, you need to make sure that you're on top of all of that financial information. You've looked through that data. You have a story if you can see that your sales dipped in, in one area or during some period of time, you can explain that, with proof that there were issues with inventory and things like that.
So yeah. And then, additionally, we see some sellers who try and avoid brokerage services and just go it on their own, which is totally understandable because brokerage services can be expensive. But in that case, it's really important that the seller does things professionally, has data prepared in the right way, and is able to present their business in a way that the aggregator is going to be able to accept.
Yeah, it all makes sense. And I think, what is the most I guess efficient way to prepare? Like, other than obviously you can use QueryStax, right? But is there any tips and tricks to get this exit data preparation done quickly?
Yeah. So I mean, aggregators are going to be looking for very specific pieces of information. I think if you ask any M&A person, at any aggregator, they're going to tell you that they see a lot of brands who send in their financials and it's just kind of a mess. So, you need to make sure speaking with sellers that have sold their businesses, that know the proper way to prepare all of this data, and all of this financial information.
You need to make sure that you're working with partners who are familiar with the process and with, what an aggregator is looking for. I don't think there's any need to spend an arm and a leg getting all this information prepared. At the end of the day, the aggregator is going to format your data and your financial information in a way where they can look across your business and a ton of other FBA businesses in the same way.
So, you need to make sure that you have certain numbers on hand, that you have certain financial information, certain data sets ready to go. But I would say that FBA businesses in terms of M&A transactions are not on the super complicated side. There's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. The right people can help you through and figure out that right way to prepare things.
Yeah. Cool. And then I think, what's on my mind is, is it ever too late to get the data ready? Like is there a point where it's like, too close to selling or too far down the track? Is it ever that too-hard basket?
Thankfully no. Amazon doesn't store all of your data. But they do store the previous 24 months of sales data through the API. You can also pull things directly through Seller Central. It's definitely going to be very time intensive if you're trying to get all of this data and information ready right before you sell your business. And I would say that just as a general principal, it's good to keep track of all of your financial information at the end of every month. But if you decide that you want to sell your business next week, there's definitely enough time there to get things ready. It's just going to be an intensive week before that sales process begins.
Intensive would be definitely be an understatement right? Final question for you, Louise. Big picture question is, what's your thinking on Amazon selling in 2022? Like, What will we see? What will we see change? Like, anything? What’s your thinking here?
Yeah, I mean, I think one of the big things that we're going to be seeing in terms of the aggregators is that I think first there was this rush for capital. And now that these aggregators have gone out and bought some businesses, some of them are needing more help than they anticipated in terms of actually running these Amazon businesses. So, some of those aggregators that are struggling a little bit might be looking to sell themselves as an aggregator to other aggregators. So, I think we're going to definitely see some consolidation.
I would say what that means for sellers is that there won't necessarily be as many aggregators that you can go to, to get competitive bids. But I think there always are going to be at least a few of them that you can go to. One piece of advice is definitely, always go to more than one seller. So, I think that's one way that we can see things changing in 2022. I think that also brands that have been around for a while are going to have an advantage over newcomers who are just trying to get on Amazon this year and sell within the next two years. Advertising costs have gone up. Costs in general have gone up. So that's definitely, something that's going to affect sellers that they're going to have to pay attention to.
Yeah, very interesting. I think it's a fast-changing landscape actually. And it'll be interesting to see what happens. But look, I'll leave it there, Louise. I'm assuming you probably need to get some rest. It looks even later now. Looks even darker through that window. But, thanks again for making time.
Thanks James. Have a great day over there in Australia.