Andrew Lemon, an e-commerce expert working with LatAm enterprises, shares insights from his own experience working with suppliers in Latin America, particularly sourcing and culture in Mexico. 

Before becoming an e-commerce expert and being an integral part of Amazing at Home’s missions in the said area, Andrew was an English professor. He has come a long way since he pivoted from linguistics to working for a tech startup, which introduced him to e-commerce. 

Amazon Guru Amy Wees talks with Andrew as he shares the details you should know about building supply chains in Mexico. Watch the full video of the free webinar below.

Unearthing Mexico’s Manufacturing Secrets

In recent years, Mexico has become the e-commerce sourcing bridge between the United States and the rest of the world. Amazon sellers weren’t aware at the start of how they would navigate the e-commerce market in Latin America but they were able to manage, thanks to the expertise of LatAm e-commerce consultants like Andrew Lemon.

True enough, most of the sourcing work is usually in China. In the e-commerce world, China is the top manufacturing country. 

Mexico does not even make it to the top five largest Amazon markets in the world, but this country makes for an excellent alternative. Many people aren’t aware of what Mexico has to offer in terms of e-commerce supply, and Andrew is here to share what you could have been missing out on.

With Mexico’s rich culture, they are able to produce goods for their own local market. Andrew pointed out that the country doesn’t import and export goods that much, adding the excellent craftsmanship of the products using traditions from centuries ago make the country self-reliant. 

Mexico as a Great Supplying Alternative

China is among the world’s top manufacturers according to World Population Review. But there are opportunities to source from Mexico, too.

It’s given that China is ahead of Mexico in terms of manufacturing prowess due to the strong foothold it has with Amazon product sourcing.

Many people aren’t aware of what Mexico has in terms of e-commerce supply, and Andrew is here to share what you could have been missing out on.

You can find products in Mexico with very nice quality. The same things you could source in China could also be found in Mexico, especially at trade fairs. 

While some products such as grocery, health, and beauty items have already been exported, there are still a lot of trade, manufacturers, and products available in Mexico that have yet to be explored. 

Free Trade & Fast Shipping

When compared to supply shipping from other countries with big names in eCommerce, Mexico’s edge is its free trade.

If your product is 70% or more made in Mexico, you have completely free trade on that, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

What’s more, is the faster shipping time. Mexico’s advantage is that most transportation services can ship to the U.S. within days.

Understanding Each Other Amid Language Barrier

The key here is to figure out who is in the supply industry and develop relationships with them, as connections are essential to Mexicans. 

What sets Mexicans apart is their warm and friendly disposition. According to Andrew, if you get an ally in Mexico, you can depend on them for many things.

And if the language barrier is a hindrance, translators are available on the floor. 

Andrew adds that in Mexican culture, suppliers will find a way to make things work as they don’t want to lose the opportunity with a potential partner. 

In the Mexican context, everything is based on building a solid relationship with your partner and assuring each other that you can work out a deal instead of taking it down. 

For instance, if some changes occur during the manufacturing process, suppliers should be informed immediately so they can adjust accordingly. 

With suppliers from Mexico, you know what to expect, and there’s a sense of comfort in knowing that these people are willing to meet you in the middle.

Safe Transactions

About reports of unsafe places in Mexico, Andrew reiterates how the country is generally safer than most places in the U.S., despite news about its notoriety, particularly mafias.

What to Source

From woodwork and crafts to electronic items, Mexico is a country anyone can rely on. It boasts high-quality products just waiting to be discovered and sourced. 

Beauty products also have the potential to be sourced, he continues. All you need is good branding, and you’re ready to have your own beauty line. 

Now that you’ve gained specific tricks of the trade, you’re ready to do business with suppliers in Latin America. Use this industry knowledge to boost your Amazon store, find the right suppliers, and improve your cash flow overall

Join our Conference in Mexico and Learn More

The Mexico Trip is happening on Feb 11-17 2023, and Andrew will join us. If you want to learn sourcing firsthand, our conference is for you! The best part? All expenses are paid— your meals and accommodation.

Experience the culture in Latin America while you learn more about supply sourcing. Check out themexicotrip.com for more details.

Full Transcript

Amy Wees:

Hey, everyone, what’s up, I am so excited to be here with my friend Andrew lemon. Andrew has been just such an integral part of our mission in Mexico and Latin America. And I’m excited to talk to Andrew today a little bit about, you know, business in Latin America and sourcing and culture there. And, you know, he’s over here sitting in his hammock. He looked so comfortable. I was like, Oh, it’s so so Mexico today, right? super relaxed, you know. So we’re just gonna have a really great conversation today and hope to glean a little bit more about what Mexico has to offer, and who, who is a good fit for doing business in Mexico. So welcome, everyone. Let’s get to it, Andrew, first of all, why don’t you tell everybody just a little bit about you, and what brought you to Mexico?

Andrew Lemon: 

Great. Um, so when I was studying my undergrad in Texas, in UT Arlington, one of my best friends was from Mexico. And you know, during the summers, he would invite me down, and I would come down and visit. And eventually I finished school, I was working somewhere back in Dallas and said, you know, what, if I go to Mexico and teach English and, and have a little adventure down there, and that’s, that’s what I did, I spent the rest of my 20s teaching in Mexico, and then the university that I was eventually teaching at, offered me a scholarship to do my MBA there. And that’s what I did. So that was kind of a kind of a diving into the business side of things in Mexico. And in that perspective, it wasn’t really who I was, I studied linguistics, and I was a English professor. But then I kind of pivoted into business and started to see hey, there are some opportunities where maybe I could, could be a part and help people, you know, advance their business. So that’s eventually what I was able to do. I’ll continue on a little bit of my story, I did go back to the US. And so around 2014, I moved back to the US was working for a tech startup, maybe a little bit past startup. But that was my intro to e commerce. I was working for that company and kind of felt bogged down and didn’t have this chance to travel. I just spent most of my time in an office or an apartment in Dallas and said, Hmm, what else could I do with my life. And eventually, I had the opportunity to be a part of the another E commerce project with a friend of mine, where we were sourcing products in China and selling them on Amazon. And we were successful enough that I could do that full time. And then eventually, we sold that company. And during that time, I decided I would move back to Mexico because it was a place where I enjoy it. Personally, I enjoy the life that that I’m able to afford here. But also I did see opportunities and well why are we sourcing everything in China, if we have Mexico right here. And there are reasons why. But I do think that things are starting to change, it’s going to diversify. And we’re going to be doing a lot more business in Mexico in a lot of different ways.

Amy Wees:

That’s amazing. So that’s how I met you, obviously, was through E commerce channels, one of our mutual friends introduced us and so I was just so stoked to learn that, you know, you were already involved in Mexico. And you know, and you already have some e commerce knowledge. And our mission was to build the bridge. I mean, we have a bridge kind of, but there’s not really a sourcing bridge, right? There’s not necessarily this e commerce sourcing bridge between the United States and the rest of the world and Mexico, a lot of people just aren’t aware of what’s available in Mexico, they aren’t really sure how to find manufacturers, they aren’t sure what capabilities are there. And that’s what we found, too. You know, I would visit Mexico all the time. I’m in Texas, and I would visit Mexico all the time, and I would see all these amazing products that were made in Mexico and I was like, wait a minute, how, where are these manufacturers? Like where’s this happening? Because the only thing that any of us had heard really about Mexico was vehicles right and automotive that kind of stuff was big in Mexico and so I was like wow, is there is there space for E commerce buyers to go to Mexico and source and you you mentioned you said you know There you are wondering the same thing. Why is every Want to sourcing from China and not looking at alternative destinations? And can you talk a little bit about your experience? And kind of, you know, why you think that is? Why do you think people don’t know a lot about Mexico?

Andrew Lemon:

Um, yeah, I mean, I think I think when we, when most Americans travel to Mexico, they’re going to the beach, right, and maybe going to the border town, just, you know, have a little fun. And, you know, you kind of connect that you that’s, that’s the image that people have, as well as kind of what you see on the media. So you know, people don’t really expect there to be the type of economic development that is in Mexico. I mean, you know, you were from the United States, which is, you know, by some accounts, the richest country in the world, and we have Mexico, but beside us, and we look at it as a poor country, but Mexico is actually a rich country, on a worldwide level, right? So, so there is a lot going on, there are a lot of people with a lot of factories, and there is logistics, and all of these things exist. The difference, though, is that China made a very concerted effort to change the economy starting in the late starting in the 1970s. Right, and they never have been a place with a lot of raw material. They’ve been a place that said, How are we going to be a part of the rest of the world, it’s going to be by manufacturing. So from the very, from that point in time, starting in the 70s, they were looking for opportunities to work with large companies to manufacture goods there. And then they caught on to the trend of Oh, but I can, you know, make small orders for these individual sellers. And eventually the, the Amazon ecosystem was something that they plugged into, to the extent that now they’re the sailors right? At the first at first, you know, we were happy, hey, we can get the Chinese manufacturers that make this and, and, you know, eventually they started making things too, but they weren’t doing such a great job. And then eventually, they kind of caught up. Mexico’s economy was still very isolated until NAFTA. And you know, that seems I guess that’s 30 years ago now. So it seems like Well, that’s been a while, but it’s still only 30 years ago, just the 90s. Right. In Mexico, they produce goods for their own local market, they didn’t import that much. And they didn’t export that much. And they haven’t switched, they haven’t made that switch as much to say, hey, what can we make for the US. So that’s, that’s part of it. The other part of it is a lot of these things that we’re seeing when you go to Mexico, and you see, wow, these are some fantastic ceramic bowls. This is some amazing, you know, woodwork, amazing leather work. Some of those are traditions, businesses, for lack of a better word, economic activity, that goes back, maybe 100 years, maybe 200 years that people and a certain region of Mexico have been manufacturing those goods, and so it’s generation after generation. And so having to do something different saying, Okay, now I need to change this, I need to scale it, I need to seek, you know, commercial partners in the United States. That’s just slowly but surely happening. Whereas in China, it was kind of pushed. And another thing about that is in China, because things are very much controlled by the state government, both in a sense of it’s a powerful authoritarian government. And because the culture is a little bit more collective, in in China, you know, the government has pushed the economy in that direction. Whereas that’s not necessarily happening yet in Mexico, everybody’s still kind of doing their own thing. But I, again, I do think there is a great opportunity, that doesn’t mean that the level of craftsmanship isn’t there, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t the possibility to do it. The big difference is, you know, I can still speak from experience. Everybody knows they can log on to certain websites and say, Hey, I’m looking for, you know, sunglasses that look like smiley faces, I’m looking for plastic flowerpots, I’m looking for this, I’m looking for that. And you’re likely going to find somebody that’s either producing that very item or something similar, and you can start the conversation. A lot of us myself, have developed relationships with people in China that all I have to do is jump on Skype at their, you know, time of the day, jump on about 10 o’clock at night and say, Hey, can you help me find this and they’re gonna do it because it’s a it’s a habit. It’s a business that they’ve developed and they’re doing in Mexico a lot of if someone says, Hey, Andrew, you know, I want to source this I want to source that. It’s gonna take me a while. longer to find anything that comes close to that it’s a lot more like, Okay, you want something that’s made out of that material? Well, I know somebody that works with this other material, maybe they know somebody that knows somebody that knows somebody.

Amy Wees:

Yeah. And it’s just because, you know, you talked about 30 years ago. You know, that’s when NAFTA started. But the reason is not because like you said, it’s not that we can’t find those products in Mexico, we can find nearly everything what what surprised me is, you know, I take people to Canton Fair, which is the largest sourcing exposition in the world, that happens in China twice a year. And, you know, there’s over 60,000 manufacturers that this trade show for multiple categories, and most e commerce buyers go for phase two of Canton Fair. And what that is, is like your gifts, your consumable items, your toys, would household goods, Home and Garden, you know, that kind of thing. But what I really was surprised by in Mexico, is that a lot of these very same things that I could source in China at the Canton Fair, during phase two, I could also find in very nice quality in Mexico. And what you’ll notice, if you know, and this is kind of the latest hack that I’ve been using to find contacts in Mexico, is there’s a ton of trade shows in Mexico, you’re not going to find a multi category trade show until now, because we’ve started evil at time. But you will find a trade show in your category. So I had a client reach out to me the other day, and he makes metal products, products out of metal that were cut cut metal, right. And, you know, he currently sources from China. And again, you know, we’re not trying to move everybody from China. That’s not what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to show that there is opportunity in Mexico and there is there are benefits to sourcing from Mexico. So we’ll get into that. But he contacted me and said, you know, AB Do you know anybody that that makes these products. And sure enough, what I did is I just went and looked for trade shows for metal products in Mexico. And there’s huge expos. And when I was out at center Max in Monterey, looking for are looking at scouting or next venue for evil. Last time, I saw there was a huge plastics trade show with injection molding, and one of my products is made in the USA out of plastic. And I was so excited to see that I just went into that trade show in Mexico and just started like, you know, it was huge, it was amazing. And so many manufacturers, so much great stuff. And even our last evolet time in Mexico City, there was a trade show going on in the same at the World Trade Center, that same venue at the same time. So there’s a ton of trade, there’s a ton of manufacturers, there’s a ton of products available. And that’s, you know, a good way to explore the type, the availability and the types of manufacturers to go to those trade show websites. And look, and you’ll see, but the difference is that the relationships are more important, right? You talked injured 30 years ago, right? When NAFTA happen and that that’s where we started building the bridge. But and a lot of products are exported now like grocery health and beauty here in Texas on my grocery shelves, there’s a lot of stuff made in Mexico. So that’s great, that’s happening. But we’re just starting to see the emergence of other categories now starting to be exported. So it’s very important for people to realize that 30 years ago, China was also brand new. I mean, if you went to China 30 years ago, like you had to do the same thing you had to it wasn’t that the products weren’t available, it wasn’t that manufacturers weren’t available, but you had to develop relationships, you had to figure out who was who and find them and shake hands. And even today, in China, you’re gonna have a totally better experience. If you go in person and you develop those relationships, than if you are just sourcing blindly on websites like Alibaba and you’ve never met your supplier, you’re gonna get totally different pricing, you’re gonna get a totally different experience when you develop those relationships. And what we found in Mexico is that relationships are really, really important, and the people are very warm and friendly. So can we talk about some of the benefits of when we when we do source for Mexico? Can we talk about some of the benefits of that, so we no longer have NAFTA? But we do still have free trade. There’s a new type of agreement. I forgot what the new one is called. It’s like, 

Andrew Lemon:

Yeah, remember, they kind of simplified it. It’s just like, I think it’s called a North American. What was it North American Free Trade Agreement, free trade agreement of the Americas or something

Amy Wees:

like yeah, because now it’s like Canada isn’t you know, Canada. North America is Canada in the US, but I think Canada is in name now to it’s like, yeah, you see a it’s something MCA, which is like Mexico, Canada, America, right. And so if 70% or more of your product is made in Mexico, then you’re able to not pay any tariffs, you have complete free trade on that.

Andrew Lemon:

That’s, that’s a huge advantage. And just the logistics, I mean, just the fact is like, this is like a humble brag or whatever. But I was actually sailing in the San Francisco Bay, a few months ago, a friend has a boat out there. And just seeing all of the ships that are sitting there waiting, right. And that’s the circumstance right now, everything that’s coming in, through the west coast from China, there’s just there’s still a backlog. And during the same time that that’s happening, I’ve had products that, you know, the supplier lets me know, hey, Andrew, these are gonna be ready tomorrow, you know, what’s the shipping? Okay, cool. Let me you know, let me give you the information about the shipping sending something to DHL or whatever. And, yeah, it’s in Amazon, it’s checked in, in a week, you know, or less. So. I mean, that’s, that’s huge, because even when China was normal, we were talking about months. So you know, there’s that advantage. And even if it just kind of the product development face, you have the opportunity to send it to me, it’s here in two or three days, I can look at what you made, I can touch it, or heck, you know, certainly in my case, I can go over there, you know, and wherever you are on us, it’s just a couple hour flight. Yeah, to you know, whether you want to go to Lyon, you want to go to something, you know, to Tiguan or you want to come to Mexico City. And you know, I think that’s a huge advantage. You know, the the challenge that that we could say is, in China, they’ve already figured this out. And they already understand they know who Amazon sellers are. So they know, here’s somebody that’s going to ask me for 500 units of a product. And I’ve already worked with somebody like this, or somebody else that I know in my industry has worked with other individuals like this, and I’m going to work with Amy and make 500 units for her. And if she sells them, she’s going to come back and ask for more. Or she’s going to say this was a good supplier, I’m going to source something else with them. In Mexico, that’s that’s new. That’s not something that most people have experienced with. There used to, like I said, it could be something that basically it’s evolved over the years, but basically goes back 100 years. So a lot of factories that make you know, really nice things, maybe not talking about the high highest, most industrial things, but but definitely things that you could be selling online, there used to selling to these individual. I’m trying to think of what we would call them but you know, just, you know, people who would who would sell something on the street people who would be selling something on the street, or in a plaza somewhere,

Amy Wees:

invaders or small retailers or kiosks or you know, yeah, and that’s where I found a lot of these great products in Mexico. Was at these smaller retailers or even larger shopping malls. And that, yeah, they’re used to producing locally, so it will be new to them. And it’s not that they’re not open to working with that. It’s that it’s just like us, our first time sourcing a product, man, we felt like idiots, we were like, I don’t even how do I even get this here? How do I ship it? And how do I do? So you know, it’s it is you know, it’s about building that relationship. It’s about working together to figure it out together to have that long term, awesome, you know, benefit of being able to have a supplier that’s so close by, and let’s talk about the language barrier. So you mentioned you said you can go to nuevo Leone, you can go to you know, Guadalajara, Mexico City, there’s so many great cities, some of the biggest concerns that people reach out to us with is number one language barrier. They’re very concerned and they worry about this in China as well. And number two safety. And, you know, I always I always say this because I’ve been there’s there’s over a million expats from the United States living in Mexico. And I’m in a lot of Facebook groups where these expats, you know, talk and can you and and everything because I too, would like to live there one day and and, you know, so I’m communing with these people and talking with them. And whenever someone mentions a safety concern, you can I mean, these people stick up for Mexico, they’re like, No, it’s perfect. It’s more safe than the United States. It’s you know, but can we talk about the language barrier and also This safety concerns so you know, can people just I mean, I know because I go to Mexico City, I go to Monterey, I, you know, I go, of course, to the beaches in Cancun that’s, you know, my favorite place to go into Mexico. But, but I’ve got, I go by myself, and I’ve never had a problem. And people speak English because there are so many expats in the major cities. So yeah, well, what’s been your experience with that?

Andrew Lemon:

Oh, I mean, what my perspective is gonna be skewed. Because I do speak Spanish, right? But But I know, you know, you people look at me, and they’re eager to speak English to me, you know, sometimes I have to let them speak English to me before at some point, it goes up while you speak Spanish, I speak Spanish. So I do think it’s going to be common to find people that speak English as especially in the context of someone who’s a business owner, you know, so, you know, for example, you know, Sergio is someone I know, in Dorian and northern Mexico, he has a factory that produces things out of granite and similar stones, and we’re working to find a market for that in the US. He travels to us all the time. And you know, he speaks English perfectly well. And I think most people kind of with his profile, are going to speak English, perfectly well, enough to have this have a conversation to have a business conversation. And then, you know, having an ally having someone else to lean on to say, hey, you know, maybe in this situation, I want someone to step in and translate. You know, that’s not a bad idea. But I would say you’re probably in better luck here. Because I think you’re going to have people who either have experienced in the United States and can speak the language well enough, and understand the culture well enough. In China, obviously, you know, people are always getting better. But I still struggle most of the time with with the communication with people in China, like even though we’re both speaking English, I’ve always felt like, they don’t really seem to understand what I’m saying here. I don’t understand what they’re saying it’s English. I don’t understand what they’re trying to.

Amy Wees:

Well, I didn’t China different, yes. Doesn’t mean Yes. Right. So it’s there’s different kind of ways of understanding English and communicating with business cultural differences. What would you say? Are the primary business cultural differences between the US, US business culture and Mexico business culture? What should we be aware of when we’re doing business in Mexico? What should we be thinking about when we’re maybe talking to a manufacturer or trying to build that relationship? Is there any things that we should think about?

Andrew Lemon:

Before I answer that question, afterwards, let’s circle back to the safety issue, because I do want to give some insight on that, let’s go ahead and go with kind of the differences in culture. In the United States, we do also have a little bit more ability to be more sincere, and to say no. So it’s, it’s still easier for an American context for us to say no, like, Hey, can you produce 10,000 of these, we’re gonna say, No, I can’t, I can produce 6000. And I can put my cards on the table. Whereas in the Mexican culture, they’re probably gonna say, yes, they’re probably going to say maybe, and try to figure out a way to make it work because they don’t want to lose that opportunity that they have with you. But that’s if you get to that point, I think that same sincerity is something that keeps doors from opening so easily. So in the US context, you can talk to anybody, and you’re basically going to understand what they have to offer, and what they’re looking for, in that first initial conversation. Nobody has any problems kind of opening up about that. Whereas in the Mexican context, things are so based on, you know, having a strong relationship with somebody and knowing this is someone I’m going to be able to work with over the course of years and years and years, just like I’ve always been doing just like this business was in my father, you know, this was my father’s business, and he sold to your father, or your mother, and now I’m selling to you. And so that’s a big part of how business is done here. So when someone comes in, I’ve had people tell me like, hey, Andrew, I just want to meet some factory owners meet some producers and for them, to tell me what they can produce and how much they can produce. I’m like, that’s never gonna happen. That’s not how the Mexican culture works. It’s very much going to be hey, let’s talk. Let’s go out Let’s have dinner. You Maybe there’s an event that we both are going to attend, let’s bring these things out little by little and build up that confidence. And I know that’s a challenge. And I’m very certain that that’s going to change over time that it’s going to be easier. Once manufacturers in Mexico once producers in Mexico See, see some of this happen. So going back to these first two things that we’ve just talked about are these last two things that we’ve just talked about. Having some kind of intermediary, I think, is going to be a benefits. I think having someone that’s familiar with multiple suppliers, who’s already familiar with the culture, who’s already established some relationships, who knows both languages, that’s definitely going to be an advantage. So anyone that has that opportunity.

Amy Wees:

That’s why it’s so important what we’re doing in Mexico with the Mexico trip, and Ebola Tam, because we’re not just bringing manufacturers, we’re also educating manufacturers on how to work with us and our culture. And these little changes the things that they need to know to export the things that they need to know. Because we found in our last event, when we educated those suppliers, about us and kind of told them a little bit more about us, they’re all very eager, they want to learn, they want to work with us. But you know, just like, if we were going to China for the first time or some other you know, we keep saying China, but there’s plenty other places to source from, you know, if we were going to somewhere to source for the first time, we wouldn’t be nervous, we would be like, Why don’t we I don’t know what they expect, I don’t know. And so the comfort level is like, let’s get to know each other first, you know, so we’re trying to build that bridge by educating our manufacturers. That’s why we’re hosting Primo, which is our education conference for suppliers in Mexico. And Andrew is going to be speaking at that and helping suppliers to understand how to work with us. But also, at our trade shows, we also have those intermediaries there. Besides the manufacturers, of course, you can go there and you can build that relationship. And we do have people already sourcing from Mexico from people that they met from suppliers they met at EVO last time. But at the same time, you know, maybe your exact supplier, that thing that you’re looking for is not there, or you know, you met a few, but you really like to expand in this way. That’s where we have logistics companies, sourcing companies, those intermediary experts that can help we have a supplier matching program that allows people to apply to, you know, get connected with the right suppliers and the right intermediary. So that’s such a good, it’s a good point. And it also allows me to educate people and let them know that we have you covered, if you’re going to come down to Monterey, February 15, and 16th. For evolet Tam, you can sign up for free. At evil@time.com, you’re going to meet a myriad of E commerce experts, logistics folks, lots of suppliers, intermediaries, and then we have two full days of conferences as well. So you’re going to learn and we have simultaneous translation. So whether the speaker on stage is speaking Spanish or English, you can depending on your language, you can have a headset on and you’ll get that that delivered directly to you. We also have translators walking the floor, although most people did not have any issues. But if there was a supplier or you know, somebody that wasn’t as you know, confident in their English, I was just enjoying walking the floor, and I speak a little Spanish and I understand Spanish much better than I speak and I’m trying to get better at that. But um, but luckily the translators are constantly walking the floor. So we would start and kind of talk together and then if we needed to get into a deeper conversation, you know, to to understand something a little bit more than we could just grab a translator and, and it was just a wonderful, warm experience. I actually find what you said about you know them really caring about relationships and about, you know, generations of culture and business and I find it so heartwarming, and it’s such a pleasant experience. And every time. You know, I think about going back to Mexico for this next event. It just it really warms my heart and I get so excited because everybody there was just so warm and so welcoming and just so willing to work together and it was a totally different experience than anywhere I had been for E commerce sourcing before.

Andrew Lemon:

I find you know, I find that I’m much more comfortable here. I enjoy quite a bit, I think, you know, when you live in the United States and, you know, for better or worse, you know, for most important, it’s going to be better. Life is easier, you know, you can, you know, it’s changing with time, but but certainly still up to up to my generation. And you know, when I was 18, I was able to go out on my own and get a, you know, get a job and be able to support myself and take care of my life on my own. That’s not as easy everywhere else. And so I think people learn to help each other out a little more. And that’s kind of day to day life. And certainly in business. You know, when it comes down to anything I’ve ever done business, I’ve been able to float something out there, and the business network that I have feeds things back to me. And so I do think that if you develop those relationships, if you get an ally in Mexico, you’re going to be able to depend on that ally for other things. And that’s 100%, something that I do, I do a lot of consulting kind of pro bono, and individuals will say like, Hey, Andrew, you know, you and I’ve already met up a couple of times, do I owe you anything, I say no, you know, you’re, you’re now my contact in this part of the country, you’re my contact in this industry. And that’s enough for me, I know that, you know, if I don’t necessarily need seashells, right now, maybe later somebody is going to need and you’re going to be the person that can help me, or you’re going to help me find something else from that part of the country. I did want to go back to two other things here that I think will be helpful. First of all, the context is, in the last event, I did two conferences, and I just inverted them. One was an English, where I was explaining to people from the United States, their own kind of cultural vices, and how that generates challenges. And I was explained to them, the cultural vices in Mexico, the habits and the tendencies so that we’re going to be a challenge. And then I just inverted that, did it in Spanish for people locally to say, hey, here are people coming from the United States, here’s what you need to know about them. But here’s also what you need to know about yourself. And I think like, here’s, here’s a funny example that I would share just some people to kind of understand a little bit how there are cultural differences. You know, one day I went to a very, very Americanized place, it was like a brew pub, it was, you know, Brewing Company, it’s one of those places that brews their own beer, and you can go in there and enjoy their beer and get kind of the kind of food that you would expect this year to Mexico, but just like in the United States, so you can get your hot wings and things like that. And the thing that came in to me actually really love our nachos. I love nachos. And I don’t know if everybody realizes this, but nachos are very much like a Texas, northern Mexico, California kind of thing. It’s not really a thing down here, but it’s like this place, since it’s sort of this American style, they’re gonna have some good nachos. So I’m like, Hey, can I get some nachos? And the waitress here just said, you don’t have that. And that was the end of the conference. And that was the end of her statement. And I had to say, well, let me see the menu. Let me see what you can get. And I don’t know what I ordered. But then she walked by later with some cheese fries. And I’m like, why didn’t you think to offer me cheese fries. And that was me being very American, because in an American context, just like in a business, it is still a business transaction. If I’m talking to the waiter, and I’m somewhere in San Antonio, or Kansas City, or, or Detroit, and I say, Hey, do you guys have nachos? They’re gonna say, Oh, I’m sorry, sir. We don’t have nachos. But you know what I can give you I can get you some cheese fries. And that’s very much the sort of practical negotiate back and forth scenario that we have…

Amy Wees:

…cars with the cheese on top. It’s an equal trade.

Andrew Lemon:

Like, of course, this is very similar or even, hey, you know, do you guys have Coke, and it’s very much in United States, you would just be instantly we have Pepsi. And a lot of times in Mexico, this would be like, we don’t have Coca Cola. And like, Will, what do you have? Oh, we have Pepsi? Well, okay. Yeah, I want I’ll take Pepsi then. And that’s just kind of a little bit of a, you know, this is what I have. I want you to come ask me, you know, I want you to kind of pry in so that’s just a little bit of different negotiation tactics. Um, let me circle back to that security.

Amy Wees:

Yeah. Let’s talk about safety. Dave, for people to come to Monterey and attend evil lead time in February. Yeah.

Andrew Lemon:

You know, I as much as you get a lot of, you know, violence on the news, right. I mean, that’s what the news is there to report the news that you know, the news media is going to report things that hey, what’s going on crazy things, you know, the news is not going to report in the last Just, you know, three years, there hasn’t been a armed robbery in whatever place. That’s not how the news works. The news focuses on the things that are going to scare people, because that’s, that’s what we want. And that’s what we’re going to consume on the news. So I think that that skews things for the experience, right? A lot of statistical analysis that are out there, things that I’ve seen a lot of anecdotes, be it the life that I live here in Mexico City, where other people, you know, tell me about the places that they live around Mexico. And then again, also, statistically, normal day to day life in Mexico is actually safer than most places in the United States. And, you know, to be honest, I feel completely safe. There’s threats everywhere, right? Um, you know, I, I am part of the incubator in Oakland, California, I love Oakland, I love the Bay Area. But you know, I walking around Oakland by myself, if I’m not certain where I’m at, or even sometimes when I am, I don’t feel particularly safe there. And, you know, the reports of crime and things in that place are also high. I’m not going to ignore what the elephant is the elephant is, there are large organized crime organizations that you know, colloquial called called cartels that operate in Mexico, right. And whoa, that’s scary. The thing about that, though, is, they’re not there to do anything with what we’re doing. You know, if you’re coming here to source illegal drugs, then you’re gonna have trouble.

Amy Wees:

We don’t have any illegal drug suppliers that even wants him. So maybe not a good fit anyway.

Andrew Lemon:

And if you’re coming here to source you know, plastic, you know, molds and woodwork and leather goods, that’s not anything to do with those organizations. They’re out doing their own thing. And I think something for us to understand is, United States also had problems with organized crime. For the first half of the 20th century, there were Italian Mafia, Irish mafia, the Dixie mafia, all operating all had organizations pretty similar to the ones that exist mostly in northern Mexico now, that didn’t prevent other people from doing business and going about, you know, their day to day lives. But it was scary. And it was an issue that had to be dealt with just like, you know, this issue has to be dealt with. And, you know, we’re all looking forward to, you know, that no longer being something on our mind. But it’s absolutely not at all a part of my life. I live here nine months of the year, and I never encountered any kind of violent crime.

Amy Wees:

Yeah, and I think that what’s really important to note, as well is any big city that you go to around the world, you should be concerned about petty theft, you should be concerned about, you know, like, you were saying, walking around Oakland, like, if I don’t know where I am, like, I’m not going to be like, Oh, I’ve been safe here before, like, you’re going to be on guard, you’re going to look around, you know, you’re going to be careful, you’re going to look at your transportation, all that kind of stuff. So, you know, anytime that you travel, and you go to a big city, you know, you’re not going to go walk down a dark alley by yourself. You know, that’s just not smart anywhere in the US in, in Mexico, in Canada, wherever you go, it doesn’t matter. So it’s just those common sense things. And I know for our folks, you know, you can come to the Monterey airport very easily. You can get there’s Uber, there’s taxis. There’s plenty of safe transportation. There’s wonderful hotel, like just in the view is amazing. Monterey has an amazing manufacturing history. And you see that at the parks like we were walking in the parks, and you just you see it everywhere. It’s beautiful there. It’s just it’s worth the trip. It’s worth discovery. So speaking of that, that takes us to, I think our last question for the day, and that is who should consider you know, when it comes to if I’m an E commerce, I’m a, you know, business owner, whether I’m selling the dude whether I’m doing the wholesale model on Amazon, or I’m a reseller, or I have a private label brand, or I’m just I have a Shopify, you know, ecommerce and I’m not on Amazon at all, or I’m a small retailer. We had some small retailers come with us last time, you know, or I’m a larger retailer or a larger brand. Who should can Senator visiting this trade show who should consider Mexico as a sourcing destination? And why?

Andrew Lemon:

Yeah, I mean, I’m not going to exclude anybody, right? I think that whether you are looking for, you know, things etched on wood, or you’re looking for a complicated electronic products, there are people who can produce that here. And you know, you have to be willing to explore and get to know people, you might not, you might not, you know, put in your first order before you leave, to the airport to go back. But you’re going to make contacts that can be helpful in the future, whether it be the person who’s going to source it, or it’s going to be somebody that you can rely on for logistics or something in the future, you’re going to have someone I mean, that that was my experience, I didn’t walk away with up Who here’s the new person who’s going to be making this thing for me, I have a lot of business cards, and a lot of people that I’ve talked to that, I know I can rely on the future. And then I’ve talked to some other people about some other things. It’s also a really fun ecommerce events. So you know, there’s, there’s plenty of people that I met that have their, you know, analytical software, and who, you know, you know, people who you can outsource your, your listings to and, and all kinds of different things that I met there, I think, you know, this is definitely something that’s in for the long haul, it’s definitely something that is building and growing, I would invite everybody to come be in on the ground floor to come be one of the first people who starts to, you know, source things as this explodes. Another thing that I do think is interesting, one of the things that I’ve been looking at, and one of the things that, that I sometimes do on a small scale, because that’s kind of where my heart is right now. But that’s just finding somebody that has already established a product here in Mexico, and helping them to expand it and find a market in the US, if you are already someone who is I’m a skilled Amazon seller, I don’t necessarily want to reinvent the wheel for every new product, I don’t want to private label, I just want to resell something. You know, there are a lot of interesting brands here that already have great branding, they have great marketing people behind it. And there’s really high quality very cool products. There are, there are shoes, there are a lot of clothing labels that, you know, my conversations with these individuals and work with Yeah, jewelry is you know, print

Amy Wees:

and there’s so much that I found so many of those opportunities. And I was there were in Riyadh a lot of these brands at the trade show. And it was just so cool, you know, lots of really great products that I can sell the heck out of.

Andrew Lemon:

I mean, there are a lot of people, you know, so for example, Mexico City is this giant city, it’s a city that attracts people from all around the world. You know, the kind of trendy area is a place where probably half of the people that live there are digital nomads from the states in Europe. And there are these small shops that sell really, really cool accessories and really cool beauty products. I’m trying to think of what else, you know, home decor things. And they depend probably entirely on their walk in sales. And some systems like this is so cool. There are people in Des Moines, Iowa, and Jacksonville, Florida that would want this, you know, we need to get you online. And you know, the cool thing is that infrastructure is building here. So you know, someone who says I don’t necessarily need to sourcing products, you know, I already have my line of products, I already know what I’m doing. Well, what if you just add a product that’s already existing into your, your portfolio. So there’s,

Amy Wees:

if you’re doing wholesale, I used to do a wholesale Amazon model, right? And that’s where you buy from, you buy either from wholesalers or you buy at a wholesale price from a brand, right and then you resell that on Amazon in your store. I used to do that and the problem would be that everybody had the same sources as me. So you know, I would create a new listing a new bundle something cool and different. And two days later I’d have three p three other people on the listing that I spent time and money and energy creating an I thought I had protected sources and Nope, I did not because you know, it was so easy for other people to just jump on my listing and do all that. If you are sourcing from Mexico and you’re sourcing from a brand like you’re talking about that already exists that already has great branding, all you’re doing is changing the language up, you get the photos, you get everything there, the chances of someone else competing with you and being able to find your source are really slim. So whether you’re a private label seller, and you want to just grow your brand, like if I find other people who sell similar products, I can either white, label those over to my brand, or I can open up and I can, you know, open up another aspect of my store and start selling other things. So it’s like something for everyone and the contacts that you make. And as you mentioned, I’m so glad you mentioned it, it’s so much fun. So, you know, I just, I can’t wait to go back. And really just just, I get all excited thinking about it. So just before we wrap up, I’m gonna give you guys the details. We have two events happening here in February, Andrew is going to be at both of them. So excited to have him. The first event is our Mexico sourcing trip. And this is for the folks that want to come to Mexico and have the full experience, we pick you up at the airport with a sign you’re treated as a VIP, you get brought to the hotel. And then we have three days of conferences, all about not just learning how to source in Mexico and learning how to do business in Mexico. But we also do some really fun like product research strategies and different types of E commerce topics. And then every day we do something different. So like we the first night, we do this amazing gala dinner, and we’re doing it at a really cool place in Monterey this time. And it is going to blow your mind it has to do with manufacturing. But I promise you, you’ve never been to a gala dinner like this before. So we’ll be doing that the first night all it’s all inclusive, all your meals, all your hotels, everything is covered all your activities. And then we also do tourism activities together. So we go and you know, we have a couple of tours activities that we do together, we go see the sights, you know, we experience the culture, which what better way to do that then with your fellow entrepreneurs, the last time we got a tour bus in Mexico City, and all of us got on the bus and we drove around the city and just had a great time getting off at different stops and taking pictures together. And, and then the next thing we do conferences every day, as I mentioned, and then the last day before the trade show, we actually go and visit factories. So this last time, and you’re actually introduced us to the factory that we visited this last time, beautiful ceramics factory beautiful family. And so this time, we’ll be visiting two factories in Monterey and just getting an getting to experience of factory tour is so unique, so cool. It’s just, I never get tired of it. Every time I get to walk through a factory, I’m just like, oh, so nerdy. I love it. So that’s, that’s what you can expect there. Again, we do meals together breakfast lunch dinners. We do different dinners at both at the hotel and outside of the hotel just to get everybody kind of moving around and having fun. And then the last two days, we attend the evil atom Expo. And if you come as part of the Mexico trip, you’re a VIP there and you have you know, your VIP lunch and everything like that. But, but then you get to meet all of the 1000s of people that come from around the world to attend the expo. And if you want to attend the expo, you can go to evil that time.com and sign up for free to attend. And you get to meet your suppliers, your vendors there, your you know, third party logistics, you know, eCommerce, providers, everything like that. We do that for two days. So this year, it’s even bigger and better. And we have manufacturers and suppliers from so many different categories. You can check out all the different categories at UVA laptime.com. And then if you’d like to upgrade your sourcing experience and join us on the Mexico trip that is at the Mexico trip.com I know that’s really hard to remember the Mexico trip.com. so, so excited to see you Andrew, thank you so much for you know, imparting your experience and knowledge and just Yeah, hanging out with me today.

Andrew Lemon:

You’re very welcome. I look forward to seeing everyone there. Monterey is where I lived and studied for for several years. I think everybody’s going to be very pleasantly surprised with what kind of place it is and what kind of options there are as far as sources. So great. See everyone there.

Amy Wees:

All right. Bye everybody. See you there.

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