Hey, thanks for tuning in to another Partner Interview at EcomBalance. At EcomBalance, we’re all about creating win-win partnerships where we are able to grow with other companies in the ecommerce space.
In this exclusive interview, we have a conversation with Thomas Baker, CEO and founder at FordeBaker.
Tom was inspired to create FordeBaker after launching a toy brand onto Amazon in 2016. Successfully expanding that brand across the UK, EU and US made Tom realize that many other brand managers had a desire to accelerate growth through Amazon but lacked the global experience, expertise and strategic know-how to make it happen. Those attributes are at the heart of FordeBaker’s service. Today, Tom leads client strategy and business development. When not furiously typing away Tom can be found managing his own in-house team of toddlers or getting respite on his bike.
Connor: Hey Thomas, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. As a company, one of our goals is to highlight our partners so that our clients can benefit where it makes most sense. To get started, can you give us a high-level introduction to FordeBaker and a little bit about how the company got started?
Thomas: I started the business off the back of my own experience working in-house at a toy brand. I joined the business as Head of Marketing. They’d not yet launched on Amazon so it was my job to make that happen. This was 7 years ago. I didn’t have any Amazon experience so naturally I looked for an agency.
I was surprised by the lack of credible agencies that could offer the expertise, range of services and international capabilities that we needed. We decided to do it ourselves and thankfully we were very successful but I always had this idea in my head that if I had this need then there must be other brands that are looking for exactly the same thing.
I created FordeBaker to fill that gap in the market.
We’re a full service, global marketplace agency. Most of our clients sell on Amazon but we also support other marketplaces in North America and Europe. We believe our point of differentiations lies in our multinational, multilingual capabilities and strategic consultancy service.
Connor: Thanks for sharing that! Can you dive a bit more into the marketing and operation services you offer? Our audience is always looking for reputable companies that they can lean on for specific parts of their eCommerce businesses.
Thomas: The line I use is ‘you ship the inventory and we’ll do the rest’. The only areas where we don’t offer services are photography, finance and accounting.
There are many marketplace agencies out there. We differentiate through a combination of factors: we host a multinational service managed by a multilingual team, we’re experts in both 1P and 3P selling, and we pride ourselves in our strategic consulting.
We’re not just about the day to day but also answering the bigger questions of growth, profitability, expansion and product marketing.
Connor: Jumping off of that…when you’re thinking about your ideal customer, who is that? Where are they selling online? Where are they located in the world? How much sales do they typically have in a year? If there’s any other qualities, please include them as well. We’re all about making introductions where it benefits both parties.
Thomas: We work in all categories, Seller and Vendor, all countries so our client base is very broad. The unifying factor is ambition. We want to work with brands that see Amazon and other marketplaces as central to their growth strategy. They could be start-ups or established brands. It all comes down to the potential to do something interesting with Amazon.
We’ve seen tremendous results for all sorts of clients but if I were to say where our core strengths are then it’s with businesses that want to sell in multiple countries. We’ve also built up a great track record in beauty, DIY, pets and outdoors.
Connor: For our audience to truly understand what makes you stand out from other marketing and operation agencies, can you share a story of how FordeBaker truly helped one of its customers?
Thomas: One of my favourite success stories was helping two young entrepreneurs to exit for over $5m. Achieving an exit isn’t just about achieving sales growth. That only gets you so far. The business has to be operating efficiently and have a clear plan for future growth.
We were able to truly accelerate their sales and take them to category leader within 6 months. Looking back, it was a remarkable time for the brand.
Here’s our case study and our client’s thoughts on what made our partnership so successful.
Connor: As you and your company think about the next year ahead, what does it look like? Are there any specific initiatives that you’re working on as a team to better your services for your customers?
Thomas: When looking ahead I like to think of one of Jeff Bezos’ favourite maxims; don’t ask what will change in the future but what will never change.
That’s what were doing. Amazon and marketplaces are here to stay so our business plan is simply to do more of that and continue to improve our service. We will continue to increase our penetration into the US market which is already 35% of our business, we’ll develop our Amazon service in regions outside of North America and the UK and we’ll continue to pursue expansion to non-Amazon marketplaces.
Connor: How about this…everyone loves a company’s growth story. We all naturally go through ups and downs as a company. What was one of the biggest challenges that the company faced in its growing stages?
Thomas: There have been many challenges along the way; pandemic, rising production costs, supply chain issues, aggregators paying silly salaries!
All of those were way outside of our control so I haven’t dwelled on them. Focusing on what you can control is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt. Balancing growth with creating and improving our internal processes has absolutely been the biggest challenge. There’s a continuous tension between the two but we’ve learnt to prioritise building strong foundations over growth for growth’s sake.
Connor: Thanks! Let’s talk some eCommerce! Where do you see the industry heading in the next 1-2 years? Any big changes that you’re predicting for the industry? How can eCommerce companies prepare for it?
Thomas: There are three big trends that we’re seriously investing in.
Connor: Changing gears a little bit…When it comes to bookkeeping and accounting, what do you think the biggest pain points for eCommerce business owners are? Feel free to speak from personal experience as well.
Thomas: The issue we see time and time again is a knowledge gap. Sellers want to concentrate on product development and marketing but know that accounting is mission critical. Some can get overwhelmed because they don’t know where to start. I think it’s especially true with Amazon because the financial reports are not the easiest to use.
I guess to put it another way is that all clients want reliability. They want to know the data is accurate and to understand what it all means. That’s not as easy as it should be.
Connor: Okay, here’s an open mic opportunity. If there’s one thing that you’d want the EcomBalance community to hear from you, what would it be?
Thomas: I used to work in-house at a toy start-up. I launched the brand onto Amazon with zero prior experience. We built it into a multinational channel that was delivering 40% of the brand’s revenue within 18 months. We made a lot of mistakes along the way but also enjoyed a lot of success. What that means is, I can empathise with every seller.
My experience is what inspired me to create the agency. I’m committed to giving people the expertise, specialisation and scale that I wish I had when I started out 7 years ago.
I’m committed to helping people and businesses grow and really enjoy sharing my knowledge. I would encourage anyone with any questions to get in touch.
Connor: As we close this out, I just have one more question. Where is the best place to find and follow you and the company online? Also, if you have one, is there any special offer that you’ll be offering to the community today?
Thomas: Connect with me on LinkedIn – I post regularly so come over and share your comments.