In this exciting video we interviewed Merlin Jäckel, the founder of Green Valerie, interviewed. He gave us information about the necessities of e-commerce and important aspects to consider from the point of view of an online retailer. In addition, capital procurement is also a central topic, where fulfin could be helpful. Below you will get an insight into the entire interview:
Hello Merlin, please introduce yourself and Green Valerie briefly.
Yes, my name is Merlin Jäckel. That's my real name, it's not a Facebook name. I founded the brand Grüne Valerie, a brand for natural cosmetics. The whole thing is 4 years old now. I saw YouTube ads at the time about how successful people were with it in America and I just tried it out and had a lot of luck, I have to say. So it wasn't always easy, but we worked our way forward and now after 4 years I can say I understand the whole business very well. So I know where all the little weak points are and have now also optimized and worked out all the processes in my own business.
What is important for you as an online retailer?
Nowadays, success as an online retailer is largely determined by the fact that you always have to be up to date. Especially in the Amazon business, there are numerous software solutions and providers for different aspects and areas that help you. And I see the whole thing as a kind of challenge. From this puzzle box, it's a matter of analyzing the best processes and providers and then pulling them on board, which simply help me in my daily business.
To pick out two factors for a moment: As an online retailer - especially on Amazon - PPC (pay-per-click) is a big issue. Because we as online retailers have to constantly invest a certain budget in advertising. Simply explained, that also means pay-per-click. To recap: We pay to get customers to see our products at the top of the search list. However, this is a topic in itself, in which one can easily get lost. In everyday business, this means permanently optimizing bids and trying to get more and more out of the existing algorithms. Or what I have done now after a few years, to look for an agency that does it for you. That is with me eFly-amz an agency of I think almost 30 people who have specialized only in optimizing these algorithms. That means that I have a key account manager, a professional contact person, a weekly reporting and I can see exactly how my campaign is going. And I have this peace of mind, this calmness in my head, that simply this large part is outsourced and I have a partner who handles the whole thing professionally.
What about raising capital?
The second important part is financing, or always being liquid. If I take us at Green Valerie as an example, we are constantly selling goods. The success of some products then also brings with it the need to be able to buy more goods in order to have enough products in stock again. However, this is a very difficult thing to do, especially in the beginning. Everyone who starts to sell goods online and needs new capital usually has his house bank in mind. However, it is almost impossible to get a loan there in the first three years. On the other hand, there are also many funding institutions in Germany. For example, the KfW is very well known or the Bürgschaftsbank. These offers usually sound very tempting at the beginning. In my own experience, however, it is very difficult in reality to actually receive these subsidies if you actually want to take advantage of them. Firstly, the whole thing runs through the house bank again, which does not really seem interested in it, because this also means a huge amount of work for the house bank and at the same time they earn nothing from it. As a result, they are then more interested in selling something here again or simply increasing the overdraft facility. And on the other hand - if you call these funding institutes yourself - you only get long lectures, business plans, which makes the whole process incredibly long, so that the whole thing is actually no longer interesting.
I solved the problem at that time by resorting to a commodity financing institution. For me, that was the company "fulfin". As a specialized partner in financing growing online businesses, they especially help online retailers.
This means that all those questions and statements that a bank asks at the beginning, like: "How does this work?", "What exactly is the point of this?", "Wait 3 more years", "..." is where fulfin steps in and helps in time. Because fulfin understands business. This is also evident in the fact that there are different building blocks that I can use to put together my financing. For example, I can deposit my inventory completely as collateral, which is unthinkable with a normal house bank. So merchandise financing is the worst thing you can ask for. However, for me, I have found that for my business model, this is one of the most suitable financing models ever, because it is incredibly fast. Also, fulfin has software systems that allow me to get a request approved within 24 hours. This means that within 24 hours I can have the much-needed funding already in my account. So especially when things need to happen super fast, this is an incredible advantage! And if you compare the whole thing with those long discussions with the bank and business plans and the rest of the back and forth with the other alternatives, fulfin has really become a partner for me that also actively helps me with my growth.
What is important to you about working with fulfin?
With fulfin, it is important to me and has also proven itself in such a way that I have a partner who specializes in e-commerce. fulfin has various financing models with collateral, but also without collateral. Especially if you're a new merchant, it's usually almost impossible to get a loan anywhere in the first three years. And if you do, you have to put down really tangible collateral; so usually in the form of a property or share deposits, for example. But this is where fulfin, which understands the business, steps in. That's because the FinTech rates a trader based on transactions. Specifically, that means they look at, among other things, what the sales history has been. And if the whole thing is on the up and they understand that the trader is successful right now and just needs more cash to finance his further success, fulfin jumps in here and helps out swiftly and easily. And that's actually the most important thing: having a partner who understands the business.
I also used to take a normal loan from the bank and always had the feeling that they didn't really know what I was doing and how exactly my business worked. For this reason, I had to justify myself for things that were obvious to me. Because everything we do at Grüne Valerie - international sales, thousands of transactions, warehouses in Poland and the Czech Republic, different VAT numbers - was just too much for them. And that's why I can only repeat myself and emphasize that it's simply important to have a partner here who takes over a part and is also specialized in this. And when it comes to my finances and liquidity, I'm in the right place with fulfin and use their competent service every time I need it done quickly or when I simply have to rely on the whole thing working.
What would you like to pass on to other online retailers?
What I personally can only recommend to everyone is to always keep Amazon's great credo in mind: The customer is the center of attention. Or as they used to say, the customer is king. At the end of the day, it's all about that. Because only if your own customer is happy and buys from you, will you actually succeed as an online retailer. And to ensure that success, you need to be on top of your game at all times. So all I can advise is watch all the YouTube videos, join mastermind groups, exchange ideas with other people, always try to have the latest software and most importantly, build a partner network of service agencies to take care of as many areas as possible. Finally, you have to admit to yourself that you can't do everything and will always get to a point where you either hire people or outsource certain core things. And if you then have the certainty that you have professional companies in the background to help you with this, nothing really stands in the way of success.