Episode Summary 

In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Kristina Mertens, a partner, and Business Development Manager at Sermondo, the largest global platform for finding Amazon services, shares her life story and her mission of helping Amazon sellers from all over the world find trusted services.


Whether you are a fresh new Amazon seller just starting out, or a seller who has been around the block a few times and has several reliable products on the go, knowing where to find service providers you can really trust is an issue. Yoni Mazor of Prime Talk discusses a service matching platform that can help Amazon or other e-commerce marketplace sellers up their game immediately.


In today’s episode, Prime Talk has teamed up with Kristina Mertens, a partner, and Business Development Manager at Sermondo, the largest global platform for finding e-commerce services. Sermondo helps e-commerce sellers find the most experienced service providers from all over the world so that they can grow and expand nationally or internationally. Sermondo has a unique match-making system that ensures you get the perfect service providers for your needs.


Kristina Mertens shares how she arrived at Sermondo and her passion for finding the right providers for individual sellers no matter how big or small. So if you’re an Amazon seller intending to grow internationally, or if you’re a newbie looking to start an e-commerce business, then this episode is for you!


Learn more about Sermondo!

Learn about GETIDA’s Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.

Find the full transcript below

Yoni Mazor 0:05

Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime Talk. Today I’m really excited to have a special guest. I’m having Kristina Mertens. She’s joining us all the way from Germany, from Munich. She is the partner and business development manager at Sermondo. Sermondo is the largest global platform for finding Amazon services. So if you’re an Amazon seller, you’re looking for a good service, it’s the biggest directory out there on a global level. So Kristina, thank you so much for joining us, how’ve you been?


Kristina Mertens 0:32

Thank you so much for inviting me, Yoni. I’m doing completely fine. Summer is finally here. And yeah, I’m just happy to be on and I’m ready for this episode.


Yoni Mazor 0:41

Awesome. Great. Um, so yeah, this episode is gonna be all about you. You’re going to share with us your story. You know, where you’re from, your background. Where’d you grow up? And I guess, you know, how did you end up in e-commerce, in the space? This is pretty much what we’re trying to do here. So let’s dive right into it.


Kristina Mertens 1:01

Yeah, where should I start? I would say I was living pretty much the classic normal German life. I was planning to pursue a career maybe in consulting later on. So what I did was I went to high school, I got my degree. Then I went to university in another city, which is about 60 kilometers from Munich.


Yoni Mazor 1:22

So you’re saying another city because Munich I guess was always home for you? That’s where you were born and raised, grew up? This is your village? Yeah. How big is this village, I mean population?


Kristina Mertens 1:33

So Munich is like, I think, is 1.3 million people living here. But then I moved to a really, really small town, which only has like 250,000. But it’s a big university city. So there’s a lot of universities, a lot of cool young people. So I figured, why not? I just want to leave my hometown for a while. Yeah, I was there three and a half, like, usually the program is three years, but I like taking my time. So I put another semester at the end.



Yoni Mazor 2:04

Nice. And what is what did you learn? What do you take in school?


Kristina Mertens 2:06

Um, I was studying Global Business Management, which really comes in handy for what I’m doing right now. 


Yoni Mazor 2:14

It’s pretty, you know, precision work. You studied Global Management, and now you’re a, you know, a partner and running a business of a global platform for, you know, e-commerce. I mean, was this intentional? Like you had a direct line, you knew where you were going?


Kristina Mertens 2:31

No, not at all. Like, when I started out at university, to be honest, I didn’t know what I want to be…what I want to become. So I figured, okay, let’s just try International Business Administration. I mean, you can basically do everything with that. And the program is pretty good. Like, it has a good reputation. So I thought, okay, I just start doing that. And then let’s just figure out where this leads. And I never wanted to become self-employed or start a business. Like I know, a lot of people say like, Oh, I was six years old, I was already selling lemonade at my lemonade stand. And then I knew I wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial career, which was never the case for me. Because in my family, there are not really entrepreneurs. I mean, you told me your father and your grandfather are self-employed, right?


Yoni Mazor 3:20

Yeah. Just full disclosure. Kristina was very kind. She hosted me on her podcast. So I did share a bit of my story. So anybody who wants to know, I guess, about me a little bit more, Yoni Mazor. Go ahead, and to, you know, search, I guess the Sermondo podcast, right? Yeah, check out my episode. And any other episode you find there. It’s really good stuff. Kristina is I would say, a gifted, you know, interviewer.


Kristina Mertens 3:45

Thank you.So far I can say that for you as well. So yeah, for me, it was a little bit different. I didn’t really have any role models in my family, that showed me that entrepreneurship would be a good option or choice, like, all of my family members are employed. 


Yoni Mazor 4:05

If you don’t mind sharing, what do they do? What’s, like, the profession that they have over there?


Kristina Mertens 4:08

My mom is in accounting, which is totally not my case. Like, no interest at all.


Yoni Mazor 4:13

I mean, I, you know, it’s itching me a little bit to say, you know, maybe she should open up an accounting for Amazon sellers. And you guys can do some business. She also put her business in your directory. It will be a pretty good cycle.


Kristina Mertens 4:24

Oh, yeah. But I think she’s too risk averse. And she has a really high salary. I don’t think that we can pay her.


Yoni Mazor 4:31

All the Amazon business in the world is not enough to match what you know, the solution is Wow, that’s pretty good.


Kristina Mertens 4:37

Yeah. And my bigger sister, she’s actually a scientist. She’s a PhD candidate. She’s studying in Switzerland at the ETH. She’s doing interdisciplinary nature sciences.


Yoni Mazor 4:51

You actually were able to say these words cool, good job. Inter…dis…is…plinary. What’s that?


Kristina Mertens 5:00

Interdisciplinary nature sciences.


Yoni Mazor 5:02

Disciplinary sciences. Alright great. I got it.


Kristina Mertens 5:05

So, um, yeah, this was also not really something I was interested in, I always wanted to talk a lot, be around people, learn new languages, be confronted with different cultures and stuff. So, at some point, I figured, okay, maybe after graduating, I might become a consultant or something like what do you do? 


Yoni Mazor 5:24

When you mean consultant, like what? Like in the UN? Some sort of, I guess, noble global mission, you know, change the world? Was it a little bit like that?


Kristina Mertens 5:32

I wanted to become an expansion consultant. And so, again, it really aligns with what I’m doing now.


Yoni Mazor 5:39

So for organizations that have a clear need to expand their business and reach globally. Yeah, it’s a good niche, especially now. You know, globalization, e-commerce growth. Perfect timing.


Kristina Mertens 5:52

Yeah, definitely. And then everything changed. When Toby, he’s the partner at Sermondo. It was his idea. Yeah, exactly. We’ve been friends for a long time. So we actually met when I think I was 13 for the first time. We just had, like the same circles of friends somehow.


Yoni Mazor 6:18

You guys are roughly the same age group or?


Kristina Mertens 6:21

Yeah, I think he’s, I can say anything wrong, but I think he’s 2 years older. I think then we weren’t really friends. We just reconnected when I was 18. So six years ago. And then yeah, we were just friends. And when I was in university, one day, he was like, Hey, I have this idea to build a platform for connecting service providers with Amazon sellers. And yeah, do you want to join me? And I was like, Oh, well, I can help you a little bit. Let’s just see how this goes. So at first, I was writing one or two blog posts for guest post exchanges, stuff like that. And then…


Yoni Mazor 7:00

What year was this? This is how long ago?


Kristina Mertens 7:03

Two ….it was only two years ago. 2018.


Yoni Mazor 7:07

  1. I guess you already finished your studying? Or still in school and about to finish your studying? Got it.


Kristina Mertens 7:13

I actually wrote my thesis about revenue models for e-commerce businesses. And I took Sermondo as example. So this was also again, really lucky to have both of that. Awesome, I


Yoni Mazor 7:29

Awesome, I hope you got a good score on your thesis or you got your Masters? Great, so it’s helping you graduate and it’s helping you make an income. It’s pretty good, right so far. Okay, so you are in touch with Tobias even before you started school. So I guess you know, university years, you guys are in touch. As you’re about to close down your education, and then, you know, graduate, you write a few pieces of content, right? And Sermondo the website was up and running already?


Kristina Mertens 8:00

Yeah, it was already online. I think we had like 10 service providers. Back then it was just people that Toby knew from his time as an Amazon seller, he was an Amazon seller himself for many years. I’m super transparent about it. I never sold on Amazon myself. I just helped Toby a little bit. Mostly picking up his parcels, to the post office. But um…


Yoni Mazor 8:23

So you can say logistics, you’re working on logistics.


Kristina Mertens 8:25

Yeah. I was a logistics manager at a bigger e-commerce business. No. So he was a pretty successful seller. And then he got screwed over a few times by some service providers. And then he was like, Okay, why is there no solution out there where I can find reliable recommendations for good services?’ And then he just thought, Okay, I will do it myself. So he’s really, he has this entrepreneurial spirit that I lacked back then. I was still more like, I want to have a secure job and, I don’t know, pursue a normal career. But somehow he convinced me to join fully, like full time. That’s what I did.


Yoni Mazor 9:11

This was the process of you, I guess, diving into this, it was step by step. You did a few articles and give me a few more elements that happened along the way that all of a sudden you find yourself, you know what? That’s it, I’m here. Or we can take this even further and say, Oh, you know, let me partner with you know, with Toby.


Kristina Mertens 9:30

Yeah, I think one important factor at the time was I was a working student at a marketing agency in the old media area. So a lot of search engine optimization. And I love writing. When I was 14-15, I wanted to study journalism at first, so I like writing. I like researching and stuff. 


Yoni Mazor 9:52

I have to ask this when you write, is it mostly in English or in German or both?


Kristina Mertens 9:57

No, it’s only English.


Yoni Mazor 9:59

So the whole thing is English. All right.


Kristina Mertens 10:01

Yeah. Yeah. And then I thought, Okay, why not do this full time? But at first, I was like, Okay, I want you to employ me, I want to have a secure job. I think I told him like, 10 times, like, No, I don’t want to be an entrepreneur. And at some point I was at the authorities filing my papers for self employment and here I am.


Yoni Mazor 10:23

Wow, you jumped a few guns, you’ve jumped a few big moments. So slowly, but surely you put some content, some articles you’re working on other agency, you’re tellingTobias, listen, I don’t want to feel like it’s a minor thing. I just want to feel like you’re kind of you having a growing business, you know, hire me, pay me, have some stability. But what was the switch moment for you?


Kristina Mertens 10:43

I think…


Yoni Mazor 10:46

Was there like a “boom” moment? Or just, you know, you feel it, felt like and I feel, I don’t know, it’s I’m, I’m really comfortable with this.


Kristina Mertens 10:52

I remember a talk that I had with Toby where he put everything in perspective, because I was always so afraid of having…of failing. And I was like, What if this doesn’t work out, and I have this in my CV, and employers will see this. And he was like, you’re thinking way too much. You have to stop and think, what do you want to do? What do you like to do? And also, what are you good at? Like, I like photography, but I don’t think that I will ever be the best photographer in the world. So be realistic. He was like, you’re super good at writing. You have this special relationship with the clients. I think you’re a good salesperson. You’re super young, if you fail, I mean, I was 22 back then. And he was like, when this whole thing goes down? And man, what did you lose 1, 2, 3 years, or even if it’s five. I mean, this time is not lost. You learn so much every day. And I was like, Damn, he’s right. And then I thought, Okay…


Yoni Mazor 11:53

So this was a talk? You guys had to talk? This was a talk and it was effective. Yeah. Did you have to afterwards? Did you go home to talk to your family, anything like that? Or that was like, That’s it, I’m determined. This is what it is. I’m going to go to the employment office and say, change my status.


Kristina Mertens 12:09

Yeah, it was…I didn’t talk to my family, which led to some other issues later. But I didn’t consult with them or anything. Like when I decide something I usually just do it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Yep.


Yoni Mazor 12:22

Okay, so what was the process? What was the change? I guess, effectively, once you said, you know, I’ll partner with you, what all of a sudden was different in your experience and your mindset, the challenges that all of a sudden, were created, because now this is yours, you know, you’re a partner in this, you know, you’re at a young age…This is..there’s no manual book for what you need to do, there’s no instruction, this is brand new, I guess, leaves room for creativity, for you to write your own story. And you like writing. Share some of these experiences from the past two years, you know, the ride, the journey that you had so far.


Kristina Mertens 12:57

Um, I would say I learned a lot when it comes to dealing with people. I don’t know why. But I used to make myself smaller than I really am. So when we started out with Sermondo, I was, when I was talking to potential clients, I was always like, I’m sorry to disturb you. I’m sorry for this. I’m sorry for that. I was really like, I wanted them to feel like they’re in control. And I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries. And I just watched a lot of videos, I talked to some other entrepreneurs in the sphere, Jana, for example, Jana Krekic, I really look up to her. She’s a great female entrepreneur. So


Yoni Mazor 13:38

She’s from YLT Translation? Alright, shout out, very nice. I haven’t really got a chance to interact with her, but I hear a lot of good things.


Kristina Mertens 13:47

I could introduce you. She would be a great guest for you.


Yoni Mazor 13:50

You’re a director, you know, you’re like a portal for introductions, you’re a matchmaker made in heaven. It’s pretty awesome. So I guess what I understand from what you’re saying is that the phase where things changed was that we got to, I guess, face customers. Now suddenly, you know, if this was a physical store, you’re in the you know, you’re in the cash registry, and you need to get paid or create a sale, and you’re facing them, as opposed to I’m just in the back on making parents something. And then I serve it to whoever’s out there. So that was a challenge for you. So you had to obviously it’s customer relation, but also sales, you got to learn how to sell this brand new animal, random thing.


Kristina Mertens 14:28

Yeah. Actually, in the beginning, it was super hard, because I mean, Sermondo is a platform, right? So we have the Amazon sellers and service providers. So you’re facing a chicken and egg problem. The service providers don’t want to be on your platform, because you don’t have any users yet. And users don’t go to your platform because there are maybe 10 service providers. So it was really hard at first convincing the people, even though someone who was free I think the first 50 or 100 listings, I don’t know. And it was still hard to convince people to just take three minutes to create a listing because we were like, Why? Why should I do that? What’s your traffic? And I mean, our traffic back then was, I don’t know, maybe 100 people in a week, and you can really say that. So it was hard convincing these people. But we also had a lot of companies believing in us since day one, like YLT Translations, Noviland, the sourcing agencies. So a lot of people just believed in this idea of making the whole service market more transparent. And those people who joined right away, I can say, from my experience, our users are very happy with them. And they joined because they don’t fear being transparent, like they don’t fear transparency when someone gives them a rating on our site. And it’s usually because they did a good job or a bad job, whatever. And so yeah, and I think a lot of companies at first were scared of being exposed for maybe workflows or their pricing or something in comparison to their competitors.


Yoni Mazor 15:58

Yeah, it’s a very good point. Because when you put yourself out there, you might expose your weaknesses that A) you’re aware of, B) maybe you’re not aware of, and they might get exposed. So in a way, it’s kind of risky, and sad. So how do you overcome that for you? What do you, you know, what do you tell a service provider? If you know that’s inside this dilemma? What do you do?


Kristina Mertens 16:21

So first of all, I say…we…I mean, we only want to have the best of the best companies on Sermondo anyway. So it’s hardly ever that I run into this kind of conversations. But then I say, Hey, we also we’re a mediator. So when there’s a problem, and someone is writing a bad review, we don’t publish it right away, we contact the one who wrote the review and the service provider and say, Hey, seems there is a problem. You didn’t respond? They ordered something from you, can you deal with that, and then I put them in touch, they figure it out. And then in nine out of 10 cases, the person who wrote the comment, rewrites the review, and maybe just says, like, yeah, we cleared everything up. But communication sucks, but it’s like four out of five stars, or they just rewrote it completely, because a lot of times, it’s just a misunderstanding. So no one has to fear for their business, when they come to someone, it’s just a great way of showing your services of interacting with your customers. And feedback is always always a way of learning, right? So when someone says like, the third or fifth, sixth person says the communication was lacking, then maybe it’s time you start working on that, so you can make your customers even more happy. 


Yoni Mazor 17:39

Yeah,  I think you have a great point here. Businesses who are in a dilemma, afraid to expose their weaknesses, actually, you got to twist your mind and say, you know, this is an opportunity, I should probably do this, and especially if Sermondo is such a supportive platform, that’s a great opportunity, you put yourself out there, you challenge yourself, you know, even if there’s a weak spots that are exposed, embrace it, take it to, you know, I didn’t know you had this ability to mediate, that’s, I don’t say I don’t go too crazy, but it’s kind of revolutionary, in a way. It’s pretty good. And you’re saying not only we’re going to give you a directory and a stage to put yourself out there, inside the nuance of things, if you’re going to get exposed, you’re gonna have an opportunity to make it right and make it better and improve your organization and your business and grow from there. Because then you can grow more because you feel confident that you’ve been tested, you’ve been trialled, you’re really having feedback from the most important side of the story, which is the sellers. Yeah, you need to be so attentive and careful, carefully monitoring and watching their experience and their satisfaction levels. That’s a great way to do it, I guess, with your platform, because the ability to iron things out. Most of, not most, but a lot of the time is just miscommunications, things that get misunderstood. And once obviously, sort of understood, it gets ironed out, you know, oh, you need us to do this, okay, we got it, you know, understand, or, Oh, you mean this and not that sometimes that can happen inside of an organization, you know, between departments or between teammates, and obviously, in between organizations. This is I guess, kind of the normal side of things. So yeah, I think that’s a very good perspective to have an understanding, you know, of Sermondo’s value right? For the service providers and the sellers. But I guess let’s dive a little bit more into Sermondo and the experience. What the experience, I guess, let’s start with the seller side, if any sellers are listening, I’m sure they you know, they kind of understand a little bit the context of what’s going on. But I guess it’s an opportunity for you to, I guess, take them inside the experience as a host, you know, welcome to my house and this is how it’s gonna feel and look like.


Kristina Mertens 19:44

Okay, welcome to Sermondo. So, if you’re an Amazon seller, it doesn’t matter if you’re a small seller just starting out and you might need some help even finding a product idea or finding the right source for your product. Like you’re really at the start, or your big brand that already makes, I don’t know, 15 million a month, all of you have the same problem, which is finding services to work with. It’s very rare that a company has everything in house like photography, someone, you have your own fulfillment center, whatever it is, is not the reality. So I would say 95% of all Amazon sellers need at least one service that they don’t have in the house. And…


Yoni Mazor 20:30

Or they have, but they feel there’s a weakness there, right? And they say, you know maybe there’s some other providers out there that can beef up my performance.


Kristina Mertens 20:39

Or you have a team, you have a team that’s designated to manage your Amazon accounts, but they’re just not at 100% yet, they’re not at the top level, there are coaches for that. They come to your company, or you can do it in video as well, as we have seen during this whole pandemic thing. Everything’s possible virtually. And they teach your employees how to be better at managing Amazon, like any kind of service that you may need, we have it. And a lot of people tend to start to search on Google maybe. So they Google, I don’t know, fulfillment center, New York. But like the results you get is not really the best fulfillment center, but rather the fulfillment center who’s best at Search Engine Optimization? I mean, think about it, you have a product, if you really want to, you can put a lot of effort and money and good search engine optimization on Amazon, your product will be high up, but it’s not necessarily the best product, you know? Same goes with fulfillment centers and other PPC agencies, SEO agencies. So how could you know that this is the perfect match for you like that, this is your go-to address?


Yoni Mazor 21:59

I want to add something to that if you do it on Google, there’s a lot of noise, you know, you might find the best fulfillment center in America, but nevertheless, it has no idea how to handle Amazon fulfillment, because you’re in a niche, don’t forget you’re in a niche. So I guess to serve this niche, it’s not really a niche anymore, Amazon’s more than 50% of e-commerce, it’s this industry, but you gotta make sure you’re in an ecosystem that accommodates immediately, there’s no background noise, you don’t want to search for Google the top result, you will start working with them, then you realize you have to train them completely. Or there’s so many mistakes along the way, which is very costly to make them. Essentially it’s a mistake to partner with any performer provider like that. Whereas if you go to a directory or targeted directory, it’s a turnkey, you just have to basically choose from the top five or top best and makes it easier. Life is easier and smoother.


Kristina Mertens 22:53

Really. Yeah, that’s a really good point. Like the experience with Amazon is so important, not only with fulfillment, but I don’t know, let’s take photography, for example. Like there are so many different elements for sure. Yeah, yeah, I mean, PPC, SEO, those people have to be real

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