Kristina Mertens | Building the Largest Global Directory for Finding Amazon Services
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
- 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
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 really familiar and experienced in working with Amazon sellers. So this is basically what we provide. And I mean, we always say Sermondo is a directory. And I want to dive a little deeper into that. When we started out, we were only a directory. So we had listings, we had categories with listings from different companies where they could speak about the services, their company, and that was basically it, and you could contact them. But we recently introduced a matching feature, where you can fill in a form and you tell us, hey, I live in New York, I'm selling on amazon.com, I'm looking for a PPC agency to optimize my campaigns to service providers should be located in for whatever reason, Mexico, or can also be in the US. Yeah. And then yeah, you leave us just a small message where you describe your situation, you say, yeah, I'm doing well, I have like 10 products, but my campaigns are not really taking off. And then I received that inquiry, and we manually pick a service provider that will help you get you where you want to be.
Yoni Mazor 24:23
Based on these criteria, these detailed, specified criteria? Which I guess alleviates the pain of trying to figure out on your own because this is where you guys live, you know, this is your pond, you’re the shark, you know where the best blood is right away, you can catch on to that. So that's an extra value or extra component of value that you guys are right now introducing out there.
Kristina Mertens 24:43
Yeah, and I really want to say like the fact that we do this manually is so like you can't even manage so much worth. It's not just some, some algorithm or mechanism software that matches you randomly with someone who's also located in New York and that’s it. Like, I don't want to brag or something that I just want to give an example from this morning, I got an inquiry from a seller, like a little bit bigger. And he said he needs someone to optimize his listings. And then he told me, and I'm also planning to start on Walmart soon. So how would he ever know which of all those agencies also know Walmart or whatever, but because I'm so close with all the service providers, I would say, I know 90% personally, or at least via Zoom. I know exactly what they're doing. So I saw this inquiry and was like, bam, okay, I will connect him to this service provider, because I know they have experience in Walmart as well. So then it's a good fit, and they can develop a holistic strategy together. And it's just a...Yeah, it's gonna be a wonderful, wonderful collaboration, I think.
Yoni Mazor 25:50
Nice. So here, what I make of it, it's pretty interesting mathematics. Because you're, I guess, ability to connect to both sides, right? You know, the service providers and the sellers and you pretty much in the past two years, you're probably an expert yourself, and everything that's going on Amazon, if I wanted to ask you anything that's going on Amazon, you probably know right now. You're like Wikipedia just for Amazon, probably. But let's do some math. So I guess this, this, this, the fact that you're in the junction, you're in the middle of that, and you connect them between the sides, the synergy level that happens is like this, it's one plus one plus one equals four, instead of three, that's the extra juice, the extra value of the ability to handle the nuance the elements, which creates an enhanced experience for all parties involved, including yourself, I'm sure you’re happy when you see a good match made in heaven?
Kristina Mertens 26:39
Yeah, then I'm always smiling, no, like, so good.
Yoni Mazor 26:43
Just so you know, in my faith, in my religion, the Jewish religion, there's a saying that if you make three good matches, but usually for weddings, if somebody gets married, that's it, no matter what you do in life, you're gonna get in heaven. So I'm gonna, you know, hopefully extend this to you, if you made three good matches, or you know, maybe three, with 3000 matches of Amazon sellers and service providers, and they all grow their business, you have your place in heaven, you good to go, then you can just go retire.
Kristina Mertens 27:06
That's a really good motivation to go even further.
Yoni Mazor 27:09
Put yourself some benchmark of, I dunno, 3000 or 3 million, whatever it is. And once you did that, take pride in it. You know, if you need a medal, let us know we'll try to get...I think I heard there's a lot of medals in Japan, because the Olympics got canceled, and all the gold medals you want, the Olympic medal, maybe we'll buy one on eBay or something. But that's just a side note. Great, I liked that. I didn't realize I appreciate the, you know, the ability to dive in and understand the nuance of things. It should not be taken lightly these days. Because as the industry is growing, and it becomes fierce competition from all fronts, and all levels and all the sellers are finding themselves with competition, the service providers it’s getting crowded, and the whole thing is becoming a big big jungle. And you guys are effectively becoming a good compass, you know, but the ability to customize that experience in the customer and the company to really know who's holding it and who and what they need is it's you know, I salute you for that. It's pretty good. It's pretty awesome. I, you know, we were there also, I'm here. You know, we're putting our mouth, our money where our mouth is, with GETIDA, you know, we're invested in Sermondo. We use it as a platform to do outreach. You know, we believe in it. And we appreciate the fact that it's there because it really helps us to communicate and connect.
Kristina Mertens 28:34
That’s the thing. I mean, if you remember, when you were a guest on my podcast, we talked about how little sellers are aware that there is such a thing as reimbursement companies who can help them get their money back, basically. So what I really like is working with awesome companies like you, obviously, when you think of Amazon services, you think of listing optimization, PPC, you know, all the classics...
Yoni Mazor 29:02
Yeah, I guess the classics are the growth generators, you know? What's going to generate growth and sales, which is really the most important component of it all. You know, there's a saying that says, sales heal everything, all the problems you have, sales. Once you generate sales, everything becomes less of an issue. But yeah, there's services out there that, enhance it, support it, or secure it. And that's where you guys also become an effective platform for raising the awareness, making those connections and later on, the sellers, once they do make these connections and utilize the services, it's an enhanced experience. You feel like you know, I'm dominating the sphere. I'm dominating because there's really good elements out there. There's really good partners. You guys are a partner in a way for this with the sellers, you guys partner, obviously also with service providers, but also with the sellers that is crucial, really, sometimes it can be the difference between making it or breaking it.
Kristina Mertens 29:54
Yeah. I actually sometimes, I feel like a mom. Like I'm a mom and I have two hands. I have one kid here and one kid here, and then I bring them together. That's how I see it. What we really want to do is also educate not only that there are services like GETIDA, but for example, a lot of people don't know when they come to Germany, we have a really like, in general, German laws are horrible.
Yoni Mazor 30:20
What do you mean? But what kind of laws? German laws you said?
Kristina Mertens 30:23
We have a packaging licensing law. So essentially, when you sell products, you have to license the product packaging, and it's a bit super complex.
Yoni Mazor 30:35
So you’re saying, so I can understand better, it’s very bureaucratic in Germany, some of the laws and with e-commerce especially?
Kristina Mertens 30:39
Yeah. I mean, we always talk a lot about global expansion, because this is one of our main focuses to, I don't know, help US sellers get settled in Europe or the other way round. And I know it can sound hard if you...obviously there are a lot of hurdles. Also bureaucratic ones. That's why it's so important to just trust someone else who really knows how to do it. And accountant for entity formation consulting, setting up your taxes here, registering bookkeeping, whatever, and also that you are aware of, and that you find the services you need to stay compliant with the laws, which is, for example, this service that we just onboarded last week, who helps US sellers that come to Europe, through this whole process, you basically say, Hey, I'm selling this, please take care of it for me, and then you're fine. And if you don't do it, and so many don't know it, then you can be fined to up to 25,000 euros. I mean, that's no joke.
Yoni Mazor 31:38
That’s a big hit. That's a big hit. Yeah, the trap these traps along the way, it's a really good point.
Kristina Mertens 31:43
So that’s what we really want to do. We want to educate in every possible way, we write a lot of guides on our blog, just to shake the sellers up and say, Hey, don’t forget to do this, please.
Yoni Mazor 31:54
Yeah, I totally understand where you're coming from. Because there is an element, the big one with the sellers is shake them up, because there's a lot of noise out there, but you got to shake him up and raise the awareness, I guess, with the most important things that they might be facing. And they should know, because you don't know what you don't know. And that is a noble cause which we share that also, with GETIDA it’s part of our actually, internally job description is to educate. Is to raise awareness of potential challenges and pitfalls, that the seller should be aware. Alright, so I got two questions for you now. One thing is, I guess, what's the, you know, I know you guys are global, what, uh, what would you say, what are your main like, areas of, you know, activity? Is it Europe, it is the US? Stuff like that? That's the first part of the question. And I guess the second part of the question is, where do you want this business to be in like, three years, five years, which in e-commerce years it's like saying 100 years, you know? It’s so fast growing and so dynamic, you know, three to five years, it's a, it's almost like science fiction, but would you like to be in the science fiction world? So two parts? Go ahead.
Kristina Mertens 33:01
Um, so yeah, our focus right now is still on the US and Europe. Europe, because it's also an awesome market. And we're located here. And we started out with the US because it's just the biggest market for sellers and service providers. But we're also like, we're constantly growing our network of service providers. We are also expanding our reach to Japan, Australia, like all the I would say smaller marketplaces or the ones that are up and coming. Yeah, exactly. We because we want to be there already. We probably already are late because as you said e-commerce is like one month it's like being three years.
Yoni Mazor 33:45
It’s like dog years. One month in e-commerce is like 10 years of regular or, you know, traditional businesses or industries.
Kristina Mertens 33:51
Um, yeah, but that brings me actually to our plan, which is world domination. No, we really want to be the go-to address for finding service providers, doesn't matter on which marketplace you want to sell where you're from.
Yoni Mazor 34:07
Are you saying Amazon? Is Amazon like the title line or you know, you mentioned a bit earlier, Walmart you know, somebody mentioned Walmart is that is that a thing for you guys to see, you know, we want to be for for e commerce, and you're going to grow into e commerce, which means effectively Amazon, Walmart, eBay or whatever is out there on a global level, which is a big mission. You know, we're just talking about us but in Europe, you guys have uhhh...what's the European platform? It is ASOS is a platform or something?
Kristina Mertens 34:34
Like e-barriere or otoball in the Netherlands for examples.
Yoni Mazor 34:40
In Australia, they have their own unique platform. So you know, is this something that's in your mindset is saying you know, what, we want to map out and direct…?
Kristina Mertens 34:49
LIke speaking of the next three, five years...
Yoni Mazor 34:51
Three to five years now I got it.
Kristina Mertens 34:53
I would say no, we first...we really want to be like the main player in the Amazon sphere, I don’t want to have to explain to anyone anymore what Sermondo is, I just want people to know.
Yoni Mazor 35:07
So you're saying the goal is to be synonymous for finding Amazon services, you guys, which is great this is you're already covering 50% of e-commerce, which is great. So saying this 50% is such a formidable task, we want to be synonymous for being known globally as whatever Amazon needs to have boom, Sermondo. Great and but make sure it's really global. And right now, it's taking really good effect in Europe and North America, but the upcoming markets and just solidify more and more and more, and become that Coca Cola, that Nike brand name, you know, or yellow pages back in the day, we had yellow pages before the Google days, you remember? I don't know if you remember Yellow Pages at all. Did you have that in Germany? Was it called Yellow Pages?
Kristina Mertens 35:50
Yeah, it was called (german words) which is the direct translation. So yeah, so..
Yoni Mazor 35:55
So you had the translated version.
Kristina Mertens 35:58
Like Amazon specialized the whole word. And when we have that covered, hopefully in three years, and then we can expand and the way our website is built, we did this from the beginning, we kept that in the back of our head, so it wouldn't be a problem to add more, more specific marketplaces.
Yoni Mazor 36:19
Got it? And what about language, I guess? How do you face those challenges? If you mentioned Japan, for example, that's, you know, that's not a Western type of language. It's a whole different mindset. How would you address that? For example? Are you gonna hire Japanese speaking teams? Was that kind of the element or you have a feeling that because it's...Amazon's pretty much a global thing? The Japanese sellers on Amazon, they're English oriented anyway. So it's less of an issue?
Kristina Mertens 36:47
Yeah, I think, like one part is when Japanese sellers, for example, want to expand to the US they usually speak English anyway. But that's the next challenge. When a Japanese seller wants to find a Japanese service provider in Japan.
Yoni Mazor 37:03
Domestic. Yeah, domestic Japan. So I'm talking about the pockets of domestic. You know, I'm in Japan, I know Sermondo is good for finding Amazon services, because I want to expand my footprint in the Japanese Amazon Marketplace, and I'm Japanese, or same thing might be will go to Amazon India. Amazon uhhhh, now I think it's called the United Arab right, UAE? Right. How do you guys face that, for example, in terms of language?
Kristina Mertens 37:34
I think we'll face it in the next three, four or five years. But when we have everything covered in English, that means definitely time to also localize the offering.
Yoni Mazor 37:46
Got it? Okay. So a notch on your list?
Kristina Mertens 37:49
Yeah. I’ve got a long list.
Yoni Mazor 37:54
Very good. Okay. So let's bring it to a close, you know, you mentioned your challenges, you mentioned, you know, the whole experience. And then it's, it's been great. I guess, now we're just...let's give a message of resilience. You know, whoever's listening? What's your message right now, for entrepreneurs out there in the e-commerce space?
Kristina Mertens 38:14
You mean now because of the pandemic or in general?
Yoni Mazor 38:17
Well it could be both. It can be, you know, because it's a challenging terrain. You know, even before the pandemic, it was, you know, there's always you don't know, it just seems like I don't want to say it's a violent landscape. But it's, there's always a sense for the sellers of some sort of fear, or security or the unknown, because it's so dynamic, and it's so fast growing and big FOMO, fear of missing out, so stuff like that. So, but now the pandemic took it to another level. So, you know, I guess what's your message of resilience, or the message of the vision that sellers should have out there, you have a unique perspective, in the marketplace, being in the junctions of a lot of things is going on between both parties. So I think it will be, you know, appreciate it, whatever you have in mind.
Kristina Mertens 39:03
I would say the most important thing is try to not become blind to opportunities, even though when you feel down in one area of your business, or let's take it with an example, as an Amazon seller. Maybe all of your products don't perform well right now on your marketplace, then don't give up and say oh my god, this whole e-commerce thing is nothing for me. I invested so much, but I just stopped now. But rather you have so much knowledge already you, you took a leap of faith. So you have so much more than someone else that hasn't even started yet. You already have that in your mind. So rather than being at home and being sad, oh my god, I'm so poor and I never should have done this. Just think okay, maybe I should go to another marketplace or to another country. Let's just see where you can seize opportunities and then go for it. And sometimes I know it myself. I mean, Sermondo is a really young company as well. When you feel overwhelmed, sometimes it's really...you mentioned Shabbat in our interview...it’s really good to just take a day off, don't check your ranks, don't check your sales, turn everything off. And just breathe and calm down a little. And if you need more than one day, make it two or three or one or two weeks, but the most important thing is keep going after that. But it's really okay to stop sometimes, and take some time for yourself.
Yoni Mazor 40:40
Take a break. You know, try to align yourself and your perspective. Don't lose your mind. Don't lose your mind. And you know, once you're stuck into this whole craziness, I agree. This is a words of wisdom. We much appreciate it. Kristina, this has been wonderful. This has been fun. Thank you so much for, you know, taking the time and sharing with us. We wish you and Sermondo more than success, beyond success, you know taking over the world and directing it along and make sure you guys you know direct the traffic and a proper way so everybody reaches to their final destination and the destination. Thanks again. Thank you everybody for watching and listening. Until next time, take care.
Kristina Mertens 41:24
Thank you so much for inviting me. This was so much fun.