In this episode of Ecommerce Experts Talk, Marc Bishop interviewed Eric Martindale, the man who is the inventor of An Elite Commerce Group on Amazon. Eric reveals how he got inspired, what were the initial challenges he faced and how he uses his digital marketing strategies to upkeep his Ecommerce business. Watch now for some profound insights.
Thanks for having me. I am busy, but well.
Sure. So I probably have an atypical start in ecommerce. I spent almost 20 years in the Marine Corps, got out as a major in the Marine Corps and I got an MBA at my last command. I knew somehow I wanted to be involved in commerce, if that makes sense. I wanted to buy and sell. There was something about that that was always kind of thrilling to me. And in addition, I think most people might be surprised at how tech intensive it can be in the military, especially on the battlefield. We are integrating satellite assets and air and sophisticated communications and weaponry. And so technology always made sense to me. The military is always in a bit of a tech race, so I think that influenced me in a way as well. And long story short, I got involved in an import contract and by the terms of that contract, I had to move a certain amount of product. I was having a hard time doing it. I was still by myself at the time, didn’t have a team. And I turned to Amazon. That went well, needless to say. And that was back in the early days of I had already been messing around on Amazon a bit, but when I really needed it and leaned on it, it worked. And I was fascinated with how technical it was even at the time and how the various algorithms worked together and how you can influence them and just started pushing forward into ecommerce, started building a team and here we are.
That’s a good question. That is not what I intended to do. When I started getting into e commerce, I was buying and selling and then even as I build a team, we were buying and selling and we were a what you would call a reseller. And in some ways we still resell, usually by agreement now. But initially I think our first managed account was an account owner or that came from an account owner that I reached out to us. We focused on food and grocery. We’re in a number of categories now, but by far most of our brands are in food and grocery. And we reached out to by a brand maybe six, five years ago, something like that. And I said no several times and ended up really kind of came to really like the guy the owner, and he has done well. He’s got a massive business today, young guy. He’s become a good friend of mine. We still manage that account, and I didn’t think I would take another one. And then they just started to kind of come. So they were either referrals or we had another couple that reached out to us just because of our presence on Amazon and Food and Grocery. And then we don’t sell aggressively, actually, but we have a few affiliate programs, so we basically sell passively through affiliates and that’s how we’ve grown.
I was going to say I don’t desire to have 250 accounts. I would rather have a lower number where we manage them very well and really help them to scale.
Technology, I think that’s our focus, and I think a lot of some of the other agencies out there I’m not one of those guys that’s going to sit here and tell you shouldn’t go with other agencies. I refer to other agencies when I think that’s the right move. There’s an agency where I know very well, three of the founders, but for us, and we’re really good at, I think our sweet spot is companies that want to scale aggressively. And that means something, you know, that you don’t just say, I want to scale aggressively. There are some challenges that come along with that. We’re very good at that. And when I say technology, I don’t think we’re anywhere close to letting machines manage Amazon or marketplace selling. But what we try to do is use humans and then automate everything that we can in a way that gives our brands an advantage over the next brand, like Outbidding, or manipulating bids throughout the day where I don’t have to have a person to make 50 bid changes in a day. I’ll have a programming solution to do that. So I think that’s what makes us a little bit different than a lot of the other agencies.
As a brand?
That is a great question. There’s probably a couple of things I can throw out there. One is Amazon is competitive now, so focus on building the brand and plan on giving it some time. Unless you’ve come in with very very very deep pockets, it is still very lucrative. There are still plenty of brands making profit. So plan on it playing the long game and plan on it being competitive. So it’s not mailbox money. It was at one time for close to it. It’s not anymore. The other thing I would say is Amazon is the 900 pound gorilla in the room, but don’t miss the frontiers. And if I were to put that in context for you, I would say that if you look at, say, Instagram twelve years ago, the baby boomer generation, the ones that were really the execs at big companies like Nike and Heinz and Pepsi, they largely ignored Instagram and even Amazon. And so they missed out. It was the millennials who came in. They understood that technology, they grew up on it and they played into it. And they kind of want well, now big brands are leveraging Instagram and everybody from The Rock to Nike and everybody else is all over Instagram and Amazon now. So I wouldn’t necessarily call it a frontier at this point. However, if I were to say, I think one of the next frontiers is going to be Metaverse selling, whenever I say that, I get the same thing every time. I wouldn’t do commerce or I would buy things in the metaverse or that’s never going to catch on. And so we’re saying the exact same things that the baby boomers said about Instagram. And the reality is it doesn’t matter whatever these frontiers are, it doesn’t matter if I prefer to shop there. It’s what does Gen Z prefer to do? Or what is the younger generation that’s just about to come into their own in terms of spending. So I think everybody should be experimenting when they can with these new ecommerce frontiers.
Thank you for having me.
All right. See you Marc