Feedonomics Expert Interview: Phil Booker from Fruugo Marketplace

Phil has been working with Fruugo since 2012 after the UK MBO, initially in a consultancy capacity and then from 2017 as their Head of Partnerships. He manages a partnership portfolio of 100s of retailers generating circa 30% of Fruugo’s total GTV, as well as responsible for developing new partnerships in many of Fruugo’s 46 global territories, most recently in China and Turkey. With 85% of all sales on Fruugo being cross-border, he is well placed to offer insights on selling cross-border and how that can be supported.

What major changes have you seen across the eCommerce marketplace landscape in the last few years?

As a UK-based global marketplace, although we had seen significant GTV growth in other countries, we never expected any single country to outperform the UK. However, in 2019 on a number of months, we saw two countries, Sweden and Switzerland, generate higher GTV than the UK, and when looking at the Nordic countries collectively they generated more GTV than the UK over the whole of the year. We have also seen cross-border sales (i.e. a shopper from one country buying from a retailer in another) go up by nearly 20% in the last few years, which is a remarkable increase.

What advice would you have for brands interested in selling internationally on marketplaces? 

Diversify. Diversify. Diversify! Amazon is an awesome global marketplace, but not always the largest in all their territories. Fruugo outperforms Amazon for some of our retailers in some territories. And there are many domestic marketplaces that significantly outperform Amazon in their countries. Retailers quite often don’t look into these other options, but it would be a mistake to continue to do that going forward. So they should create a well-thought-out marketplace expansion programme and start adding new connections, although it’s probably sensible to only launch one new marketplace at a time and allow 2 to 3 months for these accounts to start maturing.

Where do you see the online marketplace landscape for eCommerce in the next few years?

The growth in this sector is staggering. At Fruugo, we have experienced an average 114% YoY growth for the last 3 years and are nearly at our 2019 revenues in July! But it’s a similar story for so many marketplaces and this is great news for online retailers. And after years and years of major brands trying to avoid listing on marketplaces, we are now seeing more and more brands working with marketplaces directly, which is a huge statement for the future. So we only see the whole marketplace industry to continue to grow and grow, and quite possibly at an even more rapid rate than we have seen over the last few years.

Additionally, we expect to see a growing amount of category specific or niche marketplaces launching, that will provide a more bespoke experience for their shoppers. These “mini marketplaces” may well be spin-offs from larger marketplaces.

What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why?

I have gifted “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne many, many times. I am a huge believer in the power of positive thinking and genuinely believe that this can change the direction of people’s lives. No matter what is going on around you, which is quite often out of our control, you have a choice every single day when you wake up to either be happy and positive or to bury yourself in negativity and blame the world for everything that may be happening. “The Secret” teaches you about “the law of attraction” and how you can channel this to achieve small and big wins for you and those around you, and I love it!

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

I would say the best investment I’ve ever made was in the relationship I have with my daughter. At 28 years of age I became an unexpectant father, and even though she lived with her mother (my ex) and 100 miles away, for the first 14 years of her life I spent a huge amount of time with her every single month, either in her hometown of Southampton or bringing her back to London. Her mother and I remained close throughout and when I got married in 2011, my ex and her mother (my daughter’s grandmother) actually came to our wedding! I moved to Spain in 2013 with my wife and our then-18-month-old son but my daughter remained a huge part of our life. I always hoped that the “return” I’d get would be to have a fabulous adult relationship with my daughter, and as she soon turns 21 and is a student nurse, I couldn’t be prouder of her and love the relationship we have.