Balancing Wholesale and D2C eCommerce Growth with Maxim Gelmann, Stroodles (episode 464)

Maxim Gelmann is the founder and Chief Stroodle at Stroodles, DTC sellers of eco-tableware. Founded in 2018 they now sell via a B2B trade site, a B2B sales team and a D2C site, both built on Shopify. With sales to over 250 businesses in the hospitality industry.

Maxim Gelmann Stroodles on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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Dive in:

[00:56] Importance of brand, outsourcing logistics, building partnerships.
[03:38] Changing negative stereotypes, promoting fun sustainability.
[09:02] Transition into growth after overcoming obstacles.
[10:40] 2 warehouses for distributors and direct consumers.
[16:03] Benefit from partnerships to maximise resources and audience.
[19:09] Social media marketing.
[20:08] Partnerships and benefits.
[23:30] Giveaways open you to large audiences at minimal cost.
[27:07] The brand expanded into kids’ activity packs and explored partnerships for selling on Instagram.

Maxim’s eCommerce Journey

Maxim has always wanted to make a meaningful impact while building a brand. This was how Stroodles came about.

From the start, he had a dual focus on B2B and D2C sales channels. Maxim recognized that the D2C channel was crucial for brand development, as the trade sector typically didn’t prioritize branding. This dual-channel strategy allowed him to reach a wider audience and create brand awareness.

About Stroodles

Maxim describes Stroodles as a brand that focuses on making sustainability fun and tangible. He believes that encouraging millions of people to embrace imperfect sustainability is better than having a few people do it perfectly.

Stroodles offers various sustainable products. Their product range includes pasta drinking straws, edible cups, spoons, plates, and bowls. They’ve also expanded into non-food items like kids’ activity boxes. 

The products cater to a wide range of markets, from moms organizing children’s parties to high-end hotels and corporate gifting.

The Stroodles Team

Stroodles outsources logistics and maintains separate warehouses for B2B and D2C operations.

Outsourcing logistics to third-party fulfillment centers is cost-effective and time-efficient for Maxim. This approach, he says, allows the company to focus on brand building and product development.

There’s also a contingency warehouse in London for emergency situations such as last-minute orders.

Partnerships for Growth

Initially, Maxim ran both channels in parallel to build his brand and create a pull effect. However, the impact of COVID-19 caused a shift towards retail.

Currently, B2B sales have a larger volume share due to the nature of the restaurant and hospitality industries. Leveraging partnerships and collaborating with others is how he builds this channel effectively.

He believes in the strength of such collaborations. He says that partnering with other brands and sharing resources has been a successful strategy.

Social Media Giveaways

Maxim shares that giveaways have an exposure effect for B2B sales. In B2B marketing, the key is to be top of mind, and sometimes, responses may come after years of outreach. Exposure is important, especially when your product has a wide range of applications.

With a diverse portfolio, partnering with various brands on Instagram giveaways can be valuable, but niche products might need more selective strategies.

Overall, Maxim believes in saying yes to opportunities, as you never know what might come out of them.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • For Maxim, it’s giveaways. Giveaways expose your brand to new audiences at minimal cost.

Tool Top Tip

Carbon Top Tip

  • Switch to eco-friendly tableware like Stroodles. Replacing single-use tableware with sustainable alternatives reduces your environmental impact.

Interview Links

*Thank you to Elin of Treyd for the guest recommendation!

Related episodes

  • Building a Sustainable Fashion Brand with Partnerships and PR. Gergana from blonde gone rogue (episode 354)
  • Story, content and partnerships for growth with James le Compte from To’ak Chocolate (episode 393)
  • Why PR is a the Ultimate Stakeholder for Fashion Brands with Christina Dean, The R Collective (episode 462)

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