Growth Capital for Ecommerce Businesses: a Yardline Q&A
November 4, 2021 Thrasio Staff
Yardline Seller Success manager Anna Rose on the power of funding for ecommerce businesses, how to build a brand that lasts, and why the customer always comes first.
In June 2021, Thrasio officially acquired Yardline, a company that provides growth capital and advisory services to ecommerce businesses.
Yardline operates as a separate entity from Thrasio, but it fills an important niche that was missing from the ecommerce business landscape. Not only does Yardline provide unrestricted funding, but it also helps sellers grow and optimize their businesses via its Seller Success program.
“We function as a kind of mastermind for ecommerce companies,” says Yardline Seller Success manager Anna Rose. “After we provide funding, we help clients scale in any way we can.”
From ecommerce rookies to DTC veterans to million-dollar Amazon sellers, Yardline’s clients span every range and stage of growth. Rose’s job, in a nutshell, is to help them scale faster and smarter.
We chatted with Rose about what ecommerce sellers want, what keeps them up at night (supply chain, anyone?), and the difference between short-term profit and long-term prosperity.
How did you find your way into ecommerce?
It’s in my blood. Growing up, my family had their own beauty brand that sold skincare and wellness products. We started in retail but moved the brand online right before my parents sold the business. Now we have another family-owned Amazon business. I also worked at an independent Amazon consulting agency with brands like Unilever, MCM, and Diesel.
In general, what are ecommerce sellers looking to get out of a partnership with Yardline?
Some clients come in actively looking to be acquired, but need Yardline funding to grow their business a bit more before they can make an exit. Other clients could exit right now if they wanted to, but their goal is to grow their business to get the highest possible payout when they do sell. And other clients are just starting out as entrepreneurs. They want to create something and they need funding to ramp up their business. We help them all.
Yardline does more than provide capital to ecommerce businesses. Part of your mission is to keep ecommerce revenues growing “up and to the right.” How do you do that?
We’ve developed a checklist called the Y50BA, or Yardline 50 Business Assessment. It’s very thorough. It allows us to pinpoint areas of opportunity by comparing an ecommerce business’s operating metrics to industry benchmarks, such as revenue within a category. We then give businesses tailored, specific recommendations for how they can grow their brands. Those tactics might help them improve profit margins, increase sales volume, or tap into a new market. It’s a very personalized approach. We’ve also got an extensive roster of vetted experts in 3PL, sourcing – anything an ecommerce seller needs to scale.
Does the Seller Success program actually work?
Clients who’ve worked with Seller Success have seen a 56% lift over projected sales 3 months post-funding compared to clients who didn’t opt into the program. We’re proud of that.
We’re able to provide a lot of value to ecommerce entrepreneurs because we’ve been in their shoes. We’ve used our own money to fund our own businesses. We’ve gone through the same wins and losses. We want to help our clients through whatever they’re facing. We want them to be successful.
What do you want sellers to know about Yardline?
Number one, our capital is unrestricted. Yardline clients can use it in whatever way they see fit to grow their business – which is not the case with many other funding solutions. We can fund businesses up to $1 million, but we also can fund businesses for as little as $5,000 to pay for things like creative or marketing initiatives. We work with ecommerce businesses anywhere on that spectrum.
We’re also non-equity partners, so entrepreneurs have the freedom to run their businesses according to their own vision without having to give up any equity.
What’s the number one problem sellers are facing right now?
Supply chain continues to be a nightmare. It’s a big strain on our clients. Costs have increased and so have lead times. That makes it more difficult for brands to maintain profit margins. It’s been especially painful for Amazon clients, because their margins are already slim – they’re counting on volume.
Supply chain complexities also limit sellers’ ability to expand their product lines or move into new marketplaces. But we’re doing everything we can to support them, including doing our own research and working with partners to develop solutions that keep our clients moving forward.
What are some specific ways Yardline has helped clients with their supply chain issues?
Every business and every situation is different. For one client, we created a unit-level margin analysis where we looked at the supply chain on a molecular level. We’ve helped clients make more efficient buys and worked with their suppliers to purchase products ahead of time.
We’ve also done a lot of inventory forecasting so that sellers avoid any period of stockouts. Depending on what you’re selling, pre-ordering parts of your product earlier may save on costs and lead time. We’ve provided funding to help businesses do that.
What’s your philosophy for running a successful ecommerce business?
There’s a saying I tell a lot of my clients: “Volume is vanity, profit is sanity.” When we launched products in my family business, my dad usually looked at the margins. But my mom always asked, “How is this product going to make a difference in a person’s life? Does something like this already exist? What problem are we solving?”
You need that balance so you’re not prioritizing sales volume in the short-term over profit and prosperity in the long-term. Your business should gain stability as it grows revenue. When you stay in tune with your customers and offer products people really want – that’s what builds the stability you want.
Anna Rose is the seller success manager at Yardline. She lives in New York City and loves traveling, skiing, and fostering puppies.