Amrum is a relaxing holiday island on Germany's North Sea and, for Marc Isemann, it’s also a home and a gateway to e-commerce. From the island he runs his Amazon shop, “Faguru”, and online customers all across Europe buy cycling and outdoor pursuits accessories from him.
“I’m very happy that the opportunity exists nowadays to help people run a successful online business wherever they are, whether it’s on a mountain in the Alps or a small island in the North Sea.”
Born in Bielefeld, 41-year-old Marc moved to the island with his parents as a child. “The house of my parents was opposite the ferry dock,” he explains. “Tourists wanting to discover the island arrived here every day.”
At the start of the 1990s, Marc and his father founded a cycle hire and accessory shop. “I was only able to help out on weekends and during the holidays because I was studying in Kiel. I wanted to use the shop to finance my studies.” Later, as a newly qualified electrical engineer and now married, Marc moved back to the island. “I yearned for Amrum. I wanted to live here with my wife.” He became self-employed and developed software for e-commerce retailers. “At some point I got the idea to combine my experience in e-commerce and cycling to start my own online shop for cycling accessories,” explains Marc. “I already had plenty of experience in both.” In 2007, Faguru went online.
The challenge: storage and shipping from the island
Marc was quite happy with the orders, around 20 to 30 a day. But logistics and shipping were giving him a headache. “It’s difficult on an island like Amrum to find storage space. Not only is storage scarce, it’s very expensive too,” the new online merchant had realised. Shipping presented a challenge. “Sending products from an island is obviously never going to go as smoothly as on the mainland, so I had to come up with something,” says Marc.
In 2009, after years as an Amazon customer, Marc had the idea of opening a Seller account. “I experimented a little to find out which products sold well. Because everything was surprisingly easy and functioned well, I quickly had almost my entire range up for offer on Amazon.de.” Marc also used the Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) logistics service from the start, though initially only for his bestsellers.
He changed his mind in the winter of 2010, “not just because my storeroom was bursting at the seams, but also because, at the time, the ferry was temporarily out of action due to ice flows. I couldn’t send out any orders: what a nightmare! From that point on I decided to rely entirely on FBA.” Since then, he hasn’t had to worry about the weather anymore; his orders are sent directly from Amazon’s Fulfilment Centres to his customers, come rain or shine on Amrum.
Two employees and Europe-wide sales
“It was the right decision,” explains Marc, looking back. Thanks to high demand, he has been able to take on two employees. And a while ago he took the first step from Amrum to the wider world, selling his products not only on Amazon.de, but also on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it and Amazon.es. “I now receive around 200 to 300 orders a day on the Amazon.de site alone,” he explains, adding, “I’m very happy that the opportunity exists nowadays to help people run a successful online business wherever they are, whether it’s on a mountain in the Alps or a small island in the North Sea.”