CEO and co-founder, Brandjump
As founder and CEO of this Los Angeles-based e-commerce sales and marketing company, Josh Walter is focused on bringing customized online strategies to manufacturers in the home furnishings industry.
“It has been interesting pioneering a space where there is not much in the way of competition,” Walter said. “There are other agencies that have some similarities. But, we look at the entire e-commerce channel on behalf of a brand. The idea is that we basically operate as the e-commerce arm for our clients.”
Walter said the pandemic has changed the game completely. “It’s been an interesting six months. April, May, June and July were very strong. The majority of brands, even existing clients, held back products or were resistant to do something, but all bets are off now. We have no handcuffs, and the clients tell us ‘to do what we hired you to do.’”
His road to the home furnishings industry is a little different than most. After graduating from the University of Iowa and obtaining a JD/MBA from Pepperdine University, he decided that he wanted to find an entrepreneurial -run business and secure an equity position within it.
“I met with probably 100 different professionals: bankers, accountants, insurance and many other types of businesses. And, I decided to go with a small decorative lighting agency,” he said. “It was an interesting category to be in.”
Over the first 18 months, Walter and the couple that owned the agency realized the power of the new promise of Internet retailing and formed a partnership with the sales reps who were gaining knowledgeable about the growing field of e-commerce.
“We taught them about lighting, and they taught us about e-commerce. We decided to launch Brandjump in January 2011,” Walter added. “We realized the things we were doing to support Internet retailers in decorative lighting could be applied to other categories. So, we went to High Point for the first time and started speaking to manufacturers who gradually understood the importance of centralizing the management of their e-commerce strategy.”
Today, the company partners with 25 to 30 furniture manufacturers across five categories, all in the home furnishings sector, and it has 40 employees now all working remotely.
“We don’t just focus on Amazon but instead on all 10 to 15 of the main e-commerce options and try to figure out what’s required to build the channel. Then, we look out to see what other channels of distribution could potentially feel a conflict,” he said.
In the beginning, Internet retailers were willing to work with manufacturers and assist them with getting products listed on the site. “Now that retailers, like Amazon and Wayfair, have gotten so large,” Walter said, “they are putting more and more responsibility on the manufacturers with increasingly complex requests.”
BrandJump’s model delivers merchandising, content and marketing expertise to optimize its clients’ online presence and drive revenue through online retail channels.
Walter believes the home furnishings space is well-positioned to grow with the new focus on nesting due to the pandemic. “It’s important to cast the net wide enough to capture all of the demand or else there will be money left on the table.”