There’s a story behind
Phil Forman, owner, Newtown Video, shares his three tips to growing an eCommerce business:
- Pick a niche and stick to it
- Be a good marketplace vendor and follow specific marketplace rules
- Always offer good customer service
When big chain and independent video stores started going the way of the dinosaur, Newtown Video owner Phil Forman saw the writing on the wall before many of his competitors did.
He moved away from selling movies direct-to-distributor and started the uncertain switch to selling online in a mighty effort to survive. As the eCommerce landscape grew in the early 2010s, Phil took every opportunity to expand his business. First, he moved from half.com to Amazon. And then when Amazon started opening international marketplaces, he rode that wave too.
After more than 10 years of selling on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, not only did his business survive — it thrived. Today, Newtown Video is a top-selling wholesaler and retailer of DVDs, vinyl records, TV & movie box sets, CDs and video games in more than 10 markets, including the US, Canada and the UK.
In 2019, Phil’s currency exchange provider at the time abruptly informed him that they would no longer be handling US dollar payments. As a US-based seller, converting his international Amazon profits to USD was an essential part of his business. He needed a replacement fast. A quick Google search turned up a few alternatives. But after narrowing it down to the top three providers, Phil found OFX to be the most customer-friendly, with an easy-to-use website and a dedicated OFXpert he could jump on a call with in case of any problems.
“My guess is that the other companies’ websites would have functioned just as smoothly, and that they would have been willing to give me the same rate that OFX gave me, but there was no phone contact involved. That was my biggest decision maker,” Phil said.
But while Phil appreciates having the option to talk to a real human when he needs to, he makes 100% of his transfers online through his OFX Global Currency Account, converting EUR, GBP and CAD funds to USD. Sometimes he waits for when the dollar moves in his favor, but mostly he likes that he can hold and transfer funds between currencies quickly and easily, and to his own bank account whenever it’s convenient for him.
“[OFXpert] Fred has an easy time with me because I’m pretty hands off… but he will even reach out to me from time to time to ask, ‘how are things going?’ If nobody ever checked on me in five years, I wouldn’t find that to be unusual. The fact that he even reaches out to see if things are going OK, to see if I have any problems, I think that’s pretty nice.”
In 2020, Newtown Video had a banner year for sales. Even though the demand for physical media is dramatically lower than it was 20 years ago, Phil says there’s a clear advantage of being “one of the last few standing” in this niche market.
“We didn’t pick an industry that was on the rise, but most of our competitors have dropped out. They weren’t able to pivot and move as rapidly.”
Phil’s entrepreneurial willingness to move with the times and tap into new markets has served him well over the years, and he isn’t slowing down. Whenever Amazon opens up a new marketplace, Newtown Video tries to get in there as soon as they can, even if it means slow, incremental sales at first.
“If we don’t sell a lot on the Sweden site, that’s OK. Five is more than zero.”
So, how would Phil describe OFX in one word? Great. “The biggest thing that [OFX] provided was a person I could talk to.”
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