Wunderman Thompson doubles down on e-commerce plan
The WPP network has acquired Fenom Digital for its Salesforce expertise.
WPP has acquired Fenon, an e-commerce business based in New Jersey / Unsplash
Wunderman Thompson’s acquisition of New Jersey e-commerce business Fenom Digital is the first of the new year. It’s also a sign of things to come as the WPP network looks to further build its e-commerce and supply chain capabilities.
According to Wunderman Thompson chief executive Neil Stewart, Fenon is “the real leaders in North America” in Salesforce expertise – a key service area for agencies as they look to compete in the technology services market.
Fenom, which was founded three years ago, has a staff of almost 200 and counts clients such as GNC, Casper and Crocs among its roster. In addition to services spanning customer experience (CX), enterprise commerce, order management and supply chain, it offers Salesforce services – an increasingly valuable area for clients and the agencies vying for their business.
Stewart tells The Drum the deal would fill gaps in Wunderman Thompson’s current proposition. “The innovation built into its business allows it to grow gross merchandise value for clients at a very rapid pace. Secondly, it has huge credibility with the Salesforce teams in North America. Building that takes time – there’s a long roadmap and we’re looking to get there quicker.
“Salesforce is a big strategic vendor decision for lots of our clients. [Fenom] has a real, defined delivery methodology… that we didn’t have around Salesforce in North America. That pushed us to make the acquisition investment over an organic investment.”
Fenom’s 190 staff will soon join the 3,500 e-commerce specialists within Wunderman Thompson, but the network plans to grow its team further still. Stewart says: “We’re really interested in the methodology investment it has made. It has the ability to scale quickly based on the way it trains and educates its staff.”
Despite the firm’s youth, its founder Dylan Runne and his team have been hailed by WPP boss Mark Read as having “a proven track record of success paired with deep industry expertise”. Stewart adds to this: “We’ve known about them for quite a long time – we’re aware of its quality and its scale and that made it an unbeatable alignment.”
Given the competition among agencies and consultancy groups to offer brands e-commerce expertise, Stewart says that such acquisitions are key to WPP and Wunderman Thompson’s growth approach. There’s also fierce competition to acquire the right businesses and stay in the race; WPP held off competition from “the usual people you would have expected” to close the deal with Fenom, adds Stewart.
As well as the prior relationship between Wunderman Thompson leadership and Runne, filling those service gaps will help Wunderman Thompson achieve its longer-term strategy of expanding e-commerce capabilities.
“There’s a big revenue stream around technology services in that space because you’ve got to build and integrate platforms or you’ve got to provide the digital content at scale,” says Stewart.
“That’s been pretty clear to us for some time and underneath that, we have some capability in the group, but we also have some gaps. The acquisition strategy has then been pretty much to support that service provision to clients.”
That strategy was behind WPP’s launch last year of supply chain business Everymile and the acquisitions of Corebiz, as well as earlier deals for Diff, Newcraft, Satalia, Pierry, Emark and Bower House.
With e-commerce demand expected to grow further, the Fenom deal is unlikely to be the last in 2023.