Up Next In Commerce

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Welcome to the #1 podcast for eCommerce teams, executives, and entrepreneurs. Join host Stephanie Postles as she sits down with eCommerce leaders on the front lines of digital innovation. With guests from established enterprise companies to D2C start-ups barely out of infancy to everyone in between - you’ll get the inside scoop on what’s Up Next in Commerce. New episodes come out every Tuesday and Thursday. Up Next in Commerce is created by Mission.org and brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

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    • Jan 25, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 43m AVG DURATION
    • 178 EPISODES

    Listeners of Up Next In Commerce that love the show mention: diamonds, e commerce, ecommerce, retail, excellent resource, brands, leaders, marketing, online, industry, fascinating, insights, helpful, insightful, great work, information, easy, host, good, guests.



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    Latest episodes from Up Next In Commerce

    What it Takes to Actually Thrive as a Media Company with Jelani Memory, Founder and CEO of A Kids Company About

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 25, 2022 39:11

    Every company today is trying to become a media company, but few are actually succeeding. A Kids Company About is one of them. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I talked to Jelani Memory, the Founder and CEO of A Kids Company About, and I picked his brain on how exactly he went from writing and selling children's books about tough topics, to overseeing a growing media empire. We talked about the need for authentic storytelling — in books or in your product or brand story — and how by trying to please everyone, you actually please no one. We also got into how to choose investors and what the future of media, particularly for kids, might look like. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:Look For Experience: People are effective when they authentically know or have experienced the problem you are trying to solve. Those people have credibility and also the ingrained desire to work on addressing that problem, thus making them better to work with all around. Everyone is an expert on something, so find where those around you can bring out their expertise however you need them most.You Choose Your Investors: When you are raising money, you are choosing who you bring into your ecosystem. You choose who to pitch to and you choose which investments make sense for your business. And even though it might be hard to turn down money, you should say no if and when an investor just isn't right for you.Can't Please Everyone: When you try to make a product or tell a story that connects with everyone, you actually create something that connects with no one. Lean into what is actually true or unique to you, and don't worry if it doesn't resonate with certain people. The people it does resonate with will appreciate what you have done and they will trust you more moving forward.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How Reddit Became a Font of Knowledge for Alli Reed, Founder of Stratia Skincare

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 20, 2022 38:41

    This is a podcast about digital and ecommerce, so you already know we're big fans of the internet. It's a portal and a tool to give you direct access to consumers, information, and communication unlike anything that's ever existed before. And if you're living here in 2022 and expecting to thrive as a business owner, you better be tapping into every possible resource the internet has to offer. Alli Reed has known that for more than a decade, and her company, Stratia Skincare, got its start in large part thanks to the wealth of beauty and skincare knowledge Alli tapped into to turn an interest into a side hustle and then grow it into a multi-million dollar brand. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I talked to Alli about how she turned her hours on Reddit into a brand that keeps growing, and we talked about all the ways to attract customers, differentiate yourself, and what it takes to educate the consumer beyond just knowing what your brand is, but also what it stands for and how it operates. Enjoy!Main Takeaways:The Reddit Goldmine: If you are looking for an engaged audience, Reddit is one of the best places on the internet to find some. But beware, not only are Redditors engaged, they are hyper-aware of any kind of inauthentic promotion or pushing of brands. When you show up on Reddit, you have to be authentic, and in return, you will see active, informed, and oftentimes helpful folks who can take your market research to another level.Don't Take Our Word For It: In categories that require a bit more effort to convert customers, it's helpful to rely on UGC and customer reviews. Rather than asking potential customers to trust you the brand, ask them to trust their peers who are singing your praises. That's a much easier and quicker way to get someone to pull the trigger than trying to convince them just based on your marketing materials.You're Not What You're Not: There is always a rush to be the first to be certain ingredient-free. Whether it's paraben-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free, or anything else, don't let the marketing angle of being XYZ-thing-free be your crutch. Find a way to differentiate yourself that actually has a basis in need, science, or data rather than being the first to be “anything-free.”For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How Taco Bell is Satisfying Customer Cravings With More Than Just Food, with Zip Allen, Taco Bell's CDO

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 18, 2022 36:40

    Humans have needs, and cravings, and desires. Sometimes, they all align — like when my need for food matches my desire and craving for a spicy burrito. In business, you have to be in tune to your customers' needs, cravings, and desires, and meet them as much as possible. These days, across the board but especially in the QSR space, the consumers are craving better loyalty programs and more personalized experiences in every interaction with a brand. Zip Allen recognizes that, and as the Chief Digital Officer for Taco Bell, she's satisfying those cravings. Yes, there are spicy burritos involved, but there are also unique spins on customer loyalty programs, a new subscription service for tacos, and an app experience that makes getting those spicy burritos — or whatever you're in the mood for — a friction-free experience. We got into all of that on this episode of Up Next in Commerce and it was a delicious discussion. Enjoy!Main Takeaways:Customizing the Experience: It alIt all comes down to digital when it comes to customizing the customer experience. On digital platforms, you can more easily engage with and learn about your customers, and deliver to them a seamless experience so you can get them what they need when and where they want it. Lean into all the digital tools in your toolbox and don't be afraid to experiment with some new ideas to engage with customers through apps, subscriptions, or loyalty program challenges. What do the Customers Really Want: To find out what customers want, go where they actually are, and then listen. Hang out on Twitter, find the Reddit threads where the fans of your brand congregate, and ingratiate yourself in that community. Not only will you get a better understanding of who your customers are, but you will be able to spot areas of friction as they come up and source new ideas for your brand from the consumers themselves.Scoring More Than Points: With loyalty programs, you have to think beyond just giving points to redeem for free products Build out exclusive offerings, unique experiences, and ways to add value and delight to your customers' day that proves that you actually know and value them.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    She Got Lori Grenier's Golden Ticket on Shark Tank, Here's How, with Kelley Higney, Founder and CEO of Bug Bite Thing

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 13, 2022 47:27

    When you first start a company or launch a product, you always have big dreams. You picture the massive deals, the millions in revenue, the corner offices and hiring a huge team. But before any of that happens, you have to tamp down those dreams and live in the real world, doing the hard, often year-long work on the ground proving your concept, talking to anyone who is willing to give you feedback, and knocking on doors to try to make a single sale. Kelley Higney trodded that path — in fact, she got her start selling her product at her daughter's bake sales. Her fellow moms were her beta testers and, but they were also the wellspring of feedback and proof of concept she needed to bring her product to the next level… and to those great heights most people dream of.Kelley is the founder and CEO of Bug Bite Thing, a safe, chemical-free solution for stopping a reaction to bug bites in their tracks. Today, Bug Bite Thing is available in more than 25,000 stores and has the backing of Shark Tank shark, Lori Grenier (who even gave Kelley her famous “Golden Ticket” when Kelley appeared on the show). On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Kelley broke down all of the hurdles she had to overcome to reach that point. She discusses the strategies she used to protect her brand before even going into distribution, and she talks about the importance of community and feedback. Plus, stick around to hear about how she and Lori work together. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:Any Feedback is Good Feedback: Even when you are just starting out, you should be pitching your product and accepting feedback from anyone and everyone. The early users and beta testers will guide you through your initial iterations and highlight some problem areas you might be blind to that you can address before going more mainstream.Distribution is a Dangerous Game: It's not a matter of if, but when copycats will come after you. When you start to distribute widely, copycats will come out of the woodwork and you have to be prepared. Do the work beforehand to learn how to protect your brand and fight against knockoffs. Even if you think you don't qualify for a patent or other legal protection, reach out and try because it's better to have any kind of legal backing than none at all.Find a Mentor: You don't need to go on Shark Tank to find a business mentor. There are people in your network or on the periphery who you should tap into and who can guide you through the highs and lows of business. Doing it on your own is a pipedream. Every successful person has had a team behind him or her, and the truth is, having help will get you to your goals faster.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How A Celebrity-Founded Company Finds Its Brand Voice and Owns its Supply Chain, with Execs from Hello Bello

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 11, 2022 37:23

    If you're tired of all the supply chain issues here's an idea, create your own supply chain. Okay, that's easier said than done, and it's not actually feasible for a lot of companies. But, there are parts of your brand, your logistics, and your strategy that you can own 100%, and when you do, good things happen. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I chatted with Erica Buxton, the President of Hello Bello, and Jessica Tennant, the senior vice president of marketing at Hello Bello, a brand that is making premium products available to everyone — especially parents and families. Hello Bello was cofounded by actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, a couple who came from humble backgrounds and knew that access to good, safe, environmentally conscious products shouldn't be granted only to those with means. As a result, everything at Hello Bello is made to connect with and be available to parents and families of all kinds. And as Erica and Jessica explained, this ethos shows up everywhere. They talked about how owning your story and your brand voice is key, especially when it comes to marketing. And they also touched on why having a strong omnichannel strategy from day one is critical. Plus, they do get into what it means to actually own the supply chain, and all the ways that can open up new opportunities for your business. Enjoy this episode. Main Takeaways:One Voice: When thinking about developing a brand voice, you have to make sure this is established early and that it's concrete. In order to have a brand people know and love, everything you put out should look and feel consistent, that way your brand is easily identifiable and consumers can become loyal to it.Working Together: Having a strong omnichannel strategy is important. And it's also key to remember that your DTC business doesn't have to compete with your retail partners. They can work together in a way that allows the customer to have access to your products in as many places as possible. So when thinking omnichannel, think about ways to create good bonds with your retail partners or the brick and mortar side of your business so that you create an ecosystem where one part of the business feeds the other.Owning The Supply Chain: For many brands, it seems impossible or simply out of reach to build your own factory. But as much as you can, you should try to own the elements of your supply chain. Not only will this insulate you from many of the delays and price hikes you see in traditional supply chains, but it will also allow you to take control of the quality of your products from start to finish, so you know you are always delivering the best products and you can iterate quickly based on what your customers need.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How The North Face is Using a Strong Data-Based Foundation to Create the Best Customer Experience, with Sarah Kleinman,Vice President of Digital Experience

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 6, 2022 37:49

    The customer should always be the guiding light for a brand. Who is your customer? What do they need? What do they want? Where do they live? How do they behave? These are all absolutely critical pieces of information upon which your entire business should be built. That's Sarah Kleinman's philosophy at least. Sarah is the Vice President of Digital Experience at The North Face, where she is constantly working to gather information about, understand, and then create experiences for North Face customers. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Sarah guided me through how she thinks about creating an effective digital experience, and she explains the foundational elements that every brand should be using to ensure that they are set up for the present and can still build in the future. She talked about integration, enablement, loyalty programs, testing, why companies should be paring down their offerings, and so much more. This was a jam-packed episode, so I hope you love it! Main Takeaways:Integration, Integration, Integration: The success of your ecosystem is dependent on the connectivity of your tools. It's not enough to build and launch a tool, app, or system, it has to be intertwined with your entire digital ecosystem in order to gather real-time data and create an easy flow for customers.The Honest Truth: It is critical to create an honest segmentation of your customer base, because that is the base upon which everything else can be built. When you know what your customers actually care about, you can create the right products for them, the right marketing and digital content for them, and build out experiences that truly engage them.Back To Basics: People are tired of gimmicks and they want less, more versatile stuff. As such, brands should have a goal to shrink their product offerings and focus more on the value they are bringing to consumers with the most quality, sustainable, versatile products.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Being a Tastemaker in Your Category, with Gail Becker, Founder and CEO of CAULIPOWER

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 4, 2022 39:30

    The newest diets and food fads are hard to keep up with, and some come and go without you even noticing. But there are some things that aren't just passing trends. Cauliflower-based foods is one such thing, and no one in the category has done more for the movement than CAULIPOWER. Why? Because not only is CAULIPOWER gluten-free, it's also absolutely delicious, which is what Gail Becker, the founder and CEO of CAULIPOWER, believes is the secret ingredient to success. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I sat down with Gail for a fun chat about how she went from cooking a disastrous cauliflower pizza in her kitchen to running one of the fastest-growing frozen food brands around. She talked about how she got her foot in the door at Whole Foods, what her omnichannel strategy looks like, and why you should never let the copycats in your category get to you. Plus, stick around to hear the story of how a tiny pink house changed the course of Gail's life forever. Enjoy!Main Takeaways:Showing Up is Half The Battle: There will be times in life and business when simply being in the right place at the right time will change everything. But if you don't show up, you'll never actually find those serendipitous moments. Think of every event and every opportunity as a step forward and a chance to take your company to the next level.Don't Bat An Eye: If you have made an impact in your category, there will always be copycats and competitors. You can't focus on them because it will distract you from what's important. All you should do is work on making the best product so that even with all the competition in the world, customers will always return to you because your product is far and away superior.Prioritizing What's Needed: When you're first getting your business off the ground, oftentimes you have to build the plane as you're flying. You don't always have the money or the resources to set us your backend systems or marketing teams the way you want to, so you just do what works. But as you grow, you have to go back to those foundational elements of a business and prioritize your efforts to sure everything up.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How to Set Your Company Up for Success in 2022: The Evolution of First Party Data, Supply Chains, and Apple Privacy Updates

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 30, 2021 20:32

    On Up Next in Commerce we're always looking for what's, well, up next. How should brands be thinking about their omnichannel strategies? What are some of the new platforms or channels top brands are testing out? How is the ecommerce and retail landscape evolving? With 2021 coming to a close, it's time to look a little closer at all of those question and try to answer them for brands looking ahead to 2022.On this episode, I was excited to welcome back Caila Schwartz, the senior manager of consumer insights and strategy at Salesforce, and we dug into some of the stats, data, and insights her team has gathered in order to give some tips and advice to brands that want to get ahead and stay ahead in 2022. We talked about supply chains, loyalty programs, and had a debriefing on the iOS update that's causing brands across the board to shift their marketing strategies in more ways than one. There are tons of great nuggets in this one so enjoy, and cheers to a great 2022!Main Takeaways:The Battle For First-Party Data: Loyalty programs and social will be key to get first-party data because they are the best ways to engage one-to-one with the consumers. It's about a give and take between the consumer and the retailer, so the innovators in the space that can create unique ways to engage will ultimately win out.Growth Spurts: In 2021, growth was much more modest than in the past and there were fewer promotional campaigns and discounts than in years past. The supply chain issues and the economic issues around the world have played a role in this change, and the trends may not necessarily reverse in 2022. As a result, consumers are impacted and brands have to find ways to pivot to make sure that consumers are getting the best possible experience.iOS Update TLDR: Apple's update in late 2021 has flipped email marketing on its head and brands have to adjust. If your marketing strategy is built around or includes open rates, then you should be rethinking and refocusing on click-thru rates instead. To get more results in that area, you have to level up your actual emails and create better, more engaging content.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Finding Opportunities, Thinking Outside the Box, and Leading the Retail Evolution, with Jiake Liu co-founder and CEO of Outer

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 28, 2021 37:15

    As ecommerce has become more prevalent, customers are catching on to some of the more suspect aspects of product marketing. They're starting to notice that when you look for something like furniture online, you're seeing a lot of the same exact products just branded slightly differently. Companies are using the same materials, the same suppliers, and selling the same or only slightly differentiated products, so the question for brands is, what do you do to stand out? For, Jiake Liu, the co-founder and CEO of Outer, the answer was simple: actually do something different. Outer is the first sustainable consumer brand for outdoor living with a core focus on material science, which, according to Jiake, is only one of the ways that Outer is separating itself from the competition. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Jiake and I talked about all the ways brands should be thinking outside the box, why problem-solving should be the number-one driver of product development, and how Outer is hoping to be part of the evolution of retail. Enjoy this episode.Main Takeaways:Make Your Mark: There are industries that you think are saturated, but when you look closer, it's plain to see that there are no brands truly owning the space. Marketplaces and retailers may be offering products, but no single brand of products truly stands out. This kind of situation is more common than you think, and when you spot the opportunity, you have a chance to differentiate yourself and create a foothold that could propel you forward.Function Over Form: It's always great to have a beautiful product, but too many companies focus on creating something with a beautiful design rather than a problem-solving function. Even in areas where you might not think there are too many problems to solve — like with furniture — there are still painpoints the need only a simple fix that could make your customers' lives easier. And in doing so, you win their loyalty. It's an Evolution: A lot of people are talking about the death of retail, but in reality what is happening is actually the evolution of retail. Brands are reimagining the retail experience and creating new, unique ways to engage with customers in a retail setting. As such, retail i not going away, but only the brands that are thinking big and evolving in the space will have success in the future.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Feeding the Flywheel, And How to Get it Started in the First Place, with Steven Borrelli, CEO & Founder of CUTS

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 23, 2021 43:43

    Stop me if you've heard this before: in business, you always need to keep the flywheel spinning. Okay, wait, don't actually stop the podcast! I know it sounds cliche, but it's true — to have a successful business, you need to be constantly churning out products, bringing in customers, making sales, lather, rinse, repeat. That's the part we all know. What so many founders and business owners can't quite figure out is how to actually get that wheel spinning at all, let alone continuously. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I talked with Steven Borrelli, the CEO & Founder of CUTS, a lifestyle ecommerce fashion brand that celebrities, entrepreneurs, athletes, and everyday folks love. Steven has some firsthand experience in the struggles of getting his company off the ground and into the hands of consumers — and his story includes an early $20,000 loss and a nine-hour journey through China. But he also has some of the answers that brands are looking for when it comes to building an efficient and sustainable growing business. What is his secret sauce? And how do testing, YouTube, and NFTs play a role? We got into all of that and more on this episode. Enjoy! Main Takeaways:Getting the Flywheel Spinning: Every company wants to have a flywheel spinning that brings in customers consistently and keeps the business running. But actually achieving that end is difficult. It takes getting the right people in the right roles, creating organizational efficiency, and spending money wisely. And, at the end of the day, knowing your numbers and trusting that math matters is always the most important thing.Top-Down, With a Twist: Leadership has to stem from the top, and those in charge have to set a course and be clear on their vision for the company. But if you want your employees to succeed, they have to be able to set some of their own goals and determine for themselves how they think they can best help the company meet the mission set by the leader.Fertile Soil: Having a good method to test ideas and gather feedback will yield a much more efficient product and marketing strategy. Don't be afraid to test out new ideas in unique ways that invite customers and potential customers to engage with you in new ways. With enough good data, you can make bigger yet safer bets and grow your company much faster.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How Katapult is Giving Brands Access to Otherwise-Forgotten Customers, with CEO Orlando Zayas

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2021 33:40

    There are certain things many of us take for granted, including making purchases on our credit cards. It might surprise you to learn that 40% of the population is actually considered non-prime. This means they have either been turned down for a credit card, have bad credit or have no credit at all. These people are often denied the ability to make purchases, particularly on large goods, like appliances or furniture. But what if they could be given the opportunity to make those purchases? What if they were given the chance to make payments based on their own ability on their own schedule? That would not only open up a new customer pool for brands, but it would provide a way for a large group of people to build credit in a meaningful way. Katapult is making all of that possible and on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I spoke to Katapult's CEO, Orlando Zayas= about how it all works. We talked about the difference between buy-now-pay-later and lease-to-own. We got into how new financing options lead to more incremental sales for brands. And we also dove into how to build a highly-functioning team and the challenges of going public. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:Finding Missing Persons: When someone can't get credit, or if they've been denied a credit card, they become non-prime consumers. This makes it much more difficult to purchase goods, particularly online. These customers eventually disappear, creating a void but also an opportunity to find them and bring them back into the fold. By giving these potential consumers additional avenues to make purchases, brands are adding more to their bottom line.Consumer Control: By putting the control in the hands of the consumer, you allow them to get to ownership sooner rather than later. And when consumers are able to get to ownership with something they thought was out of reach, they are more likely to return and buy again.Hire The Right People: You need a team that can act fast and independently, especially if you are a high-growth company. It's imperative that your team can pivot fast and not get rattled when the company is going through a shift — like going public. If there are people on your team who aren't working up to snuff, it's better to cut them loose fast, rather than hang on to them hoping they'll turn things around.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How DTC Brands Boom and Bust with Jesse Pujji, Founder and CEO of Gateway X

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 16, 2021 38:59

    To state the obvious, starting and growing a DTC brand is hard… even if you've been in the industry for years. Jese Pujji is the founder and CEO of Gateway X, a bootstrap venture studio that helps build businesses in the DTC space. Jesse has been working with and growing brands for years from the outside looking in. But even for him, when he tried to build a brand from the inside out, there were some real challenges and lessons learned. On this episode of Up Next in Commere, Jesse told me all about that first DTC venture, Poophoria, and the mistakes he made getting it off the ground. But he also talked about all the successes he's had and the advice he's been giving to the brands that come to him looking to take their companies to the next level. He talked about which channels to focus on, and why founders should really only hone in on one when they're starting out. And he also gave us a peak into the future of mobile and why you should be looking at TikTok's strategy as a benchmark for your own. Enjoy this episode. Main Takeaways:You Can't Please Everyone: One of the mistakes brands make is noot having a clear enough picture of who their target consumer is. It does not pay to be broad. Just because everybody drinks wate doesn't mean starting a water company and selling to the whole world will work. You need to hone in on a persona or two and speak to those people very specifically, otherwise your message will get lost in the shuffle. Research, talk to potential customers, and build products and marketing that addresses them specifically.Stop Channel Surfing: When putting content out early on, founders should pick one channel and find people who know how to run the campaigns. But, as the founder you need to be involved in what you're saying and who you're talking to. By doing that you can make the economics work on a specific channel and then move on. Trying to focus on multiple channels concurrently is a recipe for disaster because they are each inredibly complex and nuanced. Plus, when you work on one at at time, you are able to learn and master new skills and then transfer them.Tik Tok Talk: If you think about how revolutionary Facebook was 10 years ago, many believe that TikTok is in the same position to change the way we experience web and mobile content. The immersive experience, lack of a traditional feed, and the addictive nature of the platform is becoming a roadmap for brands that want to engage customers long-term, especially on mobile.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    These are the Digital Channels Ecommerce Brands Should Hone in On with Link Walls, VP of Digital Marketing Strategy for ChannelAdvisor

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2021 37:53

    To state the obvious, in order to be a successful ecommerce brand, you have to be able to win across digital channels. But just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's easy. DTC and ecomm companies big and small are coonstantly challenged to find new approaches in ever-changing online channels to engage customers and ultimately get them to hit that buy button. So how do you do it? Link Walls is the VP of digital marketing strategy for ChannelAdvisor, and it's his job to answer that question. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Link and I discussed what kinds of strategies are working — and more importantly which ones aren't — and he let us in on how he thinks about advising digitally-native brands that are considering a move to brick and mortar. Plus, he gives advice on how to navigate through the holiday season, why shoppable TV is going to be the dominant channel of the future for brands, and which niche channels you should keep your eye on. Enjoy this episode.Main Takeaways:Understand and Speak To Your Audience: Building robust first-party data around your customers is the first step to ostaying ahead of the curve in the shifting world of ecommerce. Doing so will allow a brand too dive deeper into personalization, relationship-building, and bringing added value to the customer.Should You Open a Store?: Recently, many digitally-native, DTC companies have been investing in retail and opening brick and mortar stores. But how do you know if this is the right strategy for your own business? The critical question you have to ask is whether or not having a store will create a unique experience that adds value and sets you apart from the competition in a real way. If not, then it's likely better to save the cost and stick with selling online and investing in more digital channels.Where are the Eyeballs?: When thinking about where to put your advertising dollars, you have to understand where customers are consuming content. These days, that means streaming and digital social channels. But still, brands aren't investing fully in shoppable TV. They should be, though, and it can be done even on a small budget because with digital channels, there are better analytics that will help you hypertarget your audience at an economical price.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Are You Positioning Your Brand Correctly? A Roundtable Discussion with Executives From Doris Day and Canopy

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 9, 2021 58:09

    The way you position your company in the eyes of your customers is the most make-or-break decision you can make. Who are you selling to? What problem are you solving for them? Why should a customer buy from you? All these questions need answers, and if they aren't the right answers, it's going to be a pretty rocky road. So when you hear about a humidifier that's being positioned as a beauty product, what do you think? Good idea or bad? Well, for the guys at Canopy, it turned out to be a great idea and we got into it on this special in-person roundtable episode of Up Next in Commerce. Joining me in-studio here in Austin, Texas was Eric Neher, CMO at Canopy, Justin Seidenfeld, CEO at Doris Dev and Co-Founder of Canopy, and Lucas Lappe, Head of Product and Co-Founder at Doris Dev. We talked all things Canopy, but we also dove into Doris Dev, a product development agency that has helped scale companies like Blueland, Magic Spoon, BioLite, Supply, Lalo, and many more. During this epic chat, we touched on a little bit of everything -- from branding and logistical issues to product design and marketing, and beyond. I hope you have as much fun listening as I had hanging out with this lively trio.  Main Takeaways:An Obvious Way In: When you are thinking about using a subscription model, you should have an obvious reason to get in touch with your customer or a product that they need to replace or replenish that is the basis of your subscription. When you force goods on customers that they don't need or even necessarily want via a subscription, you spoil the relationship you have built with them. Trendspotting: One of the most recent trends, particularly in the world of beauty, is blending innovative, creative experiences with products that are created with sustainable materials. Today's customers have higher expectations than ever before and they are looking to support brands that rise to the occasion in every way.The Need For Newness: Bringing new products, experiences, and opportunities to customers is one of the best ways to keep them engaged. But in creating new things — even if it's just an updated version of something that exists — you are constantly struggling to make sure that what you build works, does what you want, does what the customer needs, and never takes away from the brand or the experience. But those are challenges you need to face in order to not pigeonhole your business by relying on one or two products forever.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How Ecommerce Is Growing Among Small and Informal Merchants in Africa and Beyond with Anu Adasolum, CEO of Sabi

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 7, 2021 40:29

    When you think about small businesses and local merchants, you know that they are the engine that fuels economies all over the world. This is true everywhere you look, including in Africa, where Anu Adasolum works as the founder and CEO at Sabi, a company that is helping informal merchants and businesses reach new heights. For too long, the tens of thousands of small, local merchants in Africa have operated without much help, credit, or access to technology. But while they have stayed the course, the world has moved forward toward a more digitally-focused future. To succeed long-term — in Africa and everywhere else — all businesses need access to opportunities to build credit, digitize their operations, and connect with suppliers and buyers everywhere. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Anu explains how Sabi provides those opportunities. She also discusses how B2B companies should be thinking about helping their clients succeed by focusing only on a narrow set of goals. Plus, she dives into what it takes to navigate through scaling a company. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:The Pain Point is Access: For too long no one was doing the work of helping small businesses in Africa gain access. Small, local merchants were out on their own, and no banks or other creditors were even trying to lend to them, which has stunted their growth. By granting access to these merchants, they have an opportunity they never had access to before.It's Not Just About Digitization: Sabi is really about understanding the network of traders, building profiles, and then helping small businesses establish themselves and build trust in a way that allows them to succeed. Small businesses and informal traders have often been seen as a risk for investors, and in order for them to grow, a middle party is needed to de-risk the opportunity to build up these businesses.Focus On What Matters: When you think about how you can improve sales and reduce costs for your customers, then you start to eliminate the tendency to force users into apps or channels or to use tools that don't serve them. When you avoid that pitfall, you create a much better experience for your customers and you force yourself to focus only on what will help your company grow.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Burger King's Head of CX On What It Takes to Bring the Best Experience to Quick-Service Restaurant Customers That Goes Beyond the Drive-Through

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 2, 2021 36:11

    Picture this: You're driving down the road and you see a familiar sign that gets your stomach grumbling, so you quickly pull into the drive-through, place an order and, within minutes, you're enjoying a tasty bite of what you were craving. That's not a hard scenario to imagine. Odds are, we've all gone through that exact sequence of events in our lives. And that's great for those businesses, and even for other stores where the foot traffic drives people in to shop. But that kind of customer isn't the only one you should be relying on. Smart operators know that there are huge portions of the population who don't often find themselves in those serendipitous moments when they can make that impulsive decision to buy something on the spot. Angelo Frigo is one of those smart operators, and as the head of customer experience at Burger King, he is trying to move beyond the drive-through and reach customers in new, exciting ways — particularly online and through Burger King's digital app. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Angelo and I go into some of the ways businesses can think about targeting and engaging with customers outside of in-person and spur-of-the-moment experiences.  Plus, we also dug into Angelo's background, which is fascinating, and includes stops at McDonald's, Feeding America, and even the White House. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:A Bigger Burden: In the government sector, customer experience is often boiled down to measuring the “burden” of something. And, thanks to an old school definition, “burden” is sometimes thought of literally as paperwork. So, reducing “burden” means reducing paperwork. As a result, the customer experience when dealing with government agencies hasn't been optimized in all the ways we're used to. Part of improving the customer experience at the government level begins with simply redefining what is included in the experience, and then removing friction at all points.Moving Beyond The Drive-Thru: Expanding reach beyond the drive-thru is one of the main areas of focus for chains like Burger King, which are attempting to market to people who traditionally only buy from quick-service restaurants when they see them close by and it becomes top of mind. To combat that, chains need to develop digital apps and ordering services with profiles, personalization, and creative marketing, design, and participation opportunities.Testing, Testing: It's important to think outside the box in all areas of the business. In the app space, you should look outside your industry for ideas and inspiration rather than copying what's most trendy or what's working with your immediate competition. Then create prototypes and test ideas whether that's with customers or with team members at all levels across your company.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Building The Best Subscription Product in a Crowded Market, with Rod Morris, the Co-founder and President of Lovevery

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 50:55

    Does the world really need another subscription box? Do parents really need to buy more things for their kids? Well, when we're talking about Lovevery, the answer is yes and yes. In the crowded spaces of DTC subscription services and childrens products, Lovevery is making its presence known. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I talk to Rod Morris, the co-founder and president of Lovevery, who told me all about the development of the company's amazing products, and, more importantly, how he and his team went about making them stand out among the rest. It takes a lot of hard work — but it all starts with a complete obsession with creating a brand that you believe in and products that fill a gap in the market. Rod took me behind the scenes of getting press and testimonials for Lovevery, he told me how they create social content that sees engagement that blows the competition out of the water, and we also dug into his tips for fundraising and what the upside is to going public. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:Winning with Connected TV: If you can break format and do something divergent, you will be able to find success in the world of connected TV. People are engaged by unique content, so you should constantly be looking for ways to take wha's working and flip it on its head.Understanding the International Market: When you take your company abroad, there is a steep learning curve to understand how to win customers and take a part of the marketshare. Even if your product works the same wherever you sell it, the process of marketing it and adhering to regulations varies. These are important things to consider and prepare yourself for if/when you are seeking to expand overseas.It Takes Heart, Soul and Obsession: The way to keep LTV high and keep growing you need a mix of ingredients. First, you have to truly be obsessed with your product, love it, and constantly strive to improve it. Second, invest in content and reaching the audience you care about with useful and engaging content. Finally, you have to stay connected and work with customers so that they feel invested in the product and the company rather than being on-off shoppers.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    The Difference Between Men and Women … In Marketing, with Matt Mullenax, Co-Founder and CEO of Huron

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 25, 2021 42:32

    The old saying goes that men are from Mars, women are from Venus. And while that's not literally true, when it comes to marketing, men and women do seem like two different species. What resonates with a man is wildly different than what resonates with a woman. For instance, I love a good ingredients list and couldn't care less about how much lather I get from my body wash. A lot of men apparently feel the exact opposite. These are the kinds of things that all businesses need to think of when it comes to targeting and sending the right message. And it's a topic I went deep on in the episode of Up Next in Commerce with Matt Mullenax, the Co-Founder and CEO of Huron. Matt talked me through all the ways he had to test, poll, and iterate on his advertising to get his men's body care brand off the ground. But when he found the right formula, all of a sudden it was like striking gold. We're talking crazy click-through rates, plummeting CPAs, and a direct line into the messaging that men are aligned with. Do you want to know what it is? And are you interested in what other heavy lifts Matt is working on now for long-term payoffs? Find out on this episode!Main Takeaways:The Humanization of Brand: People used to be excited by the novelty of buying online. As the DTC world evolved, consumers have gotten smarter and these days, your brand has to resonate in ways beyond just having a good product available. Some of the aspects of humanizing the brand, such as building personal connections, will require a heavy lift upfront, but the long-term value.An Atypical CX Strategy: Historically, CX has been seen as reactive, but there are ways to be proactive and ensure an exceptional customer experience no matter the situation. You should not wait for a problem to arise to help a customer out. If you know there might be a delay in shipping or some other situation arises, by reaching out before the product is delayed, you build trust with your customer.Find Your Internal Cheat Codes: Whether you have a founder with deep connections in manufacturing or you're friends with an Instagram influencer, there are certain elements you bring to that table that you should tap into to give you a leg up in one way or another.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Scaling Up a Queer-Owned Fragrance Brand With Inclusivity and Authenticity with Matthew Herman, Co-founder of Boy Smells

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2021 45:05

    There are about a million different inspirational quotes about being your authentic self and how to bring authenticity to everything you do — including your business. Matthew Herman and his company, Boy Smells, brings those cliches to life in real and very cliche ways. Boy Smells produces candles, fragrances, and more that defy the traditional gendered lines that have been drawn for decades in favor of creating a genderful experience that allows all customers to bring a mix of masculinity and femininity to their lives as they see fit. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Matthew and I talked about what that looks like in practice, and we dove into how and why Boy Smells has pivoted from focusing on wholesale, to DTC and now to retail and partnerships. Main Takeaways:Finding Functional Experts: Adding headcount is one of the most stressful parts of scaling. To make things easier, the focus should be on finding and bringing in functional experts. You will save time and money bringing in a better candidate who might cost more but can get to work quickly rather than bringing in a novice and trying to train them to work in your system.A Pyramid of Products: Creating products that can stand the test of time is important. But having one evergreen product won't sustain a business. You have to strive to have a three-tiered pyramid mix of products, which starts with a base of core products, followed by seasonal products, and topped with special, one-of-a-kind, buzzy products that can drive sales and engagement.Don't Jump In: You hear all the time that when you have an idea, you should jump in and do it. In reality, you're often much better served by gaining experience at already-established companies so that you can learn from their successes and failures and bring that knowledge to your own venture.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Choose How You Feel Using Technology, with Scott Donnell, Founder of Hapbee Technologies

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 18, 2021 39:43

    Every company will tell you it sells something that will make your life better, easier, or more efficient. But at the end of the day, how happy are consumers with all of the things they buy? Or, better yet, how happy are consumers in general? Hapbee is a company that is focused on both of those questions, and on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I talked to the founder of Hapbee Technologies, Scott Donnell about how they find the best answers. Scott told me all about how he learned of the technology that powers Hapbee's device, which sends out frequencies that give you the effect of certain drugs or chemicals without needing to ingest them. So if you're looking for a kick of caffeine, or some melatonin to get to sleep, Hapbee creates what's called blends to give you that effect just through low frequencies. It's intense technology, and it takes a lot of consumer education and testimonials to get the word out. Scott told me how he went about doing that and building Hapbee into a company with a line of consumers just waiting to give it a try — and Scott explained how he's meeting that demand in a time of supply chain issue galore. This was a really fun episode, I hope you enjoy! Main Takeaways:Tapping Into Einstein's Ideas: Einstein had an idea that everything is connected, and he was right. Your cells interact in an interconnected way and in an effort to prove him right, Hapbee created a technology that could be produced and sold. By constantly asking “what if,” you give yourself an opportunity to do the same thing — find new ideas, potential business ventures or products, and build something the world didn't know it was missing.Who Not How: Part of being a leader is knowing your strengths and weaknesses. And it's about being willing to bring in people who can level you up in both areas. You should constantly be looking for people who are smarter than you so that you can bring them into the company, learn from them, and help do a better job than you ever could. Task lists for leaders shouldn't be actual things to do, but instead should be about finding people they need to bring in to accomplish tasks.Your Network is Your Net Worth: Building relationships and having strong connections is the most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur. Not only can these people be a source of support and advice, they can also be recruited to help you lead, to solve a problem, or to bring in other people who can broaden your network even more.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Linens That Last: Penny Murphy, President of Pioneer Linens, Discusses How Company Pivots Have Led to More than a Century of Success

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 30:03

    So much from the past is long gone — corded phones, the food pyramid, writing checks at the grocery store. But on the flip side, there are things from years gone by that have come back — mom jeans anyone? And then, there are the things that last the test of time. Traditions, styles, and yes, even businesses. Pioneer Linens is one of those companies that has stood strong for more than 100 years and sure, it has gone through its fair share of changes and pivots over the years, but as President, Penny Murphy, told me on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, the commitment to serving its customers has remained through it all. And today, Pioneer Linens is succeeding by giving customers the best experience not just in-store, but online as well. In fact, Pioneer moved into the ecommerce world way back in the 1990s, and Penny led the charge. We got into that story and dug into the company's long history, the lessons Penny and her daughters have carried into running the business today, and where this century-old company is headed next. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:A Lasting Legacy: Although a company may pivot or change throughout its history, what customers remember most is the experience they had and the people within the company they interacted with. No matter where your business is headed, the most important thing to remember is to create the best customer experience possible and connect with customers as much as you can.Lessons From The Past: Even if you don't have a 100-year company history to rely on, you can always look to the past for trends and ideas that are likely to come back around. There is a saying that history repeats itself — and it's true. So be a student of history and prepare yourself with knowledge of what has happened before so you can be ready for the future.Instant Gratification: Although it is sometimes risky to carry a lot of inventory, it's equally risky to not have enough of what customers want readily available. When customers shop, they are often looking to solve a problem right now, and if you can't meet their needs, you will lose out on a sale today, and also the possibility of future sales from that same customer.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    What it Means to Be Sustainable with Maisa Mumtaz-Cassidy, Founder and CEO of Consciously

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 34:26

    Do you know where the shirt you're wearing came from? Not the brand, the actual fabric. Do you know who constructed the shirt? If you're a brand owner, do you truly know the conditions of the workers who you are sourcing goods from? Are they being paid fair wages? Do they have a safe environment to work in? For far too long, these questions were left not just unanswered, they weren't even being asked. But in today's world, the consumer is more aware of and cares about all aspects of their products, and they are voting with their dollars to support the brands that are doing things the right way. The problem is, though, that it's often hard to know for sure which brands are true to their word when they say things like they are “ethically-sourced,” “fair trade,” “vegan,” or any of the other buzzwords that they have identified. That's where Maisa Mumtaz-Cassidy comes into the picture. Maisa is the Founder and CEO of Consciously, a curated marketplace made for sustainable fashion. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I talked to Maisa about how she built her marketplace, what she looks for when she invites a brand onto the platform, and she gave some tips to sustainably-minded consumers on what questions they should be asking of the brands they want to support. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:The Big Disconnect: The Western buyer is, unfortunately, not often clued into the working conditions of garment workers around the world. Many third-world countries are the source of the garments we wear every day, and the conditions there are too often unsustainable and unsafe. When consumers dig into where their brands source their goods, there is more of an opportunity to improve the conditions and therefore the lives of the people who do the work.Don't Trust, Verify: As a brand or as a consumer, you should not simply take someone at their word. If the suppliers you work with say that they pay fair wages, make them prove it. Ask for pay stubs and go visit the factories or talk to the workers one-on-one to ensure they are being treated fairly. As a consumer, if a brand says they are ethically sourced, research what that means and ask them for proof. Request information about the products they offer and do your homework before you hand over money to a brand that is not operating in good conscience. And, by asking questions, you may bring to light issues that the brand didn't even consider and thus contribute to finding solutions.Built to Serve: If you state that you are built to serve the customer, you have to actually follow through. Stay engaged as much as possible. Have human-to-human interactions. Run polls and ask questions across platforms, and respond when customers reach out. These are simple but often-forgotten steps many brands should be paying more attention to in order to ensure customer satisfaction remains high.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How Spikeball is Building the Next Global Sport, with CEO Chris Ruder

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 39:18

    Starting a business is hard enough. Try launching and building an entirely new global sport. That's one heck of a challenge. But when you have a good idea, a product, and an organic way to connect with people, it's actually possible. Chris Ruder is the CEO of Spikeball, and he initially thought his little business would be a fun side hobby. The company idea even started off with the age old question, “Wouldn't it be cool if..?” But within five years, that little business with zero employees was earning $1.5 million in revenue and attracting attention around the world. That didn't happen by magic, though, and on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Chris and I dug into scaling a company by asking the questions you think are dumb — including to your own customers. For Chris, simply asking, “How did you find out about us?” was the turning point to finding an audience and then nurturing it so that it grows in the most organic way possible. He also gave the inside scoop on his Shark Tank experience, and why he encourages other entrepreneurs to take advantage of that opportunity if they are ever presented with it. Plus, Chris explains how he's been navigating the supply chain issues, including by finding new ways to expand the company beyond just physical products. Enjoy this episode.Main Takeaways:Ask The Dumb Questions: Many new founders come into an industry with questions that may seem dumb or obvious, but they need to be asked. Find people around you who can help guide you or inform you so that you can continue making the right moves without having to backtrack. This includes asking questions of your customers. Ask them what they think, how they found you, and what made them click “buy.”Set Customers Up To Be the Hero: When you engage with customers, you can offer them the opportunity to be your ambassador, but in the most authentic way. Work with them to develop their own community and following, set them up to be the hero, and in turn, you will see more organic growth and brand love than simply paying people to promote your brand for you.The Shift to Stuff: The last two years have seen a major change in how people shop and what they shop for. Consumers have moved away from experiences and moved toward buying more stuff to fill their time and satisfy their itch. CPG companies have been forced to supply more than ever, and the logistics and supply chains have suffered as a result. Work with your vendors and shipping partners to find more creative solutions, and try to find additional ways to bring manufacturing closer to home — even if that means adding different kinds of goods and services to your product portfolio so that you are not beholden to the supply chain.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    From Sales to SaaS: Diana Lee, CEO of Constellation Agency, Discusses Building and Licensing a Hyper-Local Ad Tool

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 4, 2021 45:22

    It's not every day that a car salesperson becomes a founder and CEO of a SaaS company that is revolutionizing the way companies do localized advertising. But that's the path that Diana Lee followed, and on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, we went through the whole story… and dug into how her company, Constellation Agency, built a technology that helped marketers stop crying (literally) because it was so hard to create hyper-local advertising. We also dove into how to think about capturing data in a world without cookies, and we discussed why, if you're going to be in the market for a car in the next year, you definitely need to be ordering one right now. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:Scaling Creative and Locality of Ads: In the past, there was no easy way to do advertising at scale in a hyper-local way, which is one of the most effective ways to advertise. Making local ads was a problem that would take a month for advertisers to solve, and now it's a one-click solution. By investing in this solution, not only was Constellation Agency solving a problem for itself, but stumbling on a solution that everyone in the industry needed and wanted.Life Without Cookies: The downfall of cookies is a worry for many marketers, but there is still a way to capture first-party data that will allow you to succeed. By rethinking the ad unit itself, and building all of the choice and preferences into the ad unit, you can ingest the consumer data you need in a way that you control.Don't Water it Down: It's a nice idea to be a one-stop-shop for your customers, but when you do everything, you're never able to become an expert at anything. Find what you're great at and focus on that because if you can be the best at one thing, you won't need to do anything else because customers will flock to you for your expertise.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    From Unconventional Experiences to the King of Customer Experience, with Eli Weiss, Director of Customer Experience at OLIPOP

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 41:33

    To say that Eli Weiss has taken an untraditional path to where he is today would be an understatement. Currently, Eli is the Director of Customer Experience at OLIPOP, but his roots are in a traditional orthodox Jewish household, his education does not include a college degree, and his first job in the industry came as a result of him doing a powerpoint presentation to the folks at an emerging luggage brand about why they were failing. Yeah, not what you'd expect. But Eli's whole career is about going above and beyond expectations — consumer expectations. From that luggage brand to NUGGS Vegan Chicken Nuggets, and now with OLIPOP, Eli has become a master of building out the ultimate customer experience, and he took us behind the scenes on this episode of Up Next in Commerce. Plus, he told us about the job board he set up to help people like him — with skills but untraditional backgrounds — so that more awesome folks can work their magic in the CPG space. This was seriously one of my favorite interviews, so I hope you enjoy it!Main Takeaways:The Road Less Traveled: Oftentimes, those with untraditional backgrounds or different levels of educational and career experiences get overlooked for jobs they are more than qualified for. Companies need to be willing to look outside the box and invest in people who can prove they have the skills needed to do a job, even if their past experiences don't line up with who you normally would hire.Promises Kept: It seems simple, but one of the biggest things companies overlook when it comes to customer experience is whether or not they are delivering on the promises they make. Take a look at your ad copy, your website, your social channels and product pages and determine if what you are selling to customers is what they actually get.More Than a Customer, A Friend: When brands interact with customers, most of the time the entire interaction is focused on a sale. But the best kind of customer experience comes when a brand treats a customer like a human being, and when addressing them, the brand thinks, ‘what would my friend want or need in this situation?' Even if someone is canceling a subscription, find out the backstory on why they are cancelling their subscription, maybe there is a deeper reasonthan what you expect and there is something you can do to reach out not to sell, but to show you care.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below.  Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Talking Telecos, Marketplaces and 5G, with executives from Gotransverse, Mirakl, and Matrixx

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 47:33

    When you look down at your phone, do you see a little 5G symbol? Do you know what that means or what kind of service 5G is providing? To take it a step further, if you're a business owner, are you connected to 5G? Is it helping your company move faster and operate more efficiently? Whatever the answers to those questions are, the problem remains that many of us, consumers and business owners alike, are still mostly in the dark about what 5G truly is, how it's different, and why we're actually only just scratching the surface of what 5G is capable of.On this roundtable episode of Up Next in Commerce, I dove deep into the mysteries of 5G with Geoff Coleman, Chief Product Officer at Gotransverse, Natasha Sachdeva VP Solutions Engineering at Mirakl, and Olivier Smith, Technology Lead from the Office of the CTO at Matrixx. We discussed what 5G is and is not, how it's currently being utilized, and what kind of possibilities will be opened up when 5G is made available in a more widespread manner. But to get there, it's going to take a lot of partnership with telecom companies, enterprise software businesses, and cloud, platform and marketplace providers, which is what brought my three guests together. It was a really interesting discussion, and I hope you enjoy it!Main Takeaways:Making It Sticky: What makes something like a marketplace sticky for consumers is how seamless the experience is for everyone. Whether you are offering local goods or using a marketplace to bring more wide-ranging products from all over the world to customers' in your backyard, whatever you're selling matters less than how easy the shopping, transaction and delivery experience turns out.How Marketplaces Create Growth and Opportunity for Sellers: There are limits to how ecommerce can grow and scale, and marketplaces offer a way to expand those opportunities. Marketplaces offer sellers speed and agility, along with resources that they cannot get elsewhere.Partner Up: As large and far-reaching as telecommunications companies are, even they cannot provide 5G to every industry. In order to advance the technology across all fields, partnerships with other large enterprise companies are necessary. This sets up a B2B2C model that requires finesse and understanding of different roles, particularly as it relates to delivering technology and services to the end consumer.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Fighting Fraud with David Fletcher, SVP of ClearSale

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 26, 2021 49:16

    Fraud has been a problem for centuries. And there have been bad actors and people with ill intent since the beginning of time. What's different today is the tools and methods that fraudsters are using, particularly when it comes to perpetrating fraud online. Both consumers and brands are in a constant battle against hackers and fraudsters who are gaming and attacking their defenses and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars. So to protect themselves and their cus, brands are putting strategies in place to limit their exposure to risk and stop fraud before it starts. But not only will that defense not last long because fraudsters are always coming up with new ways to run their schemes, more often than not the defenses a company sets up create a bad user experience for the very customers they try to protect. David Fletcher is the Senior Vice President at ClearSale International, and he and his team are helping to create better solutions, fight fraud, and help ecommerce companies process more orders while giving users excellent experiences. He told me all about it on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, and there are some great ideas for any brand to think about implementing. But even more than that, David and I went deep on some of the other hot topics in the fraud and privacy world, including the debate around two-factor authentication and what's happening on the dark web. It was so interesting. Enjoy!Main Takeaways:Cutting Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face: One of the ways many companies fight fraud is through filters. If they see suspicious activity from a geographical location or type of customer profile, they set their system to automatically decline those sales in order to prevent fraud. However, in doing that, the company has set up a system that will generate false declines — declining legitimate sales based only on generic information that has been flagged. In order to truly fight fraud and not negatively impact other customers, companies need to be more specific and targeted with their efforts.The Unsolvable Problem of Fraud: No matter what you do to address fraud as it happens right now, there will always be new ways that fraud occurs as time goes by. It takes constant vigilance and attention to the environment you're working in to stay ahead and protect your business and your customers. And while technology can help, having actual humans look into potentially risky transactions is the best way to identify what's fraud and what's not.Dig Into Data: By examining historical data, companies like ClearSale can get a full picture of how a company has operated and where its weak spots are when it comes to things like false declines and chargebacks, or other indicators of fraud. And from that data, you can almost immediately implement machine learning to improve your processes and get more orders approved.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Creating a New Business Model For Fashion, with Omer Kulka, CMO of Kornit Digital

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2021 41:58

    Kornit Digital has always marketed itself as a developer of technology, which, in today's world is pretty much what everyone says. In 2021, it seems like every company is either a tech company or a media company. So what is it that makes Kornit different from all the rest? Well, it starts with the fact that Kornit is creating technology that is more than just an app or a gadget: it's developing tech to enable sustainable fashion production, which could have quite an effect on a $3 trillion industry. To achieve this end, though, means that brands have to start thinking and acting differently. Instead of supply and demand, it's going to be all about demand then supply. Currently, 30% of fashion inventory is going unused and unsold. That negatively affects not just a company's bottom line, the resources wasted in producing and then eliminating those items has a massive negative impact on the environment. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Omer Kulka, the CMO of Kornit, explained to me all the ways the company is working to bring new technology, a new business model, and a whole new way of thinking to the industry to start turning those negatives into something better.  And the change is coming sooner than you think, so if you want to be prepared, you'll definitely want to pay close attention to this convo. Enjoy!Main Takeaways:Monetizing Trends: Everywhere you look, something or someone is going viral. For too long, it's been next to impossible to monetize those trends, but that's changing. By shifting to a demand and supply model, brands can create a system that allows them to meet the moment and deliver goods to customer that they want in the moment and then still be ready to deliver again when the next trend comes along.Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast: These days, if you're not innovating and disrupting yourself, you'll be out of business in the blink of an eye. The best companies in the world are always shifting gears and changing their skin to meet new demands. This takes a lot of strategy and preparation, but more importantly, it take great people and a culture where your employees are not afraid of change, they lean into it.The mash-up between physical and virtual worlds: Virtual fashion is fashion that doesn't exist in real life — think video and computer games or even in the future on Instagram— and it is an exciting new opportunity for on-demand, sustainable fashion.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    It's Not Always Easy: Fort's Rocky Road with Conor Lewis, Founder of Fort

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 40:11

    On this show and so many others, you hear a lot about the success stories and the big companies doing new and exciting things. But the fact of the matter is that those tales of major profits and winning market share and scaling, they were almost always preceded by some really tough times and moments that have crippled many entrepreneurs who have tried to trod the same path. Conor Lewis is right in the middle of those extremely tough times. Conor is the founder of Fort, a company that sells magnetic pillow forts for kids. It's a brilliant idea, and that's not just my opinion. Tens of thousands of backers on Kickstarter agreed, and they pledged more than $2 million to see Fort make its way into their living rooms. And yet, despite the buzz and the big raise, Conor is at a crossroads. He is on the cusp of success, but dealing with massive supply chain and logistics challenges that are also impacting companies around the world. Right now is where a company like Conor's can launch into the stratosphere… or not. So on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I was excited to talk to Conor and hear from him exactly what he's going through, how he's dealing with the challenges of a young CPG company, and where he thinks Fort can get to once he pulls the company through these rough early stages. This was a raw, honest, and interesting conversation that I think so many entrepreneurs and business folks will relate to. I hope you enjoy it!Main Takeaways:Hindsight is 20/20: There are certain areas of your business that you will have a handle on right from the get-go. Other things you will have to learn along the way. One of the things many first-time founders lack is access to a network who can help them, so they fly blind and they learn hard lessons building a network along the way, understanding how and where things could have gone better, and implement those lessons as the company grows.Competitor Adjacent: One hack new product companies can try is to find channels where your competitors are being talked about and try to position your own product there so that your potential customers can see you. But beware: there is actually some danger in which channels you chose - tune in to find out which.Move Past the Negativity: Whether you're winning or struggling, there will be detractors, hard times, and negativity in more ways than you imagine. You have to do what you can to move past these negative people and situations. If it's a customer, serve them in the best way possible (through refunds or replacements of goods) and compartmentalize the problem in a healthy way so that you can manage it, but not let it drag everything you do down.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    How Walmart Brought the Superstore into a Super App, with Cynthia Kleinbaum Milner, VP of Marketing for Walmart Plus, Online Grocery and Mobile App

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2021 41:39

    Throughout the years, Walmart has brought the idea of the superstore to life. Its name is ubiquitous, most Americans live within eight miles of a Walmart, and within the store, you can find everything from groceries to automotive services to custom paint production. Seriously, there is very little that you won't find within a Walmart. And, on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Cynthia Kleinbaum Milner told me about how that competitive edge is something that Walmart wanted to lean into as it evolved into the digital era. Cynthia is the VP of marketing for Walmart Plus, Online Grocery and Mobile App, and part of what she does is help Walmart use the power of its retail presence to engage with customers in an omnichannel way, this includes on mobile, which we touched on a lot in the interview. We also dove into Walmart Plus, and how Cynthia positioned Walmart Plus different from the competition, by getting the deepest understanding of what customers want and why. Plus we got into Cynthia's own journey and how she has developed her skills as a marketer to land at one of the biggest global companies ever. This was such a fun episode, I hope you enjoy it!Main Takeaways:Going Backward To Move Forward: The world changes so rapidly that oftentimes the skills you are using now as the main part of your job will be peripheral or inapplicable in just a few years. Rather than continuing on one path doing only what you know, it might be a better long-term strategy to step back and learn in other emerging areas to make yourself more well-rounded. Even if you have to make a lateral or backward move right now, in the long run you will be a much better and a more skilled worker.The Full Experience, Online and Off: Walmart is more than just a grocery store for those who go to physical locations. Naturally, the online experience had to be more than just one kind of shopping experience as well. Creating an app that makes the entire experience of shopping better, has to be the goal. Whether that means bringing in scan and go features to use in-store, or an endless aisle to shop from online, or building in additional services like financial help and delivery, there has to be more to your app so that you are providing customers with the ideal experience.Making Membership Worth It: Too often, brands have membership programs that have one or two benefits that customers use every once in a while at best. But if you're going to have a membership model, you want to make it worthwhile for customers and the business. There should be services that you can't access otherwise, you should be adding value to your customers' lives, and you should always be striving to add features and services that save time and money for your customers, which will make them want to use your app and come to your store even more.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Baby Talk: How Lalo is Changing the Buying Experience for New Parents, with Michael Wieder, Co-Founder of Lalo

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 42:10

    How new parents shop for their babies is unlike how anyone shops for anything else. I know, I've been there. You're anxious, you're thinking about all the things your baby will need, but you're also thinking in stages of what you'll need three months from now when your baby is in a completely different stage of development. It's overwhelming and the brands in the baby market are mostly just selling products, and not selling how to have a better experience as a parent. Lalo is one of the unique brands that is putting the parent's experience first, and that strategy has helped the company quickly grow into a favorite brand among moms and dads everywhere.On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I chatted with Michael Wieder, the co-founder of Lalo, about what it was like to create a new kind of shopping experience for parents, and how a little bit of light stalking went a long way to help Lalo figure out exactly what parents want and need. We talked about what it takes to bring a product to market with organic and authentic connections with influencers and consumers alike, and we got deep in the weeds of what strategies Lalo used to communicate with current and potential customers in order to improve not just the products, but the entire experience of buying products for your kids. Plus, we talked a bit about how Lalo has approached fundraising, which is a little bit controversial these days. Enjoy the episode!Main Takeaways:Influencers Are People, Not A Marketing Channel: You have to tap into an influencer's psychology and why they would actually love a brand, rather than paying them to market your product just because they are popular. Reach out to people who you know you can connect with, and ship them product to help them fall in love with the product first, then partner with you later. Not only does that form more authentic relationships, it saves you from wasting product and time on potential influencer relationships that won't work.Keep it 100: How you communicate with customers should be all about keeping it real. Think about how you would want to be communicated with, and treat your customers in that same way. And in order to deliver the right messages that also lead to actual sales, you have to focus on a few key pillars: technical, functional and emotional benefit.Get on My Level: Hiring the right people is the biggest challenge to growth. Not everyone will care as much as a founder, but you need to find people who do truly care and buy into the mission of the company and will fight to help it become better. You can also tap into the people who love your brand most to bring them on as advisors. For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript here: https://bit.ly/3zTMJOt---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Seeing and Hearing the Future, with Harrison Gross, Co-founder & CEO of Lucyd

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 40:46

    What do eyeglasses, blockchain, and social media all have in common? If you answered nothing, then obviously you haven't heard of Lucyd. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I sat down with Harrison Gross, the Co-founder and CEO of Lucyd, a smart eyewear company that is bringing hardware and software together in pretty incredible ways. Harrison told me all about how the company was built on IP from research universities — an underutilized trove of crazy cool ideas — and how Lucyd's crowdfunding backers became the perfect beta testers for the Lucyd Lyte glasses, which are glasses fitted with bluetooth technology that allow users to talk on the phone, listen to music, engage with Siri, and more, all without ever taking your phone out of your pocket. Smart glasses are not a new concept, so you may be wondering what makes Lucyd different. Harrison is developing an app to pair with the glasses that uses blockchain to create a social community where people can utilize tokens, buy and sell NFTS, and engage with people and brands -- all from their eyewear. It's a whole new kind of commerce, and I'm excited to bring you today's conversation with Harrison Gross!Main Takeaways:The Will of the People: Crowdfunding is not just a way to raise capital, it's a proven method to build a community of people who are willing to help your company succeed. Backers from a crowdfunding campaign can become a pool of beta testers and product development focus groups that can help a company get to a MVP much sooner than otherwise possible.Meet the Market: Although the market might not be in place to adopt your original idea, you can always pivot to deliver something that people need right now. But don't let the original idea die — find a new way to introduce that idea that is suitable to how people live and operate right now, the same way Lucyd is doing with blockchain technology, which you can tune in to hear more about!Make it Easy: If you have a product that will solve a problem or make someone's life easier, you might think it will sell itself, but it won't. You have to fully explain how the product works and where they will see improvement in their life through using the product. You also have to train those who sell the product to build education into their sales speak, and every piece of content you create should illustrate how you are making life better, because when the consumer sees that, you make their purchase decision easy.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Printful's Road To a $1 Billion Valuation, with Head of Marketing Raitis Purins

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 31:26

    There is no shortage of ecommerce companies popping up everywhere you look, especially in the U.S, where the culture of having a side hustle is making more and more people into entrepreneurs. Most of those companies sell products, and a lot of them also create or sell merch. That's where Printful comes into the picture. Printful offers on-demand printing and dropshipping so that companies of all shapes and sizes can design and deliver customized products all over the world. But, according to Raitis Purins, the Head of Marketing of Printful, that's not the main aspect of the company that has allowed it to grow to a $1 billion valuation.On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Raitis explains that when it comes to serving burgeoning ecommerce brands, you have to do more than deliver products to them, you have to help educate them. Printful is only successful if the companies it serves survive and thrive, and so when 9 out of 10 new ecommerce businesses fail, that could spell trouble. Raitis explained that a lot of what Printful does is create content that not only helps the company rank on Google and bring in new customers, but also helps those customers figure out their footing in this crazy world of business. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:Side Hustles As Printful's Main Hustle: Thanks to the culture of side hustles in the United States, there are more creators and entrepreneurs than ever before who all need merchandise. This audience is a fruitful place for companies like Printful and other personalization brands to lean into and deliver new products for.Encouraging Success: It is extremely difficult to create an ecommerce shop that stands the test of time. Success is hard to come by, and so if you serve those young brands, it benefits you to try to help them succeed. When they thrive, so do you, so if you have tips, best practices, or other lessons that you can share with those who come work with you, sharing what you know will create a mutually beneficial, and therefore loyal, relationship.Content, Content, Content: No one knows exactly what it takes to rank on Google, but there is consensus that content is king, and developing content around key themes, key words, and key phrases is one method that has worked before. In order to stay relevant and ranking, constantly be pushing out content around the keywords you identify as important, and build out that content in as many ways and languages as possible.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Scaling 101: How Leslie Kuster, CEO of Back from Bali, Intentionally Scaled Her Business From 5 to 7 Figures on Amazon

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2021 37:09

    I want to make money. Yep, I said it, and you should too, especially if you're an entrepreneur or business owner. It seems obvious, but, as my guest today will explain, that idea and saying those words out loud is what holds so many people back.Leslie Kuster is the founder and CEO of Back from Bali, an ecommerce fashion brand that she scaled from 50k to multiple millions in just a few years. She achieved most of that growth on Amazon, a platform that is always challenging but can work wonders for your business if you know the ins and outs. She does and she shared them with us, including how Amazon has been changing its terms of service around images, what kind of SEO strategies will work well, and what it takes to connect with customers even when facing certain restrictions. Plus, Leslie has a ton of advice for all kinds of entrepreneurs, and women in particular, about what it takes to turn something that was more of a hobby into a business worth millions. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:But Why?: Success in business comes down to having a vision and a “why” behind what you are doing as an entrepreneur. There are so many ups and downs, that if you don't have a vision that will fuel you and motivate you through all of the hardships, then you will not make it through them.Expanding In A Limited Way: When you think about expanding your business, you typically think about how to create a more broad product portfolio. Rather than bringing multiple new products to market, look at the product or products you have that are working already and expand those in creative ways.The Toughest Question of All: Trying to figure out where to invest your dollars is the biggest challenge for an entrepreneur. And when you are selling successfully on Amazon or on your website, you have to ask yourself is it worth it to try to drive traffic elsewhere? It's expensive to be competitive in different markets, particularly fashion, where there is already overcrowding. So rather than throw money at a channel or website that is competing against a sea of other challengers, shift your focus to an area where you can create a niche or where you are already having success.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    The Dog-Eat-Dog World of DTC Pet Food with Jinx CEO, Terri Rockovich

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2021 40:38

    If you've heard of Casper, the mattress-in-a-box brand, you unknowingly have heard of Terri Rockovich. Terri was one of the early employees at Casper and helped the company launch into the stratosphere. Today, she's trying to do the same thing with her new company, Jinx, a DTC dog food brand committed to helping our furry friends live their best lives. So maybe it should actually be DTD? Direct to dog?Anyway, as Terri told me, it's hard to make magic happen twice, especially when you're launching a brand in the middle of one of the biggest market shakeups in history. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Terri told me all about how Jinx had to pivot when its retail strategy fell to pieces when stores shut their doors in 2020, and she described how directing all of the company's focus to digital fulfillment and creative partnerships with brands like Petco, Rover and Target landed Jinx in front of a national audience faster than they imagined. Plus, Terri and I got into how disruptive brands can build a moat against their major CPG competitors. And be sure to take note of when and where you might be seeing (and maybe smelling) some doggie billboards coming soon! Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:A Moat With Many Alligators: Young disruptive brands often come to market to take on larger, established CPG companies. As a brand trying to grab market share, you might think you'd want to push out others just like you. Instead, it might be more effective for similar disruptive brands to all go after the one or two market players in order to open up even more opportunities. The disruptive brands, by definition, will be doing something different than the CPG companies, and that insulates them from being overtaken so easily, especially if they band together.Ditching Customization: Creating a custom experience seems to be all the rage, but by creating a product that meets the needs of many, scaling becomes much easier. With a widely accessible product, you can much more easily sell, produce and ship product with speed.Pick Your Path: If you want to compete online or in retail, you need to be sure that you show up in a way that allows you to stand out. Whether that's through price, uniqueness of product, the consumers you're targeting or in your marketing and packaging, there has to be something that makes people stop, look and give your brand a chance.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    Making A Taboo Product a Mainstream Success, with the Co-founders of P.S. Condoms

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2021 40:28

    When you're building a business, the stakes are always high. Now think about building a company based on a product that absolutely has to work 100% of the time and the other competitors in your category have been around for a century and own about 70% of the market. That might seem like a lot of pressure, and you maybe would assume that having to succeed under those circumstances would mean working in a pretty intense environment. But that's not necessarily the case for P.S. Condoms. The young DTC brand launched its first product in early 2020 and has been steadily building a base of loyal customers ever since. And the co-founders. Rob Seo and Raja Agnani, have made sure to bring some fun and humor to the company along the way.On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I talked to Rob and Raja about what it's been like to build P.S. Condoms and why creating a welcoming, open, and fun brand has been critical to the company's success. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:Bringing Sexy Back: For too long, the idea of what is “sexy” has been co-opted by a few major brands. By creating a company that messages to everyone and encourages them to embrace their individuality, P.S. Condoms has opened up the opportunity to reach more potential customers.Let's Meet IRL: Most things are better in person or when tried first-hand. When bringing customers into the funnel — especially as a new brand — online channels will only get you so far. Meeting with potential customers at in-person events and giving them samples to use in their everyday lives is the most effective way to get people further into the sales funnel.Keep It Clean But Still Creative: To advertise on the traditional channels, you have to follow certain rules. But those restrictions shouldn't limit your creativity, they should enhance it. Use the rules placed on you as a creative challenge to find new and more interesting ways to connect with people.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    Carpets, Catalogs, and Cutting Edge Tactics with James Pope of FLOR

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2021 47:36

    Catalogs and carpeting are two things that most people think went out of style in the 1990s. But those people are wrong, and FLOR is here to prove it. James Pope is the General Manager at FLOR, and on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, he took me through all the ways that the company is making carpet cool again through their unique, easy-to-install, and beautiful carpet tiles. But, the first question? How to find new customers when your parent company has focused on B2B customers in the past such as office spaces or hotels. Well, as they say, what's old is new again, and FLOR's top-performing marketing programs and main entry point for customers is… a catalog. That catalog represents 70% of their consumer demand. Wild. James really dug into the details around how they think about designing their catalogs from front to back, to tracking offline to online attributions, why holdout testing is key, and why the 80/20 rule holds true for almost everything. Plus, stay tuned to hear about FLOR's second-most successful marketing campaign which might just surprise you... Enjoy!Main Takeaways:Don't Overcomplicate: Even if you have a unique product or methodology, more often than not, consumers tend to make decisions based on what they know and already like. Try not to get too cute or complicated with how you present your product and instead, just make it easy for consumers to see the value in your product regardless of the way they buy or use it.An Old-School Starting Line: Despite the fact that many companies are digital-first, oftentimes a customer's starting point with a brand comes from a paper catalog they get in the mail. Brands are missing an opportunity when they ignore the more traditional means of marketing, especially now with over-saturated email inboxes and more consumers working directly from home. Digital marketing is easy to ignore, but everyone checks their mail every day, so you have a much better chance of having an impact there.What's In A Name?: Turns out a lot. In the search field, customers at FLOR tend to search for the branded product name rather than using generic terms. This means that not only should the website be optimized to accommodate those searches, but that it's important to pay attention to the names you give products.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    The Circular Economy: How Avery Dennison is Closing the Gap Between The Physical and Digital World with Max Winograd, VP of Connected Products

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2021 45:43

    Efficiency, transparency, trust. These are all things that both businesses and consumers crave, but don't always achieve. Especially not all with one solution. But thanks to digital identities, and the technology that's coming out of Avery Dennison, that's about to change. Avery Dennison, a Fortune 500 global materials science company, is taking digital identities past the point of simple QR codes and RFID tags, and into a place where brands and consumers will be able to do more with individual products than ever before. We're talking about a world where you can track the tiniest details of a product in shipment, like its exact origins to its temperature. And brands will have the ability to create more sustainable, reusable products that can learn from consumers each time they use and scan the digital identifiers, making it possible to adapt to changing consumer behavior in real time. To learn more about this new circular economy, I invited Max Winograd to the show, who serves as the VP of Connected Products at Avery Dennison and one of the founders of atma.io. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Max and I talked about all the ways that digital identities are already being used today, and what the future holds in terms of the connected experience that digital identities provide for brands and consumers. There are so many possibilities and upsides to the technology that Max and his team are creating at Avery Dennison, so keep your ears perked up for this awesome conversation! Main Takeaways:Individual Focus: Investments in innovative technology is helping make possible a future that will see consumers more in control of and informed about individual product journeys. Rather than simply tracking an item from the manufacturer to its final destination, consumers can get all the microdetails of a product. So whether you are expecting a shipment of produce or medical supplies and vaccines, Bluetooth, RFID, and other digital identity technology will make it possible to keep an eye on all of the minuscule details, like the temperature of the truck the product is being shipped in.So Long, Single-Use: How we package products is likely to undergo a fundamental change over the next few years. Rather than single-use anything, consumers will be encouraged and ultimately rewarded by having reusable individual containers that have unique digital IDs. So, rather than going to the store to buy a gallon of milk, so can have your own container, scan its QR code or other identifier at your local market, and the backend system will know who you are, what kind of milk you like (skim, oat, almond, etc.) and the exact amount, and will dispense that into your container.A Circle Is Round, It Has No End: Consumers are much more interested in taking part in a circular economy. There is more activity in re-commerce than ever before as customers turn to the resale marketplace. The need for product-level identification becomes crucial here because you can not only trace a product's origins, you can also pass along all of its information in the resale market, including selling it to be recycled and then have the recycled materials continue to be traced all along their journey.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    Seeing Clearly: How KITS Co-founder Roger Hardy has found repeated success in the DTC Eyewear Space through a customer-first approach

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 14, 2021 42:01

    Imagine this… it's 1999, and you and your sibling decide to start an ecommerce company with just a phone line, a 14k modem, a ping pong table, and a credit card. You build a website, find a product that has unnecessary margins, and decide to just.. do it better yourself. Feeling bullish on this ending? Well we are. Because that's exactly what Roger Hardy did when building his first company called Coastal Contacts, which grew to be the world's largest omni channel eyewear retailer. The success couldn't be ignored, and soon after, Coastal was acquired. But one part of that sibling duo, Roger Hardy, couldn't stay away from the eyewear game forever. He re-entered the space in 2019 with his new company, Kits.com, and by the end of 2021 the business will have already eclipsed $100 million in revenue.On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Roger and I got to chat about some of his secrets to success in the D2C world of eyewear. We dove into the importance of vertical integration, what the link is between a company's NPS and its valuation, and how to think about hiring if you want to go from 1 to 25 to 100 to 300 and beyond. Enjoy this episode!   Main Takeaways:Who's In Control?: Vertical integration has been a hallmark of many successful DTC eCommerce companies. When you control all the levers of production, you not only can cut costs and offer customers prices they will love, you also no longer have to worry about delays or logistics problems that otherwise would be out of your control and set you back for untold periods of time.Blend It Together: While you might have an idea of what you want to sell, if you focus only on offering your own premium products, you leave out an entire customer base that might be looking for something a bit different. By offering all kinds of products, you open the door to other customers who might not have found you otherwise. Then, once they are in the funnel, you can blow them away with a quality experience so they keep coming back for more, which is when you can present them with your product options.Beyond Basic: As you begin to scale, there comes a point when you have to think bigger than just hiring to fill roles. Even if the person is smart and a cultural fit, the aim needs to shift to attracting and hiring people who are the best in the world in every department.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.  

    Crowding Funding Secrets: How raising $28M through crowdfunding inspired Dan Shaprio, CEO of Glowforge, to build the ultimate ecommerce experience.

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 9, 2021 47:49

    Crowdfunding has been around for centuries — all the way back to the 1700s when Alexander Pope was looking for resources to publish his book. So what did he do? He turned to the people! In return for their funding, his supporters were promised a shout out in the manuscript and would receive a printed copy.  Thanks to the internet, crowdfunding has been taken to another level. With easy access to billions of people — and their wallets — young companies, inventors, and entrepreneurs have used sites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and others to get some wind in their sails. Dan Shapiro was one of them. Dan is now the Founder and CEO of Glowforge, but before that, he had a massively successful crowdfunding campaign for a board game he had invented for his kids. Through that experience, Dan realized that there were certain elements of crowdfunding that he described as “magic” and that he thought could translate to the world of ecommerce. For his next venture, he wanted to take the high-intent visitors to a crowdfunding site on his website and get them to start converting reliably on the brand's landing page. He wanted to build a community, and to build excitement that would turn into a flywheel of referrals and inbound leads. Oh, and he wanted to build an inclusive, mission-driven internal culture at the same time.Well guess what. He did just that with his next crowdfunding campaign. With $100K campaign goal that ended up being blown out of the water, hitting $27M in pre-orders, he launched his next endeavor. And we dove through all the details on this episode of Up Next in Commerce! Main Takeaways:Beyond Crowdfunding: The conversion rate of a visitor to Kickstarter is exponentially higher than that of a traditional ecommerce site visitor. So how can you take the elements of a crowdfunding site and bring it over to a traditional online marketplace? There are certain strategies and tactics that transcend crowdfunding and harnessing that energy, excitement, and engagement can be a differentiator for a brand.Bring A Friend: Referral programs are nothing new, but when done right, they can be a game changer for a new brand. Look at your customer base and the products they are buying from your company. If you are selling to naturally extroverted people — any kind of creator — and your product is helping them create something that they'll want to share, tap into that natural tendency and give them incentives to share what they're doing and how your company helped. This could lead to a flywheel of inbound customers without having to spend big on marketing.Come Back When You Want: Repeat customers are the lifeblood of many companies. And while getting customers to return is important, how and why they do so is even more critical. You want people to come back to your company because they were delighted by the product or the experience, not because they need to replace a part that wore out or broke. Those experiences leave a bad taste in the consumers' mouth, and you should be striving for the opposite, especially if you are trying to build a community of advocates.  For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    Scaling from $0 to $25M at the speed of (UV) light with CEO of R-Zero Systems, Grant Morgan

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2021 54:25

    What if I told you that a technology that has been around since the 1910s is the secret sauce to a company that was founded in 2020 and has completely exploded in the year since? And when I say exploded, I mean scaling from $0 to over $25 million in…. Less than a year. Well, that's the story of R-Zero Systems, and it's a great example of how, in today's world, spotting an opportunity, moving fast, and being able to solve problems in real-time is what separates the winners from the losers in the business world. Whether you're in CPG, retail, healthcare, or some combination of multiple verticals, the biggest problem a company has is the ability to sustainably scale. But R-Zero Systems is showing just how to do it well, and that's not the only solution the company is bringing to the table. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I sat down with Grant Morgan, the co-founder and CEO of R-Zero Systems, and he told me all about the wild ride the company has been on since its founding in spring of 2020. See, R-Zero is a biosafety technology company that, thanks to its innovative products, helps customers create safer spaces for its patients, employees, students, and anyone else entering an indoor space. It was created for the same reason as any other company — to solve a problem. The difference, though, was that Grant and his team were able to first, ramp up production at a time when few others could, and second, bring something critical to the very specific needs of the market that was already proven to be effective but wasn't very accessible. Turns out, that's the key to growing quickly is effectiveness and accessibility all at once, oh, and maybe a few other things too. Want to know what they are? Find out on this episode! Plus, listen closely to hear my epic UV product ideas that I know Grant is eager to add to his product roadmap, and some of the funniest product requests he has received to date. Main Takeaways:Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: One of the factors that affects productivity is sick days. By finding a way to reduce sick days, a company can operate more economically and efficiently. But more than just impacting the bottom line, by investing in creating a healthy environment, you are providing workers a better overall experience.Proof Positive: Even when you are working with a proven technique, application, or resource, when you introduce it in a new way, you have to go through the due diligence to re-prove its efficacy. Especially when what you are trying to prove is invisible to the human eye.The Right DNA: In order to scale, hiring is key. But this task shouldn't be treated lightly. One wrong hire can impact the culture in more ways than one could imagaine. So how do you create and keep a culture worth building around, and find the right people for the company? Tune in to hear how Grant things about hiring within a fast growing company.!For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    The Not-So-Far-Out Future with Rightpoint's Chief Commerce Officer, Phillip Jackson

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 2, 2021 47:53

    Okay, so sitting around trying to predict the future can be a pretty fun challenge. But for Phillip Jackson, the Chief Commerce Officer at Rightpoint and the Co-founder of Future Commerce, there's no better way to spend a day — or an hour on a podcast. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Phillip and I went deep down the rabbit hole of all the crazy trends we're currently seeing in the ecommerce world, and where we expect the industry to head next. From spotting innovation in the gaming community, building the ecommerce metaverse, or working with disruptor brands on high-risk, high-reward ideas to grow a digital community, we touched on it all. Plus, if you think big retail is dead, tune in to hear Phillip's interesting take on how that is anything but true, and how the D2C brands currently praised on Twitter are nothing in comparison to the private revolution happening in places like Target and Walmart. Just check out the GMV if you don't believe him! This was such a fun interview, and I loved getting the chance to pick the brain of another smart, forward-thinking podcast host and ecommerce enthusiast! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!Main Takeaways:Retail Takeover: The private label revolution is all around us, you just have to know where to look! Hint: Check the quarterly earnings..Coming Together: Brands love to say they built a community. And while that might be true, the problem is that all brand communities are currently siloed. The future of commerce will be more unified as brands continue to experiment with ways to create an ecommerce metaverse by blending different digital properties, platforms collectibles, and other elements together and making them available more broadly outside of specific channels.Game On: To get a look at where the future of commerce and technology is headed, the best place to look is often in the gaming community, where innovation happens constantly and those innovations often find their way into the real world.Failure is Always An Option: Ecommerce shouldn't be boring, it should be filled with experimentation, risk-taking, and big swings. Historically, bigger brands have played it safe and stayed on the prescribed path, which has meant they have been left behind by the disruptor brands that are more willing to try, fail, learn, and try again.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    Website Optimization and the Importance of A/B Testing and Qualitative and Quantitative Data

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 31, 2021 35:47

    Every business needs a website, and every website needs a landing page. These are universal truths. Where things become fuzzy is when you try to understand what makes a landing page good versus just good enough. The difference between having a landing page that is optimized versus one that just works could be huge: we're talking more conversions, higher LTV, and, ultimately, more money headed toward your bottom line. So then why are brands still neglecting their landing pages? And what can they do to make them better?I asked those exact questions to Raphel Paulin-Daigle, the founder and CEO of SplitBase, which is helping companies like L'Oreal, Diff Eyewear and more scale their websites in meaningful ways that impact their bottom line. Raphael walked me through some of the biggest mistakes companies are making when it comes to their websites, including the severe lack of patience most brands have for testing and failure. But, as Raphael explains, it's in the experiments and failures that you learn the most. Tune in for all the insights and get ready to start running A/B tests once this episode is over! Main Takeaways:Math in the Real World: Turns out that statistics class you took in school is important in real life. When it comes to testing, you need to understand and adhere to solid statistical models. This means having patience, getting large sample sizes, and running tests for longer than it takes to build up a reliable data set, rather than just get some quick results that could lead to biases in your numbers.Sweet Simplicity: Asking the basic questions, like “what do you love about this product?” is one of the best, but often-overlooked, ways to get customer feedback that will actually make a difference in marketing copy and product design. Customer feedback is critical, but gathering it has become overly complicated. Break it down to its simplest form and go from there.Don't Trust Your Gut: The biggest mistake most brands make is believing that they know their customers based solely on anecdotal evidence and internal brainstorming. Your gut instinct about customer personas are usually built on cliches and supposed known factors, which ultimately makes those personas useless. You have to have a more analytical approach that combines both qualitative and quantitative data in order to come up with customer profiles that can be useful to the business objectives.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    Heard It Hear First: How a 3D Printer, a Super Bowl Champion, and a Team with Grit are Disrupting a 100+-Year-Old Industry

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 26, 2021 31:47

    There is more to a company than just a really cool product or two. The best businesses are built on revolutionary products mixed with value-adding opportunities, marketing, partnerships, and leadership. Dome Audio has all of that in spades. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I sat down with my friend Timothy Wright, a Super Bowl champion and the chief strategy officer of Dome Audio, a disruptive headphone technology that has the world's first surround sound, bone conduction headphones. Tim breaks down what it took to build the patented bone conduction technology (sneak peak, just imagine a sketch, a cad file, and a 3d printer...). Plus, we dive into how they are thinking about licensing and IP partnerships and hint at a possibility for how they plan to utilize NFTs in the future. We also had a fun discussion that took us behind the scenes of his pro football journey with five NFL franchises that resulted in a Super Bowl XLIX ring, and lessons he has taken from the world of football and brought into his business ventures. Also, as a quick side note, I am an investor in Dome Audio, but this podcast is for purely informational purposes and not to be used to drive investment decisions. So with that, enjoy this episode with Tim Wright! Main Takeaways:Dream It, Build It: There are products on the market for just about everything. But who's to say those products can't be improved? Game-changing companies are built on ideas from people with the drive to put them into action. Use the resources at your disposal — your experience, your connections, the technology available — and iterate until you find the way to make a product that brings something unique to the marketplace.More Ways Than One: To have long-lasting success, companies need to find multiple avenues they can use to bring value. The product is one thing, but how else can you bring a different customer base or demographic to the table? The more ways you can monetize, the better.One Degree of Separation: To drive engagement and build buzz, you have to get in front of an audience. To do that, you have to build a team and partnerships that mirror, or are affiliated with, that target audience. The closer you can get to the people you want to reach — through brand partnerships, influencers, etc. — the better off you will be for a strong launch.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here. 

    What's Old is New Again: How SCOUT is Leaning Into Old-School Methods to Harness the Power of Authenticity and Connection

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2021 42:25

    Knowing your customer is the obvious first step to creating and selling products. But there are still companies that lose sight of who they should be targeting, where, and with what kind of content.SCOUT is not one of those brands. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Deb Waterman Johns, the Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at SCOUT, took us behind the scenes of what it's like to build a brand that is all about authenticity in its products, its partnerships, and its marketing efforts. Deb explains what it takes to not get pigeonholed in a certain category or vertical, and also talks us through why retail partnerships are going to be important to ecommerce brands in the years to come. Plus, she highlights how what's old is new again, not only in the world of fashion, but business too, and how their team is leaning back into some “old school” tactics to really connect with their customers in the most authentic way.  And because she has been a color consultant to some of the largest brands, I had her reveal what color palettes are going to be trending in the upcoming year.Main Takeaways:Don't Get Pigeonholed: Sometimes a product can be labeled as one thing and then excluded from all other categories. For example, a bag that's seen as a gift is not often also identified as a piece of fashion. It takes strategizing to market and display your products in a way that avoids that outcome and allows you to reach all kinds of buyers.Remember Your Day-1s: Although the move to ecommerce is in full force, it's important to remember that there were brick-and-mortar stores that supported and carried your brands from the beginning. Retail locations and ecommerce brands have benefitted from strong partnerships since Day 1,and those are relationships that should be nurtured and leveraged to maintain contact with all kinds of customers. The benefit from ecommerce and retail partnerships exists within the opportunity to promote new and different products and build excitement with customers in person and give them more value every time they shop.Getting Down To What's Real: Authenticity has never been more imperative than when it comes to marketing and product development. The brands that ditch the high-gloss photoshoots and invest in more real-life, everyday content are experiencing higher levels of engagement. The same can be said for the brands that take the time to get to know their customers on a real, deep level. Understanding who you are talking to, what they like, and what resonates most with them is critical to creating content that lands and converts.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of this interview, click here.

    Don't Rain on Weatherman's DTC Success Parade

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 19, 2021 40:01

    Some products are new and cutting edge. They're exciting and they make people rethink how they live or work. And then other products are … umbrellas. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with umbrellas, I just don't find myself thinking about or buying them very often. And that's one of the problems that Tyler Kupper says they are overcoming at Weatherman Umbrella. Tyler is the Chief Revenue and Partner at Weatherman, and on this episode of Up Next in Commerce, he told me all about what it's been like trying to disrupt an industry that hasn't really  seen any innovation in 50 years. The conversation was really interesting, especially because Weatherman isn't just thinking about making a product that protects people from the elements, Weatherman has big plans that involve data, apps, partnerships, custom features, and more. Weatherman is thinking long-term, and it's already working out great because the company has inked major partnerships in the golf world with Arnold Palmer and the Ryder Cup, and has gotten its foot in the door at big box stores such as DICKS and Golf Galaxy. And Tyler says there's just the beginning! So grab your rain boots and prepare for an epic episode.Main Takeaways:There's An App For That: Products are designed to solve problems, but sometimes products come with extras that are unique or add value. Users need to be educated on those aspects of the product, and things like apps and experiences can help brands do that.Howdy, Partner: Niching down within certain pockets of an industry or customer base is one of the best ways to start to grow a company. By finding strategic partners that can give your brand legitimacy and put you in front of your target audience, you will be able to achieve much more growth than if you simply relied on a single digital ad channel.Can I Get A Sample?: There is very little a company can do that is more powerful than giving potential customers the opportunity to simply use your product. If it is high quality and meets a need, getting the chance to experience it for free and making that experience memorable — from the unboxing to the collateral included — is going to make that person receiving the sample much more likely to be a loyal customer. And this is true whether you are selling to an individual or chasing a PO from a big box store.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of the interview, click here. 

    Building a Better Bank

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2021 39:51

    In 2021, you'd think that just about everything has been digitized at this point, right? Wrong. In the world of banking, there are still local banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions that have been slow to hop on the digital bandwagon. NCR is here to help not just them, but their customers as well by providing all the technology necessary to make banking, digital payment, and other transactions possible on mobile, online, or anywhere you want. But that's not all. As with everything from ecommerce to marketing, banking is about to get more personalized thanks to data and automation. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Doug Brown, the President of NCR Digital Banking, explains it all and paints a picture of what banking will look like for the average consumer as well as businesses big and small. He also talks about how solutions can and should be implemented regardless of the business you're in and who you should be asking to get a handle on what consumers actually need. And he dives into where and how crypto will evolve next. Enjoy this episode. Main Takeaways:Big or Small, Tech for All: Regardless of the size of a bank or financial institution, there is now technological capability to make them all function in the same way in the eyes of the customer. Every transaction can and should be available digitally, and the proliferation of tech like the cloud and edge computing has made that possible. This, by extension, allows for more flexibility and choice for people and businesses to choose the banks and financial institutions that work best for them.Make It Quick, Keep It Personal: Today, consumers want two things: simplicity and personalization. They want to transact, move money, or make payments in a matter of seconds or minutes, not days or weeks. And they also want to know that when they are loyal to one bank or service, that they will be rewarded with unique, personalized deals. Those are the expectations that banks — and all consumer-facing businesses — are currently facing.Not Even Close: Whether you run a bank or a retail store or an ecommerce shop, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming you know what a customer wants or trying to bring in solutions based on nothing but trends and what's flashy or new. More often than not, what you think is an issue is miles off from what the consumer is actually challenged with, and if you just ask them or test out a few things, you'd be able to find that out.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---For a full transcript of the interview, click here. 

    Becoming More Than a Brand Inside and Out

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 12, 2021 45:15

    Everything you put out as a brand should be interesting, it should be relevant to your consumer, and you and your employees should be proud of the final product. So why then are so many brands finding that the people who work so hard on and actually create the marketing materials aren't sharing the end result? Max Summit is a marketing consultant who has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world — Adidas, Lululemon, Athleta, the list goes on — and regardless of the brand, whether they sell online or in brick and mortar, Max knows that true connection with customers start with the connection to the internal employees. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Max discusses all the ways that brands should be doing internal pulse checks and reinventing their mission in order to make their marketing materials hit home with consumers. Plus, she explains how brands should be thinking about ways to become resources for customers beyond just being a provider of goods and services, and she gives examples from her days at Lululemon that any company can learn from and where VR and AR can come into play. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:Who's Sharing What?: To gauge the health and success of your company's creative, doing an internal pulse check is necessary. Are employees sharing the work they have produced? Are they proud and willingly talking and posting about the latest project they are working on? Do a post-mortem to gauge how a project went, what aspects were wins and where things could have gone better and allow everyone to share freely and openly how they really feel.Who Knows What?: The boots on the ground at retail stores are often the people with the most knowledge of the consumers and what they want. Brands need to create a more connected communication structure that allows everyone in retail to interact with HQ and the ecommerce team to paint the most holistic view of the customer and then create products and marketing content for them.Who's Engaging with What?: One of the biggest struggles brands face is getting consumers to engage both initially, and long-term. So brands have to hook a consumer quickly, and keep bringing them back with an interesting, exciting, and valuable experience. Virtual and augmented reality experiences are a recent way that brands have been solving this problem, and the creativity and utility that VR and AR offers sets the table for it to be a major way that brands and consumers interact for years to come.  For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---Transcript:Stephanie:Hey everyone, and welcome back to Up Next in Commerce. This is Stephanie postles, CEO at Mission.org and your host. Today on the show we have Max Summit, who is a brand marketing consultant. Max, welcome to the show.Max:Thanks Stephanie, I'm really happy to be here.Stephanie:I'm happy to have you too. So with you, I want to start back in your personal story. Growing up in Brazil, you have a very interesting story around medical issues and growing up in this very creative household, very intriguing household. So, I want to hear just your background before we dive into what you're doing today.Max:Sure. Absolutely. Let's see, the elevator pitch here. So I was born in Boston, but actually raised in Brazil. I am the proud daughter of a ballerina turned designer my mother, and my father was very musically inclined, he had a lot of passions around art and music even though eventually he really poured I think the majority of his time into tech and entrepreneurship. But my upbringing in Brazil I think was anything but traditional.Max:My stepbrother and I, we used to spend our summers down in the beach barefoot on the sand, falling asleep to the stars at night. My granddad would sometimes pick us up after school on a Friday, we would drive down to the beach and we'd spend the weekend on the boat, which was awesome and really lovely. I think as a child, you take in these experiences as they come but when you live as an adult, you oftentimes, I think, look back and reminisce and you think, "How can I also provide that for the next generation or for myself and my own kids?"Max:So yeah, I think it was a very interesting upbringing, very dynamic, I think absolutely it was not traditional by any means. I think that existence and that relationship that I was taught at a young age to be embracive of nature and be embracive of human experiences I think ultimately led me down to this path in brand marketing unknowingly, but that's where I am today is just really embracing, I think, storytelling and identifying the unique patterns and behaviors of organizations that can really communicate something to the world and to the people around them in a way that I think makes sense for today's audience and today's consumer.Stephanie:Yep. Yeah. I love that. I'm just having an entire movie playing out in my head, imagining you on the beaches also now I'm like, "I need to go to Brazil. That's the next step for me?"Max:Yeah, it's funny. I'm definitely painting a more poetic existence, I definitely think my brother and I, we were quite mischievous as well as I think that playful character and that playful nature, I think also lends itself well for a role in marketing. Although sometimes in a leadership position, you can't be as playful as you like to be, but it's definitely I think helped me get to where I am today, for sure.Stephanie:I love that. And tell me a bit about, I know you had a medical scare I think it was around 15 or something. And I was reading a quote where you're saying, "That changed the way I thought about everything," and I wanted to hear a bit about that because I'm sure it's impacted even where you're at today.Max:Yeah. Absolutely, as I said I grew up in Brazil, sports I think is very much a part of the culture and the DNA there. I did everything from soccer, to swimming, to [inaudible], and eventually I think I really found my place in volleyball. That was really the sport where I felt most comfortable. Again, I had great mentors and great coaches who identified long-term potential and I think saw an ability for me to do it even professionally at some point in my life and my family and I really invested a lot of time and energy going to games, getting the proper coaching, the proper training. And I was in a final match, a pre-qualifier for you to be on the national team.Max:And I came down from a jump serve and I remember hearing this massive, shattering pop that went from my ankle all the way down to my hip. And essentially I ripped six ligaments on my leg, my achilles, my hip tendon, my ACL and my MCL, you name it and eventually it was just one go. And it was in that recovery phase where in post-op I went through surgery and I was recovering, and we're flying back from Brazil where my leg really began to swell and the pain intensified over the course of the plane ride.Max:And when we landed back in Boston, it had really gotten to a place where it felt extremely uncomfortable and my mother and I, of course back then there wasn't a lot of research and knowledge around clotting and how that happens postoperatively and how flying can sometimes intensify that. So, I think we were really uneducated around some of those medical complications that you can face, so we shrugged it off as it was a 13 hour plane ride, your leg is probably swollen from the compression or decompression.Max:We didn't really think much of it and we went to bed, and I woke up in the middle of the night really screaming, had really intensified pain, not really understanding what was happening. And I remember my mother was really rushing up upstairs because I was calling for her, I was yelling like, "Mom, mom, mom, something's wrong." And when we pulled the sheets over, my leg was gangrene. It was blue, black, every color that you can imagine I think all the capillaries were just exploding subcutaneously.Max:And one of the last things that I remember was actually my mother grabbing me by my shoulders to try to calm me down. And this feeling of almost, I would say I think I'll use this on the interview as well, like a champagne cork when it explodes, it just happens in an instance. And when that sensation happened, everything just melted away and what we found out weeks later when I woke up in the hospital, was that the expansion of the leg was really what's known as a DVT, a deep vein thrombosis.Max:And the clotting had literally originated from my ankle and had gone all the way to my knee and a piece of it dislodged and went into my lung. And when that happens, your body's deprived of oxygen and it shuts down, and I experienced all of this at age 15, which I think for a normal 15 year olds everyone is planning prom, everyone's playing around their first boyfriend. If they're lucky, maybe they're celebrating their one year anniversary with their high school sweetheart. And for me, I spent the majority of my 15 years in a hospital bed at Mass General in Boston.Max:I think the realization of life and how fragile it is and how limited our time is, and it can be on this planet, I think was reintroduced to me at an age where most teenagers aren't thinking of that. And I think it's allowed me to move through the world a little bit more intentionally, and in a way I think I've been seeking a greater sense of purpose since so that if I were to find myself in another hospital bed hopefully I won't have as many regrets or as desires as I thought I had at age 15.Stephanie:Wow. Wow. I have goosebumps with your story right now. I feel like we could just make that the entire episode, talking about how to live an intentional life. Oh my gosh, that's wild. Yeah.Max:Definitely. I think if anything too, COVID has in a way, I think shed light for a lot of individuals. I think a lot of families, a lot of my close friends and even professional mentors, I think everyone has used this as an opportunity to self-assess and to reevaluate and really measure the scales of lifeStephanie:That's amazing story. So, I want to dive into the brand aspect of things. You said an interesting quote early on before the interview, that you stumbled into it, you did not plan to get into this world, but when you look at your roster of brands that you've served, it's wild. So, first talk about how you got into this world and also some logos just to show people you know obviously what you're doing.Max:Sure. I'm definitely lucky, I'm going to say I think luck is a big aspect of it. But yeah, essentially I studied philosophy and English in college which is so bizarre to think that someone who studied those two fields would eventually end up in marketing. But I think the way everything cascaded and fell into play was really at the root of it was just having fantastic leaders and mentors who identified my potential, who I think understood the reward that comes with molding someone and bringing them into the process and giving them the right opportunities that I think really shed light on their personal aspects, but also their professional aspirations.Max:And the way I fell into this industry was, so actually I started in non-profit worlds, really volunteering, taking gigs as they came mostly in the creative parts. I did a lot of pre-production post-production work then I eventually went into graphic design, I did a graphic design residency for about two years and then eventually got pulled into copywriting then from copywriting I did video. So, doing the gamut of all the art functions and I realized in that process it actually sucked at all of them. I was like, I was good enough to have a general understanding at introductory level, but I very quickly on realized that I was never going to be the director of copywriting or the director of photography-Stephanie:Which is a beautiful thing, because it answers a lot of questions for you. I've had many of those experiences where I'm like, "Well thank you life for showing me that's just not my thing and I can move on now know."Max:Yeah, and also it takes a lot of vaping gut too, to tell yourself, "I suck at something."Stephanie:I'm going to own it, I suck.Max:And I need to find something else that I enjoy, but I knew that I wanted to be in a creative function. But I think ultimately what was missing, I think from all those experiences was the afterthought. So, the strategic side of it and I got my foot in the door actually as a freelance graphic designer working at Adidas. And the way that happened was really through networking. So, when I said that I was really hustling and trying to get gigs on the side, that's literally what I was doing, I was identifying meet and greets that's right. I used meet and greets, which back then was meetups.com at work in my local community.Max:I would raise my hand, any volunteer opportunities for races or local community events. At the time I was living in Boston, and Adidas was a big sponsor for the Boston Marathon. And again, I raised my hand and said can I do any graphic design work? Do you guys need help as a volunteer, it was just saying yes until someone and something was willing and ready to bring me on board. And I started as a volunteer graphic designer and from there that role quickly became a little bit more robust in nature. So, one project led to another, it went from being freelance graphic design to, would you like to support us at a photo shoot? Would you like to do some post production work for us, some casting?Max:And things just fell into place, and it took a very wonderful mentor and a very lovely boss like I said, to really identify that potential in me and tapped me on the virtual shoulder and said, "Hey, I think your place is actually in brand, it's not in creative," which like I shared with you guys I knew that already, I sucked at all four fields. But I hadn't yet gotten that golden offer, that golden ticket to come in full time and he offered me a job. He said we're starting a new division at Reebok.Max:At the time he was moving over from the Adidas side onto the BU classic side I'll be overseeing the division there and we need a brand manager would you like to take a chance on life and take a chance on this opportunity? And needless to say, I said, yes. And things really cascaded and fell into place after that. And just to throw some logos out there like you asked from Reebok, I went to lululemon, from lululemon I then joined a much smaller, but reputable brand in Canada called Lolë. And then from Canada, most recently I was the director of marketing over at LA Athleta, which is a [inaudible] company.Stephanie:Wow. Yup, yup. Awesome logos of course, which is why I was like, "You have to name drop them." That's a really fun story about getting that invite and having someone bet on you before you even knew if you could enter into that world. I want to talk about brand in general and defining a strong brand, because you've worked at some amazing companies now who have done just that and they've been able to develop this following and stay true to brand. And you just see the cohesiveness when you look at what they're doing everywhere, you get it instantly. So, what do you think defines a strong brand today? How do you go about building that?Max:It's a great question and it's definitely evolved. I think when I first started my career in this journey working in performance sports, endurance sports, I think it was very much benefit led marketing. So, it was really about the best shoes takes you on the longest run. Sometimes you got the occasional, this is the shoe that was designed by Michael Jordan. There's a little bit of that celebrity persona aspect of it, but when I really began this journey, it was very product marketing. It was very benefits led, it was a very simplified message.Max:I think there were very little brands that understood and promoted, I think mission driven content and purpose led communication. Nike, I think was one of the first in the industry to package that up and present it in a way that was digestible to the consumer. I think where we're at now today is most brands if not all, I think need to have a purpose led message or at least a mission driven DNA aspect of their brand. I think consumers are demanding more out of brands, I think that now more than ever they're equipped with knowledge and the tools to actually do the research.Max:Which I think before, oftentimes again, the brands really held that power. They could really decide if and when to release messages around sustainability, messages around diversity, equity inclusion everything was very much calculated I think 10, 15 years ago in marketing. Now, if consumers can't find that information on day one on your website or through your social channels, they'll walk away and they'll go to another brand whose mission and purpose is more overtly available on site as well as in their social channels.Stephanie:So, when you're approaching brands that maybe don't already have this, how do you go about it in a way that keeps it authentic? Because, throughout all the things that have been happening in the past year or two, maybe you see brands quickly trying to lean into something and be like, "Oh, we're in that space too, we're doing that well." And then a lot of them end up one week later, two weeks later or whatever it is it's gone and that can actually do more harm probably than not having anything at all. So, how do you approach that, because it feels like a tricky space to play in?Max:It is. And I think it's definitely a hard question that you have to ask yourself and your organization, what are you as a company uniquely qualified to give to the world? Because, I think it is that unique nature that me as a brand marketer can package up and I can create a strategy behind and a communications and really elevate that and present that to the rest of the world. I think the brands that are struggling like you mentioned some were having to pull back.Max:Other brands that aren't having those honest conversations with themselves, I think their desire to want to jump on something that is currently mainstream but not necessarily an element that trickles down back to their DNA and their structure and their organization. It doesn't take long before it's a domino effect. It doesn't take long before you see all of the pieces falling at the same place. But I think really identifying what you as a company are most uniquely qualified to deliver to the world and to your customer, I think that is the hardest, if not the most important conversation that you can have and you can also give to your marketer.Stephanie:Yep. Yep. How do you go about measuring how a brand is doing? So, I'm thinking about what consumers say versus how they really feel, a good quote, maybe not a quote, but a summary from the CMO of UPS, they came on another show of ours and they said that they had really good brand recognition, people trusted them, but a lot of their consumers saw them as an old and stodgy company so they had to rethink their marketing because of that. But I'm like, if you would've just heard the first piece of oh, we have a great brand, recognition and trust, I'm just going to stop there, I'm good. Versus, getting into the details of, and it's a yes and they also think this, how do you go about measuring a brand's performance or how the consumers actually view them?Max:I love that quote too, taking a soundbite and turning it into an actionable insight. I will probably say something's that's a little bit more controversial, but that's in my nature.Stephanie:Yeah, I love that.Max:I love internal employee pulse checks. I think for me, the true measure of whether your work is adding any value or is exciting people is whether or not your employees are naturally promoting that work. Very often it does not happen, you would be shocked how many times even sitting in a marketing function living it day in, day out going through the blood, sweat and tears will team members refrain from posting. I think it's just there's very little work that I think is being put out into the world today where employees take pride on wanting to showcase it and really wanting to advocate for it.Max:So, my way of measuring success is if you can take a head count around the table, and if every member from your team posted, shared it, communicated, was proud to wear it as an emblem, I think you've succeeded in your role first and foremost, if you're just relying on that customer, if you're just relying on that external feedback again, I think you failed as an organization and as a mentor and as a leader internally.Stephanie:Yep. Yeah. I love that. That's really good. I'm thinking about different types of companies that probably definitely have an easier time. I'm thinking the non-profit world, people go there, maybe not always getting paid the highest, but they are there for a mission versus maybe other companies where people are there for the money or it's a trend. How do you think about actually getting that feedback? Are you literally going around the room being like, "Did you share, did you share?" Or how do you do it at scale if it's a team of thousands?Max:It's so great, I love internal surveys. I think anytime I always loved doing postmortems after a campaign or after we deliver an action, because sometimes it doesn't have to be a piece of creative content. It could be a public commitment, that you as an organization decided to make and that structurally made sense. And I've actually found that oftentimes employees are more willing and ready to share public commitments than they are with pieces of content, but anyway to answer your question, I'm a really big advocate of doing postmortems and in those postmortems, I think an internal employee pulse check with a survey I think is most often the best way to conduct that type of review process.Max:I also found that allowing employees to share feedback anonymously, I think helps exponentially and I think people are always more hesitant to put their name behind the feedback, but I realized very quickly in my review process that the moment I allowed people the freedom to actually say what they really thought without having to put their name behind it, I think the amount of feedback that we got was just astronomically higher, I think by nature.Max:I also really love when we are speaking about obtaining external feedback, I think social media has done a great job with that. Depending on which channels your organization is most active in, for me Athletic Apparel socials the epicenter right now, over all the community activities happening. I love doing pulses and customer surveys on Instagram. I think it's such a great way for you to get feedback in real time, which can also be very eye-opening right. Max:So, when you capture your audience's attention, you have a brief second to really engage with them. And if they've already made that first move, I think that to me is a lot more telling for a brand and organization than if you were to conduct customer insights and this extensive six month interview process where you're most likely bringing in individuals that aren't actively engaging with your brand. But on that aspect, I will tip my hat to Instagram I think for introducing that feature a thousand times over again, I've actually used it numerous times, not only for feedback on creative and campaigns that we've brought to market, but also as a way to guide our strategy.Max:So, I love doing polls where we basically ask our community what content would you to see us produce more? And sometimes the answer doesn't have to be very philosophical, it can be very direct, it can be very simple. And the responses that you get can actually dictate the course of almost an entire season. And I definitely have done that before.Stephanie:Yep. So, are you doing that for some of the brands like Athleta, and how did you structure the polls to get actionable feedback?Max:Yes. I think Athleta is a great example, especially during COVID right. It's hard to think back where I was a year and a half ago, but I remember having just moved to San Francisco for the job. I think I was in the office for a total of seven and a half days. The city just shut down and no one knew what to do. The organization didn't know what to do. I think as employees, I think everyone was in a standstill, but again, the community and our audience demanded responses, they demanded actions. And I think our social media team, I think definitely held the grunt of that work, they're at the battlefields, every single day whether it's delivering good news or tapering and bad news.Max:And so, I think there was a lot of immediate and actions that we took and we really utilize social, I think, to dictate the course of how we would, I don't want to use the word market, but really communicate where we were as an organization, because everything was at a standstill for 30 days. And it was really through that engagement and those backend DMs, those poll surveys, and I think we really found power in the voice of our community and we also understood what it really meant as a brand to show up for your community.Max:So, one of the things that quickly became evident as the city started shutting down was that the majority of our members at Athleta were business owners, female owned businesses, which some of that meant that they own their own studios, yoga studios, gyms studios, and those were the first to be impacted by COVID. And so, how do you as a brand support that community in a way that isn't related to product and I think for Athleta, being under the umbrella of Gap Inc we decided to really create a financial resource for a lot of these female owned businesses, where as a member of the Athleta community, you could apply for a grant or a funding that could really for some moms and for some women could really help keep their business afloat for the foreseeable future, which is where we were at the beginning of COVID.Stephanie:I love that. And did you find out more about who needed that help or what help they needed through social media, like you said, through those DMs?Max:I would say a combination of social media and our retail teams. I think especially working in the Apparel industry, we forget that retail is not dead. And if you have a retail structure that is highly connected to your community, they oftentimes know more about your consumer than you do sitting at HQ. And it's really that share-ability from the boots on the ground, I hate using the word bottom up, but I think that's really the mindset.Max:So, let's [inaudible] this top-down mentality and really about what are you hearing? What are customers saying when they're coming to your door? What's the feedback that you're receiving in store? I think that's really pivotal and I think that was really the feedback that was necessary for us to translate that into actionable insights as I call it.Stephanie:It seems there's still going to be so much work around getting those insights and incentivizing the employees to share that, but now consumers are basically coming to any retail shop expecting the same thing that they can get from online. It's like, yeah, of course I should be able to have this. Of course, I should be able to see inventory, talk to you quickly get what I want, but I see there's that catch up to even just going in different stores around Austin right now and being like, "Oh, this still feels like 2019 right now. What are we doing here?" How do you see that evolving?Max:It's also fascinating too, because you bring that up. Your store experience in Austin will probably be much different than a store experience in San Francisco. And even under the context of COVID, I think that's going to feel a lot more amplified as well in today's industry. I think what that touches on is really what I love to refer to as a decentralized model, where I think what we're witnessing in marketing and in omni-channel experiences and retail experiences is these little pockets, these little hubs of community oriented messaging and team structures.Max:So, a retail store is no longer just a retail store, it's actually a space for you to welcome members of your community, I think it's a space for you to engage with local businesses. That was actually an aspect that I love the most about working at lululemon was just how they really understood, I think the power of community and how a retail store could actually be an extension of that local market or that local demographic. And it didn't have to just be a place for business transactions, it didn't have to be a place just for you to go in and buy stretchy yoga pants as everyone likes to say.Max:For some, it could be a resource. I took a trip down to Key West Florida, of course this was before the pandemic happened. And I wanted to know what yoga studio to go to, what coffee shop I should go to, and the first place I went was to a lululemon store and ask their community members, 'Where do you go to work out? Where do you go to get coffee?" And it's just amazing how I think retail environments have become a source of information for a lot of members of the community. And I think the brands that are adapting to that mindset, I think are the ones that will really in the end come out winning and will be stronger I think in today's industry.Stephanie:I love that, such a good example. How does a company do that though? How does the brand pull a piece of the playbook from lululemon and create that community, do it in a way that people actually want to engage with, they trust it where they'll go and ask advice like where's the best coffee shop and buy from it. You essentially nailed every aspect of what every brand probably wants, but what do they do differently to get all of that?Max:I think it comes down to the original question that you asked me, I think a few minutes ago, which is, I think it's just having that honest conversation as an organization as to what are you most uniquely qualified to give to your audience? And I think for lululemon, again, I'm probably not in a place to speak about this because I wasn't there in its inception, but I can only imagine that when the founder sat down and analyzed that exact question, I think they knew that the power rested in community, so they made a conscious choice to really embed that in the organization's structure, as well as their brand DNA.Max:And I think from that brand values the mission statements evolved and it serves as a filter, as you grow and expand, I think for a brand that maybe is not rooted in community and is wanting to maybe shift into that world, I will continuously say that, I think you need to ask yourself are you in a place that you can authentically play in that ecosphere, because if you can't be authentic then I really don't think you should invest the time. I think you should really, really embrace what makes you unique and what it is that you can deliver to a customer in a unique way.Stephanie:Yep. Yep. I love that. So, earlier you were talking about Instagram is where it's at, it's got all these amazing features that can help a brand learn about their audience, answer all the questions they need. What else are you betting on? What other platforms are you bullish on right now?Max:VR, virtual experiences augmented reality. I am so excited for that future. I think if anything, COVID and remote living and brands having to force themselves, how else can we engage with brands that is interested in ecommerce platform and think have really forced us to reconsider other ways to bring customers along the journey and the creative experience. And I think augmented reality has certainly put us in a place I think of a lot of excitement.Max:My favorite to date has really been the Billie Eilish and the Moment Factory partnership, they created an out of this world, no pun intended experience where they really transported her audience and her fan base into this imaginary world. And the question was really what happens to you when you fall asleep? So, it was really this dream like state and it was just, I think, a beautiful representation of what the future of content can look and feel like. And at the same time, I think it really challenges this archaic notion that digital experiences don't create meaningful connection.Max:Which I actually think having VR and having augmented reality has really challenged that way of thinking, because it can absolutely transport you into a different world. It can absolutely create an emotion and it can also create an action. And I think that universe excites me tremendously, and if I could shift my focus and my attention, I think it would really be in a place where I'm playing day in and day out with that type of environment, for sure.Stephanie:Oh, I love that. This is something I've been looking into more from the crypto side and the cities, same, same though. I was learning all about these digital land sales and getting in there early, they're building this entire world and people go and interact there and do essentially commerce in this world, but to think about it from a brand perspective, how can a brand play in VR because Billie Eilish, I get it concert go somewhere to a different land, I love the idea, but if I'm a brand, what opportunities do you see right now?Max:Well, I always think back to yoga of course, because I worked for one of the best yoga brands in the world, but I think again, not wanting to go back to COVID, but I think COVID really shed light on our inability to go outside, and again, be in studio and being in environments that felt very natural to us. And again, I'm speaking in these terms assuming that you're probably the athletic person who does yoga, but if it's not yoga, it could be you wanting to go to a restaurant or a concert or whatever it is.Max:But in the context of yoga I think there were a lot of studios that were actually introducing this notion of virtual reality in which that even though you couldn't physically be present in the yoga studio, you could absolutely be transported there. And I think, again, it was a way to just create that connection and create that meaning and really bring people into one digital world that really felt physical visually.Max:And I think the brands that understand and harness that power, I think they'll start using that as a mechanism potentially to either create content. So, one way that I could think this coming to life, and actually it was one of the first big projects that I worked on at Reebok. At the time Google and YouTube had just started partnering on VR experiences and we did an entire documentary campaign experience, where we brought audiences basically along the ride for four emerging athletes.Max:And it was really a way again, for you to be transported into the physical spaces in which they train day in and day out. And I think for a customer to have that behind the scenes look, it's really one of a kind. If you can imagine this in an era of a Michael Jordan, to have that unfiltered access to an athlete before or after, or even during experience, I think that's a great place to be in, in terms of VR experiences and building that digital world and that digital infrastructure for at least athletic brands, which is where I operate in.Stephanie:Yeah. I can imagine so many different experiences to leverage [inaudible] not just from shopping, that's just the after effect of bringing in customers from all over the world and at the same place, instant way to build community, meet people. I think that's what COVID taught everyone, is we were in our own little bubbles and we'd gotten to this place where the only time you maybe saw people who didn't live near you, was in work meetings. And then all of a sudden you're like, "Oh, but now I need more community."Stephanie:And now it's actually my work friends I need. And so, starting to broaden that, going into a whole different world and being able to have an experience together, you vet your community and then you can also shop while you're there and maybe even change the experience as well, where it's, try that on for me. Oh, I'd like to see a model showing me this outfit who looks like me, this entire thing of shaping where you're at and be able to control it too.Max:I love that. And I think Warby Parker did that.Stephanie:Oh, did they?Max:Yeah. I think before any other brand caught onto that, the idea of essentially creating a virtual experience in which you could try on the products. And I think that notion that you, and I think you actually said something that gave me goosebumps, that idea that you could in real time see the product on someone that looked and felt like you, I think that's really important as well. And I think that's a shift that we're seeing more and more. And I think if anything, I would give credit to VR for building that and putting that at the forefront of conversations and marketing, for sure.Stephanie:Yep. Yeah. We're going to be looking back and be like, why did we just look at, oh, this model is 5'4 and 100 pounds. And me being like, okay, so that's not me. So if I was much taller and bigger, how would it look on me? How would it flow? We're going to look back and be like, "Why did we ever buy things based off of one picture? I want to see how it moves and fits and looks on someone." And I should be able to choose that experience if I'm not going in the store and trying it on every time there should be no return rates from our products.Max:I love it, do you want to work in marketing?Stephanie:Let's do it, I'm down. So many ideas I realized on the show, I'll just give everyone ideas and maybe someone will implement one of them. Every one of a thousand is an okay idea of mine. Super fun. Yeah. I love thinking about that stuff. All right. The last thing I want to touch on was what brands are you watching to keep an eye on the industry? Who's doing a really good job when it comes to branding where you're like, "I keep tabs on them every week to see what they're doing?" Maybe someone you've worked for.Max:Oh my God, that's such a hard question. It's interesting, I think I'm going to go outside of my respected industry. I'm really fascinated by what Spotify and Netflix have done, I think to the industry. I think Netflix has really capitalized on an audience-based as well as on a perpetual habit that I think we as consumers are starting to have more and more of in this digital age, and they've just managed to build this empire that I am so in admiration of, I also love what they're doing as a platform in terms of exposing younger audiences to different types of content with documentaries being at the forefront, I am a huge advocate of documentary.Max:In fact, one of my first experiences was working in post-production for documentaries. And I think I give them so much credit for just having that vision, having that ambition. When I think back from where they were 12 years ago or [inaudible] first heard their name and where they are today being nominated for Oscars and just the amount of insights and data that they have on us as an audience and as a viewership and how they translate that data into building out specific content programs and building out specific platforms on their channel, everyone else is chasing them and I think that was a gift.Max:To me, they're the Kleenex of the, they're probably going to hate hearing that, but they've defined online streaming. The idea and the notion of online streaming did not exist before Netflix came into the picture, and all brands now are chasing them and they want to compete. And I think that's a brand that I go to, I think, as a source of inspiration, which is weird to say, maybe it wasn't what you were hoping to hear.Stephanie:Oh, actually, when you said that I'm like, oh, obviously you're watching Formula 1. You're seeing the brand and the content angle and then you can go to the whole platform play, which also equally is inspiring. We've written entire stories of mission around Netflix and how they basically killed off their entire revenue stream to bet on another big one and inspiring all around. So, I love-Max:I agree. It's thinking big, bold and audacious and just watching the ripple effect happen. And I think they're definitely a brand that I go to inspiration. And another one is Spotify, again, I think the brands that excite me are the brands that understand their customers and they're catering their business decisions based on that understanding. There's no better brand that exposes and showcases that as Spotify, even the types of content and the marketing campaigns that they're putting out there all originally from their customer insights comes from data. And you got to give credit, I think, to a tech company like Spotify, where they're consistently operating in this multi dynamic world.Max:Because, if you can only imagine between licensing music rights and managing talent and branching into podcasts as well as music, it's got to be a living nightmare. Every time they have the opportunity to put a piece of campaign out there, a piece of content it's so powerful and you can see it from a share-ability aspect, from an engagement aspect, people are excited, people are waiting for it. Again, it's so simple their marketing but it's so effective and it's done in such an authentic way. Again, it comes back to that topic that you and I were talking about. It's authentic in nature to who they are as a brand, as well as a business. And I really admire them for that.Stephanie:Yep. Yeah. I love it. Anyone who wants to hear more about Spotify, we had their old CMO on, he's not their CMO now, but Seth, it's a good marketing trends, the podcasts it was really good. I think we did two parts with him and he was epic and you're like, now I know why the company is where it's at now and all of the decisions that were made to get them where they are now. Cool. All right. Well, let's move over to the lightning round. Lightning round is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud, this is where I ask a question and you have a minute or less to answer. Are you ready?Max:Yeah, I'm prepared.Stephanie:Okay. Get amped up. First one. What's up next on your reading list or your podcast queue?Max:Oh, great. Where the Crawdads Sing.Stephanie:Where the crawd... I have not actually heard of this one, I'll have to look at that.Max:I have it right there on my shelf. Yes, I bought it two years ago, It's collected dust, but I've made a commitment to finish it before the end of August. So, that is on my reading list for sure.Stephanie:Wow. Good reads a million votes, 4.8 stars. That's very good one. Cool. All right. If you were to have a podcast or show, TV show, movie, whatever you want it to be, what would it be about, and who would your first episode or guest be?Max:I think I'd have to do a podcast that is centered around people, places and products and how each of those define the course of your existence and how they really shape who you are as a human. And I feel anyone could speak or relate to any one of those elements and [inaudible].Stephanie:I like that. Who should be the sponsor for that? You already probably have a couple in mind.Max:I don't know, I've actually never been asked as a question. I don't know, maybe something will originate here.Stephanie:Yeah. There you go. Here comes the show, anyone who wants to sponsor it, Max is ready for you. What is the biggest disruption coming to ecommerce over the next year?Max:Hands down, virtual experiences.Stephanie:Love it. We already know your love for VR, so that makes sense. Next one, what is the nicest thing anyone's ever done for you?Max:I've had a lot. I was working at Reebok, I had a really tough day, it was the first time I cried in a bathroom. You know when you just want to hide your tears, you go to-Stephanie:I've been there, corporate life.Max:And I stumbled across someone who worked across from me and she asked me what was wrong. And I said, "Nothing everything will be okay," as we usually do. And the next day when I showed up, she bought me daisies, which she knew were my favorite. And she had a little bouquet of daisies there, and with a little note, and I had only interacted with this person once. And I thought it was just such a genuine kind gesture, and I've carried that moment since.Stephanie:I love that. That shows how such little things can literally impact someone's entire life. And this person listening, I hope they're out there so they can realize well-Max:[inaudible] bad-ass now, so you snagged a good one.Stephanie:I love that. That was great. All right, Maxwell, thank you so much for coming on the show, sharing all your brand knowledge, where can people find out more about you and maybe even hire you?Max:So, they could visit me at maxsummit.com. Yes, that's right. I've basically bought out everything that has my name on it.Stephanie:That's a good brand.Max:It was my little own brand marketing.Stephanie:Love it.Max:Yes, and my website you can visit at maxsummit.com. I'm also on LinkedIn again, Max Summit you can always find me. If you Google Max Summit, I'm probably Max Summit, Instagram, Max Summit LinkedIn, Max Summit Twitter, Max Summit at Yahoo, Max Summit at Gmail.Stephanie:There you go, Myspace, all the things.Max:Yeah. I'm Max Summit everything, but I love connecting with people, I love building stories. Even for virtual connects or coffee, it doesn't have to be business related, I'm open and I'm here.Stephanie:I love it. Thanks so much.Max:Thank you.

    NBC is Tuned In To Shoppable TV

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 10, 2021 40:46

    One of the stats NBCUniversal likes to promote is that in any four weeks, NBCU content reaches 95% of homes in the U.S. It's also the reason that in recent years, NBCU has started to focus more on creating shoppable content across all platforms to really take advantage of the audience it has at its disposal.On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I talked to Evan Moore, the Vice President of Commerce Partnerships at NBCUniversal, who explained all the ways that NBCU is connecting viewers with shopping experiences. And he told us how brands work with the company to target and attribute conversions on content of any kind. Whether consumers are reading a blog or streaming their favorite Bravo reality show, Evan says they are able to capture that already-engaged audience and bring a seamless interactive shopping experience straight to them. He also touches on what he sees as the future of shopping on connected devices, and how it isn't just shopping, but is the future of entertainment. Plus, are you a brand thinking “how can I get on tv? I want to be part of this shoppable experience! Well tune in to hear how you can play in this world, no matter your company size. Main Takeaways:The Year of the QR Code: Real-world experience with QR codes have exploded mostly thanks to the pandemic and the need for touchless experiences. As more people have experienced QR codes in different places, it has made them primed to be ready to do the same thing with their media, such as with shoppable TV.Bring The Party Too Them: When you have an audience already at your fingertips, it doesn't make sense to try to direct them somewhere else to make a purchase. Bring the shopping experience straight to them where they are already engaging with your content, whether that's on a social post, a blog, a TV stream, or on their mobile phone while they're streaming.Are You Not Entertained?: Consumers don't mind being sold to as long as they are entertained along the way. When brands and media companies come together to create shoppable content, the goal should be to create stories that are authentic and entertaining, not to just put products in front of consumers and tell them to buy now.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce 

    Living in the Right Niche

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 5, 2021 44:52

    With any new product, building brand awareness is key. But when your new product is something the world has never seen before, well, you need to do more than just make people aware, you have to educate them, too. As a DTC company, you might have a direct line to your consumers, but you still need to be able to show and teach them as much as possible, and then be there around the clock to answer their questions and hold their hand through the process. It sounds like a lot of work, but when the product is changing the game completely, you have to be ready to get your hands dirty. And that's just what Matt Wall and I chat about today, who is the co-founder of Principle Faucets. Principle Faucets is a DTC brand that has created the first fully-integrated foot pedal system which not only saves water, but is more hygienic and improves faucet functionality. Matt dove into how he and his co-founders brought their foot-pedal faucet to the market, the amount of time it took to test and tweak to make it fit consumers needs, and then he goes into the process of what's it's been like to actually get it in front of people — a task made much harder when the pandemic caused them to shut down their mobile display unit. Here's a sneak peak on what Wall had to say: it takes finding the right niche within the industry and then hyper-targeting your search and marketing terms toward that audience to be successful. Plus, Matt tells us how to market the environmental benefits of something like the Principle Faucet across all different geographies,who are experiencing various degrees of climate change. Enjoy this episode and use the code UPNEXT20 for 20% off on your order at Principle Faucets!Main Takeaways:What's Your Niche?: It's easy to get lost in the deep sea of products that come up when they search a random keyword. You might see people finding your product or website, but the conversions won't be what you want. By dialing in on keywords and long-tail search phrases, you can more easily target the people who are actually looking to buy your product and then get them to convert.Never Before Seen: When you think you have built a better mousetrap, you still need to do market research to see if consumers want what you have to offer. Bringing a brand new company into the world with a brand new product no one has ever seen before is a risk, and you have to do your research before you take the bet to go into a market with a product no one actually wants or needs.Ease Them In: If your product requires consumer education or a change in behavior, it's wise to build in some tie back to what they are already familiar with. Asking a customer to do something completely new is scary, and will turn people off. It's better to give them a way to do a gradual implementation into their daily lives. For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---Transcript:Stephanie:Hello, and welcome back to Up Next in Commerce. This is your host, Stephanie Postles CEO at Mission.org. Stay on the show. We have Matthew Wall, who currently serves as a co-founder at Principle Faucets. Matt, welcome.Matt:Thank you. My pleasure to be here.Stephanie:I'm excited. So for anyone who is not going to see video of this, Matt is sitting on top of a mountain at Lake Tahoe and it was teasing us with the view so we can all be very jealous and just let that sink in for a second. That's a first on this interview by the way.Stephanie:So before we dive into Principle Faucets and what it is, I want to hear a bit about your backstory and what even led you to where you are today.Matt:Sure, absolutely. So water conservation was always a big thing for me growing up something that my parents instilled in us myself and my sister living in California, dealing with droughts. And that was a very common thread with both my wife and my co-founder John Porteous. And we just wanted to do something that had impact and was meaningful. And in about 2015, we decided to really change gears and do something different with our lives for a few different reasons. And we bounced around a few different ideas and what stuck was finding a way to use water better in the home. It was something that we were familiar with at that point. My wife Lauren is an avid cook. Again, the water conservation stuff on our side, we just really wanted to do something that was meaningful with our lives.Matt:And we kicked around some ideas and came up with trying to add a foot pedal to a faucet. And at that point the idea just took off and we deviced prototypes and testing them a little bit, our homes and one thing led to another, we got a good response from some of the people that we shared it with. And gosh, we're now 2021 and we just launched the business in October of last year. So it's been a whirlwind, but we've really enjoyed it.Stephanie:Wow. So tell me a bit about, I'm just imagining you and your wife and your other co-founder all brainstorming. What were you guys doing before you even had this idea? Where were you working at?Matt:Sure. I worked for a small startup in the Watsonville area of California. And it's not your typical tech startup, but it was a small company that was started up. I was the first employee outside of the CEO and owner. So that experience in itself was really cool to see a business start and grow from basically zero revenue to there were about 20, $30 million by the time I left. So the exposure to that business was, I've carried a lot of my learnings there through to this business itself. And my wife Lauren actually was diagnosed with colon cancer about the time that we started talking about doing stuff different. So that was a very interesting awakening and really just lit a fire under us. And the fact that the reality of how short life is and all that stuff.Matt:So for her, she really wanted to kickstart her life and do something that's a bit more meaningful at the time. She was a stay at home mom and taking care of our lovely children. And my co-founder John, he has a law background. He was working at the DA's office. And I think in Modesto, California, but none of us were really just loving what we were doing. And we all just wanted to do something that we could just wake up and smile about in the morning and know that what we were doing, had a meaningful impact on the stuff that we really cared about most in life.Stephanie:That's awesome. That's such a good mix of people with different backgrounds and having urgency around it. And anytime, oftentimes you hear it, like the big ideas there are you're right there. There's always something that's there to stop you. I don't know if you've heard that when talking to other entrepreneurs, but there always comes something where it's like, are you willing to go pass this? Are you going to let this set you back? So I love that.Matt:Absolutely.Stephanie:So tell me a bit more about Principal Faucets. So I know it's a foot pedal. Are you constantly peddling? What does it look like as a user?Matt:Sure. The concept that we designed is an integrated system for a kitchen faucet. We have two product families and the integrated full kitchen faucet system is a standalone system. And it comes with our signature kitchen faucet, a little control box, and then our foot pedal that goes in the [Tokic] area of the cabinet. And we also have a adapter system that you can combine with an existing faucet that you already have in your home, in the kitchen or bathroom. So if you're not doing a remodel or needing to replace a faucet, this isn't a great option for you. Excuse me, to get all the benefits of a foot pedal. And the way it works is it can start and stop the flow of water. And it can also regulate the flow of water, like a gas pedal. So when you're working at the sink and you just need a little bit of water, you have all of that flexibility to get full stream and little stream and everywhere in between.Matt:And we really designed these systems to not necessarily replace the existing traditional hand operated way of operating a faucet. We just wanted to give you another option to accomplish those tasks. And I'm sure we'll get into it, but through a lot of the testing we've done and the water savings trials, it's really been interesting to see how people gravitate to using the foot pedal like 60 to 80% of the time, because it just makes a lot of sense. It really frees you up to do all the things you do at the sink a little bit quicker and faster. And then with the foot pedal shutting off the water automatically, as soon as you take your foot off of it, it captures all of those little bits of wasted water in between the stuff you do at the sink. So it's a really interesting win-win interaction with people who use the water and just interact at the sink. So those two products are where we focused right now, and we have plans to expand and move into some different stuff in the future, but that's still to come.Stephanie:I'm just imagining that all my sinks, everything having that, because I mean, like, have you ever measured the amount of germs on a handle? That's the first thing that comes to my mind of like, why are we touching these things in the bathroom? And there was a great skit when COVID first started around hand washing and this guy goes to the bathroom sink, washes it, and then looks around and realizes he touched the faucet afterwards, starts watching it again. Then he realized he touched the soap handles. Then washes his hands again. It's like everywhere and touching things. I'm like, why didn't we do this before? It was just always touching things, of course we're not clean.Matt:Yeah. It's been a really interesting and unfortunately with everything that's unfolded around the pandemic and over the last year. And so the hygiene aspects of our system have been front and center for us in our marketing, as well as just in the overall importance of having something like that in your house, it really does, and is a great solution for exactly that problem. Having to touch the faucet. You can walk right into your house, step on the pedal, wash your hands. You never have to touch anything. And it's great for adults and kids. And it's been good.Stephanie:[inaudible] not holding. I always take my twins. They're 16 months. I'm trying to hold them into the sink to wash them off while messing with the handle. And I'm like, there has to be a better way, there is. That's awesome.Matt:There is, yeah.Stephanie:Tell me about the early days of starting out. I mean, you just launched last year. What has that looked like?Matt:Oh, it's been a lot of work. For us at this point, it's all about driving brand awareness and getting our message out and getting in front of as many customers as possible. So we've been putting almost all of our efforts into just finding very crafty and unique ways with the pandemic to get out and show people the product one of the last January. So January of 2020, just right before everything hit. John and I, we built these beautiful mobile display units. So it has our two products on it, beautiful cabinets, it's modular, so you can wheel it in and out of places. And we had this grand idea, this traveling road show that we wanted to do, we rode down farmer's markets and go to offices and take it to everywhere, any place we could stick this thing and just show it to people, get them to come up and test it.Matt:It's fully functional. So it has a pump inside, self-sustaining electricity, all that kind of stuff. So you could really come up and use it, see it firsthand. And we were so stumped and then everything came crashing down. So...Stephanie:Man, that's a bummer, but it's ready for you now. The market is ready now.Matt:It is, it's beautiful. Yeah. So we really, we love the idea in our kind of direct to consumer model. We want to do that roadshow, we want to be the traveling salesmen again, that connection to our customers. There's no better person to be able to convey the importance, the value and the benefits of the product better than we can. So it's been really cool. We've, had a couple shows this year now where we've been able to take it out and actually gets up and it's been great. It's been a lot of fun. People get such a kick out of the whole concept of being it's a little show. I mean, you do the whole dog and pony thing. So it's been really cool. We're looking forward to doing a lot more of that.Stephanie:That's awesome. So what are your, how many units are you selling today? Was there an inflection point where you changed something in your marketing or you did something a bit different when all of a sudden it's like, boom, now we got to catch up?Matt:Yeah. We were pretty lucky that we pulled in a pretty good amount of product before the pandemic hit. So we've been pretty good on our inventory, but we've seen some pretty steady sales increase throughout the last year with the booms in remodeling and construction. So that's been a really great sustainer for us. I mean our product on our next round of production, we're going to be expanding into two other faucet lines. So we're really excited about that. And that's actually going to be, we should be placing those orders in just a few weeks, which should be here for the basically fall and winter time of this year.Matt:Iteration and changing of the products themselves. We have some stuff that will be changed in this next round, but we've been really happy with the way that product has performed at this point. We have had just great reactions for people who have purchased the product and installed it. And yeah, we're really happy with it at this point.Stephanie:Okay, cool. So when it comes to the product iterations, are you hearing feedback from the customers around different things that they need or was it more internally driven?Matt:No, it's been both. We try and keep in pretty close contact with our customers. We do follow up calls so often as long as they're receptive to them. Using the system, it takes a little bit of kind of, there's like a bit of a breaking in period. So it takes about a week to get used to it, using the pedal. And then once you do that some of the feedback we hear from our customers about it, they hate going to other people's houses because they walk up to the sink in the foot pedal, and they're just trying to tap on the ground to try and get the water to start. But product itself, some of the changes and iterations we want to make are about how the foot pedal itself installs or the toe kick. That was one of the sensitive areas for us in designing the product.Matt:There could be a lot of variation in cabinetry. There's no standard toe kick size. And you look at a modern kitchen versus a traditional kitchen and the cabinetry all different. So we built in an adjustable system so that you can get the foot pedal to the right height and position it optimally for comfort and use. But there's still some work to be done there. I think in getting that more universal for all applications in the cabinets and so forth. The outside of that, we really haven't run into a whole lot of requests for additional features or actual iterations on that the physical product itself, we have had asks for other finishes and designs and that kind of stuff. And it's really painful at this point because there's so much that we want to do with different designs. And I mean, sky's the limit with decorative plumbing stuff. But we got to start somewhere and grow the business and get there.Stephanie:So why did you guys choose to stay strictly D to C or now you starting to think about exploring retail or other spots to sell as well?Matt:When we originally came up with the concept, we knocked around a lot of different ideas and we looked at big box stores, distribution and so forth, but it just never felt right to us. Again, it went back to like, we just didn't want to be another faucet company that wasn't who we were. It, wasn't why we were doing what we're doing. We really wanted to feel like we're a company that really cares about what we're doing. And the way that we felt that was best was to be the first thing people saw when they came to our website and who they talk to and who they dealt with and who was able to handle their customer service questions or warranty issues or product questions. One of the things that's been really fun working with customers, we offer basically free live video demonstration, so you can schedule it to us and we'll set up a camera and use that mobile display unit that we have and walk through.Matt:And it's just so great to see, and the magic between having an intimate conversation with somebody who is interested in and really gets the concept and the importance of it. It's just been very rewarding and fulfilling for all of us. But I think as a business, long-term it's really hard to say. We would like to stay direct to consumer for as long as we can. It just makes sense for us right now. It's and yeah, it's been great.Stephanie:Yeah. So if you're going to stay in that area, I'm thinking like SEO has to be huge, even trying to get up to compete with people like best faucets. If someone sees a foot pedal, maybe they're like, "Ah, that's the wrong thing." So how do you go about reaching new customers and educating them quickly of like, "You could do this instead." It seems like a lot of things you have to think about, and it's not just competing with a traditional faucet. It's like, you have to do both things at once.Matt:Yeah. It's been tough. The faucet industry itself is very consolidated and there's a lot of Moen and Delta, Kohler. They control about 70% of the all sales within the decorative plumbing industry and they pour tons and tons of money into their ad placements and keyword placements and so forth. So we've been doing a lot of work in just trying to optimize our products in that area. So when people are searching for us, we don't want them to search for faucet and have our product come up every single time, we've have really had to narrow in, on our keywords and the short keywords and multi phrase keywords and long tail keywords to get people really want to search for a foot pedal faucet, or are looking for water conservation foot pedal faucets, or those different iterations so that we are able to show up.Matt:We end up spending a lot of money when we first started doing some online marketing, and ad placement stuff where we would get just tons and tons of clicks, but no conversions because they just, people would type in foot pedal and faucet or they'd type in foot pedal control. And things for pianos would come up or pumps for yeah. All kinds of stuff. And so we ended up... That was one of the first areas where we figured we had to dial in and really focus in on that. But outside of that, we're trying to get as much content out there as possible to not only on our website, but just with others. So on social media, Facebook and so forth just to help build some of that the organic growth for us, which has been good, but it's a tough game. There's a lot to do.Stephanie:Yeah. I mean, you're innovating in a new market and trying to prove and show people why they need something. We've had a lot of brands on who have the same struggle around like having to educate a consumer. I mean, we had bidet company on here and they talked about most Americans don't think that's even something they would ever need. What channels or pieces of content are you finding are performing best they're going to help with that.Matt:Yeah, a lot of it's just around comparing water usage, which was one of the easiest ways for us to show the savings for the product. It's just showing somebody using a traditional faucet and somebody using our faucet system and the visuals of seeing how much, just no data, no nothing, it's so night and day between the two different systems and just the ease of flow of use. So that's actually been really effective for us. And just capturing and showing what the true nature and difference of that system is versus a traditional faucet. So that's been very impactful. And then in addition to that, delicately using hygiene as some of the ways of showing additional value of what you can bring to the home.Stephanie:Because I was thinking I would lean so hard into the hygiene piece because I had this one image in my head of, it was a piece of bread and it was a teacher who did this at school and they put their hand on it unwashed. And then the other one was maybe wiped down with water. The other one may be used, I don't know, what is it called? The one without water, Purex or whatever. And if there was hand washing with soap and she put them in a bag and left him for seven days, and then it was just the picture showing the seven pieces of bread and what the hand print looked like, very disturbing, maybe realize how gross my hands were, if they're unwashed and even how most ways don't even work that well. And it's interesting to see how just one piece of content was literally ingrained in my brain. And it's been like seven months. You can't get it out.Matt:Yeah. It's on the hygiene side of what we've been doing. It's been, kind of a balancing act because we don't want to scare people into thinking like you have to have our faucet. That's not why we're doing what we're doing, but it is an absolute benefit of having the system in the home. The one really weird twist to this all is when you're marketing things that claim to be hygienic or improve hygiene or kill germs, there's a lot of regulation and requirements. You can be considered a pesticide product. And when we first started marketing our product, there were some issues where we came across where we weren't allowed to show the product online in certain areas because we were being flagged as a pesticide products and it blew our minds that a faucet system would even be considered as a pesticide product, but in the verbiage and the way that we were talking about germs and helping to not spread germs in the home, washing your hands before, so that's been an interesting road to navigate.Matt:We've really kind of had to just do some very kind of common sense type of marketing with the hygiene stuff. You come home, you don't have to touch your faucet. It helps reduce the spread of germs in your home because it's pretty self-explanatory when you really boil it down.Stephanie:Yeah. Oh, interesting. I never even knew that was a thing that you can get around. Yeah. Promoting hygiene. Okay. Have you all explored Amazon or have you not really even thought about that yet?Matt:We have, we're actually selling on Amazon now. And it's been pretty good. It's been an interesting set up process. From the merchant standpoint, Amazon's designed for multiple people to sell off single product pages as a conglomeration of a bunch of people selling the same products so that you get the best price, but we're the only one out there selling our product on Amazon. So we had to go through and do a lot more of the setup process and go through. And the whole pesticide thing that I mentioned was actually as part of what Amazon had us do and go through and acquire. So that took a lot of thinking and figuring out as to why that was happening. But yeah, we got it. Amazon's a great tool for small companies. We plan to stick around there as long as it works for us. And sky's the limit, it's just a matter again, of paying for contents and getting your product placed out in the right spot.Stephanie:Yeah. It seems like there could be so many moments you could create for your customers too, after they buy, just like things like a little card maybe that has a note on the sink, that's like, look down your pedals below for your water, for any of their guests or something. How have you guys thought about shaping the experience, the unboxing experience and then creating joy even afterwards.Matt:Yeah. We focused a lot on the product itself to make a product that was worthy of what we were doing. Quality-wise, construction-wise, materials so that when somebody does get it home and they open it, it looks and feels like something different, something that's a little special. So if we have done some investment in that, the packaging and unveiling of the stuff, we have some really nice dark foam and some nice packaging on the boxes and stuff, which has been a really cool thing to see and fun thing to develop. Long-term, we have tried to build in some features actually to the faucet system itself that allows either new users or existing users to use both the inside of the hand operated valves on the faucet or the foot pedal.Matt:We designed the system. So you never really have to choose one or the other for the Principle Faucets system, the kitchen faucet, the faucet has all of the existing capabilities of the hand operate valve, that's all there, doesn't change. There's nothing you have to do to switch back and forth between the foot pedal and the hand operated valve. So if somebody comes over your house who is not familiar with it, they can walk right up to it, use a hand operated valve, do everything they're used to doing. And if they want to explore a little bit, they can go down and start to use the foot pedal too. One of the features we built into the pedal well to help with the user experience was this, we call it our tapta flow feature, and essentially you just tap the pedal quickly and it'll actually allow the faucet to run continuously without having to keep your foot pedal on it.Matt:So if you're filling a pot of water, you want to feel the same to do dishes. You have that ability. So you're not tied to the sink. If you want to use the foot pedal on that way. With our adapter system, that can be connected to any existing faucet in the kitchen or bathroom. We also built in a feature for that system that allows you to default back to the existing hand operated valves indefinitely, if you choose to, and it's basically, you just tap it twice. And that way, if you have people coming over, using the bathroom or in the kitchen, and you don't want to deal with it you just tap it twice. And all of the function goes back to the faucet as well. So we really tried to bridge that gap so that, new users and existing users don't have any issues with trying to do what they need to do.Stephanie:I could see eventually customers being like, "I don't even want the hand operated piece. Everyone needs to use it this way and just take that off."Matt:I mean, it's been fascinating to see how people gravitate to use the foot pedal. I mean, it's blown our wildest dreams. And the beauty of that is that you get all of the water savings by using the pedal. We'd done some water savings tests when we were initially going through some of the product developments. We did eight homes here in Central California, and some of the homes were multi-generational, they had grandchildren, parents, or grandparents, and some were single individuals. I mean the whole gamut apartments, condos, houses, and we found that the water savings compared to an existing faucet was up to 44%. And when we dove into the data a little deeper, we found that the homes with the highest water savings were the ones that with the biggest water wasters prior. So it really helps the people that ended up using more water save the most which is really a great sign for the impact that the product might have in the future as we get into more and more homes.Stephanie:Yep. Oh, that's really cool. Do you ever have issues with the messaging for consumers outside of California? Because I'm thinking when I'm from Maryland, we really didn't think about water conservation. We didn't have droughts. And I remember moving to California in the Bay Area. I was like, whoa, this is a thing we actually might not have water, what? I mean, I heard about people in Mill Valley area saving their shower water, and doing other things with it. And I was like, this is a new thing for me. So how do you guys go about crafting the message so it connects with people all throughout the U.S.?Matt:Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, the droughts here in the West are horrible, some of the worst on record. And then you have severe storms and flooding on the other side of the U.S. So the way we've crafted and are working on that message to really join them together is that they're both the products of the same thing. So the droughts here are the product of carbon emissions and global warming and climate change. That's affecting the West in this way, on the East Coast where there's too much water and too much rains, it's all the product are the same, they're all symptoms of the same thing. And for us saving water whether you have too much of it, or you have too little of it, it's all benefiting and helping out the same problem.Matt:It's cutting carbon emissions, it's reducing amount of chemicals that go into the environment by reducing the amount pumped water that needs to be actually treated, transported to your faucet and then goes down your drain without even being used. And then the chemicals that need to be used to treat the water when it goes into the waste facilities. So it's interesting when you think about the two polar opposites of it, but they're all from the same problem. So that's how we've had to craft it. We all need to do what we can do, every little bit counts. And if you can save water at your faucet, it's only gonna help the problem.Stephanie:Yeah. That's such a good explanation. And one that I've never even really thought about, okay, what happens when the water goes down the faucet and all the things that go into it to make it come back again. And yeah, that's a really good way to message it.Matt:Yeah. There's a lot that that goes into treating water, a lot of chemicals and stuff. So, using every bit in a way that counts really helps cut down on all that stuff.Stephanie:Yeah. Very cool. Were there any big bets that you've made over the past year that you weren't really sure if they were going to pay off other than the mobile unit that you guys are wheeling around because that one paid off now, but anything else that comes to mind?Matt:So big bets that we've placed around the business. Being a smaller business as we started and grown, capital's king and trying to figure out how we want to best use some of that money towards marketing and where we wanted to put it into either PR or working with influencers and doing paid content type of stuff. Putting the, I mean, every dollar that we've put into those areas has paid off massively and we didn't go in blindly. We took our time and really tried to find people that got the product and were in similar head space around conservation, water savings, cooking because those are the people who really get it and find the most value in it. So when we've been able to reach out to those people and have them share that message with their base of followers that has actually putting them out of money that we put into that area, it was a good bet. And I'm glad that we did it.Stephanie:Yeah. It sounds like a lot of the themes around your business have been around niching down, niche down with the right people over PR and content is down on the keywords and really getting down to the perfect audience and consumer who's ready to hear that message and ready to buy before going big to everyone.Matt:Yeah. We're a brand that nobody's ever heard of before and we're selling a product that no one's ever seen before. And we found out really in early development when we sat down and just pitched the idea to people, to see if there was going to be a market for this thing. And if somebody had done it beforehand, where did they fail? Where did they succeed? It was really interesting to see how people connected with concepts. And we talk to professional chefs who do a lot of cooking in the home, and they're like, "I've been waiting for this thing forever. How come nobody's done this?" And we talked to people who are doctors and dentists and like, "Oh yeah, I have those at the shop, we use those all the time." Of course, that makes sense to have that home. It just hygiene and efficiency.Matt:And we talked to mothers with kids, fathers with kids, and it all came down to the fact that they would just be like, "Well, why has nobody done this before?" It just makes a lot of sense. And that really helped instill in us the fact that there could be a need for this out in the market. And we ended up going to some trade shows early on just to snoop around because we had getting no experience in the industry at all. We knew nobody, no manufacturers. And again, just pitched the concept to a bunch of the people were there. We were super scared somebody was going to steal the idea out from under us. So we were very coy about it, which is probably silly. But it was interesting to get their feedback and hear what some of the biggest manufacturers in the industry said about it.Matt:And we approached them and early on say, "Hey, we have this concept, is there anything, do you guys want to partner with us or is there any interest in looking at this, we'd love to come talk to you about it." And it's funny. They just never got back to us. Never wanted to hear about it, but-Stephanie:They will. Now.Matt:Yeah, they will now, but even the retail showroom, we stopped in and talked to a bunch of people all over California just about how they show products and discuss it with their customers in the stores. And another one of the reasons why we wanted to go direct to consumer was because of some of the limitations around actually explaining our product to customers in those environments. And in the big box stores, you're just another box on a shelf.Stephanie:Yeah. I was imagining [inaudible] Home Depot, just like a little foot pedal being next to all these faucets and being like, I think this is another mile.Matt:Yeah. And even in retail showrooms... to show people and have them really understand the value of it. You got to use it, or you got to see somebody using it. And that was definitely one of the driving factors for us to want to just be like, we got to put videos everywhere of this thing. We got to build this traveling road show. We just got to show as many people as possible how it actually works, have them come and use it because that's how you connect with it.Stephanie:Yeah, how long was that time period of researching the market and asking questions and having people look at it?Matt:It was a long time. We started first developing this product in 2015 and it was just tinkering around in the garage. I've always loved goofing around and stuff and tinkering and whatnot. So we just decided to do it ourselves. And we build a proof of concept in the garage. Brought it into our kitchen, hooked it up, look terrible, total Frankenstein, hoses and stuff going all over the place. But it probably had about 60% of the functionality that we have in our product now. So it was a pretty good gauge on using it and understanding it. And at that point, that was basically the limitations of our capabilities. So we hired some engineers, excuse me, we hired some engineers to help us of take it to the next step, develop a true prototype that worked like, functioned like what we wanted to come to market with.Matt:And those were the prototypes that we use for the water savings trial here in California. So we had several of those made up. That was probably about a year long process at least. And once we had those prototypes built and got all this feedback from people using them in homes all over, we took a pause at that point. We could have gone and just try to find somebody to manufacture it really fast, but we didn't have the confidence we really thought we needed in order to go forward. So we ended up going to a trade show ourselves and exhibiting with these prototypes. And we built a display unit very similar to the one that we have that we're using for the road show. And we doctored up the display unit with some other prototype boxes and stuff.Matt:So it really looked nice and clean, like a finished product, but it was all frankensteined in the back and using our prototypes. And we basically told people that we were ready to manufacture and gave somewhat of a misleading understanding of where we were in the whole process. But we wanted to see what industry folks, people who were in showrooms in the Home Depos and big box stores of the world, they all came by and they took a look at it. And the response again was just so far above and beyond what we expected that people were like, "Can we get on a waiting list? Where do we sign up? When are these gonna be developed? Can we place an order now?" I mean-Stephanie:Wow.Matt:... we were so unready for all of that, but it was great. And it really gave us the resolve we needed to go forward and find someplace to manufacture this and get it to market. So at that point, after that showing to the industry, we found some folks that well kind of to back up a little bit, we wanted to originally manufacture the product in the U.S. and unfortunately, we talked to large manufacturers here in the U.S., we talked to some OEM manufacturers here in the U.S., and they were either so busy or they just didn't want to deal with a new person or a company that was going to have small volumes to start off. It's a new product, we never developed anything like that before. So we ended up meeting some people at the trade show who put us in contact with some people in China. And we went over there and met with a bunch of different factories and found some just amazing folks to help us manufacture it over there.Matt:And that whole process was a whole story in itself because both faucet manufacturers over there, they're great at building faucets. I mean, there's good and bad factories all over the world. Thankfully we found one that was just a great, great group of people and really focused on quality materials. They were great at faucets, but didn't have a lot of experience in electronics and our systems, kind of a little bit of both. So we had to go in and to go find another manufacturer for just electronic components. But of course the manufacturer is doing electronic components, doesn't want to do any water testing because that's not what they do.Matt:The faucet manufacturer doesn't want to do electronics assembly. It's not what they do. So we had to put together this group of not only components, but manufacturers over there, get them to work together which wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be, but it's been a learning process for sure, because the assembly process for electronic components assembly, the little control box that we have, it needs to be tested for watertight, seals and function, but we had to come up with a way to do that with air testing at the electronics facility, and then come up with a way for our faucet manufacturer to then combine to a final testing of the product to make sure everything worked still watertight and all that, but do it in a way that the water wouldn't interfere with some of the electronic components.Matt:So we ended up doing some iterations kind of, as we were manufacturing with electronic components in particular dialing in adding some actual hardware to the control box itself to allow the manufacturers to speed up the process, make it more reliable. And it was great. I mean, the factories, they have everything you could possibly need to help prototype and do stuff, add components, test components. So it was really cool to see, and we really enjoyed a lot and still do it working with those folks.Stephanie:That's great. I mean, I love that story because so many people right now hear of these DTC companies, just rocket chips, just easy. It looks easy from the outside. And I like actually hearing a real life story of like, "Nope, took a few years, took a lot of testing, had a little hesitancy," and yeah, I mean, that highlights what building a company actually looks like most of the time.Matt:Yeah. It's the most enjoyable thing I've ever done, but it's also the scariest thing I've ever done hands down.Stephanie:I feel that, I feel that. Outside of porter bodies, how they have those little pump sinks, did you ever get one of those and be like, "How do you work?" To figure out maybe like how they function and then have any good takeaways from that one?Matt:Absolutely. We bought and test tested all kinds of stuff. We, I mean, you name it valves, Mike Raj was just an absolute disaster. We had pumps like that physically applying pressure to the pump to get the water to flow. There was pneumatic valve that we were testing, hydraulic valves that we were testing. And it was really interesting. They all pointed us to one direction and we ended up going with an electronic system instead of something that was more mechanical. The issue that we found out with doing something more mechanical, like those pump valves or other industrial metal valves that you can buy for kitchens and so forth. They're very simple themselves they don't require any electricity, but the issue we found with those is if you're going to make a product that is going to be successful in a residential setting for people in homes who have expensive cabinetry, expensive flooring, those other methods were very invasive and destructive to the cabinetry themselves.Matt:If you tried to install them even in new construction, but specifically in existing cabinetry, you had to cut holes, you had to plumb water lines underneath the cabinets where these could happen. You'd never see them until it was a disaster. So we wanted to keep all of that water connections and areas that could leak. We kept them up out from underneath the cabinet, inside the cabinet, where you can see everything, you can know where everything's connected. And we just run a very simple communication line down to the foot pedal itself. So not only do you not have to cut holes in your cabinets, but the foot pedal itself just installs with a couple of screws, you retain all of the existing cabinet space that you have, because Lord knows, we put a ton of stuff under our kitchen cabinets, whether we choose it all or not, is still there.Stephanie:Only one that look under there right now, it's been there for a long time. It's not coming out.Matt:Yeah. In that whole process of really coming up with the way in which we wanted to use what technology you wanted to use, to make it all function correct. We wanted to go something electronic for those specific reasons. It just allows you to install the whole system in a much easier way as well. And we set out initially to design the product so that it a DIY enthusiast, your average we can wire could go and install it in their home. They're capable of into going to Home Depot or Lowe's or something like that to buy a faucet, install it. This is going to be absolutely no brainer for them. But of course not everybody is going to do that. I know plenty of people who just don't wanna install faucet. So we also-Stephanie:[inaudible].Matt:Sure. I mean, it's just the reality of it all and it's all of the connections and fittings that we use to connect to your existing water lines and faucets and so forth and house they're all standardized. So it's all very easy for a plumber to come in and hook it up and know what to do.Stephanie:Yeah, that's awesome. That's the route I would choose unless there was a very easy YouTube video. Maybe I would attempt it. I don't know.Matt:Yeah.Stephanie:Depends how I'm feeling that day.Matt:Yeah, exactly.Stephanie:Where do you all want to be in the next year? What are you most excited about?Matt:Oh man. I'm actually most excited about getting some of our new designs in production. We've had a lot of requests for additional finishes and additional designs and even expanding some of our additional hardware that comes with the faucet systems themselves because people have been asking for it and it's been frustrating for us because we're like, "We know, we know we wanted to," but as you grow a business, you got to kind of do it incrementally make sure you're at the right point and then pull the trigger on it. So I'm very excited to see this next wave of products come to the market and then see how they do, it's going to be great.Stephanie:That's great. All right. Well, let's move over to the lightning round when you're on, is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This is where I ask you a question and you have a minute or less to answer. Are you ready?Matt:I'm ready.Stephanie:All right. What one thing do you think will have the biggest impact on ecommerce in the next year?Matt:I think the biggest thing that'll have an impact on ecommerce in the next year is going to be finding ways in which we can reduce shipping costs. That's been a big barrier for us. It's expensive for everybody. So I'm looking forward to innovations that will be coming to lowering and speeding up product delivery.Stephanie:Yeah, that's great. I've heard that a lot throughout all the interviews, so you're all thinking on-Matt:Somebody is going to... Who's working on that.Stephanie:I know. Come on, come on the show, tell us about it. What is the best advice you've gotten since starting this business?Matt:Wow. It's to go with your gut. Collectively between Lauren, myself and John, we've hired a few consultants here and there to help us, and they've been very good at helping guide us in certain areas where we're just deficient in that training or information. But it's really interesting when you look at it and you're like, yeah, that's what we wanted to do the first place. But it, yeah, that's...Stephanie:That's a good one. Even if it takes a few consultants to tell you and you're like, "Oh, okay, I'm just going to go."Matt:You just got to go, you go with your gut.Stephanie:Yeah, what's up next on your reading list or podcast?Matt:Ooh. Up next on my reading list is a book called Conscious Medicine and it's about microdosing different types of psilocybin and a few other things to, how to incorporate that in and use it. I've experimented that stuff over the last year actually, and had some great experiences.Stephanie:Cool. I'll have to check that one out. Sounds good. All right. And then the last one, what's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for you in your whole life?Matt:Ooh, man. Probably marry me. I would have to thank my wife for that one. That is by far and away the nice thing. Yeah. I owe a lot to her. She's the woman behind the man for sure. Where I'm off and they are, we work really well together and I'm blessed to have her as a partner in business and in life. So I got a lots of thanks for her.Stephanie:Yeah, that's amazing. All right, Matt. Well, this has been such an amazing interview. Thank you for joining on the top of a mountain. It's been fun just watching what's behind you. Where can people find out more about you and Principal Faucets.Matt:Yeah. You can check us out at principlefaucets.com, got a bunch of good information there. You can explore around and as well as on Instagram just @principlefaucets.Stephanie:Amazing. Thanks so much.Matt:Thank you. Really enjoyed it. 

    Solving The World's Supply Chain Woes with Blue Yonder

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 3, 2021 48:07

    If you break down the supply chain in its simplest form, basically what you have is brands procuring products and then delivering them to customers where and when they need them. Sounds easy, right? But if you've listened to this show long enough, you know that's not the case. We've heard countless guests tell us just how much the supply chain impacts their business, and they've described a number of challenges they have encountered thanks to supply chain disruptions. One thing they all had in common — they had no answers to the problems they were facing.That changes now. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I was so excited to finally get some insight on the supply chain from a couple of guys from Blue Yonder, Omar Akilah, GVP of Product in the commerce suite, and Eugene Amigud, GVP of Product Management and Architecture. Blue Yonder is an end-to-end supply chain platform that enables companies to tackle all the problems in the supply chain, and little side note, it's currently on track to be acquired by Panasonic for a measly $7.1B. From planning to execution, to transportation management, to commerce, to promising a customer when they're going to get it and making sure that you fulfill those promises, these are just some of the things Eugene and Omar have insider knowledge of. They dug into all of those topics and more and they shared how they help brands solve issues at all stages of the supply and fulfillment process. Regardless of the issues at hand, Eugene and Omar have heard, seen, and solved for it all. They also see the trends evolving in real time, including how important same-day or next-day delivery will be in various verticals, how and where A.I. and ML are being implemented, and what kind of difference edge technology and data will have on the entire buying and shipping experience. Eugene and Omar explain it all in this awesome roundtable episode, enjoy!Main Takeaways:Stitched Together: The supply chain is made up of specific pillars that can be optimized in specific ways. The way to level up and personalize the supply chain experience for brands is to stitch together the pillars and tools to make each pillar more valuable. For example, using machine learning to help do more accurate real-time inventory and then incentivizing purchase through automated couponing will lead to more sales, and also more data to further input into an ML algorithm to keep making the system better.Knowing the Needs: Supply chain optimization is all about understanding the unique needs of a company or an industry. For medicine and pharmaceuticals, speed of delivery is critical — people need their medicine now. For grocery, being able to schedule your food to arrive on the days you need it for the meals you're cooking is most important. Once you identify what the major need is, solving for that becomes a bit easier.Gaining an Edge: The use of edge technology and data, combined with other execution tools like sensors, A.I. and ML, can change the shopping experience for customers and the supply chain experience for businesses. By bringing everything to the edge and utilizing new technology, real-time freshness and weather and harvest data can be used by businesses to update their inventory or upcoming orders and to inform customers of critical product information.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we're ready for what's next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---Transcript:Stephanie:Hello, and welcome back to up next in commerce. This is your host, Stephanie Postles, CEO at mission.org. Today, we have an epic round table with two men from Blue Yonder, Eugene and Omar. Guys, welcome to the show.Omar:Hello. Thank you.Eugene:Thank you.Stephanie:Yeah. I'm very excited to have you on. So today I'm very happy because we're finally tackling something that so many of our guests have been saying is an issue. I mean, hundreds of episodes in, and almost all of them that said supply chain is one of the biggest issues in e-commerce, but no one has had to figure it out and they always say hi, can someone come and help us with this? So I'm really excited about the conversation today. To start maybe Omar, if you could give us an overview of what is Blue Yonder.Omar:So Blue Yonder, if you think about it is really an end-to-end supply chain platform that enables companies to tackle all the problems that you talked about in the supply chain. From planning to execution, to transportation management, to commerce, to orchestrating in order to where it needs to go, to promising a customer when they're going to get it and making sure that you fulfill on those promises. So if you really think of all of the various components of the supply chain, we basically power that right from the bits and bytes that need to be in the warehouse during the time that they need to be there to planning the labor all the way to getting it to a customer.Stephanie:And what are some of the brands that you guys work with? Are they all just big brands or there some small ones in there too? What does that look like?Eugene:We work with various brands. Some of those include pretty well-known it's going to be lululemon or CVS or the worked with the [calls], [Mesias], Urban Outfitters, and so on. So pretty well recognized brands.Stephanie:Yeah. [inaudible] small guy. It's no big deal. That's awesome. So I want to talk about the landscape today of where supply chain is, because like I said, we hear that there's all these issues. There's delays. We're having a heated conversation earlier, before we were recording around our couches all being delayed. And it's very sad. So I want to hear what's going on today, or maybe what has been transforming over this past year to get us here.Omar:Yeah. And I think, again, if you take it a step back, Stephanie, I would think about it relative to every company is trying to offer a brand product value proposition. So I have my brand, I have my products and my assortments. I'm trying to price them the right way so that they resonate with you or create some differentiator in the market relative to either the quality or the price or the uniqueness of the offering. And then I'm trying to make sure I can get it to you when you need to get it. So if we think of supply chain, instead of this big, hairy monster. That's essentially what I'm trying to do, if I'm trying to make products that you love and get them in your hand when you want them from a consumer perspective. Now, to support all of that, obviously there's a element of either procuring this product from another source or I'm making it for you.Omar:That's where the supply chain varies tremendously, depending on who you're talking about in the automotive industry versus the pharma industry versus other industries. It's all about the components are still there. I need to make something or I need to procure something. I need to be able to get it to where I need it to be. And place it in the right place relative to my demand. So I know you're in Austin or I'm in California or Eugene's in Boston. And I need to make sure that the inventory is where he needs it to be, or you need it to be in order to get it in time. I need to be able to promise you that, that inventory is there and I need to be able to deliver all my promises. So if we break it down to the essence, that's what it is. Now, the complexity comes in each of the functions. If you look at each of these functions, they become domain centric functions where I need to go very deep, where I'm using machine learning.Omar:I'm using analytics to figure out, okay, how much of a product do I need to sell? During which seasons? Where are my best suppliers? Who can I get it from at the best cost? How does my network look for inbound? Am I going to get it from overseas? And then I need to go through an ocean in order to get it to a port and then truck it somewhere else? What does all of that look like? And that's where the right tools and the right software solutions become key to helping you answer those questions. Does that help?Stephanie:Yes. That makes perfect sense. So when you come in, for some of these big brands will say, I don't know, CVS or something, or anyone, where do you even start? How do you start the audit process? And maybe what are the biggest surprises? What are these brands missing, where they're like, oh, if we only knew about that 10 years ago would have been way easier.Omar:I think you'll see you Eugene and I we're riffs a little bit. I think it's a couple things Stephanie, first is the problem points that they have. We see a lot of... And everybody's a little different. Number one is, with COVID and with the fact that we all have these, and I would say this came before COVID-Stephanie:[inaudible].Omar:People just forget about that. Folks, sorry. Yes. There's a podcast, phones, phones, telephones. And more specifically the fact smartphones, where we now have a browser in our hand, and we want to understand a lot more than what we did in the past. In the past, it was more about, "Hey, you know what, J.Crew is a cool brand. I want to go into the store. I want to check it out. Now I want to browse their catalog. I want to see what's available near me. I want to see whether or not I can get it today." So typically where we start is the problem points that companies have relative to the strategy they're trying to implement and what stressors that have. So one could be, I need to expose how much inventory I have in the store and make it available to a customer.Omar:Another could be, you know what, I'm doing that, but I need to be able to optimize my inventory better, put it in the right place so that it doesn't take so long to get Stephanie and [inaudible] their couches. Those are the type of things that, depending on the problem point, and given the fact that Blue Yonder has such a robust portfolio, we start from wherever their pain point is in the supply chain. And we're typically, revert to it as the supply chain experts in these areas. Eugene:Just to add to what Omar's saying, me being in the industry for a quite long time, I took things for granted. But then if you talk to somebody outside of the industry, you always have to educate what is actual supply chain? How does it work? Everyone says, look, I just placed an order online and I get the box back. But then they partially because of COVID, what happened was government started talking about supply chain. Saying, look, if you cannot physically go into the stores, but you can come and do a pickup from the store where you order something online, you pick it up from the store has been there forever. I mean, that's why I've been doing it probably 20 years ago or more. But somewhat not as spread out, general public might not have understood it well.Eugene:And now everyone has to do that. And I was fascinated literally the spot of the news coverage, where there will be COVID numbers and the other updates, it would say, okay, physical stores for non essential brands can be open for pickup or can be open for shipping. And the reverse was, let's say stores are closed. And our customers cause that Eugene we've got we have seasonal merchandise and you have to get rid of it. What do we do? The customers are not coming into the store. What I do with that? The answer is you can ship from those stores. You can use your stores as a warehouses and again, old concept to a degree, but it just became so much spread out. And those are some of the difficulties we started ordering, discussing, helping customers to say, look, how do you handle these scenarios?Stephanie:Do you see these customers that you have actually being able to identify their problems? Because to me, if I'm a brand I'm like, I don't know what I don't know. So I don't know what J. Crew's doing versus Bombas versus these DTC companies who maybe are mainly and have always used their retail locations as fulfillment centers. Do they actually understand the problems they have?Eugene:Yeah-Eugene:Very often is a common. That's where you start. They see a problem of saying my inventory is not moving. And we have them in some of the first questions they ask us saying, look, how other customers do this? Just because of how our product used across multiple verticals in different domain, [inaudible] people do ask us all the time saying what's the best way to implement it? So now actually we find a lot is customers work with us. Not just to buy product. They say, look, bring the best practices. The lessons learned, what's the fastest way to implement that? Yes. We all know somebody else's doing ship from store, but how do you roll it out? Do you roll it out across all stores immediately? Do you pick a market where you offer some competitive differentiation, et cetera?Omar:Yeah. And I think, sorry, just to add there, I think Eugene's point is a good one. I'd look at it in two categories, generally, they know what they want to impact from a strategy perspective, they might not know how. And that's where trusted partners come into play, but Eugene's point, you typically know, you know what, I want to make the customer experience better to my customers. I have an issue with stale inventory sitting in my warehouse. I have a cost problem with how much it costs me to fulfill orders. I need to bring that down. So the problem statements are typically known. To your point, the solutions may not be. So do I go and address order optimization to fix my shipping problem?Omar:To Eugene's point, if you ship out of stores, hey, you're shipping from a closer location. You're going to get a benefit of potentially lowering your time to deliver to your customers. But your transportation costs may go up a little bit. So how do you cater for that? Do you look at other ways to do it? And that's where we would suggest, well, have you done a network model where you've assessed your ins and your outs and make sure that they're optimized accordingly? Do you need a micro fulfillment center? Do you need to ship directly from your sources? Those kinds of answers come out after that problem statement has been clearly identified. So the problem statements, I think, are very clear to your point. They may not know what the solution is to those, and that's where we typically help.Stephanie:Yeah. So is there a shiny star client where you were like, ah, this one, every time we're going to go with this playbook where we're going to implement these 10 key pieces and maybe there's a little customization based off their product. Is that a good way to think about how you guys work or is it custom every single time?Omar:I don't think it's custom every single time. I think to your point there are definitely key pillars of the supply chain that need to be aligned. And again, all of our customers, I would say are actively working on all of those pillars. Whether it's inventory planning, inventory, placement, network modeling, the commerce experience, speed and convenience to their customers. Those are all common pillars that every company is trying to figure out whether they're B2B or B2C. It really doesn't matter if they're common. Do I have the right products in the right place, fast enough to meet the demand that I have when I have it. And am I engaging my customers the way that they want to be engaged and am I promising them what they're going to get when they're going to get it, all that kind of good stuff.Omar:So I think at the end of the day, the pillars are common. What happens that uniqueness in the sauces? How do you address it for each customer? Eugene:So like Omar was saying, the pillars are common. I call them building blocks. I think what also makes us very different is the what is the absolute burning pain that the customer is experiencing. And you see different, there are some, let's say retailers, their margins are absolutely through the roof and all they care about is how do I get this product to customer's hands faster. They may not actually worry about extra three dollars and shipping just because I want to get customer to have a today or tomorrow one good example of some of these scenarios is not margins, but speed is a pharmacist. So if you think about pharmacy, if I want my order to arrive within an hour probably I need it. I need this medication. So that's one example. So absolutely I have to find the closest location and try to fulfill their orchestrate my supply chain so that I can ship it within an hour.Eugene:And the flip side is some other retailers where a good example is grocery, where I may want to get my order delivered on Friday, just because that's when I start cooking and so on. And so you can see the difference. One is immediacy. And another one is actually, I want to plan accordingly. And so you can think of supply chain being orchestrated very differently based on the customer. So from our perspective, so we have this pillar, some building blocks make them very flexible from technically to call the microservices, to make sure that you can use those and build within your whatever customer is looking to achieve. And again, those goals could be very, very different. Everyone is talking about everything going digital. The grocery going digital, this whole Omni channel scenarios. But if you look at every one of them in detail, they actually quite unique. Many of them are very unique and our job is to make sure that whatever customers are trying to achieve we enable them to do so.Stephanie:Yeah. Cool. What are some of the new trends that you all see popping up? Because I'm sure you have a lot of people coming to you and they're like, we need to do this right now because we heard other brands are doing this, or this is the way of the future. What trends are you hearing that are maybe new and even just the past couple months or so?Eugene:I think [inaudible] that's really hard this year to me is a same day or hourly delivery. That's one. Everyone talks about it. It's actually remains to be seen how hot it will remain going forward or not. And again, if I look at the Madison delivery, it's there to stay, grocery maybe. And then some that probably it will come and go. Because we see many retailers they'll enable same day delivery, but the margins are just not there or in that charging customer $20 for same day delivery of a shirt, it may not stay there. So that's an interesting one. I think it will evolve over time, but the same day delivery is definitely a very hot, a common topic that customers ask us all the time.Omar:Well, we can riff on that for a bit Stephanie, because if you think of COVID and the COVID impact. So every company that offered goods to customers wanted to get it in their hands as soon as possible to replicate the in store experience. Because you're browsing the aisle, you're looking. So now I'm focusing on my e-commerce experience, I'm focusing on my digital experience to try to mirror that. So that you can actually get it. And what's the other part of that is putting it in your basket and leaving and being able to have that item that day. So now, to Eugene's point, if you look at it, a category by category perspective, is same day uptake going to be the same across all the different industries and all the different categories.Omar:I would agree with Eugene, probably not, because now that folks are getting mobile again, we may rely on it for pharmacy. We may rely on it for grocery. We may rely on it for essentials. And we want it when we want it, but now for non-essential goods, do I really need it same day? I may be willing to wait. So that becomes the balance and the dance from a customer engagement perspective where you want to offer them the options but they may not necessarily be the option that they we'll take up every single time. And so there's a balance to Eugene's point on that cost to serve. I think the other cool trend or the other trend that I'm seeing in a Eugene and I reverse roles for a sec. You talked about the same day delivery, and I'm going to talk about the use of machine learning. So typically Stephanie, he's the tech geek and I've done-Stephanie:Yeah. We just flop [inaudible].Omar:Yeah. We just totally flop. So what I would say is like super cool that I'm seeing quite a bit in industry is the usage of machine learning to solve the problems that people cannot easily. So let's look at grocery for a second, or let's look at any other industry where products are very volatile as they're in the store because you got a lot of people coming in and out, but yet you want to promise against that store potentially because you don't want to have a distribution center that fulfilled a product to a customer to Eugene's point, if I want to deliver same day, I want to get it out of your local Safeway or Lucky's or whatever it may be. You can get it straight into your hands. So how do I factor for whether or not something's in stock or not?Omar:So that's where things like using machine learning and understanding how often they get replenished to how often a product is being demanded, how often a product is actually there, when it says it's going to be there using a brain to determine all of that probabilistically, high probability that it's there becomes easier than to do the traditional path of, I have five units at the end of the start of the day, and I sold three units in it now two. So being able to use applied machine learning and artificial intelligence in the supply chain, and I just use inventory as one, but you can think of it relative to planning. You can think of it relative to assortment residents during different seasons. Should I offer a pink jacket because of this type of season where it's going to be cold, but it's bright. So people are actually going to like the color pink more, or those kinds of things become super, super to me, exciting in terms of trends.Omar:And we're seeing it more, more, and more of the conversations are, how are you tying machine learning and artificial intelligence into your planning tools, into your commerce tools? And then we're being asked, how are you tying planning into execution? How are you bringing those two things together? So that to me is super, super exciting. I know it's exciting to you, Eugene too. We just flipped roles. We're excited about the same stuff. We're brothers from other mothers-Stephanie:[inaudible] get of my territory [inaudible].Eugene:No that's-Omar:Yeah, yeah. Exactly.Eugene:And to me to continue right to what Omar's mentioned is, to me that's almost like evolvement on visibility. So before many talks about control towers. So that's another kind of topic and now expectations are changing to say, look, from control tower and visibility I need to make it actionable. And how do you make actionable for all this visibility you actually apply in machine learning. And then if you make it actually can make it urgent and relevant to the current customer. So that's another trend that we see quite a lot now is saying, look, we have the control tower. We have this ability now, how do you make it actionable? My PO is not a writing for now another two months.Eugene:The couch discussion we had a little earlier, before we started would be good to practice practical notify customers saying that you probably do not get the couch and maybe recommend another couch or provide a different date. So of just showing this ability because of the supply chain now is being so rapidly changing, how do you react that the speed that consumer or businesses expect?Stephanie:So I have two thoughts there. First, I'm going to go with the training piece. Whenever people talk on machine learning, I obviously think it's going to blow everything out of the water. It's going to help a lot. But then I also think the people on the ground have a lot of that local knowledge where they know what's in style based off the people that come in. So how do we think about training the models where people can actually help with that and influence the outcome. So it's not just a computer guessing and applying the same algorithm to Austin versus Washington state. And then whereas people they're picking inventory, I'm thinking of these consignments jobs here who pick this awesome inventory and they're so close to what people in Austin want versus what someone in DC would want very different or San Jose. Omar, no one would want something that's here. Probably. How do you [inaudible] all that?Omar:We're weird too. We're weird [inaudible].Stephanie:We're all weird in our own way.Omar:Yeah, yeah. Come on, [inaudible].Stephanie:Very different kinds of weird. Yeah, how do you think about that customization piece and training so that people on the ground floor can help influence the outcome of those models?Eugene:Yeah. So a couple of things. So in general, and it lists in the industry, we work with people just don't trust machine learning to begin with. Part of the job security part of it is uncertainty. My favorite comment was one customer and we were trying to talk about machine learning and he said, look, Eugene, would you put your child in a school bus that's driven by machine learning? And that was a fair question-Stephanie:I would. I drive a Tesla, I'm all about it.Eugene:No. But he didn't ask about the car, he asked about school bus. A little bit more complex. So it was a tricky question, but a fair question. And I think the takeaway there is you need to build a system that users can trust. And there are various ways of doing it. One is training. So how much data you need? So very common question. I said, look, we don't have the data. You'll ask us for two years for some data, we don't have two years worth of data. And now it's actually worse because the last year of COVID data is very often useless.Stephanie:Yeah. We talked about this actually with Stitch Fix where she's like, we had the VP of data science come on. And it's just like, if we use this last year of data, we would have all the wrong models because everyone wants athleisure and yoga pants. And she's like, and that will not be the trend in the next year or two-Omar:In the next year.Eugene:[crosstalk] where they had stores closed all 2000 or 3000, whatever stores, the physical walls. So you can learn too much from that. So to your point, training, I couldn't think of more relevant than more right time question than now, about training. So you have to be very careful of what data use, what is [inaudible] they're used to train that, but also the way we think about that, we actually give users manual controls together with machine learning and a lot of insights onto machine. So we don't just spit out the data and say, well, trust us, that's the best way. But whenever we make a decision, we try to capture all the decision criteria that was used during the time. And it's almost like degenerated audit for it.Eugene:So that is the best way you found to build trust to people who use it try to business owners of those components to say, look, you made the decision because of that, or can I change few levers manually because I don't have the enough historical data. So then you are playing with some levers to begin with while you collecting historical data, and then you start trusting more and more the machine learning and you are adjusting those levers and say, look, now it's less manual and more automatic. So the rollout, the transition, the insights, all super important. And again, many of these are very urgent. We're talking about customers can say, look, in two months, I want this up and running. I may not have historical data.Eugene:So, there's always a combination. Enough historical data to train. So you say, look, we'll start training, you will start collecting the data, doing cleansing and whatever, but you have some manual ways to control it while you're building more and more trust to your machine learning data. Omar you want to add?Omar:No, no. I was just going to say, I mean, you hit the nail on the head and I think Stephanie, one of the issues again is, I think now the application of AI and ML in retail or in manufacturing or in the different industries, is relatively new and so are the solution providers [inaudible]. So to Eugene's point, giving transparency was a problem. In some cases, they thought that look, they aren't using my peers and even us to some degree. But that's not the case with us. But if I show what's happening on potentially exposing my solution to you, which frankly, is what you have to do. Because in order for me to trust you, to Eugene's point, I have to understand what you're doing, and why you're doing it, so that you build what Eugene highlighted which is confidence.Omar:And being able to say, hey, look, if you're not confident above 90% in this decision and I would argue your point on self-driving. If you can't drive this thing 99.9% to the rules of the road, I'm not going to trust you. I'm going to grab it. But if you can, and you prove to me that you can, and that you have, over the past year, you have, then you know what, yeah. I trust you. So the ability to actually understand and have the control of what it's doing, and be able to have the control of, yes, I want to accept you or no I don't, becomes critical to machine learning [inaudible] Yeah. Absolutely critical. And-Stephanie:Yes. And what I love about that it's leveling everyone up in the industry because then everyone is like a data scientist. Everyone is understanding the weighting of the different variables and how to play with it and put their own human element into it. I guess we're really leveling everyone up in the industry.Omar:And it's not creating it and the thing that I think is interesting is everybody says, hey, you know what, This is my secret vow, but the point is you get to innovate on top of it. You get to use data science to really create unique experiences for your target segment which could be different than your competitors target segment. That's how you get to differentiate as well. So the ability to truly understand your market, truly understand your supply chain, truly understand what you can improve within it becomes... Again, to me, I geek out with Eugene on that quite a bit. Because I just think it's super, super cool. That and same day delivery of course.Stephanie:I love that. I mean, it seems like transparency and visibility are the way forward in this industry. I'm even thinking about same day delivery. Does it matter? Does it not? Maybe depends on the industry but probably what matters most is the messaging behind that, of where is my package. It can be 20 days out in the future as long as I actually can go and look into that. Are you guys seeing some trends around companies really try to put everything forward when it comes to being very transparent around where things are, what the process looks like? So customers are like fully in the loop?Eugene:Yeah. I didn't. At some degree you summarized by Blue Yonder bought Yon tricks right in the company we founded. At the core of it is you have supply chain and when we got together, we said, look, if you take the supply chain and you bring up, which could be scary because it puts a lot of pressure on supply but if you bring it up, front and center, and make it transparent and visible, that's where the power is. So that the core that's really why we came together with Blue Yonder and Yon tricks to try to achieve that. It's also the technical side of me. That's where the complexities are because when you show this transparency, if you think of a supply chain, it historically tend to be more of a background jobs. So there's something in the background that gets your box out, et cetera.Eugene:Now, if you want to take all that and expose it front and center, it can no longer be a background. I cannot say, well, customer, I'll tell you where your order is in 30 minutes. I need to respond in five milliseconds maybe, because it needs to show on your mobile phone within some low millisecond response times. So the technical challenges to do that is actually quite interesting network excites us and we talk about it a lot is the architecture. You can't just take an old program that was written back in the day and say, look, now it's exposed to the front end. Now it's about sides. Now you can compete with Amazon. It doesn't form the plan. All my talks, quite a lot about some of those vertical integrated supply chain in the industry. So you may want to touch on that, but that's really irrelevant to what you said.Stephanie:[inaudible].Omar:Yeah. Yeah. I would start first, maybe Stephanie, with of what you said and I'm going to go back to machine learning for a second. In understanding customer behaviors, there is definitely a balance between what you're willing to deal with in terms of time and speed, and what you're willing to pay for depending on the product assortment, and what it is, and when it is, when you're buying it. So number one to your point, accuracy in reliability is absolutely tantamount to any kind of promises that I'm engaging in. And I think you're just seeing that across every retailer that's now trying to build it. Every reseller now, every retailer now, again another trend that you're seeing, you look at the product details page, guess what you're seeing now, order now get it tomorrow, order now, get it in 10 days, you're seeing dates now.Omar:You're not seeing date ranges anymore, five days, four days, you're seeing July Wednesday, July 3rd. To Eugene's point that now puts stress on the supply chain to make sure that that happens. But you're no longer seeing three to five business days. And if you are, they are actively looking at how do they make that a different proposition. And then to your point, there's analysis being done on the backend branching. Will Stephanie still buy this thing if the lead time is greater than this or not? Right from analyzing trends, do they know? For these type of products, I really need the offers same day delivery. I need to make sure that it's available within 24 hours and get it in our hands in three days. If it's more than three days or four days, or five days, she doesn't buy for abandonment and analyzing what that does to your shopping cart and behavior.Omar:So that's one, the second use to what Eugene was talking about is now, these different pillars of the supply chain, the power of being able to go deep within them to surface those promises, but then stitch them together. To actually provide a unique value proposition to you, and I'm going to say a word that people aren't going to like and influence your behavior to what I want you to do, becomes super powerful. As an example, I'm in the shopping cart, you have three items in your shopping cart. Those three, I understand that they're actually going to be expensive for me to fulfill, I can incent you and you've seen this with colds and others to go and pick up in store, and I'll give you a coupon. And I know that when you walk into the store, you attach more. But now I've actually connected two things that are typically not connected, which is, pricing and promotion, with delivery execution. Typically those are separate.Omar:And in the old world they were completely separate. Now I'm tying them together. So the ability to actually create these domain centric microservices, that are loosely coupled, that can work on their own, but then once I integrate them together they work seamlessly in the response times required, at the scale required because we're not talking about that yet. We haven't talked about that but one of the big things is build the internet, the website has an SLA of how quick things need to come back. And how high it needs to scale with execution systems, were not necessarily built for that. So being able to actually scale to those kinds of volumes while providing very deep intelligence on the supply chain, is not an easy problem. It is a problem we solve, we're very proud of the fact that we solved that, but it's not an easy problem to address.Omar:So the power of the domain centric microservices that can be a single call, regardless of who's calling it, the integration and the stitching between the two, coupled with the intelligence on top of it to understand what behavior you want, and what behavior I want from you becomes truly, in my opinion the secret to success.Stephanie:Yeah. I love the idea of stitching things together. It have made a perfect little model in my mind around what's happening. What are some of the... Maybe like one or two case studies of a company like Kohl's, or whoever you want to highlight coming in, getting all of this working together, and then being like, well, here's the results that happened in however long it took.Omar:Sure. So I think there's a couple of things here and Eugene, I'll rely on you. So one, industry examples, obviously Amazon. You see it all the time. As you think of... And again from a Blue Yonder customer perspective, you think of grocery, you think of all of the different, retail clients that we had at Yon tricks. They're all on this journey to connect and I use Petco as one of my key examples. You look at their ability to deliver. Not only commitments to their customers, but they've actually been able to make them things like, free same day delivery in certain markets and free one to two day delivery. It really helped them turn the corner where they rapidly added capabilities. So time to value becomes a very, very important on anything that's doing, because these transformation projects are huge, and they take a very long period of time.Omar:But if you think of what Petco has been able to do in a short period of time to highlight Petco in a minute, or again, we can talk industry wise about what Amazon has been able to do with whole foods and delivery, you can see Albertsons and Safeway and what they're doing right in terms of innovation there. But if I highlight Petco for a second, you look at the ability that they were able to turn on 1500 stores into ship from stores. They were able to, without going into all the detail but being able to do all of that and surface them into customer value at the time that customers needed it, and be able to pivot and even pivot strategies along the way as they were understanding customer behaviors, that becomes what makes me smile because that's exactly what we want these platforms to be able to do. And hopefully that answers a couple of key points. We can go deep on each but, yeah.Stephanie:That's great. I mean, pivoting is definitely seems like, you have to be able to do that in this day and age you got to be able to go quickly, move where your customers are going, because you never know what's coming next. When it comes to what's coming next I want to hear what do you guys think are the biggest disruptions coming into supply chain? What are you thinking around blockchain, or what other crazy ideas are you thinking, or like, this is going to come and impact everything. And Eugene, maybe this is your-Eugene:I'll start and then I'm not going to have it. Well, one part of [inaudible] is as it's known the Panasonic intense to acquire a Blue Yonder. And one interesting part of that, and that's primarily an industry. But somewhat related to that is edge. So you can do a lot with... So we talked about visibility, we talked about machine learning. The part is missing in all this equation and throughout the industry, is the edge intelligence. So now if you can see when customers walking into the store, and again, they're point solutions here and there. I don't think it's been as broad as we would like let's say, customer walks into the store. And you can just scan the face. And have understanding of the mood of the customer, what recommendations and what offers are there. On inventoring, again, knowing where the items are in real time, not just saying that, yes, the [inaudible] is arriving 20 days from now.Eugene:But actually have a sensor on that specific item and knowing that it's going from China to maybe west coast on the truck to Minneapolis somewhere. So with the edge data, you can machine learning and visibility and all this execution becomes on steroids. That's one trend that I think we'll evolve quite a bit machine learning in general. We'll just spread out. On top of the execution side, automation is a big one, again, we think about it in the context of an edge. So you come to the store to pickup and you have this bag automatically available to you. It's rolled out on a robot. So those few Omar, you want to add a few more?Omar:No, no. I think you spot-on. I mean, even if I expand what Eugene just said, think about freshness as well where I actually can use the edge technology via temperature sensors to actually tell you how fresh a particular product is. And if somebody takes it off of a shelf, I'm automatically replenishing either from my back room or creating an order because you know what, my plan of what I was going to be replenished has now spiked given the demand because it was hotter in a given area. So using weather and different spikes that may occur. So when you think of edge, and when you think of applying other intelligence in like sensors, robotics, those kind of things, automation process efficiency become key. On the other side of that when you think about the customer engagement and being able to truly reach the customer, to me, what becomes super, super exciting is you think of getting people products and we're already seeing it which was interesting is that, a couple of years ago, being able to see delivery day was a big deal.Omar:Now, you're able to select time, "Hey, I want it between this time and this time." And I don't think that going to go away. I think that you're going to see brands do everything they can to look at a customer's lifetime value and pull out all the stops relative to engagement. And how I engage with you, whether it's the stuff that I talked about relative to coupons, relative to loyalty programs, relative to same day delivery, time slots, all of those kinds of things, but being able to truly understand my customer lifetime value with a customer and be able to cater specific needs around them. Also, becomes a second key trend that I believe you're going to see all the companies moving to, and you've already seen some of it with loyalty programs and other things and differentiated benefits as a result. So I think those two, I mean, I think we're very excited and obviously I've already told you, I'm super excited about how things stitch together.Omar:And we're actively building those stitch components. Real time demand, into planning, into the internet of things, to understand and edge, to understand what's actually happening collaboration with suppliers in real time, so that you can actually order and adjust plans dynamically, extend your assortment as needed, their little like I could geek out for a very long time, but there's a lot I think that is going to come in this supply chain that you'll see over time. And it's all catered around making Stephanie's life easier when she's buying her couch. Right?Stephanie:All right. So the one thing I also want to bring up, you mentioned earlier about an acquisition and I wanted to touch on that because you guys are interesting. You worked at Yon tricks before you had the company Yon tricks before you got acquired by Blue Yonder. And now Panasonic is looking to acquire Blue Yonder for, I think it was $7.1 billion with a B. I want to hear about that journey because that's very fun. And I haven't had many companies on the show. You can talk about that.Eugene:Yes. That's quite interesting, with a year ago, exactly a year ago, because it was in July, Yon tricks was acquired by Blue Yonder. And this was an interesting transition exciting a little bit nervous, et cetera. But we were able... The acquisition was the strategy was of investment and growth. It was very well understood the supply chain needs to have this transparency to the customer, bring it to the front end, et cetera, from commerce perspective. And that was pretty much investment going forward. And I guess we are little bit fortunate within the Blue Yonder because other parts of the Blue Yonder obviously didn't go through that acquisition, but we just did. And so we understand the process maybe a little bit better. It's a little bit fresh in our minds. I'm very excited actually about Panasonic, because to me that looks very similar trend, but like you said, on a much bigger scale.Eugene:It's a investment strategy clearly, it's a growth strategy, and bringing the supply chain with the edge, arrived with the sound of the automation, bringing it all together. It's very exciting. So to me, we were the micro experiment within the Blue Yonder and now that becomes a macro experiment between Panasonic and Blue Yonder. So again, you'll find me as one of the most optimistic people. Whenever there's acquisition, people are always a little bit nervous and concerned. But because we just went through the journey and whatever we were able to achieve in one year, it would be absolutely impossible to achieve the same without the acquisition because when we were a startup, we were self-funded and we could grow organically, et cetera, but just with this acquisition It accelerated up. And now I see that. And I'm imagining you are assuming everything goes as planned as announced the possibility there is quite exciting.Stephanie:Omar, anything to add?Omar:think it's very, very exciting. I would say we were that micro spark into a rich strategy that I think the region leadership team at Blue Yonder had in terms of where they see the industry going and I think it's a testament to their vision. So, I mean, again, a Panasonic acquisition, if you think about it, traditionally, it would be like a supply chain company coming together with Panasonic. How does that make sense? But then when you think about the application opportunities within manufacturing, the ports importation within the four walls of a retail facility or store, warehousing, robotics, all of that kind of thing. It makes a lot of sense. So I think I'm very excited about it.Omar:I think again, to your point and to Eugene's point we've written a wave that's been tremendously fun for us. Eugene and I worked together at target and Yon tricks and beyond. So being able and the greater Yon tricks' team which was a family coming into the Blue Yonder family and being welcomed as well as we were. And then now being a part of this new chapter in this new journey and being able to help write those stories. Yeah. It's very humbling and it's a very fun thing to be part of, to be honest. It's pretty cool.Eugene:And that ties back to [inaudible] again, what you're talking about, the edge With Panasonic financial, the other part of it, you asked, what are the new trends? The other trend and I forgot to mention last time is B2C moving to B2B in terms of expectations. So now when we in a B2B if I'm in a manufacturing facility and I'm ordering PLS. I'm in the IT department, I'm ordering servers, et cetera, the expectations of those consumer shops so much on the retail websites, which are putting all new capabilities, we don't expect any more to... We are shopping at some against some ERP system. We just blue screens or whatever else.Eugene:So this whole digital revolution It's capturing B2B now. And that's, we really see it accelerating whether it's direct to consumer from the manufacturer. So whether it's a B2B or all these other flavors. The three PLS, et cetera, this digital revolution is taking over from what we've seen in B2C, what we all as people just used to and spreading around there. And I think that's also quite exciting. And with Panasonic empowering some of that makes it even more powerful.Stephanie:Yes. I love that. And you definitely see that in all the industries too are trying to approach B2B in the same way they're doing B2C and some industries that's perfect. And some maybe not, but awesome. Well, it's been a pleasure having you both on such a fun round table, such a good vibe, where can people hear more or learn more about Blue Yonder and you guys?Eugene:Thank you Stephanie for your time.Omar:Yeah. So Stephanie, obviously through our website Eugene and I, of course are all over. So, also LinkedIn, people can feel free to ping us there. As well as through again our Blue Yonder website and the different category pages of the different solutions that they need. So that's definitely available, but this has been a lot of fun. Thank you very, very much for your time.Stephanie:Of course, thank you guys.

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