Jordan Gutierrez is the COO of Wishpond, a B2B business that builds complete marketing funnels that get leads and customers for eCommerce businesses. He started his business career by buying a coffee machine and selling coffee and donuts on the streets of Mexico City and has now helped Wishpond grow into a 120 person company.
Jordan now focuses on the operations of Wishpond and most importantly, pivoting to the wants of their customers to continue to provide the products and services they need to grow their own businesses.
Jordan is the COO of Wishpond, a campaign builder for eCommerce businesses. Since joining the COO team during its start up phase, he’s helped the company grow to employ 120 people and work with Fortune 500 companies to create their marketing funnels.
In this episode, we talk about Jordan’s first experience with business, what makes products sell on Facebook, and how chatbots and Facebook Messenger are changing the marketing industry.
This is The Lean Commerce Podcast.
How did you get into eCommerce?
2:15 Moving to Canada from Mexico City gave me my first introduction to Amazon and Best Buy. That summer, I went back to Mexico, bought a coffee machine, and started to sell coffee and donuts on the street. My customers were mostly doctors and I found out they were in Mexico just to buy medical books. I sold my coffee machine and started to sell the books they wanted online.
4:08 I decided that I needed a website and built an eCommerce website in 2007 selling medical books. At the same time, I came back to Canada and was studying in university. This was obviously really chaotic and when I was approached by a dropship partnership company, I agreed.
6:42 I started posting memes related to the medical community on Facebook, I interviewed doctors, and started to get some traction.
8:32 Then, I created a medical case page on Reddit. People could post symptoms and other users would diagnose them. This continued to grow and I started to expand to medical equipment, soaps, and tools. We started some campaigns, sold apparel, anything that medical professionals would want to buy.
11:46 Ninety percent of medical professionals in Mexico know of us and 70% have purchased medical equipment from us at some point. We have over 2,000 Google reviews and a 4.5 rating.
It would make sense that adding to cart on Facebook was a seamless, easy decision—but it’s not. Why?
19:42 Trying to promote a simple medical book on Facebook is really difficult. On Facebook you need to build a dream and then you need your landing page to have absolutely no distractions. The main mistake people make is they send people to a landing page with too many CTA’s. Facebook is extremely distracting and it’s hard to choose where to click when you can click anywhere.
22:40 At the end of the day, if your landing page looks professional, has a nice video, and looks authoritative, it builds people’s confidence.
26:52 Once a week, we have a special product offer and we use it to grow our Facebook audience. We have contests and in order to be entered you have to get ten people to sign up. We started to just follow the market and got into more content marketing strategies.
Do you operate as a SaaS company?
30:56 We are mostly a technology company but we see the need in clients needing a campaign. We have the software to build campaigns and so we offer that to our clients too. We also want to make it super affordable for small businesses. The idea is that you get the same resources as a Fortune 500 company (we work with both types of clients).
How has Wishpond grown since you’ve been added to the team?
32:01 The company now employs 120 people. We’ve grown because we just focus on where the market is and then create products they want. We fix the problems our customers are having.
What are some of the most interesting trends you’ve seen in the past year with conversion rate optimization?
33:19 For B2B, Facebook Lead Ads are doing really well and so are Chatbots. And of course, mobile.
Do you see a massive difference in value between email and chatbots?
36:49 People have said that eCommerce is going to take over retail and every year it is increasing. Now, the same is happening with email and chat tools. I think the only difference is chat tools are going to be here to stay and it’s important to start using them as early as possible.
41:08 It’s important to note that you don’t control your data on Facebook. Facebook will tell you to pay for likes and followers and then a few months later tell you that you have to now pay to get in front of those followers. We have to be careful of this. You might build a list on Facebook Messenger and then Facebook is going to ask you to pay to access that list.
Alex Royzen is the Director of Supply Chain Management at Ecentria, OpticsPlanet, and CampSaver. He is an expert at supply chain management and has been part of OpticsPlanet’s growth from $60 million in sales a year to $300 million.
He is an experienced leader with brand, product, and project management background, using data to drive the decisions he makes for the companies that he works for.
Alex Royzen is the Director of Supply Chain Management at Ecentria, OpticsPlanet, and CampSaver. His expertise is in optimizing the supply chain of eCommerce companies and he has helped his companies grow by several millions of dollars.
In this episode, we talk about how to compete with Amazon and where the eCommerce giant is failing, giving small business owners a chance to take their customers. We also talk about developing supplier relationships, how to turn your customer service representatives into experts of your products, and how to forecast your inventory.
This is The Lean Commerce Podcast.
What is supply chain management?
0:53 In the eCommerce industry, it’s a very ambiguous term. It can range from warehouse operations to inventory management. In my world, it’s inventory management. We’re not intimately involved in the warehouse side of things, that’s a totally separate operation that we don’t touch.
How did you get into eCommerce?
2:24 I studied economics in college and it was the first subject I ever felt really passionate about. Microeconomics just clicked in my brain. After college, I ended up in the mining industry in Milwaukee. After a year, I decided to leave and come home to Chicago, where I had grown up. I heard about a company called OpticsPlanet, an online retailer, that needed somebody in their merchandising department. I applied, got the job, and now I’ve been here for ten years. I’ve watched OpticsPlanet grow from $60 million in sales to $300 million.
What are some of the main levers that you look at to improve the supply chain of a business?
9:13 The first thing I do is evaluate the inventory they have. A lot of companies lack detailed reporting and access to data. This is crucial information to know. The top three elements to understand and be working on are: inventory quality, inventory strategy, and supplier relationships.
How can you develop a supplier relationship?
10:29 It’s really a personal thing. For example, we have a team of buyers and they manage the relationships with our suppliers. In the long term, we develop personal relationships that go beyond business with our suppliers—we go on vacation together, they come to our holiday parties, and our families spend time together.
13:24 Especially in eCommerce, the most important thing a supplier can give you is priority in terms of allocation of products, shipping, results, issues, and their time. Also, if they can give you data, and do so by going above and beyond, you’ll be in a really good place.
14:50 Each relationship is case by case so I can’t necessarily give a one size fits all template for creating this relationship.
What kind of competitive advantage do you see available to eCommerce companies selling products that other companies are already selling?
18:06 It comes down to, How do you compete with Amazon? There are two ways that people search for eCommerce products, they Google it or they search it on Amazon. 50% of product searches are on Amazon. What makes our companies successful is that they are niche markets and they aren’t everyday products or products that every person needs. For example, CampSaver is specific to the outdoor market, similar to REI. People willing to spend $600 on a jacket are not your typical consumers and that niche market gives you advantage.
20:57 Where Amazon fails is that you can’t ask them a question—trying to talk to somebody on Amazon is a struggle. With us, and other smaller companies, we have a knowledgeable customer service team that can answer your questions and give advice.
How are you able to take new customer service representatives and make them competent on 1,000’s of products?
25:33 On a monthly basis, we have supplier visits where they come and train our customer service reps. We also have a Product Intelligence Team that is the point of escalation for our reps, these people are ex-army, police officers, former gun shop owners, etc..
What do marketers get wrong about supply chain?
31:58 The biggest problems we have with marketing is they think we have a larger amount of leverage over the supply chain than we really do. For example, even if we are the largest retailer for a company and they come out with a new product—that company still has to give that new product to other companies. They can’t only favor us.
What is the inventory forecasting process?
40:22 This is very much category dependent. For example, OpticsPlanet sells hard goods—products available year round, that don’t often change, and are physically hard products. Soft goods are apparel and footwear—products that have seasonal changes, shorter product life cycles, and a prediction of how colors and styles will sell.
42:41 There is no need for us to bring in ninety-days of product. Instead, I can churn twenty days of product and not get stuck with having too much money stuck in inventory.
Where do you see eCommerce going in the future?
49:13 It’s obvious that eCommerce is going to continue to grow. My personal opinion is that there will be consolidation in the industry. I’m predicting that Amazon is going to buy CostCo. As for small business owners who can’t afford Google Ads or an SEO strategy, they can win by niching down and creating a relationship with their clients in a way that Amazon just cannot.
Dave Rodenbaugh is the founder of Recapture.io an automated abandoned cart recovery for Magento & Shopify. Dave started his entrepreneurial career by acquiring businesses and making the developmental changes that turned them into profitable companies.
Dave is the host of the Rogue Startups Podcast alongside his co-host Craig Hewitt where they have weekly conversations about entrepreneurship, eCommerce, and marketing.
Dave Rodenbaugh is the founder of Recapture.io and the host of the Rogue Startups Podcast. His provides an automated abandoned cart recovery for Magento & Shopify businesses. Dave initially started his career acquiring small businesses, where he learned where businesses needed the most help to create profitability.
In this episode, we talk about how much Dave acquired his first companies for, where to find those same deals today, and how he acquires new customers for Recapture.io.
This is The Lean Commerce Podcast.
How did you get started in business acquisition?
1:46 I joined a group of micro-entrepreneurs over a decade ago. What we all had was a skill to build something but we didn’t have an understanding of how to sell it and how to sustainably set up a business that can scale. Overtime, the founders of this group created a conference, called Micro Conf, which is now held in Miami.
4:42 I spent time looking around at various marketplaces, such as eBay, and found smaller businesses with potential and bought them at a low costs. Then I started figuring out what parts could be outsourced and how to scale these businesses.
How much did you initially acquire these companies for?
5:46 I had a $2,000 budget. Now a days, you could do it for under $5,000. I bought a small business making $100 a month, tried to grow it and make it legit but it turned out there were a lot of fraudulent users on there. I cleaned up the platform, marketing, and sales page and then sold it for the same price. What I came out of it with was knowledge and experience. The second time I did that I found a bunch of WordPress plugins and a business that was drowning in support. The women in charge wasn’t systemizing it or funneling it, so I spent time setting up a pricing page, making a free version vs. premium version, and created a support forum and turned it into a $3,000 a month business from a $300 a month business in three years.
Where would you find these smaller deals today?
15:00 I’m on a lot of little lists. Side Projectors is one for example. You’ll find a lot of good businesses and some really bad ones. For example, people will rewrite Slack and want you to pay for it.
16:19 The only thing that truly adds value to a business if it’s make money. If it’s not generating money, it’s not worth anything. In some cases, you might be able to say that it can be monetized. For example, a Shopify app that needs another distribution channel. Now, you can use that to cross promote your other Shopify app and use it to make the other one more money.
How many acquisitions have you made?
29:50 I think I’m somewhere around eight or nine done deals, not including the ones that haven’t worked out.
What does it look like to acquire new customers for Recapture.io?
31:20 I won’t lie, it can definitely be a struggle. We also have a high LTV. You have to find the right channel. You can try cold emails, pitch to agencies or store owners, etc. All of this takes time and money and as an individual founder there is no way I can do all of it by myself. I have to hire out to get it all done.
36:58 The hardest thing to overcome is trust. You need to show people that you know what you’re doing and they can account for your services.
Where are the distribution channels to get in touch with store owners today?
38:19 The problem is that there is no one answer to that. Even if you had an answer, it could change in 6-12 months and then change again. Communities come and go. I compare the level of interaction and engagement within groups to see if it’s hit or miss. Sometimes the moderators are cutting off the users and shifting groups, it doesn’t seem like they are ever sitting still.
What eCommerce solutions are out there for businesses?
48:35 It’s the time of the No Code Movement, you can build something without having to be a programmer. All you have to do is assemble a bunch of things, like what Shopify has created and what WooCommerce attempted to do.
Kathy Ando is the Head of Direct Consumer at GoPro with a huge focus in digital and eCommerce. After graduating college, she realized she didn’t want to pursue the path of her biotechnology degree. Kathy worked at the GAP Headquarters in San Francisco and found herself in the right place at the right time. With the rise in marketplaces and eCommerce, she learned about the consumer industry and how digital technology was affecting it. Kathy then transitioned to run merchandising at Apple and then began her career at GoPro.
Kathy focuses on improving the customer experience with the goal of increasing conversions and customer lifetime value.
Kathy is the Head of Direct Consumer at GoPro. She’s previously worked for GAP and Apple, transitioning to GoPro to focus on their consumer experience. Kathy’s focus on a seamless and frictionless consumer experience, particularly on the GoPro website, is helping the company continue to grow their customer base and keep their current customers loyal to the brand.
In this episode, we talk about what GoPro is testing to improve their conversions, the special offers they are promoting, and how GoPro differentiates their online experience from Amazon. Kathy also explains the 180 degree shift we’ve seen in brick-and-mortar vs. eCommerce stores, who large companies are hiring to work in their stores, and the GoPro’s biggest challenge in the current eCommerce market.
This is The Lean Commerce Podcast.
What is your role at GoPro?
1:14 My role is to drive the direct to consumer experience. I call it an experience because it’s both a commerce experience as it is a marketing experience. I manage shopping at GoPro.com and experiencing GoPro for what it is on our website.
How did you start working with GoPro?
2:12 I graduated with a degree in biotechnology but in my senior year I realized I wasn’t passionate about it. I moved into retail and started my career at the GAP Headquarters in San Francisco. Over time, I’ve been in the right place at the right time. At the time that marketplaces and eCommerce were starting, I was in Silicon Valley and I took a smart, but calculated risk to move into retail. I transitioned over to Apple to run merchandising for their online store.
What does your GoPro’s consumer testing look like?
5:35 When I first came on board, I was all for testing EVERYTHING. What I found out was that we were lacking the most fundamental element—how our customers were engaging with our website and what that experience was like for them. We’ve recently onboarded partners that help us see how our customers interact with our website and we’re now able to test smarter.
What have you seen as the most important element of improving the customer experience?
9:38 We look at a couple of metrics. At the end of the day, the most important metric for us is conversion. Yes, we are a marketing experience but we are mostly a commerce experience. We want conversions. So, we have been looking at hesitation rate, scroll rate, conversion rate, and lifetime value.
12:50 We test hesitation rate by watching customers interact with our website. For example, if a consumer hovers over the Add to Cart button for 10 seconds, that’s a hesitation rate.
14:10 That’s when we start to dive in and ask ourselves, “Did we build this part of the website correctly?”. If the consumer can’t find the promo code or shipping price, then they’ll have this hesitation. We then bring consumers in and ask them, “What is making you hesitate at this specific point?”.
How did you test your special offer of two bonus products?
15:30 We had a special offer for a GoPro beanie and SD card with the purchase of any product on the GoPro website. As a brand, we wanted to give you a really great experience. Recently, we’ve decided to give a free SD card with every camera purchase. And then, from time to time we like to give a surprise bonus. In this case, it was the beanie.
How do you guys differentiate yourselves from Amazon?
16:58 For the most part, we align with all of our partners—obviously we don’t want to undercut our customers. We sell on Amazon because it’s a familiar brand and a lot of our consumers have Amazon Prime. But, when consumers shop directly with brands it’s a totally different experience. Our differentiation is in being able to build a relationship with the people who purchase through us.
29:53 We’ve come to the realization that Amazon is our friend. They are a huge partner for us and they sell a lot of cameras for us. We don’t undercut each other, we have a level playing field and charge the same price on our website as we do on Amazon.
What are you most excited about in direct to consumer right now?
21:21 This has been a very interesting year for direct to consumer. The industry is continuously getting disrupted by big brands, like Nike. What’s really interesting is that we are seeing a 180 of what we used to see. Five years ago, the online eCommerce part of a business was viewed as the gallery or marketing channel but then you went into the brick-and-mortar store to purchase. Now, this model is flipped. For example, Dyson allows you to test products out in store and the store has become the gallery. You purchase everything online.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in eCommerce and direct to consumer right now?
26:44 Two things, the first is the large companies (Walmart and Amazon) that are taking over small businesses. Second, is customer loyalty. We have to understand our customers and gain their trust. Sticking to your original customer base is so important, just as trying to acquire new customers is.
What is the top book that you continue to go back to for business help?
34:12 I am a large podcast listener over book reader. For me, listening to podcasts is easier than reading books (I’m a mom of three). My favorite podcast is The Total Retail Talks Podcast.
Jordan Gal is the founder and CEO of CartHook. CartHook serves eCommerce business owners to maximize average order value and give back control to merchants on Shopify by directing customers to high-converting checkout pages.
Jordan’s career started on Wall Street, where he discovered that he wasn’t happy and decided to pursue a new career. He joined his family’s eCommerce business and was able to scale to $70,000 in revenue per month. Shortly after, he sold the company and created CartHook to solve the pain points of eCommerce that he had experienced as an eCommerce business owner. Jordan is also the host of The Bootstrap Podcast.
Jordan Gal is the founder and CEO of CartHook, helping eCommerce business owners increase their order values with high-converting checkout pages. His eCommerce expertise is increasing sales by over 30% for eCommerce businesses around the world.
In this episode, we talk about Jordan’s initial leap into entrepreneurship and how he was able to identify a pain point in the eCommerce industry. Jordan explains checkout upselling strategies, how to capitalize your most popular product, and the future of eCommerce marketing.
This is The Lean Commerce Podcast.
What does CartHook provide customers?
0:55 Our mission is to help eCommerce merchants thrive by providing them with control over the most important pages of their website, aka where the payment happens. Our app gives merchants complete control over their checkout process.
How did you figure out this was a pain point in eCommerce?
3:14 It has been an eight year process. I started off on Wall Street, hated it and left. Then, I joined my family’s business and brought it online. Within a span of six months, we were making $70,000 a month and we sold the company a year later.
5:16 Customers are more likely to convert when an entire store is dedicated to the product they are interested in purchasing. For example, instead of being an entire sports store, we were just a fishing rod store. We remained extremely niched.
6:25 After selling that business, I started CartHook as a cart abandonment app that triggered an ad campaign if a user didn’t purchase the items in their cart. After two years, I realized this wasn’t the only problem on the check out page and I asked myself, “How do we reduce the amount of people abandoning their cart in checkout?”
How do customers experience post purchase upsells?
11:28 The eCommerce businesses that create relationships with their customers are the ones that last the longest. When approaching post purchase upsells, ask, “How do we respect the relationship with the customer?”. Offer products that are genuinely useful to the customer, for example, a second unit of the same product at a discounted price.
14:38 Upselling into subscription is another popular upsell. For example, ordering a product weekly, monthly, quarterly etc.
15;13 Our software lets you identify which upsell funnel should be seen by the shopper based on what product they are buying.
16:35 The only thing that individual merchants can do that Amazon can’t, is build up a relationship with them.
What are the best current practices for post purchase upsells?
17:17 Start off on the checkout page, ad trust symbols, a testimonial, identify the design that is congruent with your website and fan base. Then, create a simple upsell funnel of more of the same product and then an adjacent product. Generally speaking, upsells do better when they are lower priced than the original purchase.
21:14 Set up a stand alone landing page for your winning products and load it up with copy, video, testimonials, images, etc. We have a big feature launching in a few months that is a template for these dedicated landing pages.
How do you approach post purchase upsells?
24:03 We see three main strategies: Video with a buy button, Short-form, above-the-fold Offer, Long-Form (correlating to a higher priced product).
What does the check out process look like for an upsell over a product landing page?
28:42 There is a Tag Funnel that let’s the software know what product to show to upsell and there is a Product Funnel where people go from product page to checkout page (there is no checkout summary page).
What failures have you faced in your business?
34:14 We are consistently facing failure. The highlights are boring, the best moments are in your failures. I have a podcast, The Bootstrapped Web Podcast, where I pretty much only talk about my failures.
What are you looking forward to for the future of eCommerce in 2019?
42:30 We’ve hit, what feels like, a peak in direct to consumer advertising. The ads for B2C are becoming really expensive. We’re starting to see the war for ad dollars and customer acquisition. That’s what’s going to happen in 2019.
Julie Lyle is the non-executive director and digital advisor to Evolus. She is a global executive, board member, advisor, investor and entrepreneur. During her career, she has established brands and organized teams for startups and the world’s largest companies, like Walmart.
She is a leader in integrated marketing, eCommerce, merchandising, operations, digital media, CRM, branding and social engagement programs. Her record for growing sustainable profits for public and private enterprises has placed her as one of the top business leaders in the world.
Julie Lyle is the Non-Executive Director and Digital Advisor to Evolus. She has worked in high management positions for global companies and is a highly sought after business leader.
In this episode, we talk about Julie’s transition from the entrepreneurial world to corporate. She explains what the transition was like and how the corporate world is much easier to navigate than the entrepreneurial. Julie also talks about the importance of learning in an organization and her spot on prediction for the future of AI.
This is The Lean Commerce Podcast.
What is the difference between running your own firm and working in a corporation?
1:14 The largest difference is that you have to learn self sufficiency when you have your own business. You’re required to be so resourceful. The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who has floated payroll on their personal Visas’s first. That is leadership.
What made you decide to start helping a larger organization over growing your own business?
5:15 Honestly, I got a great offer from a company. For about a year and a half before the offer, I was working on a huge project with the Smithsonian, nicknamed “Julie’s Baby”. At the time, I talked to an intern who told me that from watching me, she wouldn’t want to be an agency owner. It opened my eyes to see that I wasn’t able to practice my craft because I was so busy running the entire project.
8:03 It’s much easier to have a single set of KPI’s, one boss, and a refined focal vision instead of 40-50 clients. The basics were the same, the dynamic was a little trickier but it’s so much easier to work in a corporate environment.
What is your advice for somebody transitioning from entrepreneur to corporate?
9:20 The most important skill to practice is listening. When I joined Walmart, it had a history of a challenging work culture. People only lasted six weeks to six months. I went to meet with my upper management and he sat me down and told me I was doing a great job because of one reason, I was asking more questions than I answered.
What do you think separates individuals that reach high management versus getting stuck in middle management?
15:21 I’m a huge fan of mentorships. I always identify somebody in an organization that can (and will) give me blunt feedback. We always need it.
How do you deal with failure when it affects a lot of people?
21:17 Own it fast, own it publicly, and then fix it.
How can you help your organization, small or large, get better at learning?
29:11 He who learns fastest, wins. While that’s the macro conversation, it’s a culmination of micro, individual employees. If individuals don’t map out their own learning plan, the organization can’t move forward. For me, this means that I understand what the future of blockchain, AI, and deep learning is to implement that into our work today.
How do you build a network and find a mentor outside of your organization?
34:35 Show up. Make a point of attending networking functions and integrating into the community. If there aren’t networking events near you, be the one to start the conversation and have your own event.
What trends in marketing are you most excited about?
39:31 The fact that eCommerce will hit $2 trillion in revenue yet, the industry is slowing down says a lot about the customer experience. We’re not harnessing current technology at the level that we could. The excitement comes from how we extract value from AI, and learn to leverage voice and bring data sets together.
What book do you read on a regular basis?
44:55 The First 90 Days, Exponential Organizations, and The Lean Startup.
Cassie Fossum is a self-confessed shoe addict. Naturally, she loved how designer heels made her look but was less enthusiastic about how they made her feet feel. A particularly painful night on the town set her on the path to find her ideal shoe, a pair that was as comfortable as it was fashionable. Her research revealed that the technology of women’s shoes had not changed in decades, so she assembled a team of experts who have developed a patent pending 360° comfort system which is incorporated into every pair of Mavette.
At Mavette, fashion and comfort are
synonymous. They create shoes which not only look fabulous but feel fabulous as well. This meant giving high
heels and flats a much-needed makeover based on their patent-pending 360° comfort
technology. This wizardry is combined with a custom fit process to ensure
customers a terrific buying experience from Mavette. Every pair of shoes are
handmade by Italian craftsmen with generations of experience and shipped
directly from the factory in Europe.
Presently, Mavette fittings are done in
person, however, Cassie and her team are working to develop an online app which
will allow custom fitting of each foot from home.
Today’s guest is Cassie Fossum, CEO, and co-founder of Mavette.com, a company which is exploring a new way to
sell women’s shoes which are as comfortable as they are fashionable.
In this episode, Cassie explains how she
discovered Mavette’s niche, her journey
in launching her start-up, and how she integrates online sales with custom
fittings and untraditional retail marketing using Pop-Up Stores.
This is The Lean Commerce Podcast.
know you have a whole laundry list of cool experiences from starting Mavette,
could you walk us through how you got started on this journey?
00:54 I’ve always been interested in the
intersection between creativity and business. Throughout my career o have
always sat at that intersection, working with creative people on the business
01:45 In my last job I was just bored and not
feeling challenged anymore. I was running
a business within a business, which challenged me but there was a promotion
which was not coming through as quickly as I wanted, so I started thinking,
what do I want to do next?
02:05 I opened myself up to problems in the
world that I wished I could solve, and one of them was uncomfortable shoes.
When you go out in high heels, after about 20 minutes your feet are stinging
and hurting. I love wearing high heels, but it was something that was
prohibitive if you are at a long conference and something is hurting your feet.
02:30 I started asking my other
girlfriends, and it is something that many women experience, anyone who has
worn high heels. As I looked, I realized that the high heel hadn’t really been
redesigned since the 1900s.
03:10 I took my idea and decided to go look
for an accelerator program and found one that took people who just have an
idea, most of the accelerators want to see that you have an idea and have
already started building traction behind it.
03:30 I found the Founder
Institute and they were willing to take on companies that just had an idea.
The program is about three months long. You meet every week, they bring in
different experts; one week it might be about legal, what do you need to know
about legal to start a company, another week it might be about market strategy,
what are ways to go to market with your idea. Then, you have homework, you meet
with a working group and brick by brick you start building your company. Right
after I graduated, I found my designer, headed over to Italy, and have been
building Mavette ever since.
did you go from Silicon Valley to moving over to Italy, or finding a designer
in Italy and sourcing the product there?
04:42 When I was working on the idea, I
knew I did not want to do a Made in China shoe. There
are so many shoes out there that
are low quality and I knew that for this product which has a footbed in it, it
is very technical in order to help you be more comfortable all day. For a custom-fitted shoe, I did not want the
perception of Made in China. I wanted the Made in Italy perception because Made
in Italy, for shoes, is the gold standard.
05:42 While I was still in Founder’s
Institute, I was introduced to someone who is now an advisor on my team. He has
a lot of experience in the fashion world
but not a ton of experience in shoes. He helped me run a job search for a
not really familiar with the accelerator programs. Is it something where they
offer you funding when they like your idea, then say “here’s what you need
to do to pitch investors, here’s what you need to do to build the team”, or
do they want you to find funding first and then go to the Founder’s Institute?
06:43 It depends on the different
accelerator programs out there. This particular program was not offering money,
you actually give them a little bit of equity in your company to be in their
program. Other accelerators are out there if you are further along, you are not
just coming in with just an idea, these companies might give you a little bit
of funding and also take a little bit of equity.
did you raise money from outside investors afterward, or are you bootstrapping
the whole thing? How did you approach funding your business?
For funding right now we are bootstrapping,
and we want to bootstrap for as long as possible before we consider institutional investment. My strategy is that
the further along we can be, the more traction we can show, the better position
we’ll be in and the better-negotiating
terms we’ll have when or if we decide to approach institutional investors.
know that you have pop-up events, how are you selling the shoes right now?
09:00 We just started our sales a few
months ago, in October, actually. We’ve been doing it solely through our pop-up
shops. What we do is either partner with an event or partner with the store or
run our own space. We bring our shoes in, bring women in, measure their feet
and take them through our whole fitting process to get them fit into the right
pair of shoes for them. Once we know their sizing, we have their shoes made for
them in Italy, so if you have two different sized feet, left and right foot
that are different, we can accommodate
you. For right now, we are measuring in person. Something we are working on for
next year is selling online, so we’ll
probably just sell regular sizes online with our comfort technology. If you
want the custom piece, we’ll see you in person to fit you. Something we are
also working on is an application where you’ll take a few pictures of your feet
and from that, we can take all your
measurements and make a custom shoe for you.
dive into that idea of an app to measure your foot, how are you approaching
that and what’s that going to look like? It seems like it could be applicable
to any shoe retailer in a big way if you can figure out your shoe sizing before
you go into a store.
10:35 Sizing is a big issue, especially
when you sell online. The more we can help our customers and help people know
what size they are before they buy, that’s a big thing for all retailers. Not
only can we figure out the right sizing for you, but we can also fit
specifically to your individual feet. 60% of women have a left and right foot
that are different sizes, it means that they really should be wearing two
different sized shoes. We are actively building the app right now, so once it
comes out, we’ll have more to share but I think it is exciting that the
technology is catching up to the idea of mass customization.
I am surprised that no other retailers have
implemented it, it seems like it could be a huge, huge thing.
12:18 It might sound easy when I am talking
about it, but it is something that is hard to do, and I think that is why other
retailers haven’t done it. That is an advantage of being a start-up, you can be
nimble and flexible. I am sure other retailers will be excited once we get this
are trying a couple of different sales channels and you have the cost of doing
custom work, so it is not like you can buy a huge amount of inventory to bring
over and then sell it all out. From a business perspective, how have you
managed that kind of multi-channel and customized products with international
13:06 I have the benefit of my co-founder
who used to work with the Marines, he also happens to be my husband. He used to
get things over the border from Pakistan and Afghanistan, so I like to say if
he could do that, he can get my shoes from Italy to the United States. Really,
it is all about making sure that you have a very
clear communication with your supply chain so that when an order comes in they
can directly start the process of getting the shoe made and directly shipped to
14:18 Right now, we’re saying around eight
to ten weeks for delivery, but we feel pretty confident that as we get going
and selling more, we can get that down to around four to six weeks.
a lot of movement trying to take online presences and make them work offline as
well. What kinds of things do you see happening to the future of retail?
15:21 I think that the “Amazon
effect” is only going to grow, people want things faster, they want
two-day shipping to their doorstep, but I see that growing for commoditized
items where the brand does not matter so
much. That is where smaller brands with a strong voice can distinguish
themselves. Amazon can win if your product does not have something special to
distinguish itself. If you are offering something really unique, you can get
customers to come to you, and that is where I see the future of retail.
You already do the pop-up shops and you are
moving into the online space. Do you think of retail as a channel Mavette will
ever pursue? Perhaps Nordstrom or a similar distribution plan?
18:01 Right now, we don’t have plans to
directly go into a Nordstrom retail, I think we’re so new right now that we
have to stay open to opportunities. If Nordstrom came knocking at our door and
said, hey, we love what you are doing, let’s have a collaboration together, we
would. There is a lot of talk that retail
is dead. I mean, big-box retailers are struggling, but we are seeing a lot of companies
starting online and moving into a physical retail space.
21:41 As I mentioned, we’ve done pop-up
shops, and our customers there need to talk in person, the fittings need to be
done in person. We’ve learned invaluable data just from being there and
actually talking to our customers. Even when we are not actively talking to
them, just listening in to them, we capture feedback we would never get online.
you tell me how you got started with the pop-up shops? How did you approach
pop-up shops and what’s the process to it?
22:49 For us, the pop-up shops are very
opportunistic. The very first one was a partnership with a women’s conference
that I was just planning to attend. I knew we were to the point where we wanted
to start making sales, and the conference mentioned in the signup that “if
you want pop-up shop space here and you’re a conference attendee. You will be
welcomed”. I thought, “Maybe this would be a good idea, they aren’t
charging us extra for it”. As a start-up, we are always looking for the
opportunity which doesn’t cost any extra money. After that, it’s just a matter
of the nuts and bolts of making sure you have a nice display, something you can
set up and take down quickly and easy to
pack in the car.
sort of investment needs to go into a pop-up shop?
26:17 I think it really depends on what
your product is. If you are selling jewelry a pop-up can be very minimalist,
you need a tablecloth and a couple of display racks. For our shoes, we bring
over a hundred pairs with us and we have to figure out a way to display them
all. In the end, it only cost us about a thousand bucks for wooden display
racks and it is all stuff we can use over and over again.
guy, I don’t know anything about picking out high heels. Has there been
anything surprising that you have learned?
30:12 For me, it is surprising how few
women have had their feet properly measured since they were in their teens.
After you have a baby, or if you gain or lose 10 pounds, your feet can change.
I’ve met women who say they have wide feet, but it turns out they are on the
narrow side. More women need to reassess their sizing.
is the driver behind the best Mavette customer? Will she be a raging fan of the
comfort, or is it the look plus the comfort, the price? What do they love the
most about Mavette?
31:37 I think what women love about Mavette
is that it is a comfortable shoe which has the technology for all-day comfort
but does not look like a comfort shoe, they are beautiful designer high heels.
MacDonald is passionate about ridding the web of bad eCommerce experiences until only the good remain. Beginning as a
web designer/developer during the dot-com boom, he has worked with dozens of
brands such as Autodesk, Apple, Columbia Sportswear, Comcast, Linksys/Cisco,
General Electric, Harley-Davidson, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Nationwide Insurance,
Nike, Nokia, Red Bull, UPS, Vodafone and Xerox.
company, The Good, has turned online browsers into buyers for some of the
biggest brands in business. The Good has
become one of Oregon’s top 20 fastest growing private companies three years in
a row, and its founder has been recognized with a Forty Under 40 Award.
in Portland, Oregon, Jon volunteers for several causes which affect the eCommerce community and the Pacific Northwest
as a whole.
guest is Jon MacDonald, founder of The Good, a Conversion Rate Optimization
firm. Beginning a decade ago, they have been collecting, analyzing and
evaluating the data which goes into CRO since before CRO became a buzz term.
this episode, Jon explains that while data gathered from site metrics and A/B
Testing are vital, sometimes they do not tell the entire story of a company’s eCommerce presence. He demonstrates how
business practices between the Brick and Mortar world and the eCommerce arena are even closer than they
appear and shares how he has helped several traditional Brick and Mortar
concerns to not only expand into eCommerce
but to use connectivity to enhance the physical shopping experience.
is The Lean Commerce Podcast.
How did you get involved in Conversion
We started as a digital marketing firm, building eCommerce sites mainly. Most of our customers were not too
concerned with how their site was built, technically, they were mainly
concerned with making sure that site would perform after it launched.
We found we were winning contracts by adding a clause that we would be allowed
to optimize the sites for three months after launch, while our competition was
using a “launch and forget” model.
A few years later, we decided to pivot and focus exclusively on Conversion Rate
Optimization. We found that there were dozens of firms who could develop sites
for cheaper than us, and the clients never looked at the source code and didn’t
care as long as it worked. Where we provided the most value was in optimizing
Who are your clients in general?
We have worked with clients of all sizes but find that a minimum of 10,000
visitors/month is necessary for testing to provide a return on investment for
the client. We’ve worked with Xerox, Adobe, The Economist, Nike, Swiss Gear, as
well as some smaller brands that have a retail presence but maybe their online
presence is not as big.
When I think of eCommerce I usually only think of pure-play eCommerce that does not have any retail presence, it is just a
store that is digital. It seems that the brick and mortar retailers are getting
much bigger in the eCommerce space to
support retail rather than compete with retail.
One of the things about CRO that is coming down the line is Personalization and
optimizing to have a more personalized site for your visitors. When you combine
that with retail data, it’s like the
perfect gold mine. You are able to track somebody in store in terms of what
they purchase and what they like so that when they visit your website you
already have a basis and foundation of information to build on. If you know
that people in-store often buy a
complementary product and they always like that product, you can serve the same
on your website.
You can use the gains form online to
help offline offers, it’s an easy testing environment.
Testing has become much easier over the years; the tool sets are much easier to
work with. We often work with brands that have been doing their own testing for
a year, have been trying A/B Testing on their website. Most people who I talk
to about Conversion Optimization come to us knowing what it is. If there is one
message, I can get across today, it is that everybody should be doing some form
of A/B Testing, even if you do not have the traffic levels, you should be
Consumers are only coming to your site for two reasons. The first is that they
have a pain, or a need and they think that your product or service can solve
that pain or need, so they are doing the research around that. They want to
determine if there is a good mutual fit, and second, if there is, they want to
convert. They want to buy your product and leave. It is interesting how much
brands want to communicate that fall outside those two points. They are always
trying to push some kind of content.
There is one main goal of every eCommerce website, to generate more revenue.
What kind of approach do you take when there are so many things wrong that
there isn’t time to A/B Test all of them?
We always want to start with the highest impact areas first, so we look at what is flat-out stopping people from
conversion. While the goal is to get that conversion, we also believe that
there are dozens of what we call micro-conversions, things that ultimately lead
to that big purchase. The first thing we do is a comprehensive audit of a site
to understand what those influencing factors are, and what percentage of people
are falling off the funnel or Adding to Cart and completing a purchase. Once we
have that data, then we can sort what areas we want to fix based on return on
If you Google enough about Conversion Optimization there is one case study that
is pretty famous, and in my point of view full of a lot of B.S., that they
changed one button and it resulted in $10 million in additional sales. That’s
just not true. It is unlikely that is going to happen, but that is the
expectation. Think of it as a savings
account, we want the small gains to compound from month to month.
Do you ever see a regression in the
mean? Do you ever feel the need to retest after an improvement appears
temporary or seasonal?
This is part of the reason we always start with a comprehensive audit, we want
to look at things year over year, we want to look at trends. By tracking a year
at a time, we can see seasonality. The amount of times we have gone back and
retested something is fairly minimal, the reason being that we are usually
moving on to some other area looking for that compounding effect.
Some of your clients have pretty high
traffic numbers. What tactics have you pulled away from having a lot more
traffic to test with?
That is where we get to start testing really small items. We are able to test
things that are further down the funnel that have less traffic. For instance,
the more traffic you have, the easier it is to test something in your Cart,
changing your Cart layout or Check Out page. It also helps where we don’t have
to run tests on groups of pages. We can really get down and focus on the page
templates for the most popular products.
Working with Easton Baseball, parents would be faced with a page showing
hundreds of bat models which all looked identical. The parents would have a
good idea what kind of hitter their kids were, and the coaches would have
mentioned some feature to look for. By testing and surveying, we were able to
concentrate on the pages of the most popular bat models and translate that to
the rest of the site, developing a language that parents would understand and
avoiding technical speak.
What has been the biggest surprise your
testing has revealed in the past year or two?
We find that there is always something surprising for us, part of that is
because we want to always leave the doors open, we don’t want to come in with
our vision clouded. When we were working with Xerox, we found that the company
optimized selling the actual machines, but the more we optimized in that direction
the more we were opening the site for people shopping for ink and supplies. So,
we presented to the company that we should be optimizing more to help consumers
find specific model numbers which needed supplies.
Customer Lifetime Value
It is interesting that we are in an industry call Conversion Rate Optimization,
so people think that we are only interested in influencing conversion rates,
but that is a short-sighted view. If we have to stick with C.R.O. as the
acronym, I think it should be Continual Revenue Optimization. This takes the
focus off a single metric and encourages thinking on how we can continuously
and iteratively improve all these metrics over time.
That’s where I come in again with the comprehensive audit being the most helpful
process. Starting with the data, collecting the right data and having that data
to make decisions from is really imperative.
Working with the retailers who have an
online and retail presence, what kind of
things do you see that these highly successful businesses are bringing that
those in the pure-play eCommerce world may be missing?
Usually what we are seeing in those instances is the importance of Search. Most
of the time in these retail locations, people are going on their phone,
bringing up products, and looking for more information about the product. This
may be about technical specification of the product or simply available sizes
not available at the retail site, but it can be a powerful tool to have
shoppers on the store’s website.
I think that paying attention to the personas of the brands we work with is
very important. We have worked with brands which are going after multiple
personas, but they don’t have them defined, or they have too many defined.
There is a danger of trying to be everything to everyone online which is
extremely difficult, if not impossible to optimize for.
Complimentary Landing Page Assessments
Jon has offered LeanCommerce listeners a
landing page assessment of their site over a fifteen-minute phone call. Just go
the TheGood.com and push the button on the page.
David James is the founder of TotalCarCheck.co.uk, a
vehicle background check website. David started this company as successful
entrepreneurs do, by solving a problem he encountered. After his parents bought
a stolen car and found themselves at a $5,000 loss, he created a website that
wouldn’t allow this to happen again.
David’s focused and realistic mindset has supported
TotalCarCheck.co.uk in running background checks on almost two thirds of all
the vehicles in the United Kingdom. The parallel app has become one of the top
utility apps in the UK and David continues to use forward thinking, innovation,
and his customers to grow his company and create transparency in the car buying
James, founder of TotalCarCheck.co.uk, is an entrepreneur with a laser focus on
simplicity and great results. His vehicle background check website has become
the most successful website in the UK in his niche. David has built the
foundation for his software based of seven lean principles, which he’ll discuss
during our conversation.
this episode, David explains how he runs his company with only two employees,
his advice for new software entrepreneurs and the books that have given him the
insight for this accolade of success.
is The Lean Commerce Podcast.
How did you get
started with your business?
0:57 I had a more normal career starting off, but I
always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My parents accidentally bought a stolen
car and I realized there was a problem that needed to be solved, people needed
to be able to run a background check on a car.
4:17 Once you get the wheels rolling, you start to get momentum. Very quickly
people started to realize what we were doing was different than what other
vehicle background check websites were doing and business started to grow from
6:33 Even in darker times, there is opportunity. It
sounds spiritual, but the experience of my parent’s buying the stolen car was
an epiphany for me. When I look back, it all seems kind of unbelievable that
something so fortunate was built from such a negative experience. If you have a
passion for something and genuinely enjoy doing it, it really helps you to become successful.
13:06 I think if you are consistent in what you want
to do, you generally get results in the end. If you stay consistent in those
principles and approach, you come out well in the end.
two thirds of all of the vehicles in the UK, what does the backend of your
business look like?
15:55 Pretty much from day one, we’ve done this with
only two staff members (including myself). This works because of two rules. The
first is, we automate ruthlessly. People tend to skip over this because the
initial effort is difficult, but the cost saving over five years is incredible.
The second is, outsource wherever you can. Our accounts, legal, HR, design and
development are all outsourced. This gives you much more flexibility.
What are your
lean development principles?
20:22 My lean business strategy comes from the seven
principles outlined in Lean Software
Development by Mary Poppendieck. First, eliminate all waste. Second,
amplify learning by teaching your entire team, not just yourself. Third, make
decisions as late as possible. Fourth, deliver as quickly as possible. Fifth,
empower the team. Sixth, build integrity. Seventh, see the whole picture.
techniques that worked before, don’t always work now. How do you work around
35:56 It’s frustrating because you don’t know if it’s
the market changing or if you did something wrong. But, that’s the beauty of
what we do. It was formulaic, it would be easy. That’s how the best have their
advantage because they are able to discover the variables to focus on and the
variables to ignore.
38:40 Whenever I’m pouring over the numbers, I try to
ground myself by asking, “What am I doing
this for?” and remind myself that I’m doing this so I can spend more time
with my family. I don’t want to get lost in my work and have it be the center
of everything that I do. This work has that effect on us and if we’re not
careful, it can become addictive and habitual.
43:46 Throwing hours at a project doesn’t fix
anything. It doesn’t achieve anything. You need to be creative and innovate.
Spend your time wisely instead of in this false culture of hustle and working
nine hours a day for six days a week.
What tactics do
you use to get reviews?
45:38 We incentive people to leave reviews by giving
them a check voucher for $199, using copy that asks users to leave a review and
we giveaway free information to users who create an account with us.
Tyler, “Sully” Sullivan is the CEO of Bomb Tech Golf, a premium golf product e-commerce website. Sully has grown Bomb Tech Golf into a seven-figure e-commerce business and has since opened a marketing agency to help other e-commerce businesses find the same success.
Sully’s initial interest in e-commerce was sparked when his very first product sell came while he was on a boat. He immediately realized the ability to capitalize off of e-commerce, while continuing to live the lifestyle he wanted.
Sully’s mindset is, “unless there is room for improvement, quality, or innovation I won’t do it.” He continues to use this mentality as he improves golf club designs and elevates e-commerce businesses using his own innovative email marketing techniques.
Today’s guest is Sully Sullivan, the CEO of Bomb Tech Golf and founder of E-com Growers. Sully has grown his e-commerce business, Bomb Tech Golf, into a seven-figure business. His success became the platform for which he has now grown his marketing agency on top of, E-com Growers. His focus is on helping other e-commerce businesses sell products solely through email marketing.
this episode, Sully explains how he uses email marketing to drive traffic and
sell millions of dollars worth of products. He foreshadows the most important
strategy of 2019 and shows us how it is already working to his benefit. Lastly,
he walks us through his strategy buying inventory without over purchasing.
is the Lean Commerce Podcast.
How did you get started in e-commerce businesses?
0:48 It was an accidental business. I wanted to make
the best long drive clubs, and the entire business stemmed from that. I started
by making niche, long drivers.
2:27 I got my first sail while on my boat and it blew
my mind, this idea that I could sell something while I was physically on a
boat. It was my ah-ha moment, and I thought, “I need to do more of this.”
5:30 We also have an agency, where we don’t do ads. We
drive more revenue without spending more on ads. We run email through Playdio
better than anyone else.
What’s your strategy on Playdio?
10:20 There are three main strategies. First, don’t
get too fancy with your emails. Second, have a conversation with your email
list by placing a question in the subject line (this helps us get 65% open
rate). Third, follow the question with a scarcity model (time, quantity, etc.)
17:14 Email is simple, but it’s hard. The hardest part is that everybody as an e-commerce owner thinks they need the latest and greatest strategies. What actually moves the needle? You need traffic. You need email. And you’ll increase your revenue.
Where should you invest talent and money within your
20:56 Our customers are everything to us, both in agency and e-commerce. We used to send out handwritten notes, and now we send out thank you voicemails, because they are scalable. Customers freak out about it.
If you had limited resources, how do you suggest store
owners find a good agency?
23:49 It’s tough because everybody is selling the
dream, but 99% of agencies don’t have the skill.
25:33 I hire agencies for a one hour screenshare where
we will create campaigns together. This let’s me learn the process and vet
them. If that campaign goes well, then I’ll invite them in for another one hour
call. If they do a great job again, then I can hire them.
What are you excited about in the ad and email space
29:28 I’m not sure that I’m the guy to ask because I’m
so boring about this stuff. I only focus on what drives the lever, not
messenger, Snapchat, etc. I believe every business is different and strategies
are worth testing if you have the budget, but at the end of the day it’s
traffic, email and offer. If you can get those three components to be better,
then you’re going to be successful.
33:05 I think there will be a bigger shift in
attaching a person to every brand. Faceless brands are already losing, but in
2019, if there isn’t a face attached to your brand you’re going to be done. It’s
super authentic. People buy from people.
Where are e-commerce businesses wasting money?
39:30 Fulfillment and shipping. Look at your product
offerings and make them as simple as possible. It’s hard because you’re going
to think your customer wants all of these options, but it’s not true. Then,
outsource shipping to a third-party.
How do you approach product launches?
45:05 I’m a big fan of pre-orders because it takes a
long time for us to get the product. Last year at this time, we had so much
inventory it was almost scary. Now, we do a step by step process. We create a
product page (not a landing page), we use a signup tool, and based off of how
many people have signed up we know about 30% will purchase. 45 days out we’ll
do pre-orders and give people the option for an early price, and that gives us
a chance to see if the product is going to be a winner.