Nathan: That’s amazing, so Tracy walk me through right now at Big Commerce what’s really going on inside the whole you know e-Commerce world that you go see? Because you guys power hundreds of thousands of different stores, I can imagine the insights that you have in terms of where you see the trend heading and how people are you know crushing it online.
Tracy: Yes, so you know it’s so interesting so Amazon is the 800 pound gorilla sitting in every Executive Boardroom if you are a retail company. And as a as a result– so brands are starting to realize that one, you can’t necessarily compete with Amazon, you know you can try and there are some big brands out there that are really going that route but where people are seeing a lot of success is actually using Amazon as a complimentary sales channel; a lot of people are making a whole lot more money through Amazon than they are through their own website.
But there are some downsides to Amazon for instance and when you start selling your product on Amazon you have to commoditize your product that has the lowest possible price that it can be and it’s not branded to you, it’s branded it’s wrapped in Amazon from the moment somebody buys it to the moment they get it at their door, it’s an Amazon experience, you don’t get their email, you just get the money.
That’s not a really great way to build brand equity but it is a really great way to drive revenue right? So, as a result we see folks over on their actual websites turning their websites into hubs of community especially if your niche community right so turning those websites and into community hubs and experience hubs really trying to offer something that Amazon can offer which is not a lot of people are having a lot of in-depth conversations about individual products on Amazon or about products niches.
So, imagine the hair care community is actually a really great one naturally curly does a fabulous job at producing tons of content about that industry, sparking conversation, those conversations continue on their own forums and in the comments section they have tools around quizzes, they provide you with bundles of products and they even push you to– I think they have a tool called ‘Curly Hair Care or curly hair stylist finder’ something like that which is also important, right?
Amazon doesn’t know that that’s important, they’re not focused on building that, the hair care currently has done a great job of giving people a reason to not buy on Amazon or at least a reason to come to them and visit them, give them their e-mail so they can begin re-marketing to them.
Now, in order to do that, in order to make your website this truly unique and customer experience, there’s this kind of new term and market called ‘Headless Commerce’ which is really just the decoupling of e-Commerce platforms right where say you want to run a WordPress site but you want to also offer checkout and you want that checkout to be PCI compliant and you actually have a decent sized catalog.
So you need some kind of good catalog structure in there become are seeing a bunch of people use our platform for that right so we have like folks like Kodak are beginning to plug us in their Skullcandy just came over in his doings doing some similar stuff.
And the reason why I had BigCommerce I think it’s becoming so popular is because you want to build this unique experience and it’s hard to build unique experiences on kind of closed platforms BigCommerce likes to call ourselves and open SAS platform we don’t really close ourselves off to any borders, we have really pumped up our APIs there some of the most robust in the industry and that’s so that you can use any other tool or platform to manage all of your information as your single source of truth or as your kind of content and experience hub and allow us to be that secure check out back and catalog management tool that you might need.
So, that’s a big trend that I’m focusing a lot on still clearly there are tons of sites using BigCommerce as it was you know originally made which is run your website on a we can do all your are staying out of that jazz and you do some that have to
Nathan: Do you know the story behind like how BigCommerce got started I mean I think it’s like so fast in the here you know there are so many amazing software companies that are selling great software to e-Commerce source when able to run more effectively you know like a Big Commerce got started and I just am fascinated by how some of these amazing companies you know grow and get started.
Tracy: I know it a little bit and I don’t want to speak for our founders, Eddie is one of our founders and I still talk to him a lot actually some assumed if I got it all right. It was started in Australia by two guys named Eddie and Mitch, they were developers and Engineers and they were hanging out on an online forum in the late 2000s.
And met each other and said, “Hey I like I think we can kind of solve this problem around it being really hard to sell things online” so that that’s how it started originally they bill what was then called just a ‘shopping cart’ right so a tool kind of an app if you will, that would allow people to easily add two there are days a sting sites this shopping cart technology which is interesting because I just explained that headless commerce is kind of like coming 360 back around so like where we started a lot of it.
But clearly over time, as they started building that tool out that shopping cart out then began to you know need hosting and need additional inventory and need you know discounts and coupons and so it became this whole e-Commerce platform that you know of it today are that you know it has today. But yeah, originally it was down in Australia two guys and a forum saying, “Hey, you seem smart, you seem smart, maybe we can and try to get this out”
Nathan: That is so cool and like so a lot of our audience here on e-Commerce On Tap a lot of them are entrepreneurs that are really just getting started or started to scale up and so awesome kind of want to get into that demographic and really understand you know what you think the best next ups are for someone that’s just a few thousand dollars a month, you know how can they ramp up to start doing 5 figures and then obviously 6 figures a month, what do you think are some of those like first steps that need to be done?
I know you know everyone talks about running you know robust as a market in champions but maybe take it from like a content perspective and see what you’ve kind of understood from being a BigCommerce around how these big brands now start to create communities.
Tracy: Right yes, so the community aspect of it, if you if you’ve already figured out how to make a couple hundred or a couple thousand every month like you are on a good route, honestly if you’ve done that you probably figure out at least some type of small niche where digital marketing is working well for your social media advertising is working decently well for you.
In order to really grow to that you know 1m, 5m, 10m annually mark, you need to start building foundation for a long term success and what that looks like is really, really great SEO and really, really great content, it is that building of community.
So, I like to think that the best place to start is and building out your ‘Why’ So imagine you are competing something like 55% of all product searches online start on Amazon, so not only are you competing with Amazon for ranking, you’re competing with you know anybody else’s ranking for your keyword on Google.
You have to start with the why? Why should I care about your business and what you’re selling when it looks kind of very similar to that thing over there and it’s actually a little bit more expensive and I don’t really get it right so that like you need to build out your why, your story, why did you start this business? Why are you passionate about these items? How are these items different? And that does include content there’s a storytelling aspect to that.
But also, remember same as you know anyone listening all of our time is very, very limited and we’re on mobile a lot; so use video to tell those stories, use graphics and interactive elements to tell those stories. I’m trying to think of a few brands like off the top of my head that are doing this really well, I have to send you some examples afterwards Nathan.
But I thought all of you have seen them like when you go to those sites and they kind of like break the product down rather like OK this is OK for actually does this really well you know to their site and only look at it or they’re like This Is The End site feel and this is the outside and it took us this long to develop this product, I’m sure it did take them a long time to do that, what was the like was a process as dramatic and like are they as they are and here and here they the world’s biggest heroes for doing it probably not, that’s marketing. That’s a good way of telling your story.
So, I think that’s where the content aspect starts and then taking that further right, so once you explain the why, then you’ve got to start explaining the how, the Is your product super technical? If it is, explain that to people right, are you really solving a pain point? If you are, walk people through how to solve that pain point for themselves without your product. That’s going to help you sell your product as your product probably makes it a whole heck of a lot easier to do.
A lot of our content is 5000 words going to take you 20 minutes to read even longer to implement after you read it or you can just use XYZ tool that we have and then you would have to be doing this on your own but the reason why that how content is so important is that you are proving to people that you know what you’re talking about; that not only do you know what you’re talking about that you can explain it to people so that so well that they know what they’re talking about and then if they don’t want to do that, if that’s like and there too OK if they don’t want to go re-invent the wheel like you already have a really great wheel, here it is. Here you are proving the value behind this incredible.
Nathan: I mean I think it really kind of stems from a brand breaking down the process and what set them apart you know like what kind of aesthetic are you trying to connect with? And I think you kind of goes down to like you’re saying like even though a lot of people think certain categories are very small and even like their extensions that they’re saying with that you know cosmetics, take a product category, if so many super-fast growing cosmetic products and you know brands right now online just because it’s massive and especially being you know fueled by some influencers the research is just incredible that some of these things you know companies are extending to.
And so, I think it kind of goes hand in hand with the story behind your product and the how you that relates to your brand so if someone like is just started a new you know 5 figures a month and you know there’s a lot of kind of just pain points that they’re facing, you know logistically speaking are content wise like from a marketing perspective and you know as you run a big commerce, what do you think they should be focusing on? Like should they be hiring out big digital marketing agencies? Should they be trying to hire someone in the house? Should they should they be trying to optimize on a single channel like Facebook ads or should they be you know net in their spending across channels? What kind of like marketing approach would you recommend these companies have when they’re just on the cusp of hitting 5 figures and kind of trying to go to that you know 6 figure a month mark?
Tracy: Sure, I want to be a good marketer and if I offered only one solution then the real honest answer is that it depends on your brand and your product and exactly where you are but a couple things that I would immediately look at and try to start focusing on are one- your product pages.
Product pages are essentially landing pages in today’s age; less people are going to be landing on your home page which is a good thing that more people are landing on your product pages because at that point in time it’s on an additional click to get them over to there.
As a result though, your product page has to serve both the purpose of the product page as well as the home page, the home page which essentially explains who you are and kind of welcomes people and right so your product pages need to have really great product images, very clear call the actions. I would encourage people to figure out or think about this like hyper product personalization kind of aspect.
Amazon can’t do this, so it’s a great opportunities for individual brands to do it where you add certain border to an item or maybe you like print out a custom label for people, whatever it is that makes people feel like they are getting to build their own product that’s really cool and you can do that with some conditional logic on a website that doesn’t push their ad to cart too far down which is really helpful.
And then after that, you need social proof, you need to explain who you are you need that kind of product breakdown, people especially on mobile are coming in and scroll and high and asked through your site, visuals are going to start any type of kind of clickable looking buttons going to stop them I’m also recommending to a lot of people to kind of go back to there’s a lot of books written unlike the 80s and 90s about Director sponsored copywriting, that stuff is working well right now it is crazy and I think it’s because people stop doing direct response for about two decades and now, it’s seems brand new but it’s not in direct response is really just short to the point copywriting like think of Hemingway’s was like going to write a product description for a product of your I think it would be a direct response.
And that’s good because it people don’t have a lot of time right especially on mobile think about all of this from a mobile lens and then also I guess tying it all back to community just take a hot look around the world right now and what’s happening, Facebook is doubling down on community for a lot of reasons but they’re doubling down on community, tons of other brands are beginning to double down on community you look at brands like you know Patagonia that has just been doing insanely well, they have a fabulous community scene with REI, outdoor voices I don’t know I’m only thinking like outdoor brands right now.
Do start thinking about your product and your brand as a community leader right, so people all of us as individuals especially like this is only been amplified I think in the age of the Internet really that first year I guess the Internet’s going to bring us all closer together and as a result it’s kind of like isolated a lot of us; as I say like working from home alone and it’s still talking to everyone here.
So, people want to connect there’s this crazy desire to connect in a lot of like our the way we currently live doesn’t allow a lot of people to do that and you see the most successful brands are able to tap into that, they are able to say I have built a community for you, you are part of this community we care about you we talk to you sure we sell products too but that’s not the first thing we do.
The first thing we do is we build a cool and powerful and impressive community so that you feel heard, so that you feel included, so that you feel like you matter that I think is going to become the most important thing for brands who want to surpass you know 20mil like you have to do that first otherwise everyone’s going to go shop on Amazon cause it’s cheaper and easier, you have to you know the spot and the way that you do that is through content and direct response and talking to people like a like a human.
Nathan: 100%, I mean one of the things that we see you with is bigger market places like Amazon is it actually certain to control the supply side of the marketplace where not only they’re launching what Amazon basic lines but they’re also you know launching their own private label brands like I think that’s a crazy– you know almost scary dynamic for brands that it will do the Amazon Marketplace ecosystem because as a third party seller, if you’re competing with a brand that Amazon started, at the end of the day like they can change the algorithm and make it so their products are going to rank higher than yours or even you know to these third party sellers off.
Tracy: I now yeah well it’s so, let’s level set their role quick though so 51%-53% of all sales on Amazon as of the end of 2017 went to third party. So, right now third parties are beating Amazon. And that and that number has continuously grown over time nine not gone down now you’re absolutely right; Amazon and the same way that Google or Facebook can change the entire world as we know it with like a single algorithm change every single you know just, “Now, we’re selling this change”
But that and that’s the market that we’re all in right, where e-commerce sellers and that’s always a possibility right now Amazon is a fabulous third party channel and a fabulous sales channel and honestly in order to kind like build that buffer around you away from Amazon especially as Amazon gets into more of that stuff yes you need the community.
What are some cool ways? What do you need in order to build a community? Like money doesn’t hurt so, if you are using Amazon as a sales channel and getting revenue through there and then pumping that back into your websites to continue building that community like that I think is a smart, smart way to both use Amazon and to buffer yourself from Amazon.
Nathan: Makes sense it’s interesting I mean what do you think too like one of the things that I see a fast growing e-Commerce brands do is a certain pop-up shops like what do you think is the reasoning and like is that even profitable for e-commerce companies or do pop-up shops now?
Tracy: The reason is community right like oh my Of course; like the gear trying to build this community like this on like constantly talking to each other and making sure you’re kind of where everyone is throwing events is helpful, going the pop-up shops is helpful, use want to get in front of people right prove to people real that you care about your product pop-up shops can be profitable.
I don’t know how many I don’t know where profitability like falls in that strategy wow granted you ideally want to break the zero but there are tons of brands. That you can work I think one might be called storefront I have to look that up, but you can use them to do a really quick pop-up that’s pretty cost effective it’s essentially like an AirB&B for pop ups.
Yes you can use them you can use square to you know manage all your inventory have that Sync back with your online store so that you can keep silent on line make sure all your inventories in the same place. A lot of people I think about like Warby Parker a really cashier you can go in there and kind of buy some glasses but by and large if you’re going into a Warby Parker shop you’re going to still get those glasses mailed to you, people I think are beginning to experience that more and be more use to that. So, I don’t encourage folks to think about the pop-up shops more as experiences for the customers as more I get to know uses more out you know building that niche community and the selling aspect of it comes later, it comes with the trust that you gain, it comes with the relationships that you build.
Nathan: Makes sense, it’s just a crazy dynamic where you know like you said the channel community offline really has which I think in turn probably boosts their growth at the end of the day; I mean especially with our own e-Commerce brands like AWAY or like Allbirds you know they’re all having little pop-up shops that fuel lot of traffic and probably fuel a lot of conversion at the end of the day and I’m not sure exactly how they’re able to tie back that you know in-store traffic to all minds. But I’m sure there’s a way to measure for the make in sales on the ground floor in these pop-up shops.
So, we’re wrapping up here, you know really what I like to understand and kind of get a feel for is for you like in the future of e-Commerce where you think you see this whole industry going others to be a massive amount of different brands selling similar products or a few brands you know take over certain industries, I mean obviously e-Commerce has disrupted everything from mattresses to you know the way we buy eyeglasses. What do you think is next for the e-Commerce world and you know where you see this heading?
Tracy: That’s a really great question, so I like to think that we’re not going to see a whole bunch of brands selling the same stuff ideally and when I’m consulting with brands or folks who are looking to start businesses and like seriously like solve for a pain point and there’s a brand that just launched not too long ago called Andy Swim which essentially is like a Warby Parker first one where you can go choose three out Choose three of them have them shipped to you try them on at home and send them back and the reason that that business was created was because that very smart woman was like the try and they think that experience sucks where I have to go into a store with a terrible lighting try on a swimsuit that more like more often than not isn’t going to fit and then like any woman listening you know it’s just like and not like a sanitary feeling experience trying those swim suits on there.
So, she launched this and I think she launched summer of 2017 and she just got like seed funding from Dinny Morris something like $2 million had a great selection so going for a real pain point like there are ways to create new products and new experiences and really intelligent ways it just takes a little bit more of a thinking, it is takes thinking about it I be the first to confess I am not a person, I don’t like capitalism for capitalism sake. It simply with me that doesn’t make sense principally that goes against things I don’t like when I buy something online and then it takes you know 3 weeks for it to be delivered to me and then I like realize that on Amazon it was actually 50% cheaper and had really bad reviews so these people weren’t the only people selling it and it took a long time to come and now I’m unhappy; like I don’t like that like I get there are a lot of sellers out there that are doing that to me just feels cheap, you know feels wrong and a lot of ways.
So, I think that we’re going to see a lot of brands especially as this generation kind of comes up where experience matters to sort of honesty and transparency and so I think community is going to continue to be a big deal. I do think that voice commerce is going to be a big deal, I’m realizing now that I’m like out of…
Nathan: Like all my shopping on like Amazon a Lexus or something or what I mean like voice commerce?
Tracy: Yeah, yeah so a lot I mean and Alexa is going to show you more Amazon and Google stuff going to show you more stuff from Google SEO, I mean it’s going to be a whole thing there, I’m just like when I’m watching them to battle it out.
But yes, I think boys home are going to be I do think in Chile augmented reality in virtual reality is going to be you can just like maybe hold your phone over like a website store and like something that you want from there and kind of be pushed through a checkout process and I think that kind of stuff is coming; it’s not here yet but the more brands focus on experience and providing the coolest experience the most customized products for their customers where they are turning that website and so a community hub, I think the more likely it is that all of those things are going to come to fruition much more quickly.
Nathan: That’s incredible! That’s amazing and say Well Tracy that you so much for joining us on e-Commerce on top you know this was another amazing episode Thanks everyone for tuning in, Tracy thank you again if people want to find your learn about Big Commerce where can they go?
Tracy: www.bigcommerce.com/blog is where I put everything, but BigCommerce is on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram our Instagram is legit, you guys I like I even love our Instagram stories so definitely watch those and then I’m on Twitter as well, feel free to tweet at me I’m just @TraceWall and I’m on there pretty often and will get back to yes no I can.
Nathan: Perfect! Tracy thank you so much and guys go check out Big Commerce, it’s one of my favorite e-Commerce platforms and we’ll see you next time on e-Commerce Ontop.