The Convergence of Retail and Ecommerce with Kristen LaFrance (Shopify)

Kristen LaFrance (Shopify) tells us about the impact COVID-19 has had on brick-and-mortar retail, what the best brands are doing to survive, and what opportunities exist going forward.

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About this episode:

The year is 2020, and a global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way that consumers discover and purchase products. As the lines between brick-and-mortar retail and digital shopping continue to blur, ecommerce leaders will be forced to get creative about how they attract, convert, and retain customers.

In this episode, we talk to Kristen LaFrance, the host of Shopify’s new online series, Resilient Retail, about the impact of COVID-19 on traditional retailers and how the most innovative brands are not just surviving, but thriving by taking their business online. We also talk about opportunities for digitally native brands to experiment with physical footprints and emerging trends in the ecommerce industry.

Kristen is not just an expert in retention and customer experience, but also an incredibly entertaining guest, so make sure you reserve time to listen to this one all the way through.

Want to be a guest on our show? Have feedback or ideas for how we can improve? Send your thoughts over to podcast@thegood.com. We’ll be keeping an eye on that inbox. 🙂

The Ecommerce Insights Show is brought to you by The Good, a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) consultancy specializing in helping ecommerce businesses accelerate their growth through better research, testing, and design. Learn more about our team, our work, and our services at www.thegood.com.

Episode Transcript:

[00:00:00] James Sowers: [00:00:00] All right, Kristen. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. Really excited to have you and appreciate you taking time out of your day to join us. I know we’re going to get into a lot of interesting stuff about retail as evidenced by the neon sign behind you.

[00:00:10]before we do that without giving the whole life story, can you tell people that are listening a little bit about who you are, where you work and what you’re doing for a living? What’s got you excited right now. 

[00:00:20] Kristen LaFrance: [00:00:20] Yeah. So I’m Kristin LA, France. most people know me as the mayor of DTC Twitter. So I spent the last couple of years really building community building expertise in the D to C and eCommerce space.

[00:00:31] And just very recently in the last three months, actually, I joined Shopify as retail team, and I am now head of. Resilient retail, which is our brand new podcast that just launched this week. And we just dropped a five episodes. It is super exciting. We’re talking to a lot of D to C brands. Who’ve gone into retail, a lot of brick and mortar merchants who are going into e-commerce sharing all those stories, inspiration tips.

[00:00:55] It’s a ton of fun and you should definitely check it out if. I can just plug that. Yeah. 

[00:00:58] James Sowers: [00:00:58] Listen, I’ve said this on the show before four, I’m a podcast fanatic. That’s why I’m standing in front of this microphone talking to you today. I have literally a hundred podcasts in my subscriptions, in my podcast, catcher app on my phone.

[00:01:09] This one is definitely going to be 101 right there. This one’s a no brainer for me. I’ve been following Kristin long enough and obviously you’ve got the cloud of Shopify behind you and all of your great guests. So yeah, definitely go add that one. Stop listening to this one, but go listen to Kristen. I want to hear more about that.

[00:01:22] Yeah, they’re both fantastic. Right. I wanna hear more about that though. Like when you, so you recently joined Shopify and, I’m curious, did you bring this concept to them or did they already have this in the works and during the interview process and when you’re evaluating the opportunities that, Oh, I would love to work on that.

[00:01:33] I want that to be my first project. You gotta put that in my contract and then I’ll sign today. Like how did that work out? 

[00:01:38] Kristen LaFrance: [00:01:38] Yeah, so it was actually a really interesting story. So I was at churn Buster for two years, kind of came to a point where I just felt like I was ready to kind of. Take take my, my work in content and community and go a little further with it.

[00:01:50] And so I took some time to myself and just kind of took a couple too many weeks off of working. I realized I was going to take that money off. and then I kind of posted that I was looking for a job. And the funny thing is, is, is that resilient retail was something that was in the works at Shopify already.

[00:02:05] It was actually a, this virtual event series is how they were going to do it. Harley was going to be the host of it. And so then as that was all going on, it. It kind of came about the same time as, George Floyd and black lives matter. And the team you just kind of decided, you know, right now is not the time for us to be talking about resilient retail.

[00:02:24] It’s a time for us to allow other voices to be talking. So they kind of put the project on pause and it just oddly happened. Timing wise it right when I posted, okay, I’m officially looking for a full time job. They had started to relook at how to bring it back again. And so I’m Matt Nelson. Who’s my lead.

[00:02:41] Just. Came into my inbox and said, Hey, I have a project. I think you might be interested in. and I saw that he was from Shopify and was like, yes, sign me up. So, yeah, basically brought on to take the idea of resilient retail and blow it up into something much bigger than it was planned to be. So we did kind of two of those virtual events at the beginning of September to get that feel, I guess that was the beginning of August.

[00:03:04] At the beginning of August, we did two time flies. We did two virtual events, which kind of the original structure of the show just to get people, the content that was promised to them, get them kind of used to me as a host, used to the format. And then we took some time backed up. We decided, you know, This is not something that I think that retailers don’t have time to show up at a set time every week to come listen to me talk, they need it.

[00:03:28] They need it on their time. So we’ve actually decided to turn it into a full blown podcast. So just launched October 13th, like I said, with five episodes, but yeah, it was a, it was an interesting timing thing where the project was kind of sitting there needing a champion. And me as a podcaster was sitting there needing a role at it.

[00:03:46] All came together perfectly. Now, here we are. 

[00:03:49] James Sowers: [00:03:49] Yeah. Divine intervention happens. And, when it’s serendipitous like that, sometimes that produces the best results. And I have no reason to believe that that won’t be the case with you. I’m curious. So it it’s called resilient retail. And I think that the timing is interesting.

[00:04:01] Like I’m not great with these things, but, you know, we had the coronavirus pandemic take effect and everybody’s locked up. And so brick and mortar retail just gets hammered. Right. And everybody was talking about. How do these businesses remain resilient? How do they survive? How do they adapt and continue to thrive in this new environment?

[00:04:18] Is that like the precipitating event in the world that, that made this kind of like concept come together? Or was there a mission that already existed before that related to retail that is just kind of continuing to carry on. And this just happens to be an environment where, you know, retail does have like an uphill climb ahead of them and they’re trying to figure out how to continue to thrive going 

[00:04:37] Kristen LaFrance: [00:04:37] forward.

[00:04:38] Yeah. So, so Shopify has had point of sale for years, but it was always kind of not very well known as being a great point of sale system. But then right at the beginning of the pandemic, we released an entirely new hardware and software completely undid it. Rebuilt it up. So it’s fantastic. Now it works.

[00:04:56] It’s a fully integrated system with the online stores and they push that project really quickly at the beginning of COVID. I don’t know if you guys remember at the beginning of the pandemic in kind of that March to June, Shopify was just dropping things. Every week we got the shop app, we got a new point of sale.

[00:05:12] We got all these crazy announcements and it was because Shopify had been investing in this side of the business for so long. And then they realized, okay, Hey now more than ever, even if this product is absolutely perfect and ready to go with all the biggest marketing out there, we need to get it in the hands of merchants, because what happened with the pandemic is like you said, everyone’s stores had to close foot traffic completely stopped.

[00:05:35] It’s still really low. And so that means they were forced to get onto the eCommerce side of things. They were forced to pivot. Right. Forced to make really quick decisions and start online sales. And when you do that, and you have a different point of sale system, you start to have all these issues. You have inventory issues, you can’t track online sales and in store sales.

[00:05:55] So we had a lot of merchants doing like handwritten inventory tracking for their point of sale. And then they’re using Shopify for online. So really the mission was okay, let’s see. Let’s get this product out because now it’s really, really good and it serves the purpose it’s supposed to. So that was already in the works.

[00:06:11] And then of course, with, with COVID happening and with black lives matter protests happening in the election happening this year, it’s just been crazy for everybody, but particularly brick and mortar stores that have been able to depend on. A consistent foot traffic for years and kind of consistent patterns of shopping and consistent behaviors.

[00:06:32] That’s all been up ended. And what we saw was something that Harley talked a lot about in the first episode, which I love how he put this. Is it forced, this break in retail where you see these resistant retailers. these are kind of the J crews, the Diller it’s a lot of these kinds of. Old school department type stores that have been putting off e-commerce for a long time, who have thought about omni-channel just as like a potential strategy, never really invested in it.

[00:07:00] They think things will pass. We’ll go back to normal. And now they’re, they’re hitting bankruptcy and they’re closing. And then these resilient retailers, which are, these are the people that we’re talking to. Who have made split decisions to do crazy stuff either. That’s, you know, they, they turn their entire store just into a warehouse and open up online.

[00:07:18] And there they’ve done partnerships with other people locally. a lot of D to C brands moving into retail right now, it all came together. And then we just looked at it and said, we have a bucket of merchants who are just refusing to get up, give up at every turn, even though the world is pushing them back every time they up, back up and it felt like, okay, These people really need a place to connect with each other, to get advice from people who have made it to learn how in the world to do e-commerce because of, for a lot of these merchants, they’re having to figure it all out right now in the midst of a pandemic, which you and I both know, like even a, a store that starts as digitally native, like e-commerce is a heck of a thing to get your head around it, especially if you’ve never done it.

[00:08:00] So we want to just. Create a space where there’s value in connection and storytelling and hard hitting tactics, all in one for these merchants who really are the backbone of our societies and our cultures around the world. 

[00:08:13]James Sowers: [00:08:13] Yeah. And so it sounds like it was almost like a wave was building up. Right? And then the, the crest of that wave started to accelerate with coronavirus and everything.

[00:08:20] And all you guys have to do is paddle because there’s so much momentum behind this movement that, you just need to paddle and ride the wave as long as you can and get something as useful as resilient retail out there into the world, because there’s a demand for it, right? Like people are raising their hand and saying, I need help with this in the lines between e-commerce and physical retail are blurry these days.

[00:08:36] And I think I saw a tweet from Webb Smith the other day. That was a quote from the social network movie. I don’t know if you saw it, but he said something like drop the E it sounds better. I just call it commerce. And I think there’s true to that, right? Like we’re no longer there, isn’t this strict divide between like you either our brick and mortar or you’re selling online, like yeah.

[00:08:50] Brick and mortar stores have an e-commerce line and they have any commerce manager that handles all the digital sales. And then you’ve got DTC companies that are launching online first, and then they’re doing popup stores or they’re having retail locations start to crop up. So I think it is like a two way street now.

[00:09:03] And maybe we did, you should just drop the idea and start talking about commerce in general. Yeah. One more thing that I’m curious about what the show is. maybe you, you talked about Harley kicking things off and having great insights there. Is there more of a branded guest or someone else that you’ve had on since then that you, that really stands out to you as like a conversation that was super valuable, whether you just really enjoyed it or you learned something insightful?

[00:09:23] Like, what are some of the big key insights that you’ve drawn from the work that you’ve done so far? Not necessarily spoiling anything for the big launch. Cause I know some of it’s out there, but not all of it. And I’m sure you get a few in the can, so whatever you’re comfortable sharing, like what have you learned so far from the process of interviewing these folks and learning from retailers?

[00:09:39] Kristen LaFrance: [00:09:39] Yeah, I think in, in the drop that we did, we launched with five episodes. So you can really get kind of, we wanted to give the audience a feel of what the whole season’s going to work out to. So we had, you know, we had Harley who came on and just about made me cry for the whole episode. We had Coco and breezy with a massive brand aspirational story.

[00:09:58] They designed sunglasses for prints, and we had experts, Nick Sharma and Haleigh Savage on giving very tactical advice on how to do what we’re talking about. This. Oh, Omni channel commerce instead of just e-commerce versus brick and mortar, we had Eric Bandholz came on, they just opened, I kind of snagged them right in time.

[00:10:16] They just opened their own barbershop for beard brand. That was a really cool story to hear, you know, before he even really had any data, he still kind of guessing at it. So to hear someone have to talk about a strategy that early was really cool, but the fifth episode in that drop is one that I really want to highlight.

[00:10:31] It was Stephanie Posta. She’s actually a full time Shopify employee. And her and her partner own a very small retail store in Toronto. And that conversation was really powerful because it really brought out the real true stories of what these brick and mortar retailers are going through. And that there’s this moment where she said, you know, yeah, We’re we’re looking at our expenses and the question is on the line of how long can we keep our doors open?

[00:10:57] And at what point are we going to have to decide to close them for good? Okay. She says, I can’t let that happen. I won’t let that happen. I put too much into this brand, into the store, into this relationship with my partner, that all kind of revolves around this space. We can’t let that happen. And that episode to me was just, it was such a strong reminder that, you know, yes, there’s a lot of these.

[00:11:21] Big D to C brands or massive departments with lots of people, huge budgets and VC funding, and they can make these pivots and they can tell has things quickly. But the other side of the coin is there are these local merchants. There’s a, a cafe, two blocks away from me. That’s owned by just a guy who lives in Colorado Springs and his wife.

[00:11:41] Yeah. There is a clothing store right next door to this spin studio that I go to that is just owned by a local couple. These are the stories I think we tend to look passed in the press a lot because they’re not really the hard hitters, right? You’re not hearing about how this really cool brand did something crazy to stay afloat.

[00:12:00] The stories that are really motivating to me are these individual merchants. They have one to two to three stores, right? They’re built into their local community. They are trying to figure things out as they go. They’re still kind of flying by the seat of their pants and they’re the ones who’ve been hit the hardest and the, and they’re struggling.

[00:12:20] And they’re trying to do as many things as they possibly can. And that episode to me, Taught me more about retail than really any of the other ones, just because it, it gave me a glimpse into the real day to day lives of what these merchants are going through. another one that’s coming up that I’m really excited though, which is kind of back to the other side.

[00:12:37]Michelle Cordeiro grant, who’s the founder and CEO of lively. She is an absolute genius in the way she talks about pivoting her business. She has this, this idea that you don’t know, I always have to do such aggressive pivots in the way that they’ve kind of stayed afloat is they’ve made very small, subtle changes based on what they knew they were already good at.

[00:12:57] And so that’s an episode that’s coming out that you guys should definitely tune into. It was a kind of, one of those at the end of it. I was like, wow. I feel like I just like really learned so much about how, how to think about a business and how to think. Multichannel, the, the biggest things I’m learning really.

[00:13:13] I think is something that surprised me is the  between e-commerce and physical retail. And when I kind of made the shift my career, I was pretty nervous at first. I, I am, you know, the mayor of DTC Twitter. That means I don’t really have a lot of background in specific brick and mortar retail, but what I’m learning and it’s almost a reverse engineer of everything that I’ve known.

[00:13:39] Is that when you’re buying online, a lot of times the goal is to replicate or improve the experience that you would have gotten in store. And so now it’s almost going the other way where I’m hearing. Okay. How do you build those experiences in store and now, then how do they go replicated online? Right.

[00:13:55] And it’s just, it’s a very interesting thing where there’s so much similarity between the two worlds, which is why they’re converging so quickly now. And it is just all commerce and learning, just how these people have thought about, you know, customer experience is something. We talk about a lot, customer engagement, something we talk a lot about on the eCommerce side, and to have to think through that in a physical one-on-one experience with a person.

[00:14:19] It’s really reminded me a lot about how much humanity is in commerce and how much human interaction is needed in shopping and how people shop and how people think about what they buy. these are all things that I’ve just constantly learning from these guests. And it’s really cool to see how the two industries are actually.

[00:14:38] I would argue just kind of one and they are becoming one, right? 

[00:14:42] James Sowers: [00:14:42] I think that makes a lot of sense. I mean, we started with physical commerce. We started in marketplaces and bazaars and, you know, small communities where we’re kind of bartering goods back and forth. It was person to person to begin with and we took it online.

[00:14:54] So it makes sense that there are a lot of parallels there. what I love about what you’re doing with your show is, you know, at its heart, entrepreneurship is about risk. It’s about adversity. It’s about adapting and surviving. And being creative about how you attack problems. And, I think you’re doing a great job from the sounds of it, of bringing out the journalistic side of these stories and making sure that the people behind the story get presented.

[00:15:15] Like one example that I can think of just locally here is that a lot of the craft breweries had to, they had no foot traffic anymore and they weren’t yet big enough to be distributed in grocery stores and stuff like that. So they had to pivot to stay alive and what they ended up doing was making hats sanitizer, and this was happening all across the country.

[00:15:30] They had all the equipment in the raw. Materials and it didn’t smell good, but it cleaned your hands and it kept everybody safe and the hospitals didn’t have enough of it. And so they started manufacturing that and selling it to hospitals or what, just to stay alive. And I just love stories like that, of people who won’t quit because, I think we all like to hope that we have that inside of ourselves and it’s, it’s good to look over somebody’s shoulder and say like, wow, you went through that.

[00:15:51] That’s so amazing. You came out on the other side and you’re better for it, right? 

[00:15:55] Kristen LaFrance: [00:15:55] Yeah. It’s funny that you mentioned breweries somebody else where we’re going to have on the show is a great lakes brewery. And this is a story we’ve actually seen now multiple times. I, I love beer. I love my local breweries.

[00:16:06] And so I’ve actually seen a lot of places here in Colorado Springs do this and I find it really cool. great lakes brewery. They had to kind of fire almost half of their employees, they had to close their doors. They had nobody coming in. They had barrels of beer sitting and no one to drink it. And so what they did was they implemented curbside pickup and local delivery, which are two massive trends we’re seeing in the retail space.

[00:16:28] And. Pretty quickly with their online sales, with the availability to do it like that for their community. They rehired everybody that they had fired. Their sales are back up. Their profits are higher than they’ve ever been. It’s a really cool story in that. I think it’s just this idea that we’re all learning how to sell differently.

[00:16:46] Like, you know, a year ago you couldn’t drive to a brewery and take beer home. That wouldn’t be something that you could have done. Now you can do that. Now I can drive to my favorite restaurant and get a, to go, to go margarita or to go old fashioned. And I can just take it home. These things are really cool.

[00:17:02] And that’s what is also really exciting is these pivots that businesses are making and some are making massive pivots, like you mentioned, Stop selling what you’re selling and start selling face, max masks, enhanced sanitizer. Then there’s others who are able to just kind of adjust and tweak a little bit.

[00:17:18] And all of a sudden they’ve built this new shopping experience that customers are really loving. And, you know, everybody’s wanting to shop local and shop small right now. It’s, that’s a really cool trend. That’s come out of it. Silver lining. And with that being said, yeah, As these retailers are just adding in new experiences and changing the way they sell.

[00:17:36] They’re able to kind of capitalize on all of this coming together. And it’s almost this perfect storm. That’s allowing some new changes to happen. There’s there’s a bright side to all this too, 

[00:17:48] James Sowers: [00:17:48] right. Or there’s just so much volatility that you it’s exciting to not know what the outcome looks like. Right.

[00:17:53] Like you’re in the thick of it. And you’re like, yeah. We could end up, it could be catastrophic or this could be like fantastic. And our, and our business could double overnight, like I’m sure that some folks have moved their brick and mortar retail business online and are doing so well that they might just get rid of the physical location.

[00:18:06] Like, I’m sure there are examples of people out there like that. I know there are examples of corporate offices that are doing that, and they’re like, we might just work remotely for the rest of our days and cut the lease and reinvest that money where else? And so, you know, at the same time, that creates opportunity for.

[00:18:19] Direct to consumer businesses to eat up some of that retail space, because rents are probably going to be at all time lows or at least in our lifetime. And so I’m curious if you’ve seen any, any trends around that. If you’ve seen primarily e-commerce business opening up physical locations, now that as the world starts to open up a little bit more and take advantage of some of the opportunities they see there in the market to get their physical products, like in a place where somebody can see and touch them and interact with them or whatever else it might be.

[00:18:44] Kristen LaFrance: [00:18:44] Yeah, it’s actually a really exciting trend that’s happening. Cause like you said, there’s a lot of people that are moving out, leases are opening up. Rent is going down and then also landlords are having to get creative because they need tenants to get them in their space. But you can’t necessarily say.

[00:18:59] Well, you have to be here for 12 months because if 2020 proved anything to us, like what in the world is 12 months going to look like we have no idea. So those, those really strict countries tracks are changing. And it’s an exciting time for brands that before may have not been able to afford to get into retail are looking at it now as an opportunity because it is less expensive and.

[00:19:21] And retail is not dead and people are still going to stores and they want us to have those experiences. And as we’re seeing, there’s all these ways, you can still have a brick and mortar store right now in the pandemic. And a lot of stuff you can do you, so, you know, I know of Adidas seed company that is looking at taking over.

[00:19:38] Multiple cafes in the city that they live in that beforehand, they could have never done it. Maybe it was in their five to 10 year plan. But, you know, as Harley said, 2030, he got shoved into 2020. So now you’re seeing a lot of people go in and try to open up storefronts. And, and the exciting thing is, and something, I think that’s a really cool is there’s this creative option for D to C brands as they’re starting to think about retail, right?

[00:20:01] They can just use a storefront as another fulfillment center. In the meantime, as they’re working on this space, as they’re trying to figure out how to market in the communities they’re opening in. So it’s not just a cost center, it’s actually still profiting them. They’re allowed to get closer with the community that they opened their stores in, and they’re just getting better access to their customers that way.

[00:20:21] So there is this shift happening and I’m sure personally really excited about it because they think that means, and a lot of cities in America. That have been kind of just stuck with the normal retailers, the department stores, just your classic malls. A lot of that’s going to be changing and we’re going to start seeing really interesting, cool brands coming into spaces and kind of flipping shopping centers and flipping culture.

[00:20:44] And it’s to me like what is 10 years from now going to look like when you walk down the main street of, you know, Colorado Springs, you might not recognize a lot of the brands that were there now, and that is, you know, Time brings change. And even though it’s been a hard change, there is, you know, there’s this resistance versus resilient thing going on.

[00:21:05] And so you’re seeing resilient brands get into these spaces and do really cool things. And I think that’s only going to do good things for our society, but yeah, big trend with D to C getting into retail right now, because it’s been on everyone’s mind. Like you’ve seen a lot of the big companies do it.

[00:21:22] It’s something that you’re looking at. And now it’s a lot more affordable than it was before. And there’s a lot of creative ways you can work with it. 

[00:21:28] James Sowers: [00:21:28] Yeah, it’s really exciting because, you know, I think that a lot of the traditional brick and mortar brands that you’re used to, they’ve gotten a little complacent, I would say, like they, they are benefiting from the fact that they have proximity to their buyer that they’re close.

[00:21:42] They have, convenience, like they’re on your way home from work. So you just pop in and grab what you need and you go home, you don’t have to wait two to seven days to get your product. But if that changes, if you have some of these digitally native brands move to physical locations, then you take those two things away.

[00:21:54] And I think that, you know, Traditionally e-commerce brands have had to lean on the quality of their product because if somebody orders it and it comes in and it’s no good, they’re going to tell their friends and then your next sale just got that much harder. Whereas something like, I don’t know, I don’t want to bash any actual brand, but like, let’s say like a J crew or something, like maybe they started right with a really high quality material.

[00:22:15] That was an insane value for the price. But as they gained notoriety, The price continues to go up, but the value of the materials use might go down. Right. And so they are kind of like taking advantage of their position of power and the product’s getting weaker and weaker over time slowly, but it’s happening.

[00:22:31] And again, not to throw J crew out there, but it was top of mind for me. I don’t even know. But yeah. So on the other hand, you have these brand new. Innovative creative DTC eCommerce brands that have strong products bring them to a physical market. And they’re going to take advantage of that proximity and convenience.

[00:22:47] I mentioned earlier, and for the consumer, that’s a great deal because now all of a sudden you can get somebody that actually values like your opinion and your experience with their product. And they’re right next door to you, or they’re on your way home from work. And you can take advantage of that as well.

[00:23:00]so I’m curious, like, in terms of. Do you see brands moving to physical spaces? What are some of those crossovers? Like you talked about how there are so many parallels between selling online and selling in person in terms of like customer experience or building a community or something like that.

[00:23:14] So do you have any more tangible results or examples of those things in action? Like somebody moved from online to a physical space and they replicated their customer experience in this way. Right? Like maybe it’s ambiance, maybe it’s customer service at the point of sale. Like whatever that looks like.

[00:23:28] What have you seen from your experience? 

[00:23:31] Kristen LaFrance: [00:23:31] Yeah, a really cool example of this is Mack Weldon and they sell kind of men’s basics, but it’s highly premium. They have a store in Hudson yards in New York city. And I talked to Brian Berger, who is the founder and hearing how he thinks about those two channels.

[00:23:46] Working in tandem was really interesting. The biggest one is always going to be the customer experience is you’re trying to build a holistic experience. Now we talk about it between channels. So we talk about like, Make the experience from your ad to your website, your emails feel like an actual journey.

[00:24:01] And like it’s a cohesive story. That’s making sense. Now you’re just adding in retail can be looked at as kind of another channel. How do you build that all into one holistic brand and customer experience and something that he talked a lot about was, you know, we’re trying to make our stores feel like the online experience, but then there’s a lot of learnings that go into that, you know, they.

[00:24:23] They stock a lot of different products in their store that they don’t highlight on their website as much because a lot of people coming into the store are kind of second time buyers, third time buyers. So they come in and they can talk to somebody about the fabrics of the polos. They’ve tried the underwear and now they want to try the polo or they want to try this and they get to see and touch and feel the different products that maybe they wouldn’t have bought online.

[00:24:44] And so creating those different customer experiences. But then that drives it all together is really the key there. another thing we’ve seen a lot is loyalty programs. I just went up to Denver this past week and went and talked to the people at Topo designs. They have three stores, Denver, Fort Collins, and then in the Denver airport, they are very well known online as an online.

[00:25:07] Store. And then in Colorado is a physical store and they just recently launched a new loyalty program because they can and integrated all together where no matter if you’re buying online, online or in store, you’re getting points and you can use those things again on the next purchase. And they’re driving this customer experience.

[00:25:23] That’s bringing you back to the brand at different touch points. And that is, I mean, that’s the heart of what I’ve been saying in e-commerce customer retention for the last two and a half years is. You have all these touch points, but does it make sense in between them? Does it, does it create a journey?

[00:25:37] Does it bring the customer closer to the brand? the other thing is going to be customer engagement. There is, you know, we talk about it in D to C all the time. Get on the phone with your customer, talk to your customer and talk one-on-one with them in a retail sense. You get, you get unmatched customer game, which is actually something I’ve been talking with a lot of brick and mortar merchants on saying, you know, you think you’re at a disadvantage because you’re having to get online now and compete in this saturated space.

[00:26:02] But yeah, they’re almost ahead because they have these deep connections with customers. They know their customers arguably better than a lot of eCommerce sites do. Even though we have the data, it’s the qualitative data that they have. That’s massively helpful. So on both eCommerce and retail, you’re talking about how can you get to know your customer?

[00:26:21] How can you talk to them? How can you learn how they shop, how they make decisions, what they care about, what they connect with. And so in the physical space, you get that one on one with a sales associate and someone walking in. And trying on clothes and touching the fabric and looking in the mirror and saying, Oh yeah, this feels a little boxy.

[00:26:38] There’s so much you can learn. Right. And then the other big thing, like you mentioned is building a community. And so for a lot of retailers, it’s about the community that they’re in. It’s about the people that are walking by their store. It’s about the people who come to New York city to go visit a Mack Weldon store to go to Hudson yards.

[00:26:57] And, and so you want to be building this community. People around you. So you can keep bringing people back in your door, especially now, when going into a store there there’s a built in risk there. And so it has to be worth it. And a lot of that is driven by community. This is something Michelle from lively talks a lot about.

[00:27:14] They have women who come in their store just to hang out, just to have coffee, just to breastfeed because they’re walking by the store and they know it’s a safe space for them to go do that. And so there is this idea of built into retail. That you have to be involved in your local community and you have to be involved in building that community and driving them back to your brand for more than just shopping.

[00:27:37] And on the eCommerce side, we talk about that all the time, right? You can’t just be hitting your customers with sales, emails and sales messages and discounts. And this, there has to be some kind of. Community poll. You have to feel like you’re, you’re buying into something bigger. You’re buying into a mission or a reason.

[00:27:54] And you know, when I see someone walking down the street wearing a outdoor voices exercise dress, I can, yeah. And I’ve had this moment every time where I’m like, Hey, like we probably would get along. Cause we both like outdoor voices. And, and so being able to bridge that from both eCommerce and retail, those are the three, I think biggest things that I’ve really seen are very parallel between the two.

[00:28:15] And it makes sense, right? Because it’s what you were saying. It’s not e-commerce versus in person commerce anymore. It’s now just total commerce. you said something I wanted to touch on, which was these traditional retailers held so much power for so long. And they held power in determining how we shopped.

[00:28:35] They got to tell us, you know, if you want to buy the shirt, you have to come into the J crew store or you have to go to our online store. And that is the only way you can shop. They got to dictate where things were sold, how they were sold, because there wasn’t much. You know, omni-channel commerce now consumers have more power than they’ve ever had.

[00:28:55] We can decide how we want to shop, where we want to shop, how much we want to spend on shipping, how much we’re okay with spending on taxes, how we want things to be shipped, how quickly we want them to be shipped. If we want it to be sustainable or not, we can literally choose anything we want as consumers.

[00:29:12] So this idea of e-commerce versus physical commerce, right? Is it, it’s the idea of the resistant, because now it’s not just an option. It’s not just a strategy. It’s a tactic that you have to be everywhere. Your consumers are, or at least in as many places as your consumers are shopping to give you a chance because they hold the power now to make that decision, which I think that’s why we’re seeing so many.

[00:29:37] I kind of ideas bridging between the two D to C e-commerce and physical retail is because it does all have to intertwine now because we have the option to buy how we want, which is. It’s a great change that we’ve made really? 

[00:29:50]James Sowers: [00:29:50] Yeah. I mean, at its core, it’s about meeting the customer where they want to be met.

[00:29:54] Right? Like if they prefer the in person shopping, you have an option for them. If they prefer to shop online at night after the kids go to bed and kind of browse on their own time, you have that too. So yeah. I mean, I have a little bit of a sales background and I was always taught. You got to meet the person across the table where they’re at in their customer journey.

[00:30:10] Sometimes they’re trying to even learn about the problem. Sometimes they’re trying to learn about potential solutions to the problem, and sometimes they’ve done all their research and they just want to learn about you, right. Or your competitors. And so this is really kind of the same concept. It’s like, let’s meet the customer where they want to be met.

[00:30:22] Let’s give them the information. They need to make an informed, purchasing decision. And if we’re confident in our product and our approach and our messaging, then that’s going to be us. Right. What I love about what you said is learning about your customers through physical retail, and hopefully more importantly, taking that back to the digital experience.

[00:30:38] So, one example I can think of is. I believe that in a brick and mortar setting, people are more likely to purchase gifts for other people, right. Especially with Q4 coming up. So I’m gonna, I want to go to the store and touch the material. Like if I’m going to buy my wife, I don’t know, a winter jacket or something like that.

[00:30:52] Like I want to touch them. I want to see how thick it is. I want to see if I think it’s going to keep her warm or yeah. Whatever. I’m like, what does it color look like in real life? Because she cares about these things. Right? And so like, I might want to go see it and it might have questions about what fill in the jacket makes a difference and that kind of stuff.

[00:31:06] So I’m going to go to the store to get an associate, to answer those questions for me, because they are the expert in the space. And to me, that’s more that builds more confidence than going to the website and trying to interpret it for myself. But the important part, I think in this, this transition period where we have like a physical presence and a digital presence, is how do you take the insight that the frontline sales person is hearing from the customer and port those over to the online experience and maybe build.

[00:31:30] I dunno, a gifting quiz, right? Like fill out these five questions and we will recommend the best coat for your loved one, right. Based on what you tell us. So that’s the kind of stuff I think that’s going to be the challenge for brands looking to do this omnichannel approach is like, how do we take advantage of all the upside that physical has to offer, but transport that over to our online experience and use it to continue to improve things there.

[00:31:51]I don’t know if you had any thoughts to share around that. 

[00:31:51] Kristen LaFrance: [00:31:51] Yeah. Actually, one of my favorite things that a lot of stores have been doing is virtual shopping appointments. neighborhood goods is a really good example of this, a really well known retailer. They bring in a bunch of different brands. So there’s a lot of different products.

[00:32:04] A big part about going to neighborhood goods is that process of walking around and seeing the brands and touching the products. and now what they’re able to do is when someone’s online and they can do this based on, you know, the story’s normally empty around 12 to one. So we’re going to turn on. The tool that we’re going to use for virtual styling on the website, because we know that’s a high traffic time on the website, and then somebody goes on the site, a thing pops up and you can FaceTime with an actual sales associate shit.

[00:32:32] They can be picking up stuff. you know, I’ve seen videos of sales associates putting on shoes with jeans and saying like, Oh, here’s how they look with skinny jeans versus here’s how they look with leggings. Do you like how this looks they’ll, you know, pick up a pillow and say like, here’s how squishy it is.

[00:32:46] Or, you know, these things that you can get that. That’s still the in store experience, but you’re doing it online. That’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen. And then, yeah, what you’re talking about is, you know, you’re getting all those customer objections that we’re trying to find all the time in e-commerce, but you’re getting them live with people.

[00:33:03] So you can say, okay, most people who come in and they are looking at a woman’s coat, the questions they normally have are. What’s the fill. Why do I want this versus the other one? how do I wash it? And what will it actually look like with, you know, my, my favorite winter outfit that I wear to work most often, and now that’s something you can say.

[00:33:22] Okay, well, online on our product page, let’s have a chat bot. Come up and say, you know, Hey, do you need help picking the filling? Or do you need help styling this? Or how can we do this? Or in the product description, you’re actually putting that information in or on your pictures and videos that are actual lifestyle, pictures, and videos of someone wearing the clothes, walking around with them.

[00:33:42] You can see and feel it. So it’s really just about. Taking all those, those things that are happening in store and transitioning them to online. And I know a lot of your listeners are e-commerce only businesses. And so I want to give them some advice too, which is even if you don’t have a physical store, play it out like you do in your head step back and say, okay, if I had to walk up to somebody and sell them my product.

[00:34:06] What does that look like? What does that conversation look like? How do I talk to them? How would that conversation go? What would I think they would ask me? You can even go practice this with somebody, go do it on the street, try to sell something to somebody and just think about how in real life would this happen.

[00:34:23] And that can inform then your online, especially your conversion optimization, especially your email marketing. It’s really easy online to get so caught up in the data and to be looking directly at the numbers. Right. And saying, this is a 15% click through rate. This is this, this is that. And, and just trusting those numbers, but there is this really important part of taking a step back and thinking about the experience and saying, does this actually work human to human?

[00:34:49] Because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re all shopping for is, is we’re buying something from another human. They will add value to our human life. So being able to even step back and pretend like. You know, one day if I had a retail store, what would it look like? What would I want it to feel like, what would I want the energy between my sales associates and the customers feel like, what would I want people to describe our store as, and then take that online because that’s going to be how you actually create sales.

[00:35:16] That turn into relationships that turn into repeat sales. 

[00:35:20] James Sowers: [00:35:20] Yeah. I love that idea in for anybody who’s sitting there saying like, I can’t even, I can’t mean picture that. Right. We’re just so digitally native. Like we’re, we’ve always been online. We’re always going to be online. Like you can replicate these things.

[00:35:29] We always say, get on calls with your customers. And that’s something that like, everybody knows they should be doing, but they don’t. But like, you can just, like you said, with your FaceTime example earlier, like I can physically hold up a product on a video call with the customer and I can say, Hey, here’s what it looks like.

[00:35:42] What questions do you have? Like, what would you be? You know, you can do customer research at that level. Or send them the product or wait until somebody buys something, Hey, I noticed you just tried our new, our new coffee blend or whatever. I was hoping I could get 30 minutes of your time. Here’s an Amazon gift card, whatever you gotta do, would you get on the phone with me?

[00:35:58] And I want to, I want to teach you how to make a latte or something with it. Like, you know what I mean? Like I want to, I want to see you brew the coffee, right? Like it’s not going to be something that a lot of customers opt into, but the ones that do are the ones that you want to hear from the most.

[00:36:09] Right. And so if you can make that happen and you can get more, I guess direct physical interaction or engagement between you and your customers. That is something that in a way kind of replicates that in store experience. So you can still get all the upside of knowing what that would be like without even having to have brick and mortar retail, like on your five year plan.

[00:36:26] Like you don’t have to commit to anything, but it’s, it’s, it’s a good. A perspective shift. I think to say, this person has my product in their hand, what are their questions? And what can I learn from it? Right. And then how can I use that to inform my lifestyle photos or my product detail page with the specs that’s on it or checkout process?

[00:36:42] Like what does that final piece of reassurance that I can give somebody? When they’re looking at their total cart value and saying, do I really want to spend this money on this product right now? Like that’s where you pull from your FAQ and you say our biggest objection is I’m not sure that it’s gonna fit me.

[00:36:57] Right. Or I’m not sure it’s going to be warm enough to say, Hey, just as a reminder, this is the warmest fill we have, it’s rated all the way down to whatever, like zero degrees, Fahrenheit Lake, something like that is just enough to get them to further commit to that purchase. It makes a difference between a conversion one not happening at all.

[00:37:12]So, yeah. 

[00:37:12] Kristen LaFrance: [00:37:12] That’s something that Val Geisler and I have talked a lot about, which were both kind of, you know, copywriters, fowl does email copywriting. She is one of the best. And when she gets a job, the first thing she does is she has a month of customer interviews before she ever writes an email.

[00:37:27] And we’ve said it a lot to each other. We’re not necessarily writers as much as we’re copying and pasting. And, and you think about. That one customer conversation can now turn into your exact email template for, you know, here are your questions, you just bought the product it’s on its way. Let’s talk an email right there.

[00:37:45] That gets ahead of all the questions you’re going to have, right? When you get the price, you can use it and be successful for it. And, and just that one, you know, one customer conversation can be more valuable than a month’s worth of data. At some point, obviously that’s a, that’s a blanket statement.

[00:38:00] It’s not always going to be true. And I want to encourage business owners. A lot of times we hear, you know, I don’t know what to talk to them about. Nobody wants to talk to like a salesperson. customers are, we’re going to want to talk to a brand. There’s actually a lot of customers who love to do this, and it’s almost cathartic to think through.

[00:38:18] Why do I, by the way I do. And so just start reaching out, like you said, it might not be a bunch of customers, but it is going to be the ones you want to talk about because they’re going to give you the truth that you can’t see because you’re too close to it because you’re not a customer of your own of your own brand.

[00:38:33] So yeah, don’t be afraid to do it. People love to talk as long as you are a genuine, authentic, caring about the value that your product brings them. And you’re not trying to sell to them on a customer research call. It’s going to be worth your time. 

[00:38:46] James Sowers: [00:38:46] Yeah, totally agree. so if we were going to shift gears, there’s a little bit, and you take off your consultant hat, you take off your Shopify hat, whichever one you like to wear day to day between nine and five.

[00:38:55] Okay. And we put on our consumer hat, like I know that you’re always testing out new D to C brands. Maybe now you’re sampling into new retail offerings. Like. What is a brand that stood out to you recently, whether it was the product itself or the purchasing experience or the ad that got you to click through, like, is there anything in the recent, like 30 to 60 days that really jumps out at you as like, man, these people really caught my attention or I really valued this interaction, or I really love this product.

[00:39:18] Like just feel free to give them a plug and let them know that they’re doing a great job. 

[00:39:22] Kristen LaFrance: [00:39:22] Yeah, I am going to go back to a brand that I’ve talked about a lot, but I haven’t talked about them recently. and that is me undies. I like found me on these a couple of years ago, fell in love with their mission, fell in love with the way they do everything.

[00:39:36] Their emails are great. They have a good social cause they do all these amazing engagements with customers. I bought like a 10 pack of underwear, I think last Christmas. So, you know, probably didn’t need to get a whole bunch more between now and then, and then. All of a sudden, I was like, Oh cool. I have holes in all my underwear.

[00:39:52] So I went and I had to buy another massive amount because I, for some reason it wasn’t on subscription, which I have changed now, but I went and I again, spent a really big amount over a hundred dollars, and then they also had shipping delays. So I bought it. There’s the expectation that’s going to come within the next week or so.

[00:40:11] And they have had a lot of issues with their supply chain, with their shipping because of the pandemic and something they did. That was just so special. Was I got multiple emails in the timeframe. I got updates. I got an email from, there was a text-based email from the founder just saying, we’re really sorry.

[00:40:28] Thanks so much for sticking through with us. Here’s a discount code for the next time you buy and just explaining what was actually happening in a human to human way. And to the point where I was basically like, Well, I don’t care if it takes two months at this point, because I can tell you guys are paying attention and you’re working and you’re trying, and it was just such a good brand experience.

[00:40:48] And then, you know, they came and they have a great unboxing and they have cute little inserts. And I got another email after delivered. Reminding me that I had a promo code for the next time I go by because it took them so long. That was one of those experiences where it was just baked in, should have been a negative customer experience.

[00:41:05] And they were able to turn it around and almost re-engage me as a very excited customer. And now I’m back on subscription. Even with all that going on. So that’s a very simple example of, you know, knowing your customer, knowing what we care about, engaging in the right way and turning what could have been a moment that I could have said, you know, like screw these guys.

[00:41:25] I’m never buying from them again. I can’t wait three weeks for my underwear to come. This wasn’t a good experience to saying, Oh right. I love them so much. And yes, I’m reminded how good the product was. And I tried a different product and I loved that one too. And then I got. A message from the founder of saying, you know, here’s what we care about.

[00:41:41] Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s why this is happening. We’re so sorry. And now I haven’t sent him to go buy again. So that was just, that happened in the last two weeks. And it was one of those moments where I was just like, wow, I really should. I would’ve been upset. And I ended up being overly happy with the brand instead.

[00:41:56] James Sowers: [00:41:56] Yeah. And you’re sitting here telling us about it. I don’t know. Hopefully we have hundreds of thousands of listeners by now, and they’re hearing that story and I’m sure you’ve told friends and you’re in your inner circle about a two friends and family. So the word of mouth marketing, even beyond like your unique experience or your personal experience has gotta be worth something to that brand.

[00:42:07] So investing and investing in some cases in kind of mitigating the downside of a bad experience and flipping that around, like, can’t say enough good things about that great job to, to me, undies, Listen. So I w I got a couple more questions for you. If you have the time we’ve talked about like, trends that you’re seeing between DTC and physical retail.

[00:42:26]this is kind of like in the moment, or like in the, on the horizon here, but like, if we project out a little bit farther, is there any kind of longterm trend that you’re keeping an eye on in terms of Mick, maybe it’s e-commerce tech, or maybe it’s like consumer purchasing behavior? Or is there anything that like over the next, I think it was hardly that said.

[00:42:41] We’ve we’ve crammed 20, 30 into 2020. Right. But maybe not all of it got, got pushed forward. If there’s something that still on that longer term time horizon that you’re kind of excited about or interested in, or like, I can’t wait to see what happens with this. 

[00:42:54] Kristen LaFrance: [00:42:54] Yeah, there, there’s kind of a set number of trends that I’ve been really watching.

[00:42:58] I’ve been seeing, kind of grow in their infancy, curious to see how they go. The first one is obviously this is a big one. Everybody’s moving online, everybody’s shopping online. my parents are buying things online. They never would have bought online before. You’re seeing people. Buy groceries online and go pick it up.

[00:43:14] There are entirely new sectors of people who are now comfortable buying online. Right? And so the question is with that trend, what comes after, how are we going to differentiate our brands now? How are we going to talk to specific customers? What brands are going to come out? That are now serving customers that have never shopped online before and are doing it now.

[00:43:34] What are those going to look like? So that’s the number. What I’m watching is what does e-commerce continue to grow? What does it continue to be like? the second one is shopping local and shopping small. There’s this. Big trends that we’re seeing at Shopify. We have the data to back it up, that people are wanting to shop small.

[00:43:52] There are people who are now questioning. Do I spend too much on Amazon? Even my close friends are, are texting me and saying, Hey, I need to go buy this. I want to buy it. I workout tanks. And normally I’d go to Amazon, but like, I don’t really feel great about that right now. Where could I go instead? And so you’re having this, the shift happened where people are starting to second guess price and convenience for different things, for supporting local communities, for caring, who they’re buying from.

[00:44:20] That one is really exciting to me for many reasons. that means that smaller D to C brands are going to get more attention, which is really what we want. Shopify as entire mission is to decentralize commerce, which. That that is in theory, what it means when you shop local, instead of Amazon, Amazon is centralizing commerce.

[00:44:38] We want to give that power to all of the entrepreneurs that want to start something out there. So this, this trend towards shopping local, it was really exciting. And I think in the next five, 10 years, it’s probably only going to grow stronger because you’re seeing these kind of old school, traditional retailers kind of bowing out and they can’t really keep up with what’s going on.

[00:44:59]another one is just. Do you know, the different styles of, of selling curbside pickup, local delivery, walk up, pick up walk, ups stores, all of these things are really exciting and I don’t think they’re going to go away. The pandemic goes away, because they, I think there’s so much convenience in the shopping things.

[00:45:16] I was talking to the founder of TC running they’re in Minnesota, in the twin cities and they. Started their online store, right around March 15th, when all this was happening and their online sales are over 400%, what they’ve ever been. And they’re beating out the retail store, even though they have still such a strong retail presence.

[00:45:37] And it’s, it’s simple things. He was telling me this story of, you know, a customer can now go on the site. And what they see on the site is in stock in the store versus someone having to call and say, Hey, I see that you have like the Nike or Jordan. Do you have it in a size 10 and a half? You associated has to go back and look and say, yeah, we’ve got it.

[00:45:51] Can you hold it for me? Now? They can go and look online and know for sure what they do you see online is in stock in the store. And so they have a lot of people just ordering and then picking up right in store or putting it on hold online. And then they come in, they try it on and then they walk out with it.

[00:46:07] I don’t think that’s going to go away even with the pandemic, because we don’t have that a lot of time in our lives ever. And we, I want to do things quickly and when you know what you want and you just need to do a quick stop to try it on, that’s going to continue. so those trends are going to keep going.

[00:46:22] And lastly, I think it’s just this. Idea of what can commerce become. Now that the walls have been torn down, that there is all this pivoting happening, that the opportunities are leveling out a little bit, because now everybody can be online that there’s some retail spaces opening up for new brands and, you know, we’ve got all this tech coming out.

[00:46:45] We have AI coming out. We have virtual styling coming out. We have, you know, where you can take a picture in a room and. Put a couch right there. There’s all these things that are happening. One click checkout, shop, pay, local shopping, just so many things. And so it’ll be curious in the next, you know, as things maybe go back to somewhat normal, I don’t know if we’ll ever know what normal is.

[00:47:07] Again. I don’t know. I don’t even know if that’s the thing we can, we can figure out what it is, but. All of this is going to change the way we shop and it’s going to continue to change the way people shop. And I am super curious to watch that and see what brands are going to come out and do stuff that is totally new and really exciting and change the game for everybody.

[00:47:29] And I think. I think our industry is needed. I think we’re at the time, especially in the eCommerce industry where a lot of stuff feels the same, you go to a site and it feels the same as the last site you were on. It feels the same checkout. And now we’re going to start seeing some really cool stuff coming out.

[00:47:43] That’s what I’m looking forward to the most is just how creative are these entrepreneurs going to get? Yeah. I 

[00:47:49] James Sowers: [00:47:49] mean, that goes back to kind of how we kicked things off, where there’s like good volatility and bad volatility. We’ve had a lot of really bad volatility recently actually this year. but this could be some good it’s fresh perspectives.

[00:48:00] It’s new approaches. It’s a better customer experience. I’m excited personally to see, hopefully it stops being a race to the bottom. Price and logistics. Aren’t the only points of differentiation discounting. Isn’t the first thing you see within three seconds of hitting a site that you don’t know anything about.

[00:48:15] It’s, it’s more on mission and people and product quality and other things like that, like sustainable or sourcing local or whole ingredients or something like that. Like there are other things, higher value things, in my opinion. Consumers are gonna make their purchasing decision on. So I’m excited about that.

[00:48:32] And I’m also excited about the other room that we have talked about at various points throughout this. How do you take that face to face interaction and produce it online? And I think a big part of that is going to be personalization, like segmenting your audience and using their actual purchasing behavior to contextualize and personalize the messages that you put in front of them.

[00:48:51] It needs to be more like a. Two way conversation and not just let me shout at you about my products and how good they are or how much people love them. Right. 

[00:48:57] Kristen LaFrance: [00:48:57] So accounts I have going on, right, 

[00:48:57] James Sowers: [00:48:57] right. This is definitely the last one. And it’s definitely going to end today. You cannot get it tomorrow, but I’m excited to see what tools come out to support that, you know?

[00:48:57]so, so those are a couple of trends I’m keeping an eye on. but listen, if we wanted to make this. Super actionable. Like you go through a lot of purchasing experiences. You guys at Shopify have a lot of data. You talk to a lot of brand owners, like there’s definitely low hanging fruit out there that somebody can take action on today or this week and see a meaningful improvement in their business.

[00:49:15] If they’re gearing up for Q4, what’s something that like, you know, how you talked about you land on seven different sites and they all kind of look and feel the same. They might even have the same theme with slight customizations. The checkout process feels the same. The post-purchase. Emails or templates, like what is one piece of low hanging fruit where it’s like, I bet that you’re probably not taking care of this right now, but the best brands do.

[00:49:37] And if you change it between now and next week, like you’re going to see a significant improvement. Maybe not necessarily in sales right away, but in the customer experience, that type of thing. 

[00:49:45] Kristen LaFrance: [00:49:45] Yeah. There is one piece in the customer journey that I see again and again, Only the best brands are doing it.

[00:49:52] And it’s so simple. And it is the period of time between order purchased online and order delivered. There is this complete window of customer experience that’s happening right there. Somebody has opted into your product. They’ve given you their money. They are excited about it. And then for most brands, after that, you get the order confirmation delivery, you get tracking information, you might get a shift notification.

[00:50:17] And that’s about it. And then you’re going to enter into some automations of sales or newsletters or all of a sudden Instagram, but there’s this. Mega period of time right there that we can take it back to retail. If someone walks into your store and they want to try on shoes and you know, they walk into a running store, they want to try out a bunch of shoes.

[00:50:34] They’ve already made the decision. They’re walking out with a pair of shoes today. If they can find the ones they want. And so someone in that situation, they take really good care of that person. They try on 10 different pairs of shoes. They’ve talked to them about their running style. They look at their run, they figure out the right shoe and then they can go and walk out of the store and buy it and go on a run that day.

[00:50:51] Right? They have given them the recipe for success with the product. Once they have the product, now they know it, the right one, they know what to do with it. They know how to it either laces when you’re going up or down. REI is a great example of doing this, but in e-commerce when you don’t have that time, what it is is that post-purchase experience.

[00:51:09] So thinking somebody just gave me money, but they don’t have the product yet, but we know they want it. They’re there. They’re going to get it, give them value in that time that when they. Get that box. When they open that box, they’re excited to open it. They know how to use it. They know how to find success with it.

[00:51:26] They’re not confused about anything. So that is, you know, if it’s, if you’re selling coffee and somebody buys a coffee kit, make sure there’s content in between. That’s just leading them to be successful. Here are recipes. Here’s how to do it. Here’s a video. Here’s a playlist to listen to while you’re making coffee, here’s mantras to listen to while making coffee.

[00:51:46]here’s how to flavor it. Here’s all this. If it’s clothing, you can say here’s how to style it. Here’s how to wash it. Here’s what you should do when you open the product. here’s something we want you to think about when you’re doing this. There are all these little things. In that moment. And it’s, it’s such a blank space for so many e-commerce brands, because you think, you know, they’ve bought it, don’t leave the don’t, don’t bother them, leave them alone, let them get the product and do it.

[00:52:08] But it’s the best chance to build a relationship and to build a successful customer who then next time they need what you sell will probably come back because they already know how to do. 

[00:52:18] James Sowers: [00:52:18] Yeah. I’m really glad you said that one. Cause if you would’ve turned that question around on me, that’s what I would have said.

[00:52:21] There’s so many, like post-purchase. Customer nurturing time periods that are just completely unaddressed. And I think like, you know, it’s bad enough to have the last email I get be that shipping confirmation. And then I don’t see anything until the product shows up to my door, but what’s even worse is like I’ve had some experiences where I buy something.

[00:52:37] I get the shipping confirmation. And then I get like their generic marketing email blasts. Right. And like, there should definitely be a period there between when I buy and when I physically get the product, at least where, like, you don’t hit me with your general marketing messages. Right. Like that’s, I don’t need to see any more.

[00:52:51] I just bought, I don’t even know if I like what I bought, because that’s the difference between yeah. Retail and online is like in retail, like you said, you get all those questions and everything addressed upfront. I got the product. I’m probably going to be happy with it unless it’s like a running shoe and I physically have to go run in it or something like that.

[00:53:05] But like, I have a pretty good idea, a reasonable level of confidence that I’m gonna keep it. Whereas like with e-commerce it’s like, well, people are more defaulting to, I’m just going to buy this. So if I don’t like it, I’ll send it back. Right. And so your job in between is to give them everything they need.

[00:53:16] Too. And maybe they won’t like it and that’s okay. But like, it shouldn’t be because they don’t know how to use it or it shouldn’t be because they don’t understand the value of it or anything like that. Like, that’s your job to pause the marketing stuff, like opt me out of that for at least like seven to 14 days until I get my stuff done.

[00:53:30] And in that time, educate me about the product. Show me how I can use it. Enrich my life some way in a complimentary area. Yes. And then I’m going to turn into a super fan. I’m not only going to keep the product I have. I’m going to go buy more of them or I’m going to tell my friends, that’s the, I think that’s the thing that can really, like, I hate to use the cliche term, but move the needle for most brands.

[00:53:45] It’s like address that period. It’d be more intentional about how you use it. So I love that you shared that. 

[00:53:50] Kristen LaFrance: [00:53:50] Yeah. I had tweeted something out. Sorry. I it’s sweet. I tweeted something out about this that I, I just think it’s a funny way to put it. If you were to think about. How you’re talking to your customers role, play it in a real life store situation.

[00:54:00] So what we were just telling you about the emails, it would be like someone coming your store, walking around, coming in, purchasing the product. And as they’re walking out the store, you’re like, Oh, Hey, did you see that? We have shirts too? Like, it just, it just doesn’t make any sense. Right. In that situation, if that happened to me, I’d be like, yeah, I just walked around and I saw that you had, I just wanted to buy this.

[00:54:20] I just bought it. I’m walking out of the store, leave me alone. So thinking through it like that, What you’re doing online, does it make sense in a human to human interaction? God forbid, please stop marketing to customers. Who’ve just bought who don’t have a product and do not market a min sweatshirt to a woman who just bought, you know, Yeah, woman thongs on your website before they’ve gotten them.

[00:54:42] It happens all the time and it is hands down the easiest improvement, I think. Yeah. 

[00:54:47] James Sowers: [00:54:47] The other one I see all the time is affiliate programs. Like, I don’t want to be an affiliate. I haven’t tried the thing yet. I don’t know. Like, I think I like it, you know, unless I bought it before and you don’t remember me or whatever, like a friend told me and I’m pretty like, but like what, wait a little bit, like, let’s like asking for marriage on the first date, right?

[00:55:00] Like you gotta wait and see if I even like it and then yeah. Like after I get the product, you should ask me how things are going. Right. Maybe somebody gives me a call. I don’t know, but at least send me an email and say, how are things going? What questions do you have? Does everything fit? Okay? Is it performing as you expected?

[00:55:12] Like, you know, that kind of thing. And then if I respond in some way, that indicates I’m a super fan, then pitch me on the affiliate thing and I’d be, I’d love to, but like so many of them are three days after the shipping notification and I don’t even have them product in my hands yet. And it’s the worst time.

[00:55:26] To present the CTA. So 

[00:55:28] Kristen LaFrance: [00:55:28] yeah, I got a refer a friend from a newsletter. I signed up for didn’t even ever buy the product ever. And I that’s just one of those were like, how could I tell somebody else about a product? I have no idea. I don’t even know you yet. 

[00:55:28] James Sowers: [00:55:28] Hey, can I put you down as a reference on my resume?

[00:55:28] I got a job interview. Like I know we don’t know each other, but if you could just say I’m a good guy, I want them to hire 

[00:55:28] Kristen LaFrance: [00:55:28] me. So 

[00:55:28] James Sowers: [00:55:28] exactly. awesome. Well, so much fun talking to you before I let you get back to the rest of your day. Where can folks go to learn more about you, about what you’re working on at Shopify and resilient retail or whatever?

[00:55:36] The next iteration of resilient retail is going to be like, what can we, what can we do to follow you and learn more from you in the future? Yeah. 

[00:55:42] Kristen LaFrance: [00:55:42] So you can find everything about resilient retail@resilientdotsure.com. We are on every page cast platform that you can think of just search resilient retail.

[00:55:51] You’ll fight in my face and it’ll say Shopify. we also have video format of every interview I’m doing on YouTube. So same thing, just search YouTube. And then I am most active on Twitter at Katie LA France. 

[00:56:03] James Sowers: [00:56:03] Awesome. Thank you so much. And, you know, if you want to have some fun today, go visit a website called crispy LA pants.com.

[00:56:10] You gotta check that one out. It’s it’s crispy with a K look, pants.com. And there’s a little bit of a we’ll call that an Easter egg. That’s what they call it in the video gaming industry. So go check that out and just see various. Fun manipulations of Kristen’s name. It’s it’s always good for a laugh. Krista, thank you again so much for coming on the show today.

[00:56:27] I really loved having you and thanks so much for sharing your insights with our audience. hopefully they’ll go subscribe to resilient retail as I recommended, and, they’ll continue to learn more from you here in the future. So thanks so much 

[00:56:36] Kristen LaFrance: [00:56:36] for your time. Yes. Thank you so much for having me 

[00:56:38]

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About the Author

James Sowers

James Sowers is the Director of Marketing at The Good. He has more than a decade of experience helping software and ecommerce companies accelerate their growth and improve their customer experience.