How Ambitious Brands are Thinking About the Future of E-commerce
Kristen is a product leader in consumer FinTech and banking integration. She co-founded Catch, a Y Combinator-backed startup combining savings, investment, and insurance for those without access to employer benefits. Early in her career, she worked with Commonwealth to design and scale innovative savings products that now serve more than 80 million consumers. Kristen also helped launch one of the first student loan repayment SaaS benefits platforms.
Maurice launched Volcanica Coffee in 2004 from his garage at home. The company now carries over 120 different coffees and supplies hotels, airlines and other commercial ventures with high-quality coffee. Prior to Volcanica, Maurice worked in marketing and sales with a telecom Fortune 10 company. He developed and launched over 40 mobile devices and wireless services with integrated national marketing campaigns generating over $1B in revenue.
Adam is a performance-driven marketing leader in e-commerce, and an expert in digital and print marketing campaigns focusing on new customer acquisition and retention. TeePublic is an ecommerce platform that connects independent artists with their fans and allows them to sell their art on t-shirts, apparel, and accessories.
Sebastian is a former private equity and investment banker specializing in real estate, industrials, workouts/distressed assets, and corporate strategy. Good & Bed aims to deliver the highest quality bedding at affordable prices for all. Pursuing an omni-channel strategy, good & bed is now in major US retailers, and a growing direct-to-consumer arm.
After getting sober in 2015, Kelsey rediscovered her passions in the kitchen and wound up ditching a 10-year tech career at Intel to open Doughp in 2017. An edible, bakeable, and ridiculously tasty cookie dough company on a mission to make the world a little sweeter.
Gina Ciarrocchi Zech
Pegasus is a game changer for hotels, combining innovative technology with five-star support to give hoteliers more control over their revenue and distribution strategy than ever before. Gina’s approach to digital marketing is founded on the in-depth data mining capabilities required of an agency-bred paid search marketer. She’s responsible for building and streamlining internal processes that contribute to the efficiency of a 100% remote, global team of digital marketing managers and associates for Pegasus.
AdRoll: This is Unrolling E-Commerce. On today's episode: How Ambitious Brands are Thinking of the Future of E-Commerce.
TeePublic: As Google starts to roll out things like shopping actions as they prioritize that, what do brands like TeePublic and others, what do we do? Do we play ball with Google shopping actions? Do we start selling on Amazon? Which would then basically kill a lot of brand equity that we have. That's the future that we're debating.
Good and Bed: It’s an opportunity to capitalize more on a direct sales the online channels and really make a true go out of that as this continues, you know, I think this is going to be a little bit more of a permanent shift and everyone expects and you know, the online trend will continue.
Doughp: Getting on Shopify was a game-changer.I'm not like paid or sponsored by them at all, but having our website platform on there is the next level as far as trying to run an online business. So, the website upgrade got the paid advertising, and a creative team on board to really try and figure out what Doughp looks like.
AdRoll: It's estimated that there'll be over 2 billion global digital buyers in 2020. There are millions of consumers right now creating and reinforcing new online shopping behaviors and habits. Consumers are more motivated than ever to stay at home and shop online, creating the ideal market conditions to fast-track, test, and launch new experience-driven apps and touchpoints across websites and platforms. So what's in store for the future of e-commerce? In this episode, we'll chat with ambitious brands about how they're thinking about the future of online shopping. Home and garden e-commerce is seeing a surge in both site traffic and online sales. We caught up with Good and Bed, an omnichannel, premium quality bedding company.CEO and co-founder, Sebastian Morales, chattered about e-commerce and increasing direct sales in 2020.
Good and Bed: Though, you know, we’re omnichannel and by omnichannel, I mean, you know, we have direct sales, such as Good and Bed. But you know, we also have wholesales and retail distribution. So, you know, on the direct sale side, we've seen a massive jump, and that has been the biggest increase for us on the retail distributions, you know, we haven't seen any new orders. Everyone's closed makes a lot of sense, so we think that will continue. On the wholesale, you know, we partner with big retailers such as Wayfare and Walmart, and we have seen an uptick in sales on the online dropship model with them. So I think you know, this is kind of turning more towards like online sales as the traditional storefront retails are closed. I'll say really the biggest challenge for us has been the uncertainty and what I mean by that is the uncertainty for us to be able to connect the people to the product itself with disrupted supply chains. Second, for us has been our ability to manufacture, you know, without products there's no customers. So navigating manufacturing at the same time maintaining safety, social distancing. Guidelines has required a lot of creative engineering on the factory side. Third, like I said, you know, we have had a significant uptick in direct sales. And the customer outreach for us has maybe almost tripled, or more than tripled I’d say, like contacts on Instagram and Cicada. ‘Do you guys still have this color?’, or you know, all this, so you can kind of like been bombarded in direct requests and dealing with the sheer volume while delivering quality interactions has just proven to be a lot and it just required overhauling all our previous guidelines. We think that this is a great opportunity. for you know, people like us, who have the manufacturing capacity and can really increase our direct sales. Just you know, we've just never seen this kind of outreach before, so I think it's an opportunity to capitalize more on the direct sales, the online channels, and really make a true go out of that as this continues. You know, I think this is going to be a little bit more of a permanent shift than everyone expects even if there is some sort of reopening, it's going to be phased. And you know, the online trend will continue.
AdRoll: U.S consumers will spend over seven hundred and nine billion dollars on e-commerce in 2020. The apparel and accessories category is typically the second largest in e-commerce, but this year will only grow eight point six percent of consumers shift spending away from non-essential purchases. Adam Lasky from TeePublic shared insights on the apparel e-commerce trends he seeing, and discussed the long term influence of Google shopping and merch by Amazon on fashion and apparel e-commerce.
TeePublic: I believe that we are approaching the end of this of this bubble. And then the question is, once this plops, does this search demand or does this you know, apparel demand, what have you, whatever vertical you're in, does it revert to the mean which is people go back to physical retail? Does physical retail take back what they what they lost? Or is there some segment of the population that you know, realized ‘hey, I like shopping online. I'm going to continue shopping online’. And then what are those then effects for those physical retailers. Do they pivot to a more digital presence? If so, how much of the markets are they going to try to grab. And so, instead of thinking about direct competitors in a narrow sense, does that then open up to thinking about I don't know, Macy's or Cole’s, or what have you? Instead of just thinking about Amazon or Etsy or you know, traditional e-commerce brands. So that's one of the things that that I'm looking at and you know, it's up For debate. I don't know what is going to happen or how long this is going to last. I think something that I touched on a little earlier. I think long-term. This pandemic has accelerated Google's plans to take back some of the market from Amazon, because you know, Merch by Amazon left for a bit. There was a vacuum that was created. And so I think Google really stepped in with this free shopping space and again, like, it becomes a matter of how much collateral damage will there or will there be with with other brands as Google and Amazon, you know, fight it out. That is yeah, that's up for debate, but that's one of the trends that I'm seeing. As Google starts to roll out things like, you know, Shopping Actions, and prioritizing the the customer experience on Google, and users don't have to leave Google to purchase something. As they prioritize that, what do brands like TeePublic and others, like, what do we do?\ Do we play ball with Google Shopping actions? Do we start selling on Amazon? Which would then basically kill a lot of brand equity that we have. Yeah, that's the future that we’re debating.
AdRoll: Travel spending in the UnitedStates will fall by more than half a trillion dollars in 2020, and likely won't recover to 2019 levels until 2024. That's according to a new economic analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Travel Association. Of course global stats and trends will be different, but I feel confident in saying there will be a rise in staycations this year! Pegasus Solutions serves the worldwide hotel and travel industry with a medley of technological Services. Here's Gina Ciarrocchizech, Associate Director of Digital Marketing.
Pegasus: E-commerce for travel and particula as opposed to the entirety of the travel space, but for e-commerce, I think this time has really allowed us to simplify a lot of what we're doing. Ultimately innovation is in Pegasus’ blood and also in the hospitality space. There's definitely no mistake why the company exists in the way that it does because ultimately innovation is such a big part of what we do what we want to provide. And with that innovation there's a balance with efforts that we know are tried and true and tested and are going to be revenue-generating tactics for us. So it's kind of reaffirmed a lot of what we do in terms of the efforts that work and the messaging that works. What it's given us an opportunity to do is to be able to expand on that and see if there's anything different, you know. But outside of that, as far as like how all of this will impact the travel space and what the industry will look like. It'll definitely remain to be seen. I think maybe what this will, going back to what we said about staycations, and things like that, it'll help people be able to see how they can broaden their own horizons even in a closer space without necessarily having to go very far. Whether that benefits the travel industry or not, that will also remain to be seen. But at least from like a personal perspective, that will help people kind of geta feel for how they can explore within their own, you know, space.
AdRoll: One of our favorite questions for direct-to-consumer brands recently, is what would you do differently if you could rewind and start the year over? Not surprisingly e-commerce insights and integrating Shopify has come up time and time again. Kelsey Moreira, the founder of Doughp - a delicious raw cookie dough straight to your doorstep, talked through what she would have done differently, and what she's learned from 2020.
Doughp: I mean knowing what I know now about e-commerce, I probably would have said start selling online sooner because that was always, we sold online like there's probably some people that we have in our network still who bought from us when I was like early days. We used to send like, one package a week because it was just on the website, but we never really talked about it much so I'd probably say focus on that but it's an interesting world to learn about paid advertising because I sort of felt like well, If you have say like $50,000 budget and you can just put it out and you'll get this amount back and it's perfect science, right? And that's just what's going to happen? It's not quite like that. It's like this slow grow. So it was very rapid in terms of what's happened over the last six months in total but off to start, you know, still seem smaller scaled, seemed like it wasn't going to be big enough but enough focus on you know, really getting the right paid advertising team behind you that gets your brand knows how to talk about it. Getting really good creative. We've hit some walls and some learnings with like what creative would have been more helpful from the start. It's kind of a learn as you go thing in some sense, but you know knowing that video content does perform so much better on social platforms for paid media. We were lacking in that area. I think we were in the Shark Tank clip to death. So I'm sorry if anyone got like that happened with that that wasn't my call. But yeah, it's been a learning process on that end. Getting onto Shopify was a game-changer. I'm not like paid or sponsored by them at all, but having our website platform on there is next level as far as trying to run an online business. We were formerly on Weebly, now owned by Square and I think there's a lot of changes in a lot of things that they're looking to roll out, and/or have rolled out recently, but I was on a older generation version of Weebly and had built the site myself back in 2017. So, all in all it was just time for an upgrade. So the website upgrade, got the paid advertising, got a creative team onboard to really try and figure out what Doughp looks like and photos, how we want that to come across, and yeah can only go up from here.
AdRoll: What's it like to grow your e-commerce business during a crisis? How do you build your brand, tools and advertising to engage your online customers and boost your eCommerce store? Volcanica coffee launched in 2004 in Maurice Contreras’ garage. He shares his experience of keeping up with the demand of online orders in 2020.
Volcanica: So in the last two months we've been doing three times our volume from last year, just to give you an idea, so … We took our production in-house back in November and hired a bunch of employees and all the equipment and then, when Christmas came, which was expected very big. Then with this pandemic, we actually were benefits of it because Starbucks closed, retail stores closed, a lot of coffee shops closed, and you know people started scrambling for coffee online and we filled the void. We kept up, I will tell you. We didn't we didn't lose anything,but we could have done better. But it was you know. Right now it's at the point of let's take our brand to the next level. The goal is for us to be a national consumer brand that people will know who we are, you know with name recognition. I think we have all the tools in place for that.= You know, our plan is just to hit the accelerator and just keep driving now's the time really to you know to take advantage of that. We just launched a new website yesterday. We moved to Shopify. We were with BigCommerce that gave us a lot more enhancement. So we did launch it yesterday early results are phenomenal. It's amazing. Big increases in advertising both on the general web and also on Amazon advertising and I engaged agencies to help with that. We’re about to move to new bags next week, which have instead of a tin-tie to seal, it's going to have a ziploc, you know, so it's just a better presentation more consumer-friendly bag. We're also moving to a touchless environment, you know, now with COVID-19 and that we see it's really important. So we've invested in a robot that's being manufactured right now as we speak. We hope to get delivery next month where it's basically going to grab a bag fill it with coffee, seal it. So boosting branding, boosting sales, through targeted web advertising, boosting our productivity, production capabilities. Last week. we became kosher certified. It's kind of interesting. As the business grows of like, okay, what else do I need to stop doing and outsourced or hire somebody to do? I keep on saying this to myself, it's just and it's a mistake entrepreneurs make, is that you're working in the business not working on the business. Everything is on track. I mean the cost of acquisition is still low and didn't want the budget to restrict things especially when we're testing and we're trying to to get more data, you know, it's okay to spend more money, but it's been pretty good and part of it is a lot of it has to do with this pandemic right now. So it's very unusual, you know, I mean and because of that shutdown, I'm seeing a resurgence of sales. If Starbucks starts closing then, you know, sales are really gonna go up more. It did drop off a little bit when Starbucks started opening back up.
AdRoll: To stand out in the direct-to-consumer sphere, many leading brands have integrated guided quizzes. In fact 70% of top direct-to-consumer brands offered a product quiz to ensure maximum personalization. These quizzes average to be about nine questions in length, and 60% let potential customers take the quiz before creating an account. Quizzes tend to take the place of an interaction a customer would have with the sales associate at an actual store. Co-Founder and CEO of Catch, Kristen Anderson, explains how they have developed their online questionnaire to not only be easy and approachable, but an opportunity to build a connection with their customers.
Catch: Yeah we're actually in the process of relaunching our onboarding. So I'm really excited about it. So anyone who signs up today is probably going to see something a little bit different than people who sign up in a week, but it's the same basic structure which is to be really conversational and to really ask people questions that they know the answer to again, I think sometimes the downfall and financial services apps is they ask you questions that you're like ‘how would I ever know that?!”, like there was one product that I tested out that was trying to help get people a quote for life insurance and it started out by saying ‘what do you estimate inflation to be for the next 35 years?’. There's no way I can answer that question, I have a degree in economics and I don't even know where to start on that one. Right? So I think great framing those onboarding questions and just helping people say like, you know, how do you feel about your retirement savings? Do you feel like you have enough saved right now? Do you have children? Like a lot of the questions for benefits and the sort of financial products you need to be financially healthy, revolve around whether or not you have kids. So let's ask people those questions that they know an answer to, off the top of their head, and make it really easy to get started, because I think that that also does some of the like demystifying to help show you that like, you know, if you don't have children if you don't have large debts, you know, you may not need life insurance right now, and that's okay, and you can trust us more because we're actually going to say to you ‘you don't need this product’, right? Don't sign up for something you don't need. Focus on these other things that you do need. Paying down your student debt, maybe refinancing it and then like you can make those decisions in the context of having had, call it a quiz call it you know, a personality quiz of like ‘what's your flavor benefit?’ but that really helps like sort of centralized people in the custom recommendations that makes sense for their life. And I think really importantly and I think the power of catch over time is that the products work together, right? Like a lot of times we think of these as like separate things, like there's health insurance over here, and there's taxes over here. But your annual income and what you end up paying on your sort of adjusted gross income after taxes can impact the credits that you get for health insurance. And so like those things like being in the same ecosystem. It's completely like logical and the fact that they're not right now is something that we've sort of been trained by banks and stuff like that who like separate all these things out and just separate product lines and they're completely, they don't speak to each other. They don't like act with any intelligence. When in reality like your, you know, your future retirement, your tax savings now, your health insurance tax credits, like all of those things like really should be very connected because I mean that's what a safety net is supposed to do.
AdRoll: Thanks to Good and Bed, TeePublic, Pegasus, Doughp, Volcanica Coffee, and Catch.Co for featuring in this episode. Links to all of the companies can be found in the show notes. If you want to read, hear, and see more go to Adroll.com /resources, we have everything you may need for your ambitious brand. You can follow us on social media. Just search for Adroll on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok.