Welcome to our inaugural episode of Bricks to Clicks, a podcast presented by Content Analytics and hosted by author, CEO, and entrepreneur, David Feinleib. Tune in and hear experts in the field of eCommerce talk about industry trends and insider tips to help brands start winning online. In this episode, David talks with experts in retail and eCommerce, Alli Meyer-Golden and Fred Rodriguez, about the most important steps that brands can take to start winning online.
Learn why imagery and content are so important to the brand experience, conversion and how great content leads to great reviews. Plus, get the inside scoop on how Content Analytics' partners are using our tools in unique ways to get ahead in the game of eCommerce.
"...manufacturers don't create bestsellers, customers do."
Announcer: This is Bricks to Clicks. A podcast presented by Content Analytics, and hosted by author, CEO, and entrepreneur, David Feinleib.
David: Hi. I'm Dave Feinleib, and welcome to another episode of Bricks to Clicks. We're here with Alli and Fred, from our customer success management team. And we're excited to talk about what will make you successful in e-commerce. Let's start off with a few intros.
Alli: Hi. My name is Alli Golden. I work at Content Analytics, and I come from a retail background and socializing e-commerce.
Fred: My name is Fred Rodriguez, and I also have a background in e-commerce, specifically like walmart.com. I've been with Content Analytics team for about a year, and I work on the client success team.
David: Great. Well, great to have you both on the show. We're really excited to be talking to you today. I know you work with many of our customers, both large and small. And we're hoping to share a lot of your knowledge today with both those customers, but also future customers of Content Analytics. So why don't we start off with some of the basics, talking about imagery and content. Alli, I know you've focused a lot of imagery, image resolution. Why are those so important and what categories do they really matter in?
Alli: That's a great question, Dave. And the reason that imagery is so important on specific categories is because detail is what makes customers convert to buy a product. And if you don't have the resolution where people can zoom and look at the detail on a product, they're not gonna buy it. There are specific categories like furniture and on sporting goods, and things like that that really have a lot of different viewpoints and sides and angles to take pictures of, and without those pictures, people aren't gonna know this is what the product is.
David: Great. Fred, in sort of like shopping online, you've got to replace the in-store experience. I've read that in a lot of articles and heard that from some of our customers. Further thoughts on that? I know you've worked in a lot of different areas with our...with our clients.
Fred: Yeah. So, great question. I think when we think in terms of how people are shopping now, we know that as we transition more to mobile devices and handheld devices, imagery is really important when you wanna be able to...be able to picture a product in a compelling way to the customer, right? You wanna be able to put your best foot forward, per se. And so you wanna give them the best possible views so that they can zoom, so they can get a 360 view, so they can interact. It's like interaction in a way, right? But with your phone. And so I think as we transition more and more to those customers, like that becomes more and more important.
David: So just an anecdote of like, you've gotta tell us some fun customer story. I mean, our other customers must just be dying to know what goes on with the customer calls all day. You've gotta have one or two good stories. But before you share that with our audience, let's just take a minute and talk about which items are the best converting online. We do a lot of work with clients that sell on the Walmart ecosystem, Amazon ecosystem, Target, [inaudible 00:03:39], big growth area for us. So what are some of the items that...that you think are best converting?
Alli: The items that definitely convert the best are the ones that customers rave about. So, you know, I know some are created on...you know, bestsellers [inaudible 00:03:55] customers love them. They write reviews and that's what other customers will respond to. So, you know, manufacturers don't create bestsellers, customers do.
Fred: Yeah. It's definitely...people are looking to understand what other people say about their product. The way that they've enjoyed it, the way that they haven't enjoyed it. And that is definitely driving customer decision more, and more, and more these days, as we're thinking about sites that are selling a billion items. To Alli's point, like manufacturers aren't creating bestsellers, they're just creating product. It's when the end user finds it and loves it that is really creating that sales momentum, and that type of love for a specific product.
David: And you've seen a lot of clients. What are some examples of items where you thought, "Okay, it may not be a bestseller, but we're gonna get it out there. We're gonna get great content for this item," and then you've maybe been surprised to see an item really take off [inaudible 00:05:02]?
Alli: Pillow Pet.
David: Pillow Pet? I love that.
Alli: Pillow Pet.
David: Well, tell us about it.
Alli: Pillow Pet. Like who knew? We saw, we were like, "This is the craziest idea." It's a pillow that [inaudible 00:05:09] together. It doesn't really form a pet, it just forms a folded pillow, but people love it, kids love it. The marketing was kind of [inaudible 00:05:16], but it worked...
David: It took off.
Alli: ...and it took off. I mean, they made a gazillion dollars on it.
Fred: Yeah. I mean, that's a good example of like amazing customer adoption, right? It literally has a strap that folds it in half, and people love it.
David: Love it. Yeah.
Alli: It doesn't do anything else.
David: And then when they love it, they write reviews, they share imagery.
Alli: They gift it.
David: They gift it.
Alli: They buy more than once. So when you sort of have a product that people can afford and they can also afford to give, then you're multiplying your sales, you know, for each person, you know.
David: Yeah, it's great. Well then, I didn't know about that one. Again, one of those in the door. That's a great example. So talking about kind of the metrics part of the business, what are some of the...the key things that suppliers should be thinking of? Lots of different metrics that we track here at Content Analytics, where should they really be focusing when they're selling these items online?
Fred: So I think in terms of the way to think about it is what details would you want when you're trying to buy something that isn't in your normal regimen? What are you looking for? You want images, you want proper content, you want to understand exactly what you're getting. You wanna know what people are saying about it, so reviews are important. Like the user-generated content becomes more, and more relevant as, you know, we're going down this path of online shopping, but there's probably a number of other things.
Alli: Accurate dimensions are huge. You know, people are buying furniture, and they're gonna put in their house. They need to know it's 48 inches.
David: It's got to be right.
Alli: If you put 50 inches then it doesn't fit. It's not gonna [inaudible 00:07:04.
David: [inaudible 00:07:04].
Alli: So then you have your reviews, you know, suffer. You know, product gets returned.
David: Got it. And what about on the metrics? I know we talk a lot about out of stocks, we look at pricing. Where do those kind of factor into the overall list of metrics that suppliers should be thinking about?
Alli: Yeah, out of stock is huge. People don't...they don't like to come in and try to buy something and be gone. When you drive to the store and you're curious and they're out of it, like it doesn't happen. So online is the exact same thing. So you have to manage your inventory and your pricing responsibly, so you keep in stock as long as possible until your new shipments come in. So managing those metrics and seeing...we know what pricing your products are selling at throughout, and managing that pricing, and so forth.
Fred: Yeah. I always like to point out to clients that we're dealing with e-commerce, right? Things will break, your items will fall off the site suddenly for no reason, right? If those are your top sellers, you're gonna have a problem. And so we definitely try to highlight the fact that we're able to bring that to the surface on a daily basis. And so I think that that's also really important is to understand the way that we're kind of cutting to the chase and saving the...saving the user the time to really go through a website what they would never have time to go through there and sorting, and find out...
David: What's missing. Yeah.
Fred: ...where you're missing.
David: That's great. I know just this morning we were on a call talking about MAP pricing, pricing overall, MAP policies. Tell us first what that is, and then, you know, how are you seeing different clients work with MAP pricing these days?
Alli: Yeah. So MAP pricing is challenging for many reasons, even for us. So MAP pricing is minimum...Minimum Advertised Price. And it's really a big topic around electronics. Things like that that have kind of margins that are tight, that, you know, manufacturers really don't want their products to be sold less than a certain price. So finding that, and tracking it, and enforcing it is almost impossible without technology. So you have to have a way to capture the actual screenshot of the item, and then be able to enforce and you've also gonna be wanting to walk away as a manufacturer from selling something to someone that won't respect your policy. So that's usually the biggest challenge, they don't wanna walk away from it, they don't wanna enforce it. But, you know, if you're gonna have one, you have to.
David: And how are clients dealing with that delay? They manually go with the prices or what's...
Alli: Yeah, they'll manually go in and it's painful. And then it's still not accurate because you can take a screenshot, read on the timestamp or anything like that to prove it, and it's very hard to legally enforce something like that. It's a legal contract they're signing, so you will have your legal document so if it did go to a court at some point, of course, you have it.
David: You have materials.
Alli: Yeah, you can just say you saw it.
David: Yeah, I saw it.
Fred: Yeah. I mean, suppliers are using those rules to put in guardrails around the way in which they're gonna ship or sell to you. So if you continue to violate those types of pricing policies, there are cases where they will just say, "We're not shipping you anymore."
David: Got it.
Fred: And so it is important, it's not always intentional, it's not always an intentional thing, right?
Alli: Violation. Yeah.
Fred: It could be...
Alli: It happens.
Fred: ...arbitrary but it is important to highlight and to really understand, especially because they will charge you back for those types of issues.
David: Got it. So here we use our tools to automatically detect the price violations. We load the MAP prices in. Talk a little about it hasn't worked for the client.
Alli: So the automatic load...Loading mark pricing, our tools will scrap the pricing every day, and then we'll match it against the...the pricing that we've loaded. So it makes it very seamless and easy to look at those...the great view that we offer and highlight just the violations. You can just easily send that off to, you know, your buyer or retailer, whoever you're working with. A lot of times, like Fred said, it's not intentional, so it's something they can easily fix and maybe any kind of, you know, bad blood. But, you know, if they're in violation several times, you know, that will be removed from their site.
David: [inaudible 00:11:26]. Yeah.
David: Yeah, great. So switching gears global, obviously, a lot of talk about global in the news these days. What should suppliers be thinking about in terms of their global strategy in e-commerce? And a lot of directions we could talk about. We've got Alibaba in China, we've got things going on in India. We've got both imports and exports going on. You know, what are kind of the headlines for suppliers these days?
Alli: Yeah. I see a lot of suppliers that are kind of coming from the brick and mortar side of things, and they're not looking at the global marketing strategy. They kind of are still trying to protect their brand, and so they're offering their brand to anyone that wants to buy it. And it's kind of the old way of thinking like, "You know, I'm too exclusive for you," but you really want always that your product be available. It's the customer's decision on whether they wanna buy something, not really the manufacturers. So do not have your item available on every website possible. It's kind of a mess for manufacturers.
David: So global for us could both mean all of the sites that are available but also, yes, global as in the worldwide capability. You know, why do suppliers say, "I'm not gonna sell over here, I'm gonna sell direct. I'm gonna sell on a couple of these sites, but I'm gonna exclude retailer X?" What is the thinking behind that?
Alli: Sad. Most of the time people are just kind of caught up in the politics and policies of the store or retailer, and they're assuming that they personally don't agree with. But when you look at it as a business strategy, it really doesn't make sense to put those beliefs into your merchandizing strategy. I mean, everyone's got their beliefs about, you know, different retailers, but, you know, there's billions of people that shop on these websites. So you're basically taking your product away from those customers, that like those websites.
David: Yeah. That's great. And have you seen suppliers change where they're selling and how they're selling, and what's usually the...you know, what gets them to change their minds on the go-to-market strategy?
Alli: Yeah, it's usually their competitions are seeing it, and they see their competition like double copying in sales, and they freak. They're like, "Oh my gosh."
David: Yeah. You just copy them.
Alli: It's always about money.
David: Yeah. Right, right.
Alli: [inaudible 00:13:38] every business but once they realize that, you know, their bottom line is more important than their, you know, personal whatever is going on and they really, you know, take that belief.
David: And we're also seeing quite some strong suppliers who think about selling direct to the consumer. Thoughts on that? Is that the right strategy for everyone? You know, we've got clients that sell through a lot of major retailers, but now are also thinking about, "You know, what is my direct-to-the-consumer strategy?" You know, what do we think about scaling?
Fred: Yeah. I mean, I think in some ways there is margin, right? The manufacturer takes all direct is gonna kind get that margin, but they have to do the work. And so traditionally, they're just selling it to...not have to be in that specific...it's like logistical business. But when you think about like traditional retail is definitely shifting. So when we think about our friends at BB, right? They're closing all these doors, they're laying all these people off because they're only focused on online. That's where the money is, it's really an expensive to do business. And so you'll definitely see those trends happening more where retailers will close doors and start selling direct.
Alli: Yeah. It also makes sense for, you know, larger items and things that are impossible or covers some of the stock. If you already have in one warehouse, why [inaudible 00:15:10] and ship out? It doesn't make sense. So, I mean, for those kind of businesses and sporting goods trying to do that kind of thing.
David: Yeah. One question I wanna touch on is we kind of throw around a short hand around here. One P, and three P and DSV and market flight. Can you guys just kind of take us through what all those terms mean, and how do different clients sell differently?
Fred: Sure. So when you think about our one P, that's like a first party. That would be like a traditional...the buyer buys it. They place an order and they stock it in a warehouse. A PPP is more a partnership for like a commission deal. And then a DSV is when you are...it's like a...
Alli: Like you're selling it for somebody else.
Fred: Like a consignment, almost. Like, think about it like a consignment. You don't buy it until you sell it, but you don't also touch it or ship it. So then the supplier will do that work for you.
Alli: It's the best way.
David: That's great. Great. All right. Super. So kind of to put a bomb on all of this. We've got brand integrity, we talked about that with clients like Levi's, brands are important, PepsiCo, EMG, Samsung, the list goes on and on. What are some of our clients doing to ensure that the shopper is getting a great brand experience, and why is that so important on these e-commerce sites?
Alli: Yeah. So the more they shift to e-commerce, where customers can't go in and like touch and feel the product, the brand experience online is so much more important. They can actually log on and have that same kind of feeling and sensation when they're looking at the product page, that they would get in the store. It's hard to do and, you know, it's very important because for someone to spend a premium price on a pair of jeans, or know what they're buying, that experience online has to be just like they're walking in a store and having that same feeling. So they've gotta know the quality, they've gotta know that the team is putting that, you know, work to make that product look amazing online. Show every view possible. You know, have a good return policy, you know, have all the things that you'd get if you walked in [inaudible 00:17:21].
Fred: Yeah. I think that [inaudible 00:17:25] your point, like the online space is trying to recreate that traditional store experience, right? And what are the components that give you that warm, fuzzy feeling, that give you the connection to that product, that really makes you think, "I can't live without this, and I'm taking it. I'm getting it. I'm buying this today."
David: Yeah. It's great. So if you had to leave our suppliers and potential suppliers with three pieces of advice, no pressure, what advice would you give them?
Alli: My first piece of advice would be to work with us, obviously. We're gonna manage your inventory and your product content like amazingly, and you're gonna, you know, have so much free time to go golf and do some other things. But I definitely think it's, you know, really, really focusing on those important details for your customer. I mean, in the long run, it's your customers that you're making happy not retailers. As a manufacturer, you wanna have pressure and customer. So this is why we're doing it. We're not doing it to, you know, Amazon or Walmart happy, you're doing it to make your customers happy.
Fred: I definitely hear more and more where suppliers or clients don't wanna be the expert, right? They are the expert in what they're doing. So let's use Mattel right? We're an inventory maker, that's what we do. What we can do, and the advice I would give to you is that don't try to be the expert in everything, and do what you're good at, and let us do the rest.
Alli: Do the rest
Fred: Right? We love to help people sell stuff online, and [inaudible 00:19:14]. And so that's what we're good at, that's what we love. And like, that makes us...
Fred: ...passionate. And so I will only say that like do what you love but there are things that are challenging that you have to just let someone else do it for you.
David: That's great. All right, I'm gonna let you off the hook with just two pieces of advice. We'll share the third piece of advice when clients call us, or on the next podcast.
David: Now, before I let you go, I've got in here one or two interesting customer success stories. Any that come to mind? I know Mattel has been a huge success with some of the work that they've done. Anything you can share there, or with other clients that, you know, perhaps has happened over the last couple of quarters?
Fred: Sure. So Mattel is great to work for. They're really great to partner with. These guys have had really great success in not only out-of-stock reporting but by box reporting, and being able to really leverage their partnership with the walmart.com team, specifically, right? So they're using our tools in a way that I never thought. So they're now partnering with the planning team on to look at traffic at the item level, so that these guys can understand when and where to pull levers in terms of like pulling back or pushing up orders, right? And so I think that there's been a lot of success and we definitely continue to partner in that way where we bounce ideas off of one another. And it's like such a great learning experience.
Alli: And their winnings beat the market all day long. They're running it.
Fred: Beat the market.
David: Great. I love it. Well, thanks, you guys. Any other words you wanna share with our audience before we wrap up for today?
Fred: No. I mean, I'd just like to thank you Dave for having us, and it's been great to chat. And we look forward to joining you again.
Alli: [inaudible 00:21:34].
David: All right. We'll have you on again. Love it. Thank you, guys.
Announcer: To find out more about Content Analytics, or to order a copy of David's book, "Bricks to Clicks," visit contentanalyticsinc.com/brickstoclicks.