BigCommerce on the compounding results of omnichannel marketing

Matt Dornfeld, Director of Business Development, Global Omnichannel Partnerships

What's in this episode?

This episode, we’re talking to Matt Dornfeld, Director of Business Development, Global Omnichannel Partnerships at BigCommerce.

These days, there’s a million places to connect with your customers, from social media to search, and everything in between. How can you create a consistent experience for your customers—from the first time they see an ad to when they return an item?

Matt explains how omnichannel marketing puts the customer at the center. In this strategy, all channels work together to deliver your customer a well-communicated and comprehensive experience. Matt spells out the steps for testing which channels work for your brand, and how to find a balance between them.

He also shares what metrics to track, his four pillars of omnichannel success, and the future of payments on platforms.

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn or Twitter. Check out BigCommerce.

Episode transcript

Matt: I'm Matt Dornfeld. I'm a director of business development at BigCommerce where I oversee a lot of our net new channel and tech partner relationships. So anyone from Walmart to the partners that enable Walmart to the advertising ad tech partners and fulfillment partners all in between.

Chase: Awesome. So today we are talking about omnichannel, broadly. First thing we're going to do, because I know that there's obviously definitions that kind of fly around. People are kind of confused between difference in omnichannel and multichannel so give us a definition of how you as a big commerce to define omnichannel.

Matt: Sure. So you're totally right. I think a lot of people, partners, customers, everyone defines it a little bit differently and in a lot of cases they're used interchangeably, right? So multichannel and how we think about it is really where a merchant is putting the product at the center of communication where it's... The brand is really just communicating messages outwards about the product without building some sort of connected ecosystem that helps enable the customer to experience the brand in the best possible way at all times. Omnichannel retailing is really where you put the customer at the center. So with the customer at the center, you can kind of build synergy between your channels, how you engage with the customer about the product, and making sure that you're delivering a really well-communicated brand experience, no matter how someone's engaging with you.

Chase: So in a way a company being multichannel is saying, here's our product, go find it where it is. Omnichannel is the flip side of that. It's saying, where are you, we'll come to you and deliver the product in the way you want.

Matt: Yeah, exactly. And I think a step further is if a brand is engaging with a customer one channel, it's really important to remember and demonstrate that you remember that experience on a different channel. And I think you'll see that when you visit one webpage or, maybe you see something on your phone and then you see an advertisement for it on another channel, maybe on your desktop, that a brand is really working hard to deliver a very communicated and structured experience to deliver the right product to you at the right time.

Chase: Awesome. So right on cue, there, there's a line that I pulled from an article on the BigCommerce website that I think explains it really well. It says, "omnichannel is providing shoppers what they want when they want." And I would actually argue also how they want as well. So I know you kind of have four pillars of omnichannel success. You want to talk a little bit about those?

Matt: Yeah, of course. So the four pillars of omni success are really built around four different constructs. So for merchants to really see success across multiple channels, we anticipate they would first select the right channel for their business, right? If you're selling car parts, eBay motors is probably a great place to be. Whereas selling on Amazon may be less fruitful for you. The next piece is operations. So are you managing your orders and your inventory, your product data in the best possible way. So that way you're taking advantage of every competitive edge that you can. The next would be advertising or marketing technology. So are you driving traffic in the most efficient way? And furthermore, are you spending the right money on the right skews that actually have inventory to be sold in the first place?

And then finally is fulfillment. So how are you delivering a promise to your customers that differentiates your brand from somebody else? So do you have a two-day delivery window? Can you keep that window? Is the reverse logistics of getting a return product back to your warehouse, wherever it is, easy? And I think you'll see, as a lot of brands try different strategies, the brands that succeed are the ones that have really frictionless experiences, regardless of where the customer is in the journey.

Chase: What kind of brands do this very well? What are some examples that you have?

Matt: I think, a few that come to mind would be like Spearmint, SpearmintLOVE sells baby clothing products. They've been an early adopter of things like Instagram checkout, which I think are really excellent channels to take advantage of. And one of the things about adopting these new technologies is that as channels change, the early adopters are typically rewarded. And if you can demonstrate that you understand what the channel cares about and you play into what that strategy is, you'll see the benefit in your revenue, right? And in your traffic and Spearmint is just an excellent example of someone who understands that you need to be represented in more than one place beyond just your website and doing so be it BigCommerce and Facebook and Instagram is a great partnership to really leverage it and bring that to life.

Chase: Gotcha. That's awesome. So one of the things that I've been thinking a lot about in kind of in tandem with omnichannel is it's not you either, your business either is or isn't omnichannel. There's obviously a sliding scale. The goal is to have as close to the omnichannel side as possible. But kind of going, looking back at 2020 now that we're obviously a year post this pandemic. It's was fairly easy for some businesses to kind of swap because everybody came online all at once. So the original thought of you have to be in a whole bunch of different places, kind of force people online there. Given the landscape, how do you suggest merchants kind of start to think about that now? So if it's kind of a new merchant who's just getting on board, just starting to think about how can I branch out in different places. What are the best ways they can start to do that?

Matt: Yeah. I mean, I think it's important to test and learn, right? And experience channels and see what fits for your brand and making sure you're adopting the right tech stack to actually do those things. So if I'm a new brand and I'm not taking advantage of free listings on Google or free listings on Bing, or XYZ channel offering free this, that's a missed opportunity. Brands should be looking at new channels as a means to drive incremental growth. So if turning on a channel that feeds into your big commerce storefront results in 10, 20, 30% more revenue with minimal lift, why not? So I think it's being willing to experiment and also to fail, right? I mean, not every channel is going to work and it takes investment. And I think some brands are better prepared for that than others. But I think what COVID taught everyone is that you have to diversify. You have to be in more places. And again, back to the whole omni thing, if you're connecting those experiences, the results will compound. And I think that's the best part.

Chase: So let's dig into that a bit more, where is the balance? And maybe this is a stupid question, but where's the balance between finding a channel that works and leaning into that? Because that's generally what most marketing teams will tell you. If you find something that works, you're investing two X and then you get four X out, why not dump as much as you can into that? So where's the balance between that and maybe over-investing and looking at different channels and experimenting with different platforms?

Matt: Yeah. I mean, I don't think it's ideal to exist on 5 or 10 channels and see a thousand dollars in sales from each of those channels. Whereas you could maybe focus your ad dollars on Facebook, Google, drive success, demonstrate the success, and then branch out to your next ads channel, for example. So I think it's important not to scale or adopt too many channels too quickly, but I do think there's a safe mix here. And Google and Facebook are obviously two massive ads players and you really can't ignore them at this point. But I think merchants that adopt and spend the right way and use the right tools can really make that work for them.

So there are so many different partners that can enable really best in class experiences on Google. A lot of platforms, and Big Commerce included, enable a lot of different toolsets that helped merchants scale on those new channels. So I think it's really important to lean into the platform too, like your platforms today it's not just about building a website. There are tons of services available and content available to make sure that merchants are just thinking about channel adoption in the right way at the right time. It goes back to just taking advantage of what's available.

Chase: So you spoke a bit about testing on different channels and we talked about kind of dipping your toe in a couple different places, seeing what's happening there. Do you have any guidance on necessarily like what channels may work or which ones to expand in later?

Matt: Sure. I mean, it depends on your goals for sure and also what category you're in. So back to the auto example, selling auto parts on Wayfair, not a fit, right? Selling auto parts on Overstock, may be not a fit. So again, selling auto parts on eBay motors fit, right? And I think back to the example of too many channels, you don't want to spray and pray, right? I think there are channels that have demonstrated success in certain categories. Wish, for example, merchants that sell refurb electronics do really well on that channel. So if that's, again from an auto parts manufacturer, maybe Wish isn't where I'll find my next thousand customers. But back to the test and learn thing, I think advertising channels are an interesting way to think about adoption and then cool strategies for using those channels to point to other merchant assets.

So are you using Google Ads to point to your website or some other property that you may own? I think the challenge with growth is that sometimes people get stagnant or comfortable. But BigCommerce anyway, we're really big advocates for considering cross-border strategies, taking advantage of different government organizations and trade groups that are also there to help merchants adopt that first country outside of the US and to start recognizing sales all over the world. So long-winded answer, but there's just so many things to consider, and fortunately a lot of resources to help merchants make the right decision.

Chase: No, it's awesome. Sometimes the long-winded answers end up being the best ones. Because you start to, we distill this whole conversation down to one simple topic, we call it omnichannel. But once you dig into this and you start to uncover the different topics, you realize that we're not just talking about Google and Facebook here, we're talking about different countries. We're talking about platforms, we're talking about where you can sell things. Heard the example that the Alexa homes are going to start to be selling products that you can use for audio commerce. And like, I have to say that quietly so the ones in my house don't ask me what I'm going to try to get at here. But like, it's this whole big encompassing thing. It's really difficult to really distill this down into a short conversation, but it really is get your brand to everywhere you can in front of as many people as you can. That makes sense.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, on the other hand, has there ever been a time to have this many opportunities for a new business? I mean, it's almost analysis paralysis. Like what's the right path? And I think that, again, like there's so many tools available. You do need support to kind of cut through the noise, I would imagine. And that's really where your platform, again, can come into play here. I can speak for BigCommerce but I'm sure this is industry wide, that there's no shortage of people on hand at these companies to help figure out the right strategy for getting from your first million to your next 9 or 10.

Chase: Right. I would also combat that by saying, [inaudible 00:11:35] had a great time, but people are stuck at home and they are experimenting. And I think if this year taught us anything, it's that you're allowed to do new things and try new things and be different. And so people are all over the place looking for products. It's just a matter of you making sure you're in the right spot.

Matt: Exactly, absolutely right.

Chase: Let's go back to metrics really quickly. I know you mentioned that a little bit. What kind of metrics should you be tracking? Are we still talking like the regular CPMs or are there different things you should be looking at for on the channel?

Matt: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot to consider. I think you'll want to know what's your order conversion rate. Like is your average order value growing? Is your LTV growing? Roaz is obviously really important in the ad space, but if we're talking about the fundamentals of just the website, you want to make sure that you're driving traffic to the right page. That N customers are moving to the checkout as easily as possible, and that you're growing your cart size over time as well. And I think that's obviously one of the, my favorite parts about Recharge obviously is that it helps do a lot of those things and helping a really effective checkout experience and making sure that your customers are, A, happy; but, B, buying more and different things from you over time.

Chase: So let's change gears here a little bit and talk generational differences. So this is something that has come up in a lot of content pieces that I've been reading about how while a lot of people are moving online right now, it's a lot of different generational people. The teens and the twenties have only been online. That's what they grew up with. So that's all I know. But the other side of that coin is your baby boomers, your older people who are so used to just walking into a store and buying something, and now they're being forced online. How are those experiences different? How is it something that kind of makes each of them unique and how can you target each of them?

Matt: Yeah. Yeah. It's funny hearing my, even just talking to my family, right? And hearing about how they're approaching buying things and their experiences on marketplaces. And my grandparents refuse to buy anything, groceries online. Whereas my parents are starting to consider other means of delivery like Instacart and others. So I think the Gen Z like really young ones, they're I think very entrepreneurial in the sense that they're not trying to speak to salespeople and they're really trying to engage and relate to brands. And I think there's booming activities around like recommerce and you use items that are finding new homes. So it's been really interesting to see that develop in the fairly young sphere, millennials, people like myself. I think there's a degree and I'm definitely, this is how I roll.

I'm doing my research online. I look at all the different products I want. And then I'm still that guy who gets in his car and drives to the store and buys it in person. I don't actually have a Prime account. I don't own a Netflix account. I'm actually very anti subscription, but, and I guess by design, but I am very focused on what drives those behaviors with merchants and customers. Whereas the boomer population and older, I'm finding that it's highly consultative. People need to be talked through it and I think that's probably due to how they were raised and how they grew up. But I think ultimately what COVID did is accelerated the adoption of online services by all of those groups. So even though they're all using the system differently, they're still all using it and that will only continue to evolve over the next couple of years.

Chase: I think you're spot on. And I think for the record, whatever it's worth, we officially found someone who does not have an Amazon Prime or Netflix account.

Matt: Right. He's right here.

Chase: Mark that one down in the "No, I don't have that" column.

Matt: I'm expecting the outbound sales requests pretty soon. So yeah.

Chase: They're already on their way. They're already coming. Cool. That's really well said. And again, I think it's really interesting to see how people blend the generational differences. I'm pretty similar to you where I like to do my research online. I like to find things that I want, but too often in times, like I want to go get that thing right now and I'll hop in the car and I'll go grab it. Although I do have an Amazon account. So...

Matt: You're one step beyond where I'm at. I'm working my way. I'll get there eventually.

Chase: One step past there. So depending on target market, we talked about experimenting with different mediums. TikTok is one of the ones that's going absolutely crazy right now, even things like Pinterest kind of crazy, but now we're circling back and talking about reinvesting brick and mortar, as we look to kind of reopen the economy. Are there things that you think are smarter in certain places to be investing in or is it kind of just, again, dip your toe everywhere and see what works?

Matt: Yeah, I mean, I think there's something to be said for experimenting, especially in the advertising space, but if you're not already investing in Facebook, Google, you need to start there. I think that's like if you're going to have a healthy, balanced breakfast, Facebook and Google should be your eggs and bacon, and then everything else is what you add to it. TikTok, Pinterest, Snap, like these are all excellent platforms that will work very aggressively to figure out how to get more share of wallet. The same goes with Bing and Microsoft Advertising. I think a lot of these platforms are going to flourish as brands discover new ways to engage with new audiences. It's only natural. So yeah, we're seeing those developments now. I think if you look east there's, these developments have been happening for a while, right?

I mean, TikTok's parent company ByteDance has already invested in payments infrastructure in China. And I don't know if you're familiar with live selling. Does it, are you familiar with this? Yeah, so it's huge in the far east and is making its way across India and of course in the US as well. And I'm certainly seeing that on the business development side in the partnership space of new market entrance, trying to figure out new ways to engage with merchants and then communicate that experience really cleanly to the end customer.

Chase: You haven't just looked at a really easy example when Instagram was launched, it was simply a platform to share pictures and all of a sudden there's advertising on it. You can buy directly from a story. You never have to leave the platform. They built in payment processors. It grows very, very quickly. And at a point, I don't know where the point is, whether it's early or late in the journey, but there will be a point where it's almost too late as a business to go, "Okay, let's go experiment with this thing," because you've been so far behind the line already.

Matt: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think it's always good to start somewhere and there will always be new businesses trying to figure out new things, but I think it's, again, it's a great time to be a brand and trying to figure this out and trying to find new creative ways to engage with your audiences. To that end though, I think thinking about the omni story, the end goal would be to transact anywhere and everywhere at all times, right? And we have that overseas with things like WeChat enabling payments and dating and shopping and all the things that you'd want in one super app that won't exist in the same way in the US for regulatory reasons. But I do think we're going to see pieces of that begin to emerge in whatever forms those take on.

But one of the things I like to follow in the news is the intersecting of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and, A, what that means from a legal perspective in how we approach business. But also just how interesting it is to be able to communicate as a brand to audiences that you may not have even fathomed the opportunity to communicate would have existed. So yeah, I'm very bullish on the next several years for commerce in the US and North America. And yeah, I really look forward to seeing how it plays out.

Chase: I very much agree with you. If there are silver linings that come from COVID it's that this has just pushed everything into the future, not a ton, but maybe five, seven years. Payment processors have advanced, there's a lot of easy ways to do a lot of different things. It's exciting. There's a lot of change, but there's a lot of opportunity as well.

Matt: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I think as you see companies like Shopify push more into payments. Stripe obviously just raised $600 million in the last few days. Square having invested in inventory order management capabilities. There's just so much happening, so much movement. And I think we'll see it play out over the next few years, but the industry is definitely going through, it's having a moment right now. And I think that's really exciting for people like us that are kind of on the ground and working with partners that are really directly helping these merchants make those decisions.

Chase: Spot on. Yep. A hundred percent spot on. One of the thing, kind of went off on a tangent, but I want to get back to some generational stuff. What are some of the things you're seeing that different generations value? So like discounts is obviously a big thing. A lot of people seem to be, they're trying to get away from massive offering discounts all the time. Peer reviews are a big deal, convenience, free shipping, things like that. What are, how does some of those things play into an omnichannel strategy?

Matt: Yeah, I mean, I think shipping is a great one. I'm a huge fan of turning fulfillment into profit center, right? And I think there are partners that do it really well, I think delivers an excellent example of that and that they can push a fast tag to various marketplaces, similar to how Amazon has the Prime badge. So I think having a really effective fulfillment strategy that also dovetails into your ad strategies that way you're spending very effectively is really important. But as far as other trends, I think free trials are something that I think a younger audience is certainly taking advantage of. Memberships, subscriptions, like those are all very real things and Recharge is in the right space to support that. But I think for me, like those are the ones that really stick out other than the curbside pickup, opus, kind of functionality that has existed for many years, but really got fast-tracked I think, to the mainstream brand segment over the last several months as well.

Chase: Definitely. The buy online/pickup in store is something that we're seeing a lot more of pop up. So super interesting to keep an eye on. So let's tie it all together here. What is kind of the overall sentiment of omnichannel other than just be everywhere, do everything, get everything in front of your customers as much as you can?

Matt: I mean, yes, to all that. Sure. But I think it's spending in the right places at the right time, I mean, or better not spending, investing in the right places at the right time, working with your vendors as consultants to help drive your business forward is really critical. I think one thing I would advise is that if being a brand is really important and being a brand that understands that it connects with different people or the same people in various places is critical to success. I mean, I think the brands that are most memorable, again, are the ones that deliver a really connected, seamless experience from the moment a customer engages with the brand for the first time to the time that they're returning a product because they don't decide they didn't like it, right?

So I think there's a lot that needs to be done to spend the time, invest the right resources, just being a good person, a good business onto these customers. Done right, it's memorable. And people remember things that are memorable, right? If you had a good experience like that, that triggers a response. And I think people will hold onto that and that ultimately drives your LTV and your success over time as well.

Chase: The only thing I'll add to that is, and I'll let you comment on this in a sec, but only thing I'll add is there really aren't any failures here. The only failure is not experimenting and not trying to do these things. So you dip your toe somewhere, you try a different platform, you try different products, shipping platform, whatever it ends up being, and it doesn't work. You just treat that as a lesson. That one didn't work. We may have gotten a couple of customers here and there, but pivot that around. It's just fine tuning a strategy. You'll never go into this and say, "Okay, check. Omnichannel's done." It's a process. It's always a sliding scale.

Matt: Absolutely. And I think that, again, the brands that can kind of embody that and live by it are going to survive, right? I mean, brands do fail, do go out of business. But I think those are the ones that decided to stop innovating. And to your point, I think there's no shortage of things to try out. And there's no shortage of people that can help provide answers. And I think that's one thing I've tried to really focus on internally at BigCommerce. I've been coming here about a year ago, but even now one of our most recent hires on the team is dedicated to a new practice called omni consulting. And I love it. I mean, it's like this person's only job is to get on the phone and talk to merchants about their tech stack.

Chase: That's amazing.

Matt: It's free. Like there's no strings, right? It's just, we're here to help you grow. That's how we win. That's how you win. The end. And I would advocate, really encourage brands to look for those resources and lean into them.

Chase: Awesome. That's really cool. I didn't know that position existed. That's a really cool one. I hope you start to see that across a lot of different platforms.

Matt: I'm sure we will.

Chase: Very cool. So a couple of rapid fire questions here in closing. What advice would you give to a subscription brand who's just launching?

Matt: You've got to find that product market fit. So I think brands that go into business, having an audience, or knowing that there's a willing audience that's looking for this product, will ultimately survive since you're solving a problem. And usually those brands are born out of passion and things that the founders are also facing challenges with themselves. So yeah, I'd say a big thing for me would be making sure that you just have a product that's solving a problem in the market. Beyond that it's like the feedback is so critical. And I think there are some brands that have done this really well by leveraging Facebook community groups and driving their customers to engage with them in the group where the conversations can be monitored. Customers can be open with their feedback like, "This sucked. This didn't," and then you know where to fix or double down on to bring those changes to light. That's awesome.

Like how much closer can you really get to the customer than on Facebook personal profiles and having a real genuine conversation? So I think that's huge. And I think there are more technical things in the payments space where if you're investing in things like tokenization and making sure that you're just preventing any leaky buckets and preventing against fraud and taking the right steps to make sure you have a healthy business are critical. But ultimately beyond that, to the earlier point you had made around the four pillar strategy, really focusing on checking off the boxes, so to speak. And to make sure you're thinking about your tech stack. You're thinking about your channel strategy. You're thinking about your traffic. It's a lot to juggle, but done right you're really building a recipe for success.

Chase: Very well said. I love the point about Facebook groups. I think you're spot on there. You can't really get closer and more honest feedback than in a group where it's a bunch of your customers all sitting together. It's a great point.

Matt: Exactly.

Chase: Flip the script. So just talked about brands who are just launching subscription. What about brands who are trying to take it to the next level to pass that 10,000, hundred thousand subscriber mark?

Matt: Yeah. So, I mean, it's interesting, right? Because you can't perfectly set up a subscription model on a marketplace, right? There's no path to saying, "Hey, buy this coffee bag every 14 days on my Walmart marketplace." That's definitely a platform play with your website, but I think it's back to the test and learn. Like you can use channels, other channels as liquidation channels. You can try different methods around drop-shipping and trying out new products, may even be your new website to see do people even care about this. And then you can tell me actually, within Recharge, can you change skews or add skews that subscription over time?

Chase: Yeah.

Matt: Yep. So I think that's a great way to introduce new products or similar products that may be beneficial to the customer that maybe they didn't think about.

So there's a lot you can do with testing and making sure that this product is right for this channel and this audience. Beyond that, optimize your operations. So if shipping and customer service aren't profit centers yet, you should consider it. I mean, I think part of it is choosing the right tech partner. So like in the customer service space, if you're working with a gorgeous or some other really great platform that helps manage your customer interactions. Or from a fulfillment strategy perspective, maybe you are offering free shipping over a certain dollar value to drive your AOV up, right? I think there's a number of things you can do to just hammer home the value point with your customers. And finally, it's kind of similar to the second point is just choosing the right partners, right? Invest in your vendors. It's not so much like a cold sale practice. I remember before I got into sales, I always thought about sales is like the used car salesman approach. And you had this tacky suit and there's this and there's that.

Chase: Just the people shoving things down your throat saying buy, buy, buy.

Matt: Yeah. And I'm not going to say the commerce space is void of that.

Chase: Of course.

Matt: But I will say that in my not so long career, I've certainly come across a lot of genuine people in the commerce space that are really focused on helping businesses make great strategic decisions. And that's valuable, like I love that about the space. I think that's one of the reasons that I'm so in love with everything I work on. Is that people genuinely care about helping other people. And I haven't seen that in other industries that they've happened to be a part of as well.

Chase: You're spot on, and that's from a sales perspective. My side of the marketing perspective is exactly the same. Like if you're writing content, if you're producing anything, if you're putting things out into the world... Being genuine, like people can see through the BS at this point. It's not the seventies and eighties where you can put anything out there and it just works. You have to be really thoughtful with what you say, but you have to be genuine.

Matt: Totally, totally. It comes through. Yeah. It's very, very obvious. And I think it's, again, back to the investment thing, right? You take the time to be real and people will respond to that by buying your product, right> what better way to say, "Thank you and I get it and I hear you," than "Here's my $50"?

Chase: Exactly. Yeah.

Matt: Perfect example.

Chase: Last question for you and I'm really interested to hear this now with no Amazon and no Netflix account, but what physical products do you subscribe to?

Matt: So I'm pretty familiar with Menlo Club in the fashion space. They have great fashion box and selection. I know the COO at Bowie [inaudible 00:31:04]. And so it's like bathroom products, scrubbers, materials, things like that. Death Wish Coffee Company. So when I feel like I need to drink gasoline, I drink Death Wish and...

Chase: It'll keep you a caffeinated for eight days in a row?

Matt: At least. Yeah. Easy. I think it's actually one of the, one of the only, or the only brand of coffee that's actually been like exported to the moon. I'm pretty sure. So it's... Yeah. Excellent products. I've actually been to their facilities out in Upstate New York. So really cool, cool operation out there. And I don't have a dog, but I've asked a few people in the company and BarkBox has come up quite a bit. So you got a box for your dog, right? What better product for them that had been a recurring subscription that gives them all their toys and treats?

Chase: Keep your dogs entertained while you're at home as much as you.

Matt: Exactly. No brainer.

Chase: Matt, thank you so much for coming on.

Matt: Of course. This has been a pleasure. Yeah. Happy to do it again.

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