The BIG, commerce Podcast

What the Calashock Partner ecosystem looks like, with Ivan Stefanovski

September 12, 2023 Calashock Commerce
The BIG, commerce Podcast
What the Calashock Partner ecosystem looks like, with Ivan Stefanovski
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ready to dive into the complex ecommerce partner landscape? 

Join us as Ivan Stefanovski, Director of Client Success and Partnerships at Calashock, offers an exciting deep dive into the world of e-commerce partnerships. His insights, stemming from his vast experience on both the tech and agency side of the e-commerce ecosystem, shed light on how these partnerships have evolved, particularly in the face of the e-commerce growth surge following the COVID pandemic. 

No stone is left unturned as we navigate the journey of finding the right partners for merchants. The conversation places equal relevance on budget and functionalities while stressing the significance of thoroughly vetting potential partners before jumping into a partnership. Ivan also explains how Calashock serves as a bridge, connecting merchants with the ideal partners and providing them with a plethora of options to choose from. 

As for merchants, get ready to amplify your efficiency!

Ivan shares some invaluable advice on how to identify the value in technology partners and the ways in which merchants can maximize the benefits of tech platforms for greater autonomy in their operations.

With an intimate understanding of the importance of good data in tracking success and the usefulness of tech stack worksheets, Ivan offers a comprehensive guide for merchants looking to upgrade their operations. So, gear up for a thought-provoking conversation that will leave you with a wealth of knowledge to navigate the complex ecommerce landscape!

Speaker 1:

Hi, welcome to the Big Commerce podcast. Hello and welcome to a brand new episode of the Big Commerce podcast. I'm your host, luigi, and in today's episode I'm very excited to introduce you to Ivan Stefanovsky. Ivan's the director of client success and partnerships at Calisoc, based out of Toronto office in Canada, and in today's episode we talk about the current partner landscape within the e-commerce ecosystem. Now we go about choosing which tech partners to recommend to our merchants. What are the must have or must evaluate tech partners that all our merchants are introduced to, and what are the benefits of working with a tech agency partner as opposed to either self-serve or working with just a standard systems integrator. I hope you enjoy the show. Hi, ivan, welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 2:

Hey, Luigi, Pleasure to be on here finally.

Speaker 1:

So I'm just going to introduce you because obviously you're the first time you're joining us. So Ivan's, one of my colleagues Looks after North America, or you look after North America principally, but also you are responsible for partnerships at Calisoc and we've been working together for many years. We met when you were at one of our other partners, rewind, and I think one of the things that I've been really excited about with your involvement in the podcast is bringing that experience from a tech side to the kind of agency and also merchant side. So you're in a really good position because you've kind of done both. You've been on the agency side, where you are now, and obviously you've been to the tech side as well. So why don't you just kind of a quick introduction to our listeners about?

Speaker 2:

you and your experience? Absolutely, yeah. So hey everyone. Again, ivan, I've been in the SaaS and tech space for over a decade now, started out, really, with being I always say a one platform man, so essentially I kind of stuck to one platform, was an expert at it, then moved into the e-commerce space with, as Luigi said, rewind they do awesome backups for your e-commerce stores but essentially I became an expert in that platform as well. Through that I met Luigi and essentially ended up at Calisoc.

Speaker 2:

I'm the director of client success and partnership. So that encompasses a few things. It essentially includes sales, absolutely Partnerships, and I'd say both for North America and Europe. Sales as well. I help out in Europe when needed and generally I'm involved in the process. And then, in terms of customer success, I'm trying to follow that clients are happy in the long run. I also deal with customer support in terms of escalations. So multi-faceted role, but it's really been interesting moving from one platform and being expert in that, moving to an agency and having over 75 partners and not necessarily being an expert in all the platforms, but knowing enough to be dangerous, let's say so kind of a jack of all trades.

Speaker 1:

I think one of the great things is where you say, fine, jack of all trades, but actually your expertise lies in that partnerships I think that term can be banded around quite easily and loosely, but actually to kind of be a good partnerships manager and to really nurture the relationships and see when there's a good fit between a partner and an agency, and then a partner and a client, is not so easy. And so really I thought to kind of work with Veroni to ease you in, I guess, to the podcast, because you'll be joining us on future ones Now that we talk about partnerships today. Yeah, so, like you said, we've got a vast ecosystem of partnerships that we've built over the years. That you've certainly accelerated in the last 12, 18 months.

Speaker 1:

So I guess two of the questions the first one is kind of how have you seen the partner landscape within e-commerce evolve over time? And obviously we've had COVID, which has accelerated the e-commerce growth and conversely, has meant that e-commerce has become a bit more of a prime spot for partners and entrants to come in. But I think also from my personal experience, I'm seeing kind of partnerships growing, whereas before it was, you know, maybe you had a tech platform and maybe some SIs. Now you've got those. You still got those SIs, but you've also got those partners that invest in the relationship, invest in the training, invest in the marketing and so on. So how would you, from your perspective, have a minute on both sides, describe how the landscape has evolved over time and what's it like today?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, Great question. I'll just kind of prelude that with some more information. In terms of my past, I was doing partnerships at Clipfolio, which was a dashboarding platform, connects through APIs to a lot of different data sources and essentially allows you to create dashboards that you can track in essentially real time. But essentially partnerships in that space were really working with clients who had their own clients, so that would be marketing agencies and other types of agencies that were creating, let's say, dashboards for their clients. So it was kind of it wasn't as much of a two-way street as here.

Speaker 2:

I really see the e-commerce basis really being two-way because essentially, you know, you've seen the e-commerce industry in terms of partnerships really grow in the last few years. So that means it's, you know, for me really impressive, first of all, really vast. There's hundreds, maybe thousands of potential partners out there. It's always of always always improving, just kind of adds choice. And where I kind of mentioned that two-way street is we kind of do support each other. You know, here it isn't really only about helping, let's say, a tech partners clients for an agency. For us, it's really about helping tech partners clients. If they send us leads, they're also sending leads to our tech partners and essentially speaking to them about our clients' needs and if they can help with those, you know, facilitating demos and so on. So it's really a two-way supportive street I find in e-commerce and it's just more evolving and more vast as time goes on.

Speaker 1:

For my I mean, we've also been involved in project rescues whereby and obviously more so in the e-commerce space than maybe in any of our other platforms but let's not say that that's the exception whereby you know, somebody has worked with an agency or a freelancer who was maybe and I know that's what it means to hold tech partners back in their由 that you would reach out to the has had the belief that they're able to execute on a particular deliverable using a platform and then find that actually, they weren't able to get over the line.

Speaker 1:

And we obviously come in with with our expertise, with our relationships with the tech support team as well, which is a really I think that's a really important piece as well because, like I said, it is two-way. It isn't just saying about you know kind of we can, we can get this implementation over the line or we can, you know, get this integration set up, but it's also making sure that we've got the relationships with the people and we're speaking the same language, about saying that this is what we've done so far, this is what we need to achieve, and maybe this is that little piece that we need some help with.

Speaker 2:

So exactly.

Speaker 1:

Fine. Partnerships could be kind of, you know, described also as kind of relationships, but it is. You know, I've always believed anyway, partnerships are two-way, they are not one way. So I completely agree with you that it's a two-way street. But why do we have those partnerships and why do we have those relationships and why do we invest time, sometimes money, in those relationships through things like training and certification? Because ultimately, we want to make sure that the end user is on a website of our merchant who was invested in that particular product and is seeing some positive ROI. So we're seeing some growth, some high conversions, whatever those things are. So, yeah, so 100%, kind of, would agree with you that that two-way street is really important.

Speaker 1:

I think that's really evolved over the last few years and, as you say, with so many more platforms coming into the market, not only do we have to be selective about who we work with, but also, I think the tech partners need to make sure that they are maintaining an element of support to their agency partners to say, look, you know, we want to make sure that our product is being used in the right way, is being implemented in the right way, that our customers are getting the ROI that we expect them to get, and in order to do that, we need to make sure that you know the product well enough to be able to undertake the work.

Speaker 1:

And we saw this with an implementation in Ireland where one of our partners had been implemented on the previous e-commerce website basically wasn't being used, so it was a search and merchandising platform. Actually, no, sorry, at the time it was just a merchandising platform and it wasn't being used because it hadn't been implemented correctly. And that's just a prime example of them having spent money on an implementation that wasn't done correctly, spent money with the platform that wasn't being used, and then, when it came up to kind of re-platform in the Montabie commerce in Seneca where you're using, you know, partner X, is that no, we're going to get rid of that because it's never worked. And so what's the problem there? Is it because the product has never worked or it wasn't implemented correctly in the first place? And so that's a really important thing to kind of also when we choose partners, and obviously for the partners is making sure that that knowledge is trickling down to the people that matter, that need to use it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I totally agree there. And you know, adding merchants to the mix, I think it's a three-way street. You know they're not necessarily involved with the partnership landscape but you know they absolutely have an effect on it and they're really who we're looking out for. So you know I've come from a customer facing background. You know all of my time in SaaS, so the customer always comes first. I remember one of my old bosses at Clefoglio had a picture of, you know, a bunch of customers on the wall and you know it's kind of saying these are number one. You know this is what we do our work for and I fully agree with that. So in that sense, you have to make the right decision for the client and I think they, the merchants, have to be selective in that process as well Because, again, there's so many solutions out there, so many options.

Speaker 2:

You know maybe there's a cheaper option, maybe there's an option for the same price that has more features, maybe they're. So you know it's really good to shop around to really see who you're working with. Of course, an agency really helps with that process. Because we have that relationship with the tech partners, we can facilitate a quicker demo. Sometimes, if there's a support ticket, we can speed that up. Speak to someone else. So those relationships are important there. But you know things are becoming more competitive. There's more players in the space, it's harder to choose the right solution, but there's also more right solutions out there. So vetting is absolutely important.

Speaker 1:

And I think I kind of I've seen from the way that you deal with clients as well, that not every partner is the right partner for that merchant. So kind of just touching what you said there. You know, if there's three companies that do broadly the same thing, not all three of them are going to be a good fit for that customer. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2:

And you know things come in there in terms of budgets. You know, is a platform maybe too small or too big? You know, if it has too many features that they don't need right now, maybe it's too expensive for what they need or out of their budget. So things like that will matter as well. As you know, the relationship side matters. You know kind of how, can, how am I working with the team? How does the team respond to me? You know, do I get what I need? You know, is this a good future partner and future? You know company to be working with.

Speaker 1:

That's such an important part thing you just said, because last year we worked on a project with a partner and fundamentally the platform was too in, too advanced for the customer needs and actually to scale it back was would have been too much work, if that makes sense. So it was kind of almost too good just because it didn't need to go into that granular detail for the function that it was that it was intended for. So when you speak to to merchants and when you're evaluating which partners to recommend, what are the key factors that you would use to decide on right? I'm going to put partner A, b and D in front of my merchant, my customer.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, great question. And you know, kind of. I think that the root of that question is that we do give them options. So for us it is important to give clients and merchants that option of choosing the right partner for them and for their current needs, versus, let's say, having exclusive partnerships and pigeon holding them down. You know, one specific partner for all needs. You know they're not going to fit all budgets, they're not going to fit all functionalities, so it's good for us to have those options. Again, I think it's what's the right thing to do for the client and they come first. So all solutions should be based off that.

Speaker 2:

But really, aside from that, you know, if you're working with, you know a bunch of partners and have created good relationships with them and their experts in the space, kind of like, our solutions are a lot of the times a merchant will mention hey, you know I was thinking of X and Y and Z and they'll oftentimes be partners of ours. If they're not, I'm happy to reach out, form a relationship. Make sure that you know we're working together for that merchant. But really, you know we'll give them the option. So we'll have a few partners in each space and generally we'll let them know of each partner.

Speaker 2:

Again, we don't pigeon, hold them anywhere. So, you know, at that point it's for them to decide hey, I like this one, you know, I want to have a demo with this one, maybe not this one, and we kind of leave it up to them. And I think that choice, just in general, working with a merchant, you know, being an agency is important because we cater to their needs. You know, we don't kind of say, hey, do this absolutely in terms of expertise and saying this is our suggestion, this is our advice, because of X, y and Z, but in a sense of making the decisions for them, I think the relationship is much better with we leave it up to them.

Speaker 1:

And also the reason why kind of you do what you do is it's all about ROI. Like I did this when I'm speaking to merchants or pitching, is that one of the great things about what we do is that you can't you very rarely get a second chance because it's all about ROI. It is saying Look, if you spend 30, 40, 50,000 pounds with us on Avery platform, there's a reason why and you're going to get that ROI. So you know. You're not going to say, well, look, you know it didn't work, so we'll just you know, we'll just go to next agency in the next platform. Like, you need to make sure that the agency and the tech partners that you've selected will give you that ROI that you need. So it costs you X and it's going to bring you in X times two or X 1.5, whatever your KPIs are. So I think that's really good because it means that you have to A, obviously work very hard to make sure that you meet those metrics.

Speaker 1:

But B is very difficult to kind of pull the wool over somebody's eyes when you're talking data, when you're talking numbers, when you're talking you know. This is why you should be looking at the search and merge platform. This is why you should be looking at this backup platform data backup. There's so many ways that you can. I lost my train of thought there. There's so many ways that you can sell the benefits to merchants, but fundamentally what they're interested in is okay. How much extra revenue or profit is depending on what you measure predominantly is this going to bring in?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean the questions come up there Will the tool help them sell more? Because not all tools are exactly for that purpose. There's tools that will save them money or cut down costs versus making them more money. So these things have to definitely be considered. And I always say I'm biased, I come from a data background.

Speaker 2:

I spent five and a half years at Cropfolio and they were a data platform, essentially, and then very data centered. But essentially it all starts at the root of starting to track your data. You have to start tracking data, even if it's bad. A lot of merchants won't start tracking because the data's not where they want it yet and they don't want that on paper or whatever the reasons might be. But essentially, once you start tracking, you see where you're at and from there you can make improvements. You can A, b test different efforts and see what effect they had on those bottom line you know, on that bottom line, on the KPIs and then from there decide, hey, we need to stop this because it was negative to our bottom line and we need to do more of this because it was positive.

Speaker 1:

On that data piece. You obviously work with some partners as well that do manage data, but I think and we spoke about this briefly when we were on a webinar about how you can be inundated and overloaded with data or different data points so I think it's really important that kind of merchants pick the key data points that they're looking at and then make sure that the partners that they're working with that text that they've put together or we've put together with them, kind of helps to, like you say, drive those numbers up or down, depending what direction you want them to go into. And one of the tools that we use internally me when I do the discoveries, discovery workshops and you when you do your clients success calls is basically the tech stack worksheet. So what we do in there is. So it's a very simple Excel spreadsheet with five columns. The first column is kind of the area. So what type of kind of? What's the department I guess that that tech platform comes into? Is it front end, is it search, is it data, is analytics, is it email marketing? Whatever that department is? Then the second column is listing out that tech partner by the name. So ShipwrexQ, cleavu, omnisend, gorgeous, whatever it is. And then the third one has three options Do we keep it, do we discuss it or do we remove it? And then the fourth one is for new partners. We're adding it, so it's a new one. So what we do is we take a review of their existing tech landscape. So these are the partners that they've. These are tech companies, because not all of them are partners. I guess these are the tech platforms that we got integrated into our website.

Speaker 1:

And then we also have the monthly cost, which then calculates to like an annual cost. So in the first, on one of the kind of on the spreadsheet, there's then three further columns there's the existing cost, there's the additional cost and then there's the final cost. So in the existing cost, it lists at how much you're spending today with those tech partners. The second column, which is the additional cost, is for any new tech partners or tech platforms. Rather, what's the additional cost? So you know, if we're bringing in gorgeous, you know $300 a month, whatever it is, so of course, a year, $3600. And then the final one is based on the ones that we've removed and add what is the new final cost. So you basically have those column one and column three, which is existing cost and it could be, you know, with big commerce and all the other platforms. Let's say, $80,000 a year and the new cost could be $60,000 a year, it could be $110,000 a year.

Speaker 1:

And that's where the ROI element comes in, as you've said before, because it's saying, right, what you know, if we're spending more money, how much more, you know what's the extra revenue that we need to get in order to deem this a success. Or if we're saving revenue, great, it means that ROI is going to be even higher because even if we don't sell any more, we're actually saving some money. So that's a really good tool that we use because it gives you a snapshot of all of the tech platforms, their monthly and annual cost and actually weather, because I've had it before where it's like, well, we've had that platform for three years and you know, we've I've even got merchants. We've got merchants that have platforms installed and are not being used, I guess, like the one that I said in Ireland because either they've not canceled the subscription or it's just it's not working and they've kind of forgotten about it. So it's a really good opportunity when reviewing kind of the tech platforms to, you know, to kind of say, right, these are the ones that we're going to get rid of and these are the ones that potentially we're going to be bringing.

Speaker 1:

We saved one of our merchants in Canada I think it was in the region.

Speaker 1:

Well, in the end it was only about $10,000, maybe slightly less, but we were able to get a lot more tech partners in and platforms in, because actually we got rid of about two or three platforms that were excessively expensive for what they were doing.

Speaker 1:

So one of them was a live chat system that I think cost about $250 a month and we replaced that with gorgeous, which was slightly more expensive, but it also offered them the knowledge base, also offered them the email and the social media channel management for communication and customer support. So it's a really good opportunity to kind of revisit everything. And so I find it really interesting when I'm speaking to people, because it just gives an opportunity to kind of evaluate everything. So that's kind of and we cover everything. I mean I'm trying to think kind of from our, from the tech partners that we work with, we've covered everything from what analytics, email, marketing, marketing in general, so like just do no system, jamification, search and merge. Front end obviously, e-commerce being big commerce, customer service, front end like or like front end management, like show gone page builder, for example.

Speaker 2:

I don't know, you tell me, because obviously you've got the relationship with a lot more of them. Yeah, absolutely, I can definitely pitch in there. It goes to things like accessibility solutions, payment solutions, product information management, tax solutions, specific payment solutions for B2B, checkout CMSs or content management systems, cros.

Speaker 1:

Feed management as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Exactly, absolutely. The connections and integrations between platforms are huge and being able to get that routed Again, I'm biased because I have that background, I clip folio but that getting that data flowing and having one source of truth and so on is absolutely essential. Again, not all solutions, not all partner solutions, are for all merchants well, depending on their size. Sometimes they're not there yet, sometimes they're too big for some solutions. But it really really is worth doing a tech partnership landscape discussion with an agency like ourselves doesn't have to be us, but we do provide that consulting and that strategic approach as well and then kind of taking a look at the whole landscape and just going through each vertical, as you said, what are you doing for payment solutions? What are you doing for email marketing? What are you doing for backups for your store? That kind of ties in with the conversation previously of is this either saving me money or costing me money?

Speaker 2:

With a solution like Rewind, again, I'm Bias because I used to work there. But essentially with a solution like that, it's not necessarily your favorite cost, let's say, because it's not getting used. Let's say, if your store doesn't go down, you don't need to back it up and restore it from a backup. But if you do and if products get deleted, if your store goes down, you don't want any app before that one. So it sometimes takes thinking outside the box to really consider these costs. But we've had merchants when I was at Rewind they lost over $100,000 in sales over a day or two days when their store went down for extra amount of reasons and essentially having Rewind at that time probably would have paid itself off for the lifetime of that company.

Speaker 1:

And just touching on that, the other thing that I would say I struggle with, but sometimes I need to make evidence to merchants, is that okay? So just talking about Rewind, because I know that also they are a close partner of ours, so the and they're actually quite unique anyway.

Speaker 1:

So, but basically okay. So you know, for one reason or another, the data's gone and you don't have a backup. So not only are you now losing sales, but how many man hours, personnel's are you spending exactly restoring that data? And that's something that I mean. You know, as an agency, we sell time, so you know it's something that we struggle with as well, but fundamentally is a business that sells products. You don't think of the time aspect. But let's say you've got four people working two days flat out to restore data and I don't know, you know whatever. You know the average hourly rate is for the personnel, you know the office. Would it that growth times for people times or whatever it is? You know, two days, that's a lot of money and you kind of think actually, yeah, you know what, having rewind so within you know a couple of minutes, 15 minutes we can be back up and running is just a no-brainer.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and just to add there Generally it's not just restoring the data from my experience at least, a rewind when data is deleted. You know these companies I mean, let's say, a big commerce or Shopify or whoever's out there they don't necessarily, they won't restore your store's data. They have it in some backup. You know that's Work outside of their general scope. So unless you're a huge customer for them that they don't want to lose, they won't really restore that for you. So when it's deleted it's lost. So generally you have to rebuild it and that's you know. You know the same cost as when you paid your project initially, probably even more with inflation.

Speaker 1:

So Exactly exactly and, like you say, it's a bit of an insurance policy there, yeah, to make sure you can keep trading, and so we've got. We've spoken, obviously, about the partner landscape, I think, and I don't know whether we've touched on this, but because e-commerce has become a lot more competitive in the last three years, because Merchants are fine will needs to find more unique and innovative ways to stand out from a competition that might be selling basically the same product To the same target market and in the same way at the same price. We have seen this increase in in partners and tech platforms coming in because, you know, it's kind of it that they're Creating products that differentiate either the offering or the market or whatever, to help those merchants stand out and grow. So one of the partners that I'm I really Really like is just do know, I think it's a phenomenal. So I'm trying not to be biased, but I think you know there's a couple of that just come to mind that are the go-to that we talk about. So rewind is definitely one of them. We, you know, I try to tell merchants, if you're gonna work with us, like one of the first apps you need, you need to install, is rewind, but also there's another handful that you know. I kind of think, right, you need to look at these. And one of them is just do know, because I this parts of it that just offer features that, to be honest, who we could probably develop ourselves.

Speaker 1:

So, for example, you know, like a Free delivery countdown kind of widgets. So it's saying spend another 17 pounds or you know $23 to get free delivery. The reason why it makes things easier for us is we don't have to develop that widget, which obviously saves time and money for the merchant, but fundamentally it means that there's actually a company behind that widget that you're going to be, you know, paying a license fee for that's improving and maintaining and supporting that product. So if there's ways to make that little widget even better and, for example, just do know you can even segment so you can say, right, if this customer is from the USA, then we'll offer them, you know, free delivery widget over $50 or whatever it is. If they may be from Canada, then maybe we do offer it, but it's a higher threshold or maybe we don't know. We hide that widget. Well, we've replaced it with something else, and so you know how much are you going to cost us as an agency to scope out and to develop that product for you. And actually it's available off the shelf.

Speaker 1:

So we've seen this increase in the number of tech partners and I think you know Merging can sometimes be overwhelmed and that's potentially what leads to merchants saying, well, you know, we've got it, still we don't use, only because you know it served a purpose at that time and it, you know, they just kind of didn't stay on top of it or it just wasn't maintained or it fizzled out or whatever. And so I think sometimes you need to cut through, you know, the the, the, the, the fog, I guess, to kind of say, right, what is it? I forgot the word, but cut through the noise, sorry, to kind of, you know, really find those partners that that will definitely, or most definitely, add value to your business. And, as I said, just do you know, is one of them any that you've kind of.

Speaker 1:

I mean shipper HQ is another one for me. We're very lucky that shipper HQ comes out of the box with big commerce enterprise anyway. So 99% of our customers, our clients, have shipper HQ out of the box by virtue of the fact that they are on the box, by virtue of the fact that they are on a big commerce enterprise subscription. So and shipper HQ know that, you know I'm a big fan of their product because it solves so many problems for for merchants. But what are maybe some that you're really fond of and you probably say to a merchant like you've got to? You know, consider if not necessarily this type of this particular product, then it's this type of product.

Speaker 2:

So, whether it's a P or something like that, yeah, it's a great question and you know, I think it's it's multifaceted. I'm really. I think you have to look at what's right for the merchant. You know Some merchants are not in the same vertical, same industry. The nature of their business can sometimes be different. So you know, just thinking historically, fine, you know that's going to change in the future, but B2B has historically not been, you know, too much touch. It's kind of, you know they choose their own products, they'll kind of order a wholesale and so on. So maybe a chat system, they are something like gorgeous. Historically I think this is all changing, moving forward. But I think you know, maybe that isn't as relevant there. You know, just a silly example, but you know there's a bunch of examples like that. So I think you really have to look at the nature of the merchant's business and decide what's right for them. But, for example, within some verticals, when where there's unique players, kind of like you mentioned rewind, you know from when I work there I there isn't a competitor on their level and doing what they do. So you know, if you're looking at backups, you know I think there wants to look at. So that's where I would make some recommendations.

Speaker 2:

Or a platform like gorgeous. You know we've heard of Zendesk being used, but gorgeous is specifically made for the e-commerce space. I would say it's really conducive to the e-commerce business nature and essentially is really made for for those use cases, versus a, let's say, zendesk, where it's a little bit more for support for any type of company, any type of ticketing system, any type of chat. So I think where you have a standout player is potentially where I would recommend. But really, you know, if Someone's business, a merchant's business, doesn't have support, people don't reach out. Maybe you know they put chat on their site, they put emails out, they put their phone number and no one reaches out to them and they're just doing business with them. You know, for them I still wouldn't maybe recommend gorgeous. So I think you know it's multifaceted. But where you have those unique players, where there isn't solutions like it or they're filling a space that hasn't been touched before, I think that's maybe where I would make some recommendations.

Speaker 1:

They're not necessarily new, unique, but where I found that we are using them a lot more is, or who I found were using a lot more, is shogun page builder, and the commerce has got a page builder that comes out of the box, but I just find that it give we just find that it gives a lot more flexibility and functionality to To a merchant, especially the ones that maybe are migrating off, something like element, woo commerce and WordPress that are used to Elementor and the big commerce. Page builder just doesn't really Cut it in the same way. So you're looking at something like Shogun. I mean, even the last six months, eight months, that product has evolved from being kind of good to really good and obviously you know we we have a partner that was shogun have a bit of an inside scoop and see some of the things that can be rolling out in the next few months. And even there it's just it's.

Speaker 1:

I'm really excited with the things that are happening and I think products like that give the merchant more freedom Because it allows them to build our pages, it allows them to manage the content better and they're not relying on us as an agent say can you make as an agency to you know, to make some small tweaks or to add some content. You know, at the end of the day, whenever we've and you've heard this on the pictures that we've been on Whenever we build a website, we build it in a way that gives us much freedom and independence to the merchant as possible. So, yes, you know, we have merchants that work with us month in, month out, but that's a choice. It's not because we've constrained them in the way that we built the website, that only we can make those changes. And that might sound ludicrous, but we get inquiries from people that say I need somebody to manage the, you know the home page because it's all hard-coded, or you know I'm not able to go in and change the the necessary code. So you know that I think is a tech platform as well, is a really important one because, fine, they're not unique, but I think it just can add so much value. And the price, the cost of these tech platforms is going up.

Speaker 1:

I think that we have to be aware of the fact that. You know, as we're recording this in September, there is, you know, kind of economic uncertainty and doom and gloom, and so obviously, you know, merchants are Watching the purse strings a lot more there. Maybe you know starting to to rain things in and try to reduce the TCO, the total cost of ownership. But I think something like you know a Shogun and, like you said, also with the chat, again you're involving people there. You're, you're, you're either automating things or you're having people you know Respond by live chat, whatever it's a time element.

Speaker 1:

So actually Having the platform like Shogun in there, having the platform like maybe gorgeous or something like that, where somebody has, you know, there are some automations in there, it's actually an efficiency, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So yes, you're going to be spending a few hundred dollars a month, but overall I'm pretty sure that if you ran the numbers, going back to a point around data, you probably find that that platform is making you money, not necessarily, you know, increasing the sales that much, but actually reducing maybe a cost. Because you're saying somebody can put together a landing page, can duplicate a landing page in half an hour, an hour, or as if you've got to go to an agency You've got us, you know, prepare the, the, the spec. You've got to, you know, send the work over, then the agency has to put it together, it's got to be tested. Or this thing where you just go in with Shogun pulling the components, you know, pop the content in and off you go. So sometimes that ROI isn't necessarily on the upside is saying we've seen an increase in our sales, but actually it's an efficiency, saying we've seen a reduction in our cost somewhere, despite the fact that actually we're paying for this, for this platform.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I totally agree there and I think you kind of hit on a key point earlier some of that freedom. I think that's really really key here, because you know there's things that merchants do best. For example, if a merchant is working really well within a niche, they have a community there, you know, and they're kind of really pushing the agenda there. They know how to create content best for that community. So maybe that's somewhere where they'd appreciate the freedom and where, you know, to help an agency, they know what they're doing there. Let them do what they do best. Let them create their own content and deliver it, or whether it's, you know Kind of the design of a front page through something like Shogun or whatever it might be. But if they know that really well and they're kind of, you know, have their own initiative. If we want to do things like that, I think it's important to give them that freedom, you know kind, as you said, because of the speed, since essentially, they'll be able to make those changes faster. They won't necessarily have to involve an agency. You know we're all people. It takes time to reply to an email, to receive it, check with the team and so on, and so I think being able to do that themselves, we'll make them more satisfied, first with the platform as well as with the agency, funny as that might sound, but you know you've given them that freedom. They feel more empowered, they can make the changes they feel they need to, versus Feeling that they have to wait for them, even if it's a minute, but essentially having that oh I asked for this and until I receive it moment.

Speaker 2:

So I think that's a huge factor, but also just kind of, you know, leveraging their expertise. You know, if they're really good at this, let them do it. You know they might do it better than your agency, or at least they want to do it, so you can allow them to do that. Again, clients come first, so I think that's that's really huge Through partner solutions, giving that flexibility and freedom through, maybe an automation where, instead of tagging tickets manually through something, through a help platform, where you can set up auto tags through something like gorgeous and not spend your time manually Tagging but actually spend your time providing the customer service that you do best, then I think that's a big win as well. So you know it's it really takes a detailed look at at these platforms and what benefits you want to achieve and how those platforms will help you achieve those.

Speaker 1:

So just finishing on that then. So if we want to make sure that a merchant is maximizing their investment in that tech platform, is leveraging the tools and the functionality and the features that come out of the box with that particular platform, how important is it for a merchant to work with a partner rather a partner of a tech platform, so an agency partner, than not working with an agency partner of that tech platform?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a tough question. I think a lot of it comes down to budget. A lot of merchants, again, they know how to do what they do best, whether it's manufacturing products, whether it's having a product and creating a great community around it and having so much buzz around that, whatever that might be but they generally do what they do best. This probably isn't something that they do best because it's not part of their day-to-day in terms of knowing which tech partners are leaders in this space and which ones. To even start considering for your projects things like that, or having the relationships with a lot of the tech partners, knowing the ROIs, for example, and what differences different solutions can provide and as well. A lot of these things get technical. Unless a team is, or a merchant is, so big where they want to now get their own people and their own developers to learn these things, so that that's something that they have, and a value prop of their team is that they can develop well on these platforms and so on. Unless you're of that size which generally my experience says to be a really, really big company unless you're of that size, it's probably not in your interest to do things yourselves. Without an agency, you don't have that leadership, that expertise, your team will probably have to start doing some technical elements. But before they start doing them, they have to start learning them and get trained, and this is something an agency has Just speeds up that process.

Speaker 2:

We have those relationships, we have knowledge of the best in-class platforms. We have the knowledge of having done something before and knowing what the best way to do it is, having tested various options and then being able to suggest for sure again, we won't pigeonhole them down a certain solution, but we have that experience that unless you spend the time in that space, you cannot get. Unless you want to take that time and spend it. If you just want to get something done, get migrated over to big commerce, get a big commerce store built, get chats and a backup set up for your store, get an integration with various platforms to get piped into big commerce All of those things unless you want to learn them yourselves. I think it only makes sense to get an agency to do that unless you think by having someone employed in your company they can learn that over the long run and do it better than agencies or at least on the same level cutting costs. It's essential.

Speaker 1:

It's not just about having the expertise to make sure that it's implemented correctly, but it's also having the expertise to make sure that the correct partners and tech platforms are introduced to the merchants. They say, look, leave this one because it's too complex, it's out of budget, maybe it's too small, it's too cheap, it's not going to do enough, it's not really suited for you. So it's been able to again filter the various tech partners to suit the requirements of that merchant.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly, because otherwise, if you're jumping in the space at least my experience from jumping into new spaces okay, let's see who the players are. Okay, let's see what each player is about, let's see how much each player costs, so you can kind of skip all of that. And from a trusted agency, hopefully you build a trusted relationship. But from a trusted agency, get the advice of hey, maybe a partner is going through repivoting or maybe they're adding a specific functionality to their platform, and you have that info and letting the client know, hey, they're not ready yet or they're not big enough for you or they're too small or whatever it might be. But essentially having that expertise is saving the merchant.

Speaker 1:

Good, really interesting. Okay, so I mean you're kind of technically a guest, but obviously you're soon to be a co-host. So, as you know, verena likes to ask kind of what book or podcast our guests are reading or listening to. Are you listening to anything at the moment? Podcast wise.

Speaker 2:

Not necessarily listening. I've tended to be even audio books. I've tended to be more of a physical copy person. I like having a physical book even versus reading on a Kindle or something like that. But because of that I kind of stick to my books. This is an e-commerce book, but I've read 12 or 12 more rules for life order from Chaos by Jordan Peterson and I think he's great. He has a lot of insights. A lot of the things he says are great, at least in my opinion great rules that we can apply or benefits we can apply to our lives. And I like that idea, the kind of incremental improvements. I've read the Atomic Habits recently, just kind of going through some of the big books. There again that incremental change over a long run will make huge benefits in our lives. So that's kind of the key I got out of that.

Speaker 1:

But I'd recommend One percent change. Yeah, exactly, all right. Well, that was usual link to those in the show notes. Well, yvonne, thanks very much for taking the time to be on the podcast. Obviously, you'll be joining us as co-hosts moving forward, which I'm super excited about Same here Same here A lot more to come. Yeah, thanks very much for your time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah thank you and your expertise as well.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, chat more soon. Brilliant Thanks, yvonne, bye-bye. Thank you for listening to the BigCommerce podcast. If you've enjoyed today's episode, please leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform and make sure you're following us on social media on Instagram and on LinkedIn. If you've got ideas or suggestions for future episodes, please send us an email, info at thebiggcommercepodcastcom or on our social media platforms.

Evolving E-Commerce Partnerships and Tech Agencies
Choosing the Right Partner for Merchants
Partner Relationships and ROI in Tech
Finding Value in Technology Partners
Maximizing Benefits of Tech Platforms