Kristen LaFrance is the self-proclaimed Mayor of DTC Twitter, host of the Playing for Keeps podcast, expert on all things ecommerce and total rockstar.
So a couple weeks ago when we were thinking about a news segment of The Ecommerce Marketing Show, she was the first person that came to mind.
And we’re pretty pumped because she was game to do it. 🎉
So every Wednesday you can catch her segment, Ecomm Noms, for everything you need to know about what’s happening in the world of ecommerce.
Why Ecomm Noms? Well, Kristen loves a good food metaphor (👀 her Retention Bites Newsletter at Churn Buster). And we’re all about it.
Not gonna lie, we got pretty lucky with the timing on this. Because last week Shopify launched Shop, a revamp of their former Arrive app. So Kristen had plenty to share.
And hey - if you want to get weekly updates on this segment, just subscribe below!
Last thing. Can you go show her some love on Twitter? Seriously, she’s awesome. And we ❤️ her forever for doing this
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On this episode, you’ll learn:
- What the DTC community has to say about the launch of Shopify’s Shop.
- Why now is the perfect time to start texting your customers.
- The brands that are getting text right.
- Who Allbirds is targeting with their new running shoes.
What to listen for:
- [1:55] The Shop launch/Arrive rebrand.
- [2:22] So what does Shop actually do?
- [5:30] What the community is saying about Shop.
- [14:00] Why texting your customers is such a huge opportunity – especially right now.
- [14:55] The brands that are nailing SMS.
- [15:29] The new Allbirds running shoes.
Links to love👇👇
- Kristen LaFrance on Twitter
- Kristen’s Twitter thread about Shop
- What Elliot’s Marco Marandiz has to say about Shop
- What Elliot’s Sergio Villaseñor has to say about Shop
- Ann-Marie Alcántara's WSJ Article ‘Texting Customers Is No Longer Taboo When Everyone Is Stuck at Home’
- Playing for Keeps Episode with Beardbrand’s Eric Bandholz
- Allbirds running shoes
- Sign up for her newsletter
- Future Commerce Podcast
- The Ecommerce Marketing Show Home
*There’s a 100% chance this has some spelling errors. I know you won’t hold it against me.
Welcome, welcome, welcome to The Ecommerce Nommerce Show. No, it's the ecomm noms with Kristen LaFrance. I am your host of this brand new segment with the Privy team. I'm so excited to be here. You know how much I love my weird little food and snack and drink metaphors, so naturally the team at Privy and I thought this would be perfectly named Ecomm Noms, and you can probably hear me go, "nom-nom-nom," multiple times throughout the seasons. Really quickly, this is just going to be a 20 to 30 minute quick segment every week. You can come sit down with me, bring your favorite cocktail, bring a coffee, whatever time, and we're just going to talk through some of the big things happening in the ecommerce world every week. Some interesting things I'm seeing around the world of ecommerce and DTC. Maybe even bringing on some guests to just talk about what they're seeing in the space.
Really, this is just an authentic little fireside chat with Kristen. So we're just going to snack on some stuff, and we have the most amazing thing to talk about this week as a launch starter. Shopify launched Shop last week and we have a lot to talk about on this. I've got a couple of other things that happened last week that I find just interesting, but we've got a lot to talk about on this new Shopify drop. I talked to some of the community to see how people were feeling about it. I have some of my own thoughts, so we're just going to kind of roll through some of the stuff that happened in the past week and what the community is thinking about it.
So if you're not familiar, last week Shopify did drop a brand new app called Shop. Side note, let's just not glance over the fact that Shopify now owns the name Shop. Like that's a pretty cool move I would say. I think that's a pretty baller move for them to do. Maybe it's potentially that they're going to even rebrand everything into Shop or it's going to be this new side of their business and it's really exciting in the space. They dropped it last week and really what it is, it's kind of a mix of their previous app called Arrive. Yes, Arrive, correct. Yeah, Arrive. I don't know why I keep forgetting the name of that. So they had this previous app Arrive, where really just focused on tracking of Shopify packages. If you had it and you had ordered something from a Shopify store, which I would assume 90% of consumers probably have by now, you can easily just access that package tracking part of the journey.
Now they are combining this with a little bit of their shop pay service and it's kind of like a mall, I think is a good way to look at it. On the consumer side, I'm just going to open up the app right now as I'm talking. So if you haven't downloaded it, maybe pause this episode, go download, check it out just you know kind of what I'm talking about. The home of it is pretty simply just ... I logged in with my email and it came up with a populated list of things I have bought in I'd say the past six months or so. It's a little bit different for me because I did change my main email not too long ago after getting married. But it's really cool that I can actually go back and see.
Not too long ago I actually bought Ollypop and it was shipped and it was $37.80 and I can go back and look at that order. Then the really cool thing is when you go back into those orders now it actually populates also more from that store. So I see more from Ollypop, and there is shirts and tote bags and the flavors of cans they have. So really kind of cool feature.
The other thing I really like on this is just that tracking. We're kind of talking specifically about the Arrive part of it, but just having all of your tracking in one place is actually really, really nice. I find myself often kind of in the middle of the day and my husband looks at me and he's like, "Hey Kristen, where's the dog food?" And I'm like, "I don't know." And then I have to go searching through an email, and sometimes I'm not sure which one I put in, and go search for that brand. Toby, can you stop scratching? I'm making a podcast. I told you guys it'd be authentic. I can just go in and immediately see instead of having to search through emails. It's been really useful. I actually had two things shipped this week and I loved going through the app.
Then there's this new tag called Shops. There's been some debate really on this app that we're going to get into, but for now I'm just going to walk through what it feels like and looks like to me as a consumer. So this, you go to the shop and you can see shops you follow. Mine automatically populated with the shops they knew that I had bought from, which that was pretty cool. Then you scroll down and mine has new arrivals coming up from Third Love, Durham Magic, which is a shop that I bought some soap for itchy Toby over there that you just heard scratching, Outdoor Voices. If you know me, you know I'm always buying from them. Ugly Drinks, Ollypop. Really cool that it kind of populates this.
Then at the top, you can kind of click into the brands that you follow, see your past orders. Pretty cool. You can go to their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, how you can contact. It gives you some shop facts. The only thing is it does look like you kind of have to go to the site of these. Not really purchasing right here, but this time I clicked on Outdoor Voices and I actually have a "recommended for you" section that I can actually ... and then it goes to the site. So this is a complaint that I saw, that it would be a lot cooler if this all happened in the app and you didn't have to then go to websites, and you could just be in this universal checkout. I do agree with that, that there are some UI UX problems in here. Then finally, you just have your profile and the regular stuff.
So let's see what the community thinks about it. I put out a tweet earlier this week and I will just kind of read some of the responses we saw. There's been a little bit of both. I've seen a lot of people being a little bit upset, feeling like this was a really quick release for Shopify. The UI, UX is not perfect, it's not the greatest consumer experience, and you know how important a customer experience is to me. Really, is it really doing anything for the brands that are on it? So let's look at some of these things and I'll kind of respond to them as I go.
"I'm Fred Perrotta from Tortuga Packs." One of my favorite companies. He said, "Feels like the first step towards something exciting, a marketplace, but not far enough along yet for brands to care." And I actually kind of agree with this one. I'm really excited about this app from a consumer standpoint. I buy from Shopify stores all the time, probably because of my role in the DTC community. So to have it all really collected into one app is actually super, super useful for me. Then being able to see other things from the shop I think is going to do a lot for customer attention and repeat purchases.
Say you go to check your shipment of Outdoor Voices, and then you scroll up to under that shipment and you actually see "recommended from you" and "recommended for you". On mine there are sale items and I don't know, it's pretty tempting for me to go buy another pair of leggings just right there. So I actually do think, and again, once the UIUX gets a little bit improved and they're really thinking about product recommendations and partnerships and cool ways to increase that customer purchasing behavior, I think it's going to do a lot for Shopify brands in retention if they focus on that side of the business.
So Fred, I do agree with you. Maybe right now not far enough along for brands to be like, "Wow, this is awesome. Let's do everything we can to make our presence here the best," but I think it's going that way.
Someone else said, "I downloaded it out of curiosity, deleted it after 10 minutes. It could grow into something, but for now seems very bare bones and not really necessary." Again, I don't disagree with this. I think for some consumers they're going to look at this and be like, "I don't need this. I'm already getting confirmation emails. I don't need another thing giving me notifications." Totally understandable. It's something that I'm sure Shopify is thinking about. Let's see some other people's responses. Let's go through these notes.
Nick Sharma was the first one to respond to me. He said, "I absolutely love it. I don't see why anyone would be mad or unsure about it." That is kind of where I stand. I have a little bit of the weariness that it's not perfect and they did kind of push it out maybe before it was ready, but also at the same time I think it's really exciting for just about everybody. I think as they evolve it, it's going to be exciting for the brands that are on it. It's going to be exciting for the Shopify team. It's going to be exciting for the eCommerce space to see how they can compete or at least kind of differentiate themselves from Amazon and eBay and the big Goliaths out there.
Then lastly, I'm excited to see what it does for retention, and even further down the line, what could it do for product adoption and for new brand recognition, and is it going to be something that you can almost start to feel like a social network on it? You can find new brands to follow, you can figure out which brands values you really align with. Really cool recommendations from brand to brand. I do think there's a lot of potential and I'm really excited about it.
Now, let's see if we can find somebody who's kind of opposing me, because I've done a lot of pro shop things. Let's see. Oh, Phillip from Future Commerce, another podcast you guys have got to listen to if you're podcast geeks. He said, "This sounds like early Amazon criticism quote, why would I buy detergent from a bookseller? Consumers can be persuaded. Selection, curation, price, convenience. They have to nail it to get anywhere near success, but I wouldn't bet against Shop just yet."
I think that really sums up my feelings about this. Interesting back and forth though between Phillip and Taylor Holiday from Common Thread Collective where Taylor said, "I see the potential here, but I'm really questioning what is the benefit for small businesses?" In Taylor's defense, that really is the area that he's looking in. I also agree that right now for small businesses it might not really be all that exciting, which is what we heard earlier. Taylor said, let's see. Phillip said, "In the short term, is anyone going to balk at even the faintest whiff of being in front of new customers, especially if it doesn't cost anything yet?"
I think that's really important because small brands and brands that are trying to get exposure are going to be looking for new and creative ways that they can get in front of a new audience. So for them this is an exciting place to at least test and try, but then Taylor responded, "Of course anything is helpful. Just trying to gouge the impact in my world for the next few months. Don't see a ton of immediate impact."
Again, I agree with Taylor Holiday. It's very interesting to see how, depending on who you work with or the way you're looking at it, there's different ways you can really see this release. I think that's what's so exciting about the DTC community, is we have so many voices like this. Two more I want to highlight because I thought it was really cool how they did this, Marco Mirandez and Sergio from Elliot. They work together and they had almost kind of differing perspective threads that went out. It was really cool to see how two people from the same team can look at things in a new perspective and come up with different conversations and results. I think that's why the Elliot team is doing really well right now, is because they have lots of perspectives going on.
So Marco really got into the criticism of the UI and the UX. If you're searching for a shop, he mentioned no brand partnerships are coming up, no feature of exciting products are coming up. In that search you have to know the brand that you're searching for. You can't just look up shoes and get a list of all the really cool Shopify shoe stores. So that is something that Shopify is going to have to look at, especially if they want this to work as new product discovery, which for them would be ideal because if you're getting new product discovery through the Shopify app, that means that those stores are using shop pay, which then is good for Shopify. So I see this is where it's headed.
Again, Marco kind of talked about what I talked about, how it ends up going to your website instead of just doing it all in the app, which is a little bit of a clunky experience. I think that's something they're going to work on. I also really want to talk about that early launch feeling. I do know a lot of people, we expect a lot from big brands like Shopify. We expect that when things are dropped, it's absolutely perfect, but something that I live and breathe by is that perfection is ... what is the quote, guys? Perfection is the enemy of progress. There it is. So just that idea that I think Shopify looked at the space, they looked at everything going on, and they're trying to find a way to, one, drop something really big for themselves. Of course that's what they're looking at. But then also this is investing in their own customers. It's giving them a new place to get in front of customers and yet it's not perfect, but it's Shopify. We know they're going to get better.
Then lastly, for consumers, being able to shop really easily at smaller stores right now, which is what a lot of people want to do. Then there is that really cool feature where if you have enough places locally that use shop pay that are delivering or have hours open, it's actually connecting you to that. So I discovered a few really cute shops in Colorado Springs that I didn't know about before. So I thought that was really cool. On the flip side, like I mentioned, Sergio actually had a little bit of a different response, and he said, "The hot takes were its poor UI, UX, and the potential value or lack there of as it brings today." As a shareholder, he's most impressed by the quote "potential to continue diversifying revenue and be a profit center."
So he labeled out a few things, advertising, defensibility, product enrichment, and then he really put, "In short, Shop's potential is massive despite its current UI, UX and consumer facing value, which is low." So I think that's a really cool overview that we just looked at. Some different perspectives from the consumer side. A lot of excitement on just being simplified and bringing things in together. Also mixed with a little bit of consumer hesitancy on how it really looks and feels and the experience of it. Totally understandable. But then also this massive potential that a lot of us are seeing and we're saying, "Hey, just because it's not perfect yet doesn't mean it's not going to be amazing down the line."
So all in all, I think it's a very interesting release. I think it's something that we should all keep our eyes out. If you're a small brand, if you're a large brand, if you're thinking of new ways to get in front of audiences, it's something to consider and to think about and to look into, especially, and you know I'm always going to wrap around to retention, guys, consider how something like this could actually improve repeat purchases without spending all too much more in acquisition. So there's a lot to come and we will keep watching this drop as we go on these e-comm noms.
Just a few other things I saw this week that I thought were really cool. I saw on the Wall Street Journal an article by Ann-Marie Alcántara, sorry that I stumbled over that. It is titled Texting Customers is No Longer Taboo When Everyone is Stuck at Home. This is really exciting. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I've talked about SMS before. It's an exciting channel with a lot of opportunity, but also there's a lot of risk in that opportunity. What's a little bit of a silver lining of the crisis that we're in right now is brands have really been forced to look internally and really hone into their customers and hone into their community and take care of the people that they've worked so hard to bring on to get purchases from, which means when people are approaching SMS, they're approaching it with a much more content-focused, community-focused approach instead of the typical, "Here's a 25% off code every other week," which is what you shouldn't do on SMS.
Summersalt has a really cool plan, a really cool program that they released. You should also check out Rooted NYCs texting program. Beard Brand has an awesome SMS program that I just talked to Eric Bandholz on playing for keeps about, so you can go listen to that podcast episode two if you want to hear more about that, but it is really cool to see this channel that has been something that we've really, in e-commerce, seen as very risky. Actually, brands are being forced to enter it in a good way now and thinking about retention. A lot is going on in the world, but there are some silver linings that it's exciting.
Then lastly, Allbirds debuted its first running shoe this week, last week, excuse me. I asked some people what they thought about it and I think that the response that we kind of could have expected from this is yeah, Allbirds released a running shoe. It looks like an Allbird shoe. It's pretty cool-looking. If you're running marathons, you're not going to get Allbirds, you're going to go for Brooks or Hoka or something that's been specifically crafted for running by a company who's invested in running shoes for years and have all that research to make it amazing. I am a Brooks and Hoka girl. I will say that, but there is something interesting about the Allbirds shoe that they're going to tackle the people who maybe aren't serious runners, maybe take a jog around the neighborhood every once in a while but are bought into the values of Allbirds, and they are fans and new drops are exciting and it's a new style evolution of what they're already wearing.
So while I think there is some understandable hesitancy on, "This isn't really Allbirds hero area. This is not the hero product. This isn't what they're ever going to specialize in." There is still that side of it that for their very loyal customers, I'm sure that this is exciting and I can almost guarantee that a lot of those customers bought on this drop because no matter how you slice it, Allbirds is a pretty cool company. They have amazing sustainability values. When you buy their shoes, you're buying into that bigger brand narrative, and their shoes look cool and they're comfy, so we got to nom on that a little bit.
I hope you guys enjoyed this first ever Ecomm Nom with me, Kristen LaFrance. We're going to be here every week, and it's going to be super fun. If I stumble over words all the time, I mean, enjoy. I'm a real human and sometimes I just lose my train of thought like I just did. Well, thank you guys for tuning in and thank you to the privy team for allowing me to do this segment. I hope it's so much fun for you guys as it is for me. This is basically taking all of the information that I'm ingesting on a weekly basis into my crazy ADHD brain and forcing me to bring it all together into a nice little quick snack nom, nom, nom, nom event for you guys. So it's really a win/win because now I can go get a beer and move on with my day knowing that I've processed all this information. So I hope you guys have a wonderful Wednesday and we will see you next week to do some more nom noms.