Main Takeaways:

  • Brian and Phillip are joined in today's episode by Andy Zuro, the President at ZLINE Kitchen and Bath.
  • ZLINE has grown over the years to be a brand focused on innovation and providing customers with unique products that they cannot get anywhere else.
  • With so many channels available today in which to acquire and convert customers, how do you know where to focus your efforts to get the most substantial returns?
  • How do you decide what tools to add to your technology stack?

What is ZLINE?: A 15-Year History:

  • About 15 years ago, Andy started ZLINE in Columbus, Ohio, around the time when he was building his own home.
  • During the process of selecting appliances, Andy was shocked by how expensive some of the appliances were and knew that there had to be a better way.
  • On a trip overseas, Andy scoped out some factories and started manufacturing a basic ventilation line.
  • Over the years, Andy saw where peoples' were when it came to kitchen remodeling and expanded to cover the entire line of items necessary when completing your kitchen.

Who Shops at ZLINE?: A Customer Breakdown:

  • The customer path has evolved over the years but started at identifying with customers who had price-driven shopping and saving money in mind.
  • As ZLINE found there was a demand for specific aesthetic options of products, they expanded their options and innovated for people who were looking for more customized options.
  • ZLINE started as a direct-to-consumer brand, and its low prices in comparison to large brands in the space are what grew their customer base.
  • As the ZLINE brand has grown, the direct-to-consumer portion of the business is still there, and they don't distinguish between their sales or sales made through a partner.

Shifting Strategies: From Value to Innovation:

  • Andy has always wanted to be innovative and do things that no other brand has done before.
  • With the push for innovation and allowing customers to customize their purchases, the SKU count starts to get very high.
  • Variety brings brand value back to the ZLINE name and shows its customers that the brand is trying to do something unique and not just be a cookie-cutter company.
  • Acquiring and obtaining customers is attributed to ZLINE's product innovations and by differentiated itself from competitors in the space.

Differentiating from Competitors: Marketing Necessities:

  • Galen Bradford, the CMO at ZLine, joins in to give some more details on the marketing effort.
  • Having a great and unique product is critical from a marketing perspective because it makes your job of promoting your product much more straightforward.
  • ZLINE has noticed a unique avenue of storytelling that they have discovered through Pinterest marketing.
  • What is the feeling the customer feels when they interact with your brand?
  • Once ZLINE established an online presence, they were then able to put their product in big box stores like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Best Buy.
  • If you have the best product and the best content, then you are going to have the best brand.

Growing From Zero: Challenges Along the Way:

  • As you become more segmented in your channel strategy, how does that change you as a business?
  • ZLINE doesn't differentiate between its channels when it comes to gauging for success, but there are different operational requirements per channel.
  • Fundamentally, a brand should be asking what value add they are bringing to the table when it comes to delivering your product to a customer or a retailer.
  • A lot of big-box retailers are always looking to expand their offerings, so finding your unique value add can help you get your foot in the door.

A Channel Breakdown: Where is ZLINE Selling Its Products?:

  • On the direct-to-consumer side, ZLINE is using Google Shopping, PPC, and social media advertising to reach its customers directly.
  • The direct-to-consumer strategy is a mix of old school paper advertisements and then more modern targeted digital advertising.
  • PPC has become exponentially more expensive in recent years, and when a channel no longer proves to be cost-effective, then people begin to search elsewhere for channels that are a better value.
  • Consumers change their shopping habits, so you have to be prepared to change your channel strategies to go where customers are.

The eCommerce Marketing Toolkit: How To Exceed In Today's Saturated Market:

  • From a PPC standpoint, SEMrush allows you detailed online visibility of how your customers are interacting with your site.
  • ZLINE is pushing YouTube and Pinterest when it comes to getting their content in front of the right consumers to reach their ideal prospective customers.
  • Director of Content Development Drew Pearson joins in to point out the value of data and how it allows you to identify new customer segments.
  • What can you do to make your content more relevant?
  • Understanding the Google Ads environment is an essential first step to knowing your best PPC strategies.

How to Convert Customers: Going Past the Traffic:

  • There is a whole separate set of tools available to you to get a customer you have brought to your site to convert and make a purchase.
  • Adding reviews has been one of the things that has generated the most conversions for ZLINE, and some companies that do this are Trustpilot and Bazaarvoice.
  • Creating legitimacy for your brand is imperative, and any tools that you can find that do this can prove its value when it comes to boosting conversions.
  • What are some ways you can boost your brand's legitimacy?

Choosing Your Toolkit: Supporting New Technologies:

  • There is no use in having an excellent toolkit unless you have a brand that resonates with the customer.
  • Your brand needs to be able to support any channel that you add, and if it can't, then you shouldn't purchase a piece of software that implements that channel.
  • Technology additions can be a powerful boon to your brand, but there are questions you need to answer before making the leap and purchasing them.
  • It's not just about what a tool can do but more about how it affects your organization and growth.

Brands Mentioned in this Episode:

As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! What is a channel that you currently do not use to acquire or convert customers, and what are some tools you could employ to make use of that channel?

Let us know in the content section on Futurecommerce.fm, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin.

Have any questions or comments about the show? You can reach out to us at info@futurecommerce.fm or any of our social channels; we love hearing from our listeners!

Retail Tech is moving fast, but Future Commerce is moving faster.

Phillip: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Step by Step, a podcast by Future Commerce presented by Brightpearl. This is Season 2 of Step by Step, and you are listening to Episode 2 of 5. So if you're just jumping into the series midway through, I suggest that you go back and listen from the very beginning. This season of Step by Step is all about your tech stack. If you're in leadership at a high growth brand and you find yourself struggling to make decisions about choosing technology to run your business on, this series is for you. In this five part mini series, we talk to people just like you who are operators in high growth brands who are trying to solve these problems every single day. CIOs, CTOs, CMOs, CFOs, O-M-G... It doesn't matter who you are. You are faced with building out a tech stack that allows your business to grow and meet the needs of your customer. It's going to be an awesome learning journey for all of us. And I'm so glad that you decided to join us. Joining us today on the show is Andy Zuro, who is the President at ZLINE Kitchen and Bath. ZLINE Kitchen is not your typical eCommerce company. When you think of buying products online, you probably think of a direct to consumer brand. But ZLINE Kitchen sells an entire range, pun intended, of high end kitchen appliances, including ranges, cook tops, dishwashers and all kinds of various faucets and fixtures. A very fascinating company. They are solving customer experience challenges and closing the gap in customer expectations by adopting the right technology at the right time, in the right phase of your business. It's a fascinating listen, and I can't wait for you to hear it. Let's join Andy as he teaches us how to build a tech stack, step by step.

Phillip: [00:01:46] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:01:51] And I'm Brian. And today we have a phenomenal, very interesting guest on the show. We have Andy Zuro, President and Founder from ZLINE Kitchen. Welcome, Andy.

Andy: [00:02:02] Hi, guys. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Phillip: [00:02:05] Yeah. Thanks for being here. I am an aspiring amateur chef and have a nice little kit at home. And I've put together a sort of a quasi commercial kitchen for myself at home. But for those who aren't familiar with the ZLINE brand, maybe you could elucidate a little bit on what ZLINE is and sort of the history over the last 15 years of building that company.

Andy: [00:02:26] Yeah. Yes. About 15 years ago I started the company in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, I was doing some real estate, a lot of real estate, and I was building my own home. And I was you know, I was young as an entrepreneur and I was trying to save money wherever I could. And so when you're building a home, it's always more than you think, of course. And I get to the end and I'm going to buy my appliances, and I get to the range hood, and I know nothing about range hoods at the time. And so I'm looking online trying to find the best deal I could. And I was just shocked at how expensive a range hood was. I mean, because when you think about it, there's not much to it. It's metal or motor, you know, transformer or some lights and a button bank. You know, there's not a whole lot to it. And so I just I thought, man, there's got to be some room here. So my brother was going overseas at the time and he's checking out some manufacturing and he's in the furniture business on the wood side. And he asked if I wanted to tag along and I said, yeah, I'll cruise over there with you. So I went over and scoped out some factories and kind of started with a real basic ventilation line. And then over the years, kind of just saw where the needs were within the industry and what people were looking for as far as ventilation standpoint of the kitchen remodel and started innovating within that space. And then over the years we've gotten into cooking and now we have dishwashers and sinks and faucets and kind of the whole line to complete your kitchen. But that's kind of where it started. We started and ventilation and did that for a long time. And then just recently in the last five years have gone into the other categories within the industry.

Brian: [00:04:07] Talk to us a little bit about a ZLINE customer. Who is your customer and what is the path for someone to become a customer at ZLINE?

Andy: [00:04:15] Yeah. So I guess that's evolved over the years. I mean, you know, like I said in the beginning when we were carrying a basic line, it was pretty price driven. We just wanted to give people value for a quality product. But then as we got in the market, and we saw there was demand in certain areas and certain looks, we started innovating within our space. And that opened areas for people that were looking for copper hoods, for instance, or wood hoods without the long lead time. And, you know, I think in the beginning that's price driven. And I think we always want to be price conscious, and we always want to bring value for what we're selling, the product we're bringing to the end customer. You know, we're about efficiencies, and we don't ever want to have a product where there's built-in inefficiencies. There's so many touch points that the end consumer ends up paying those. So that's our main focus.

Phillip: [00:05:06] So as as you're attracting new customers to the brand, there seems to be some very large incumbents in the space who are in physical retail. And they seem to have inbuilt foot traffic and that sort of thing. When you were starting the company 15 years ago, were you starting it as like a digital first business? What was your sort of go to market strategy to go get customers? And has that altered dramatically in the last 15 years?

Andy: [00:05:35] We basically started as a direct to consumer, and it was price driven like, "We're gonna give you this great product, and it's gonna be a fraction of the price. You may not know our our name. In fact, you probably don't. Based on reviews and the quality of the product and our guarantees and telling the story of who we are, you're going to feel comfortable buying this product." Obviously, you know, the eCommerce space online has evolved lightspeed over the last 10 years. As we've evolved and the ZLINW brand has grown, there's some brand equity there. The direct to consumer is still a viable part of our business and it's something that we focus on. But we almost view that as its own channel where the brand itself sells direct to the consumer, but it goes through a channel that has the same metrics that any partner that we'd sell our product through has. We don't really distinguish between whether we sell it or a partner sells it because we're not going to ever compete on price. We don't want to be price driven. Does that answer your question?

Phillip: [00:06:35] Yeah. I think there is also, you know, sometimes you might start or have the inception of the idea that the brand... There might be space in the market to create a product or a line to compete. I think you had sort of laid out that that was the inception of the brand. Right, Andy? There was this almost a value play in the beginning, but that doesn't seem to be your current strategy. What do you think causes that sort of shift in strategy? Help me understand and maybe I'm just not understanding. It's not really... You're not driven on price. You seem to have a very wide selection that's well beyond range hood today. How has that grown? How has that grown organically? And how have you sort of grown to the prominence that you have in this industry as you've expanded your category?

Andy: [00:07:30] Yeah. So I mean, part of not being driven by price... We just, I guess it's my personal thing, and sometimes I get carried away with it. But I want to do something innovative, something special, something different, something that people haven't done before. It's not very exciting, it doesn't get me out of bed in the morning, to just go out, find something in the marketplace, and then chop up that same pie. We're trying to basically create something new. So we're the first in the industry to offer crown moldings that cover up cuts, which then eliminates seams within the chimney on a range hood, which seems pretty specific. And it's within an industry. But it's like to me, it's interesting. It's something new. It's something different that nobody can find anywhere else, can see anywhere else. And, you know, I kind of get some flak sometimes because you start adding in different options and buttons and colors and our SKU count can blow up. And then, you know, how efficient are we in selling all these SKUs? But I think our variety brings brand value back to the ZLINE name. And it shows people that we're not just a cookie cutter company. We're trying to do something special and something unique.

Brian: [00:08:42] So actually, one of the things I'm hearing is like acquiring customers and retaining customers is coming through product innovation, actually. So as you differentiate yourself as the only brand or the first brand to do things a certain way, that's actually one of the selling points, one of the things that gets people's attention as they start to look at your lines of products.

Andy: [00:09:07] Yeah, our innovation is kind of what drives what we're doing. We want to make mainstream products, but within the mainstream products, we can make innovative, unique designs that people can't find anywhere else. And so it's just on us, especially with the majority of our business in the eCommerce space, one of the challenges we have is how do we tell the story the best we can, and how do we get our feeling across to the customer of what we're doing, that it's unique, that it's special? And that comes with lifestyles and that comes in our marketing department. And Galen, who I have with me here, is the CMO of a ZLINE. And he's really made huge inroads in that area of the business. And he's really kind of told our story much better than I could have, you know, because I had done it for 10 years, and I knew what I wanted to tell, and I knew what I was doing. But he kind of saw it, and he, man... He said, "We can do special things with this."

Galen: [00:09:59] Hey, guys, this is Galen Bradford, CMO of ZLINE. One of the things that Andy is touching on here is really critical from a marketing perspective, and that is having a great product and a unique product. So when you have a great product and a unique product, you can sell the shit out of it. {laughter} Excuse my language there. But that really...

Phillip: [00:10:18] No, that's great. That might be the show title now {laughter} because I couldn't agree any more.

Galen: [00:10:26] It makes my job really easy. Right? So then we've kind of attacked it from thinking, you know, top down. Obviously there're channels that we use, and we do a really effective job at selling with PPC advertising, with Pinterest advertising. We're finding it actually serves as a really interesting avenue there when it comes to telling a story and getting a feeling. So we're trying to build a brand. And so top-down building a brand, what is the feeling that the customer feels when they interact the ZLINE? And since we started as an eCommerce company, that's what we've been focusing on. So once you've built that feeling, built that brand, built that equity, then you can start to approach larger big box stores and now you'll see us everywhere. We had to start with creating that online presence. And then we were able to put our brand in big box stores like Home Depot, Lowe's, Best Buy, we're everywhere except for Costco. And I'm working on that. But we're everywhere now. And yeah, I mean, it's a testament to the designs that Andy's put into play. We're the first in the industry to have a lifetime warranty on our motor of every range hood. So even our range hoods that are a little bit more mainstream, we're still doing something to differentiate ourselves. And so I feel like if we have the best content, we have the best product, then you really are going gonna have the best brand. And so that's kind of my two cents.

Phillip: [00:11:42] I know that Brian's marker of quality is being in Costco. {laughter} So I think you'll be finding a new customer in Brian...

Galen: [00:11:53] We are everywhere else. We're everywhere else.

Phillip: [00:11:55] Let me ask one question about sort of the challenge in and growing from zero. At some point you grow big enough, I assume, that the big box stores can't help but notice you. But when you finally get into mass market and retail in the Home Depots of the world and you forge those relationships, does that change as you become more segmented in your channel strategy? How does that change you as a business? And I mean more at this sort of operational level. I assume that the way that you track success in retail is a bit different to how you attract success and direct to consumer digital customer acquisition. So how do you deal with that? And is there maybe a set of tools or some sort of methodology that you apply to make sure that you're being successful in the respective channels? Because, you know, it's not exactly apples to apples anymore.

Andy: [00:12:55] Yeah, it's interesting. I guess we view it fundamentally a little different. We don't view them separately. Like when we do our reports, our direct to consumer, it's one of our channels. We call them channels, and it's one of the places where our product is sold. So we don't really differentiate success between those. From an operations level, obviously, the difference between sending out two hundred range hoods a month and 12,000 is much different, obviously, especially when you're controlling everything from literally the manufacturing process to we own all of our warehouses, we own all of our facilities, everything. We own everything, you know. So that's obviously going to be a strain within the growth curve there. And that's been a huge pain point for us. But as we've gone along, we've put systems in place, and we've done automation things, and we're kind of learning as we go. But that's like the only way we know how to do it. But I think fundamentally the core value of just like what value add do I bring to the table? Whether that's to the consumer with the product you're building and the price point you're bringing it to them at or a large retailer... What value do I bring to you as a small brand to your huge platform? And one of the value ads that we've brought to all the people that carry our products, and what they're finding, is that we're a category expander. We don't up your category, we carry sizes, styles, finishes that are traffic drivers and category expanders. And that's really our value add to these large retailers that are selling our product is like, "Why should we sell you versus every other product that looks like you?" Well, they don't look like us. And we have categories and sizes and finishes that nobody else carries and features that nobody else has. So that's really kind of at our core. That's kind of the fundamental question we always ask ourselves. What value add do we bring to either the end consumer, from a product development and production standpoint, or retailer that's deciding to carry our product?

Brian: [00:15:10] Interesting. So actually that's a really cool strategy. That is to say that a lot of big box retailers and marketplaces, such as Amazon, are always looking to expand their offerings. Because that could be a net new customer for them. Right? Someone who couldn't get that anywhere else and maybe was looking on the HomeDepot.com website and decided that... They were kind of looking at standard ranges and they previously hadn't been able to find something that they were looking for. And then they found that one specific thing that would fit what they needed. That's huge for some of these larger players in terms of the number of options that are available to their customers. Talk to us a little bit about the channels that you are in. So obviously, you've got your direct web site. You've in most of the major big box retailers. Are you selling on any marketplaces or are you selling on Google shopping? What are all the different channels that you're using to get your product out there?

Andy: [00:16:12] Within the direct to consumer side of our business, of course, we use the Google shopping and the Pinterest ads and the Houzz and that's kind of a different team within our company. But we also use the social media platforms, the PPC, the display ads for brand driven advertisement as well, just to get our name out there. So it's kind of a mix of the old school newsprint ads that you would see where it's you know, you're just trying to push a name and this is where you can buy it to more direct to consumer and more targeted.

Brian: [00:16:43] We've seen so much money dumped into these channels lately. Talk to us about some of the challenges you've seen in some of your larger channels. You mentioned Houzz.

Andy: [00:16:53] It's funny. You know, in the beginning, like I said, I literally have done pretty much every role. And one of those roles was building the web site and then on the initial kind of front of PPC. And it reminds me of the PPC days when, you know, your average cost per click was 10 cents or 20 cents. And then that started ramping up. And then you kind of find a value area where this is kind of how much clicks are going to cost. And this is what kind of what it cost on the PPC side. And then that translates into how much SEO you're value adding to your web site. And then that kind of comes to a kind of equilibrium. But as I've stepped into other roles within the company, I don't have a ton of contact with like the Houzz platforms and that. But what I see from somewhat of a distance is as these new channels come on, you kind of see the same thing where it's really cheap, you get good return on your investment, and then but that kind of as it ramps up and the costs go up, it kind of like balances out, too, as these platforms get big enough to reach scale and to kind of see where they're going to end up with the cost strategy there. And as new channels come on, you kind of see the same thing. So I think every channel as it ramps up, you kind of like see it balance out. I was one of the first people that did Amazon CPC within the Amazon platform itself, and they were trying to build out their strategy. And the Amazon guy called me, and he had seen that I built my structure out similar to the way you'd build it out in Google. And he was wanting to pick my brain on... Why did you do that? Why did you categorize it by size and color and finish? And it's interesting to see it evolve over the years. And as the costs go up, it's got to reach a point where it's no longer cost effective to be on this channel. Then people are out there looking for what's the next new thing. And I think that's just the evolution of people's traffic and people's interest in seeing, you know, how they find product and shopping patterns online.

Phillip: [00:19:02] This is in no way criticism because I find myself doing this all the time. And Galen, maybe you can sympathize here. I remember my mom used to tell me she used to say, "When I was your age, bread used to cost 25 cents." And I find myself doing that about, you know, CPC spin these days. I remember back 15 years ago, I'm dating myself now, 15, 20 years ago almost where, you know, we could pretty much guarantee 7 to 1 ROAS. And, you know, I think most people think of those as like the time of the dragons that, you know, fairy tales, they never really actually happened.

Galen: [00:19:45] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:19:45] So, yeah, it gets more difficult. And we are talking today sort of about the tool kit. Right? So what are some of the tools that you're using to sort of get the right information about the right areas of your business to make those kinds of decisions about what to spend, where and when? You know, I assume that as the tech pulls you into other channels, you're having to gather more information about your customers and relate that back to product and sales, et cetera. So I take it, because Brightpearl is sponsoring the series, Brightpearl might be part of that tech stack, but what else is in that universe of tools that are helping you make these decisions as a business?

Galen: [00:20:29] So that's actually a really good question. There's a lot that we use. You know, if we're talking about specifically a PPC standpoint, one of the tools that I think is a really valuable tool is SEMrush. That's something that you can look at and see what people are clicking on and you see where the traffic is getting driven to and what your competitors are doing and how you can innovate upon what they're doing. That's an interesting tool that my team uses. And really, I really focus on a macro level, and I'm focusing more on terms of what we can do to tell a better story and making sure that my team gets what they need to tell a better story. So for me, you know, content is king and then making sure that that content gets into the right eyes is really what we focus on top down. And I think that there's a lot of opportunities with YouTube. There're a lot of opportunities Pinterest. And like those are two platforms specifically that I'm really pushing my team to focus on. My guy here, Drew Pearson, he actually is one of my project managers. He focuses on this heavily and he can probably talk more into the  tools he uses.

Drew: [00:21:29] Yeah. Hi, guys. You know, that's a really interesting question, because I could give you a pretty simple answer of everything. I think when you start to really analyze data, all data has value. And so for us there, it's really you know, it's something we kind of talk about frequently is this idea that we're always finding new parts of the audience to reach. And so from there, what's valuable to us is how are we selling? What is the behavior on all these different channels? What is our engagement level on different forms of social media? If a certain photo gets more clicks than another photo, if we're getting more comments on another piece of content, if we're finding, you know, if we're looking at site flow behavior and we're finding a different conversion rate, all of that's really giving us insight into our audience. But it's also not to assume that the audience is like one static piece, but instead it's growing. So who's new? Who's returning? And that idea of, you know, the ZLINE ecosystem online is a very multi-faceted thing. Our approach has always been to innovate and kind of almost reverse engineer the approach of saying let's get out there and interact with people at all different capacities. So from there, our goal really is to say let's continue to look at the data and try to understand the behaviors of our audience. And so I personally, you know, I'm always fascinated in organic SEO as well. And how do we, as we were talking about PPC and things like that, what can you do to make your content more effective to bolster your overall online presence? Because if I'm buying keywords on a platform or just in general, but I'm also building content to supplement that and then seeing engagement, how is that reflected in my social behavior? How is that reflected in my image tags or any facet of your content? So to me, that's a really broad question. And it's kind of the one where I'm like just continue to feed on that data, because really data is valuable. But it's when you compare it that you start to like draw patterns and really formulate a strategy that's informed by the market instead of just throwing a strategy at the market.

Brian: [00:23:39] Using data to make decisions here is huge. Do you use any tools to help guide those decisions, to aggregate your data, to analyze the data, to provide insight? And, you know, it's interesting you bring up data, and we're gonna do like an entire episode just on data. We see data a lot out there in silos. And, you know, being able to bring that data in to make informed decisions can be challenging, especially when you're talking about customer acquisition as we are today. Maybe talk to us about some of the tools that you use, you know, in your digital marketing, in your retargeting strategy. You've got the Criteo tools out there and others in that space and Affiliate in social. Are you using any tools to help sell on those platforms?

Drew: [00:24:31] Well, I would say the top of the heap is just understanding the like Google AdWords environment is huge because, you know, Google is the big dog when it comes to just traffic and flow. So you kind of want to start there. But from what you learn there is you learn a lot of different behaviors and just how the Internet is kind of seeing interaction. I'm a big fan of continually rotating my tools in and out. I love finding someone who's like, "Hey, I've got a new extension for the Chrome browser that's going to tell you all about like PPC keywords." Because to me, that's where we're going to start to see even more valuable information. The same thing applies to YouTube. If I can pull up someone's channel, see what their meta tags are, see what their channel behavior is... I'm getting more insight than just their content. I'm getting insight to that. So I'm always adding and removing new Chrome browser extensions just to get a new piece of data, because it's to me, it's always like what's under this rock over here, what's not turned? From there, I would say, you know, it's also bringing that data back. You'd mentioned Brightpearl. And what's really interesting there is I mean, Brightpearl is really going to give us some of the brass tacks of like our operations. So how do we take the information we're gleaning on the ecosystem and then bring it back to what we're doing at the product level and try to inform those with each other? So I'm very big on like you need to have people sort of serving as the point where that data is interfacing with each other within the company. And from there, I mean, there's just so many different useful programs. But I'd also say it's your staff becoming familiar with the platforms, especially in social, if you can understand the platform, and there are so many good tools out there, really, that's a great place to start, because then you'll kind of fill in what more do I need and how do I supplement that information?

Brian: [00:26:13] That's a great point as well. We look out ahead, you know, past sort of PPC and social, and there're a lot of other interesting tools out there to help you acquire customers. We're talking about getting traffic to your site. But what about converting that into an actual customer? So you've got all kinds of tools like search and reviews and A/B testing, personalization, conversational commerce and, you know, and other tools. What are some of the things you use there sort of after you get someone to your site to actually get them to make a purchase and become a customer of yours?

Galen: [00:26:48] One of the things that's actually driven the most conversions for us has been adding reviews to our point of sale websites. So that's been really huge for us is creating legitimacy for the customer. And so one of the tools, there's a few competitors in this space. There's Trustpilot, there's Bazaarvoice, there're a whole bunch that're going on. But that's been really huge for our business as a whole is making sure that we have legitimate reviews. People can verify, and we find this on all of our different platforms, too. So, for instance, you know, someone goes to Home Depot, if there's no review on that product, they're probably not going to buy that product. You know, if there's reviews on it, they're gonna buy it. It's the same thing with any platform. Amazon you have the same thing. So making sure there is legitimacy in the customer is really critical. And so any tools that you find in helping that customer have legitimacy on your product has been really huge for us. And, you know, it's kind of to point to where I know the podcast is really focused on like how to really get get things dialed in in terms of like how you have one consumer. But one of the things that makes us really unique, and we were talking about this earlier today actually, is there's actually like a larger way of marketing and that's focusing on the brand as a whole and finding where these customers are, but then having other people market for you. So there's two things that happen there. There's word of mouth marketing. There's also like, well, what about a platform like Home Depot? Actually Home Depot is driving traffic for us, you know. And so we're kind of like entering this in a way where we have Lowe's selling for us. We have Overstock.com selling for us. Houzz selling for us. And then... So you can touch on that a little bit more, Andy.

Andy: [00:28:25] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we look at it, I guess a couple of different ways. I think that, you know, the podcast is more focused on like if you're selling a unique SKU or an identical SKU, I should say, and you have traffic to your website, how do you convert that? And from a website standpoint, and I think from that standpoint, I think flow is key. I think making it as simple as possible for the consumer to make the purchase, making... And it's all about comfort online, too. Are they comfortable with the structure of your web site? Are you credible? Do you have really great content that really gets them the information they need to make an informed purchase? And all those things are what we focus on the web site level. But from the brand level and the product level, we need to give those same resources because the comfort levels there with Home Depot, like that's your store around the corner, that's your store... You like Home Depot. You want to buy from Home Depot. We want you to buy from Home Depot. But we need to give Home Depot listing all of the tools that they need. You know, whether it's videos or product descriptions or the photos or the lifestyles to give them the feel within an environment space, we need to do that from a brand level, a product level to give the customer the comfort of, yes, I want to buy this product. So I guess there's two different kind of ways to look at it. There is from I'm selling the exact same SKU, or I'm building a brand and I want to get the resources out there for my product. And I think that's what differentiates us. We kind of fundamentally understand that because we are selling direct and that gives us insight into what does make the customer feel comfortable, what are they looking for and what does drive conversions? And, you know, is this content something that drives conversions or do we need to improve this content? Can we get better here?

Phillip: [00:30:25] It seems to be a recurring conversation point, Brian, in that you mentioned some time ago, at least in the consumer goods space, about buying a mattress from Wayfair. And it came and it didn't seem to match the same brand you thought you were buying. And it came in a different box and it didn't... You can sort of have that dissonance of I got a product and I got it from this place. But I don't know necessarily that, you know, that transferred my affinity to the brand. Every part of that was just not a pleasant experience. I feel like that's some of the opportunity. There's definitely an opportunity for improvement there. And I feel like that's some of the things that brands that are well positioned to prioritize the things that are brand centric messaging, rather than product centric messaging, are the ones who succeed today. And there's no use in having an excellent tool kit if you don't have a brand that resonates with the customer.

Brian: [00:31:26] I love that. Yeah, I think that that is some great advice for merchants as they go and look at tools to acquire customers. It's like, hold on. Stop. Time out. Why are you even looking to this tool or add this channel, when you don't have the brand to support that? Start with your brand. And then you can add the tools in to do the things that Andy just talked about. And it seems like I think the decision making process when it comes to making a purchasing decision for a specific software is, can our brand support this channel? Does this play into making it easier for customers to purchase? Does it make it easier for customers to find our product and our brand? You know, it sounds like those are some of the questions that need to be asked when making a purchasing decision around a piece of software that you feel like might help you acquire a new customer. What are some of the other questions that you ask yourselves, ZLINE team, when you are evaluating a tool that would help you acquire a new customer?

Drew: [00:32:38] This is Drew again. And something interesting we've talked about there is, you know, at first the natural process is going to be like, what problem am I trying to solve or what new frontier am I trying to break into? But I think we've seen a lot of success in also approaching the idea from how does this affect my current operations? When assessing what a tool does, I mean, a) naturally does it solve the problem? But b) how does this look from everyone on our team using it to our partners integrating with it? Does it really provide also like room for value? I mean, as you've heard Andy and Galen discuss as well, we're always looking for that opportunity to innovate or grow. So the idea is, we're generally not a group that satisfied with, "Okay. It checks that box." For us, it's more does it check the box? Does improve things system wide? Does it give us more insight, and does it open the door for more opportunity? That's always really what we're looking for because I've never had an experience in my time with this company where we're just satisfied with that problem solved. It's more of that problem solved, so now we can do X, Y, Z. It's always leading to future initiatives. And that to me is kind of the perspective we really have is, you know, it's fine to solve a problem, but we're not really satisfied with the status quo of breaking even on having a problem solved. So for us, it's very much looking at does it provide further integration, deeper data? Does it improve efficiency for someone who's handling this process? Does it allow us to undertake another initiative going forward? Those are kind of the big questions we find ourselves asking when we're assessing a solution or a tool.

Brian: [00:34:17] That's really interesting insight. So it's not just about what the tool can do. It's about how it affects the rest of the organization and your potential for growth.

Galen: [00:34:25] Yeah, something to add onto what you're saying. Everything that we do, and this kind of comes from Andy's DNA, but everything that we do, we focus on how we can do it differently. I know that people say that, but what that really means is, you know, there's a book that I love. It's called Blue Ocean Marketing Strategy. Everyone in marketing has probably read this book. And you guys read this as well, right?

Phillip: [00:34:46] Yeah.

Brian: [00:34:46] Yup.

Galen: [00:34:46] But there's basically one piece of that that I think is critical and that is you don't compete against everybody in the same field. Just create it so that you're the only one who's competing. And so we kind of do that with everything that we do. We do that in marketing, but we do that within our operations. We do it within our systems. We try to really focus on well what is it that everyone else is doing and how can we do that better? And I think we've pretty much done that in every part of ZLINE. Wouldn't you say?

Andy: [00:35:12] Yeah. I mean, we tried to. You can't always do that. But I mean, that's obviously our focus. And that's what we're trying to do for sure.

Phillip: [00:35:21] Well, this has been incredibly informative for me. You say people might not be a fan. I'm a fan. I think that the kinds of companies that succeed today, especially when you're talking about the average cost to acquire a customer being so high and the return on ads spend being lower multiples than they used to be, the teams that can run a little leaner, that can make better data driven insights, that can employ the right tools to work smart and not necessarily hard... Those are the ones that succeed and excel above the, you know, the other competitors in the space or carve out a new need in the consumer category. And I think from what we heard today, it sounds like ZLINE is doing that. Thank you all so much for being so candid and for sharing. And thank you for joining us here on this special edition of Future Commerce.

Andy: [00:36:17] Thank you so much. We appreciate you having us.

Galen: [00:36:19] Thanks, guys.

Brian: [00:36:19] Thank you.