SBS S5 E1
April 5, 2021

[Step by Step] How Can Brands Compete with Amazon?

94 percent of customers will blame the retailer if the delivery of their purchase goes poorly. In this episode, Adam Gardner, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Route reveals how Route gives customers peace of mind and your brand protection in case of a shipment gone awry. Listen Now!

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this episode sponsored by

Amazon continues to raise the bar of consumer expectations and in this season of Step by Step, we ask the question: “how can brands compete with Amazon?” Okay, the real question here is “how can brands compete with the continual rising customer expectations that Amazon perpetuates while keeping everyone happy and not going bankrupt,” but that doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker. Small and medium businesses, never fear, because this season we’re giving you the tools to stay profitable while delivering the Amazon-level experience at every part of the customer journey.

Brian: [00:00:36] Hello and welcome to Step by Step, a podcast by FutureCommerce, presented by Route. This is Season 5 of Step by Step, and you are listening to Episode 1 of 5.

Phillip: [00:00:47] That's right, Brian. We are back for Season 5 of Step by Step. Can't believe it. And you know, we've taught you a lot over the last four seasons, but I think we have our work cut out for you this season because the world is changing, Brian.

Brian: [00:01:05] This is like the beginning of the Lord of the Rings. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:01:10] {laughter} The world is changing. I can feel it in the water. I still remember... You're the nerd. Who says that?

Brian: [00:01:17] Galadriel. I've only read it like... I've read it. I read The Lord of the Rings is like eight times before I was 12. That's not an exaggeration. All the way through.

Phillip: [00:01:24] Wow. Nerd alert, everybody. {laughter} But the world is changing because everyone is investing online. You're listening to this for a reason, and that's because you have an eCommerce business and you're trying to take it to the next level. And what's the problem here? The problem is that people that are shopping on your website, they're shopping with your brand. They're also shopping on Amazon and Walmart, and it's getting tougher to compete than ever. And so, Brian, I guess the question we're asking this season is, how can brands compete with Amazon?

Brian: [00:02:01] It's a good question. The Amazon effect is in effect.

Phillip: [00:02:06] That's right. It's true.

Brian: [00:02:08] In fact, it's a bigger deal. It's a bigger deal than it ever has been in many ways because Amazon continues to raise the bar. In fact, the question isn't even really how do you compete with Amazon? The question is, how do you compete with changing customer expectations? And how do you keep up with Amazon? Not how do you compete with Amazon?

Phillip: [00:02:33] Ooo. I remember I had a conversation not so long ago with a brand operator and they said to me, "I can't compete with Amazon." And I said, "Well, not with that attitude, you can't." And what's amazing is that you can actually compete with the customer expectations that an Amazon shopper has of you. And we're going to teach you how to do that this season on Step by Step. But let's just start right from the outset. Who is this podcast for?

Brian: [00:03:04] This podcast is for small and medium sized businesses, DTC startups, brands on Shopify or Shopify plus or Demandware, I mean, Salesforce or Magento or big commerce or commercetools...

Phillip: [00:03:21] Are you just going to list every single Commerce or eCommerce platform?

Brian: [00:03:23] Yes. You better believe it. Anyone that's on an eCommerce platform, this is probably for you.

Phillip: [00:03:28] But in reality, if you think about it, Brian, the fastest path to implementing the tips and the tricks and the tools that we give you in this season of Step by Step is a Shopify brand. And I think that... It's vetted. We know that that will work for a certain type of independent retailer or lifestyle eCommerce business. But really, in reality, brands of all sizes can take these five episodes and learn something and apply it to your business, because you're going to learn that every single part of the customer and the shopper journey from purchase consideration to even returns, you can deliver at an Amazon level of experience. And we're going to teach you how to do that. So let's break it down. In this five part series, we're going to talk with the tech platforms and their customers who make up what I call the modern eCommerce operating system. And that's from live shipping, tracking, and insurance, to shipping and returns, to online quizzes and ratings and reviews. We're going to teach you how to meet your customers expectations step by step.

Brian: [00:04:39] Today, joining us is Adam Gardner, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Route. Super excited to have him on. With that, let get in to the show. Today, we have Adam Gardner, who runs strategic partnerships at Route, and he's here on Step by Step, which is the new series, Season 5 of Step by Step, sponsored by Route. So thank you so much, Adam, for partnering with us on the series. And welcome to the show.

Adam: [00:05:12] Yeah, of course. I'm excited to be here with you guys.

Phillip: [00:05:15] Route. You guys route things?

Adam: [00:05:21] At least you're saying it right. I realize in the English language we can say Route, we can say route. But if you're talking about the company, everyone inside the company says Route.

Brian: [00:05:32] Routeee. Routé. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:05:35] A valued service by any other name. I've been seeing you guys pop up everywhere and all the hype direct to consumer brands that I shop with. But for those who are not initiated, what is Route?

Adam: [00:05:47] Yeah, so Route is entirely focused on the post purchase experience of eCommerce. And ultimately what that means... We'll throw away some buzzwords. We'll just break this down to what it is. Ultimately, it's that point of the eCommerce experience from the time that you hit that order confirmation page that you've just made a purchase, the serotonin and the endorphins are flowing strong. You're excited to get whatever you just bought, and up until you actually safely receive that thing into your hands. And so ultimately, where this comes from is if we look back at the history of, what do we have 30 years of eCommerce experience now, in some form or another? We spend a ton of money on product awareness and discovery, rightfully so. People got to know about it to buy it. We spend a ton of money optimizing the store and making sure that it's a great experience, so people can find what they're looking for, we can recommend great solutions that are going to pair with products that they're already interested in and making sure that they can pay with various forms of payment, but then they convert. And that has been historically the whole goal. Right? Did they convert? But ultimately what we're finding is that in the consumers eyes, that's just the beginning. And what happens during shipping and delivery is actually far more indicative in whether or not that customer is going to go shop with you again. Right?

Phillip: [00:07:16] Yeah.

Adam: [00:07:16] And so we've pulled the numbers from other resources. This is not our research. But you look at Forrester, you look at any of these aggregated research houses, and 98 percent of customers say that shipping impacts their brand loyalty. And 94 percent of customers will blame the retailer if delivery goes poorly. I'm not talking about not getting the package. Just if it goes poorly. So if the customer feels like that was a poor delivery experience, who are they blaming? Not UPS, not FedEx, not the Postal Service. They're blaming the brand. Now, it's not totally fair from the brand's perspective, right? Well, hey, like we did our job, but it was the carrier. They messed it up. Or it was some jerk that was following the Amazon truck and stole it off the porch. It's not their fault.

Phillip: [00:08:03] Which happens.

Adam: [00:08:04] It does. Yeah, yeah. More and more. There was an article in The New York Times in 2019 that said, it's a perverse number, but there's like one hundred thousand packages that go missing in New York City every day.

Phillip: [00:08:17] Oh my.

Brian: [00:08:17] Oh my gosh.

Adam: [00:08:18] We will put that in the show notes. I guess I'll see if I can find the actual reference. But ultimately if something goes wrong there as far as the customer is concerned, I gave you the brand of my money and I expect you to take care of me. And so that's the whole world that we live in. So what does that mean in terms of a business? Well we put together a couple of solutions. Number one, being a customer facing shipping protection. So the customers can opt in to add additional protection to their order, you add ninety eight cents to any order, that's one hundred dollars or less in the cart or two percent of your cart total, typically for anything that's over one hundred bucks. And if that order gets lost, damaged or even stolen after the carrier takes their picture and confirms that they've done their job, even if it's stolen, you get a solution that is just a few taps on your phone and we will purchase a replacement for you from the brand at full price within twenty four hours or send you a refund if for some reason that inventory is no longer available.

Phillip: [00:09:18] Hmm.

Brian: [00:09:18] That's awesome. That's like complete guarantee.

Phillip: [00:09:22] Literally peace of mind in a bottle.

Adam: [00:09:24] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:09:25] I mean without the bottle. Digital.

Brian: [00:09:26] Yeah. And outside of that, you know, the skeptics may look at it and say, OK, but how often does that actually happen? Can you really base a whole company on three bad delivery outcomes? Well, the answer is we take it beyond that. So everybody listening to this, you can go download the Route app on your iPhone or Android device. But in addition to taking care of things that go wrong, we're also just serving the post-purchase experience when it goes exactly the way it's supposed to. So the Route app will allow you to aggregate all of your orders in one place, so you don't have to worry about saving all those emails because, we all know we're expecting more than one package at a time in this day and age. Save those emails, you don't have to go to those tracking numbers. [00:10:07] You don't have to get your tracking updates from the UPS site that has no reflection of the brand that you got it from or FedEx site or the Postal Service. You can have a co branded experience where you can see the logos of the brands you're shopping with on those tiles on a map of all of your packages, on their way to your home or office or wherever you're shipping those packages to. And this is truly anywhere that you shop and any carrier that's bringing it to you, as long as they're sending you a tracking number, we can populate that in the Route app so you can totally solidify your online shopping experience after checkout. And it all lives in the Route app. [00:10:45] And if anything goes wrong with that, well, I'd point you back to our first service, you know, a few taps your phone and we can get that issue resolved if it's protected by Route.

Phillip: [00:10:55] Well, that brings us to really the purpose of this season of Step by Step. The reasoning behind this is that, well, we've had this explosion of brands in the last four or five years launching direct to consumer brands and having to live up to these expectations that customers have of not just the pre purchase experience... We have experiential websites, we have beautiful, beautiful magazine style layout and millennial pink everywhere. Cooper Black fonts. We got it all, and it all looks nice. And you get that serotonin hit and everything's running on Shopify, right? That's the world we live in now. But the expectation from the consumer is that everything thereafter also lives up to the same level of excellence, that the brand promise comes through in the post purchase experience, too. And who set those expectations? Pop quiz. Who set those expectations of a great post purchase experience with those customers? It wasn't your brand.

Brian: [00:11:53] Sears. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:11:53] No. {laughter} Not Sears. Exactly. The Five and Dime. No, it's Amazon. Amazon set those experiences, set that expectation in your customer's mind. And so this season of Step by Step, Adam, you're going to set us up here for the next four conversations of what we can expect in this season. But but we have to compete with that expectation that we have in our minds. We as brand operators have to compete with that expectation every single day that customers have of us. And that's in a few different vectors, right?

Adam: [00:12:29] Yep. Yeah. And as we look at it, we're not talking about tearing Amazon down. We're not talking about destroying them.

Phillip: [00:12:36] No.

Adam: [00:12:36] We're not saying it's me versus them. It's just recognizing that somebody has leveled up those expectations, and we have to meet them. Because even for those of us who love direct to consumer brands and do our best to try to shop with him. I'm still going to get a bunch of commodities from Amazon, right? I still have that experience. And so yeah, take Route, for example. I just described, what we do and where we fit, and you may look at that and say, wow, that sounds really cool. And my founders might get mad at me for saying this, but we didn't invent it. Amazon did. What we did was we took this and said this is important. This is impactful. We need to make sure this is available to everybody that sells online, even if you don't sell through Amazon. And so that's the whole goal is how can I make it just as easy and give you just as much confidence to shop from a Shopify store or WooCommerce store that just popped up that has some really cool products that you want, and you don't have to worry about what happens in shipping and delivery. You don't have to worry about whether or not it's a legit store or anything like that. You can partner with brands like Route that enable you to act like Amazon without spending like Amazon or without simply selling on Amazon, right?

Phillip: [00:13:51] Yes. And there's so much more to. Right, Brian?

Brian: [00:13:54] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So I was going to ask, Adam, what would you say are all the areas now? I mean, maybe you can't get into all of them. But let's get into some of the top ones where consumer expectations have been changed by Amazon and now as direct to consumer brands and as mid-market brands and as startups, where are the places where we have to make sure that we're addressing our customers' experiential needs from top to bottom?

Adam: [00:14:24] Yeah, I mean, we can just kind of go through it in a linear fashion, right? Like if we're the customer going through that experience. I mean, first of all. Yeah, I mean, this is going to be store layout and accurate searches, easy to find those things. But I mean, look at Amazon's ability to recommend similar products. You have to have a solution that's going to make shopping recommendations to personalize and customize that experience as you go through. You've got to have solid marketing, whether that's in the platform of Amazon doing a lot of their marketing or it's outside of that. You've got to have good partners to do that. But a lot of the world that we see is again, let's just look at what happens after you check out. And there's so much that you've got to have in place to meet that expectation so that it lives up to your own brand standards. So just look at the world that Route services first. It's shipping and delivery. And I'm confident that no matter what carrier you've partnered with, that if anything goes wrong, that the brand's going to take care of it at the end of the day and that it's going to be easy and it's not going to take me a bunch of back and forth and snapping pictures and having you come back and say, we didn't like that picture. Can you take it again? Can take it from a different angle?

Phillip: [00:15:35] I just went through this. This is so timely for me. Yes, exactly.

Adam: [00:15:40] Part of that is then fast delivery. I mean, that's first and foremost, all things being equal, if somebody is looking at your product on your direct site versus on Amazon, if they have free two day shipping hands down, that's where they're going. So you've got to be able to have a delivery provider, not just the carrier, but your warehouse, who can pick and ship and meet that expectation to deliver in two days. And figure out how to make that cost effective. What happens when you get it and it's not lost, damaged or stolen, but it's just the wrong size or it's not quite what you expected. Can you handle returns easily? Is that a simple process? I mean, I love shopping on Amazon for the reason that I don't own a printer as a thirty two year old. I haven't owned one since I got out of college. I can't print the return label easily. So if that's your step is oh hey, here's a picture of return label. Print it and bring it back to us. That's a huge headache for me. And I realize this is the epitome of first world problems. But I'm not alone in this.

Brian: [00:16:40] No, no. Not at all.

Adam: [00:16:41] And I love that Amazon is just like not don't worry about that. Bring it into one of our many locations, or UPS store, or a locker box. I mean, they've got a bunch of other ones. The UPS store is closest to me. And so they scan that QR code, you drop it off and in two hours you have a refund. Right? Can somebody offer that as a Shopify store? Is there a partner that enables you to do that, so it's just as easy to shop at your boutique or your Shopify store or Magento store or whatever platform you're on? Can you meet that expectation? Because that's what the customers used to and that is going to be, aside from two day shipping, that's the criteria, is what happens after I get the thing and I need some help?

Phillip: [00:17:20] And it turns out, the partner ecosystem... I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. The partner ecosystem and technology enablement in eCommerce is at such a place now that there are solutions, just like Route allows you to have that delivery to door visibility in the same way that you might expect from Amazon, where you see it's so many stops away. You get a map and an overview. Route provides that. Every one of these points of friction in the direct to consumer experience chain, there are unique technology vendors that actually provide that. And that's going to be such an amazing thing that we have never done on Step by Step that we're doing this season that will actually introduce you to not just brands who are trying to solve this, but the actual technology vendors behind them who are helping enable it.

Brian: [00:18:20] I think it's so important because something that is happening right now, a side effect of the Amazon affect is merchants, brands, retailers that are not Amazon are now put in a position of increasing dependance and deep, deep partnership requirements with their vendors. They have to rely on them. They cannot do this on their own.

Adam: [00:18:49] Yeah.

Brian: [00:18:51] That, I think, is something you're going to hear throughout this show.

Adam: [00:18:54] And that's actually a big evolution of what you're seeing with Route is that we do have a lot of brands who just say, hey, we still want to be the ones that pick up the phone and respond to the emails or fully control this experience. How can we leverage the Route technology to recognize... Can we use your algorithm to recognize when we should honor these claims or when there's some fraud detection that it looks like somebody just figured out they might get some free replacements if they add Route to their cart and claim that something went wrong. And so we're getting to that point where, yeah, now you can just use the Route Resolve Center. You can be totally in control and just simply allow Route to create that same experience, so that users can respond to issues with their order. They can report what's wrong. Anything that the Route policy is going to cover, we'll compensate the brand for and take care or, but then the brand can set their tolerance for how they're going to handle anything else for returns, for exchanges, for things that aren't lost, damaged or stolen, but need assistance. And I think that kind of becomes the model for everybody is how can we be an extension of the brand, but ultimately still give all of that credit and that brand loyalty right back to the brand by enabling these experiences?

Phillip: [00:20:11] So I got all excited and I cut you off. You were talking about returns. What are some other areas where that customer connection is really important and meeting those expectations is really important that we're going to cover in the season?

Adam: [00:20:26] Honestly, I think in all of it, you just have to look at your customer experience and say, where's my weakest link? I'm a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. And he talks about weak link activities versus strong link activities. He compares basketball, for example. You can sign one star player and turn around your entire franchise. That one player is the strong link that elevates the whole team. It doesn't matter how good or how bad the rest of the team is. Versus soccer, you can make eight passes. And if one guy doesn't do his job, that whole sequence is broken and you don't have a goal. But [00:21:02] a soccer team is built on how strong is your weakest player? A basketball team is built on how good is your best player? eCommerce is a soccer team, right? So you are only as good as the weakest part of your customer experience. [00:21:16]

Phillip: [00:21:17] Whoa, say that again. That is good.

Adam: [00:21:20] Yeah. So there you go. [00:21:21] You are only as good as the weakest part of your customer experience, so I don't really care what part of it it is. You could have a LeBron James style website that is absolutely amazing, worth every penny that you pay for it. However, if you've got a terrible post purchase experience, it doesn't matter because we're not playing basketball here. It has to fluidly pass from the very beginning of the experience to the very end if you want that customer to rave about your brand to others and to come back to themselves. [00:21:47]

Brian: [00:21:48] This is the same idea is the power of zero or the zero concept...

Phillip: [00:21:52] The multiply by zero effect.

Brian: [00:21:55] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:21:56] Yeah. Anywhere in the equation, if a zero appears it nullifies every other value. It's such an astute point, Adam. And one that we talk about I don't think often enough.

Brian: [00:22:11] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:22:11] And how much effort and how much time and money and energy go into, you know, ad creative and onsite experience, customer journey mapping, and promotions, and marketing, and merchandizing, and inventory, and supply chain? But if you don't get it to the door in five days, in less than five days, you're kind of toast.

Brian: [00:22:36] Or if it shows up in pieces and there's very little recourse.

Phillip: [00:22:40] How does that even happen?

Brian: [00:22:43] It happens.

Adam: [00:22:43] So, yeah, so again, I mean, plug in whatever variable you want here, except for zero, like we just established. Take any stage of the customer journey, and if it's too weak, that's what you're going to be measured by. That is what the customer is going to remember. So I don't mean to inflate post purchase and say, "This is all that matters. Stop spending money on awareness and stop spending money on store." No, not at all, but for far too long read all time and eCommerce, it's been neglected, right? We just say I've got a carrier. That's their job. They're going to take care of it and then my customer will understand if something goes wrong. Well, we don't as consumers. I give you my money. I expect you to take care of it. And ultimately, it's been so neglected and so under appreciated. But any of these other solutions providers or brands that are going to be talking throughout the rest of the season, it's the same thing. You can take just the time to the door. If everything else is working, great. But, yeah, it's just going to be like two extra days. But that's fine. It's not. If you like returns and you say everything else is great. But yeah, our returns process kind of sucks. We make them wait like fourteen days by the time we get it back, evaluate it, issue them a store credit, but everything else is great. Too bad. That sucks. Nobody wants that. And it could be personalization and just being on the store. Hey, everything else is great, but we don't recommend new products to anybody. You are missing out. You are not showing your customer products that they would love and want to share with others. And frankly, you're missing out on growing your average cart value. But all of that, it's got to be aligned.

Phillip: [00:26:47] Something in your wheelhouse being that your main role there, at Route, is partnerships... Partnership is kind of the key to solving this in the modern eCommerce ecosystem. You can't be a master at everything. And despite what I keep hearing in keynote talks by venture backed, vertically integrated darlings, you can't be perfect and own every single part of the experience on your own. Or if you did, you'd probably spend more time. The opportunity cost is incredible. So these technical integrations and these partners that are appearing that solve for certain challenges on this season, how does that partnership work and how does Route partner with other vendors to help bring what is effectively the operating system of eCommerce to any brand?

Adam: [00:27:39] Yeah, I think I probably got a little bit of ahead of us here and maybe hinted at this. But it's what I said before is that ultimately those partnerships, we can't just take the glory for ourselves. We can't go to work with a brand, take care of their purchase experience and hog that spotlight. If that's the case and we're just trying to use that for, like customer acquisition and say, hey, look how cool Route is, we've missed the point because we have to be there to be a magnifying glass or a microphone or an amplifier, whatever example you want to use, for the brand that we partner with. And so whatever those technology partners that they are, it's like, yeah, great. Like, any time that you have a Route claim, it's going to have the Route logo on it. You're going to know that your order is protected with Route or that the brand has invested in building out their brand profile in the Route app. And that's what enables that. That's fine. I'm not talking about white labeling everything that we do, but ultimately the customer does have to feel like this was a decision of the brand to partner with somebody like this, to give me this experience so that that love and appreciation and loyalty goes back to the brand that you partner with and whatever service area that partner works in, I don't think it matters. It just ultimately has to point back to the brand that you partnered with.

Brian: [00:28:56] I think that's really smart because it still comes down to the brand. The customer is not going to be like, "Oh, hey, Route messed this up. It's Routes fault." They're going to be like, "Oh, hey, such and such customer, messed this up. It's their fault," you know? So the importance of having partners that you can rely on and trust like Route is absolutely essential. You know, it's interesting, as we have progressed towards this over the past five years, we've started to see a lot of startups pop up and then a lot of consolidation. And I'm curious, are we starting to see a sort of like these sort of more rolled up bundled solutions appear of purchased and sort of consolidated tool sets into a single handful of solutions? AKA is Shopify eating the world? And if we are, are there downsides to this? Is this even right? Is this a cynical take? What's your position?

Adam: [00:30:04] I mean, yeah, take the Shopify example. I think there's a common fear out there. If you create an app on Shopify, is Shopify going to go duplicate it, and push you out?

Phillip: [00:30:14] {throat clear} Yes. Yeah, yeah.

Adam: [00:30:17] Am I allowed to say that here?

Phillip: [00:30:18] Yeah. This is a safe space, Adam.

Adam: [00:30:20] From a product standpoint, it used to be the fear that you would roll something out on Amazon and then Amazon would create an Amazon Basics version of your product and push it.

Phillip: [00:30:28] {singing} It's the circle life...

Adam: [00:30:30] So yeah. But at the same time, I think as we run into some of these other brands excuse me, not brands, but eCommerce solutions, that if you prove that you can do one thing really well, the brands want you to do other stuff too. You'll find those solution providers that are like, "Look, our customers are asking us to get into this space because they love the way we handle X and they want us to do Y, and it's close enough to what we do. We think it's a good idea and we're going to make an investment in there." So in an ideal sense, I think a lot of these guys that are not Shopify, but a lot of these these companies that have the ability to expand and take on other offerings and offer new solutions to their customers, they're still in the eCommerce space, but maybe another thing that they started with, I think that's just the reward of doing the first thing they set out to do really well and having the trust to say, "Hey, we can also do this and using that base that they've built up with Solution X," that base says, "Yes, we trust you with X, we would love to do Y with you as well." But then at the same time, yeah, you're just going to have juggernaut behemoths like Shopify that say we're doing it because we can. Now in Shopify's defense, Shopify does a really good job of not letting you know it's a Shopify store when you're shopping on Shopify, right? So to my earlier point, Shopify is really good at letting brands be themselves, but use their technology to enable it. So, of course, folks with stores on Shopify would be confident letting Shopify take care of their split payments, insert any solution that they have duplicated from a provider...

Brian: [00:32:11] A creative monopoly, if you will,

Adam: [00:32:14] And excusable monopoly? A loveable monopoly? I don't know if any of that works.

Phillip: [00:32:18] Don't worry, it's only a matter of time because the other circle of life is unbundling. There's bundling and then there's unbundling.

Brian: [00:32:25] That's the next phase.

Phillip: [00:32:25] And pretty soon Shopify payments will become, you know, we saw eBay spun out PayPal. It's like, just give it long enough. Shopify payments will be its own thing. And then they'll have to compete with Shopify itself. Like, the wheel just keep turning. I mean, I had been predicting for years that AWS would be split out into its own company. And, you know, that ain't happening any time soon.

Brian: [00:32:50] Not anymore.

Phillip: [00:32:52] Not now.

Brian: [00:32:52] That was why that move happened.

Phillip: [00:32:54] This went from an Evergreen podcast to, like, really firmly fixed in time podcast, with that reference.

Brian: [00:33:01] You definitely go with the recording now.

Phillip: [00:33:04] Exactly. {laughter} I'm curious, Adam, here, maybe we could set up the next four episodes. Could you give us a little bit of a sneak peek into what we have in store and what we can expect over the next few days?

Adam: [00:33:20] Yeah, absolutely. So you've heard from us. You know what Route does. Really focused on that post purchase experience. In a similar vein, we've got folks from Shipbob and a brand that works closely with them to talk about how important it was for them strategically to have a partner like Shipbob that enables them to compete with two day shipping. Can you get your inventory spread out strategically to where anybody in the country or any of the markets that you service can experience two day delivery? Beyond that, we've got Happy Returns who's going to be talking about exactly the experience we talked about. Can you be an independent direct to consumer store that does not sell on Amazon and still offer a no return label returns experience? So some very cool things for them. We've got... Go ahead.

Brian: [00:34:06] Oh. Just so cool.

Adam: [00:34:08] Yeah, yeah. I still cross my fingers every time I have to do a return with a brand, I'm like, I hope you guys are in the twenty first century. And then we've got Octane AI talking about the segmentation and personalization on the website experience, making sure that folks are finding what they're looking for, that you are suggesting to them things that are going to grow the cart, grow the experience, and make it better all around.

Phillip: [00:34:51] Woo. I can't wait. Well, I mean, I'm going to be honest. I've already heard two of these recordings. They're great.

Brian: [00:35:00] They're awesome.

Phillip: [00:35:01] They're amazing. They're like, honestly, two of my favorite Step by Step episodes we've ever done just because they're like really insanely interesting. [00:35:09] I learned something a couple seasons ago of this show, which is that customers really appreciate selling when it meets a need. They really appreciate hearing about something that's useful when it has a real... When it's really highly applicable to the situation that they find themselves in. They don't mind being sold to. [00:35:30] And I feel like without saying that we're selling, effectively hearing a customer success story of how they solved this challenge, which is presumably one of the biggest challenges we have in eCommerce, is solving this right here. You want to hear directly from the horse's mouth of how they're doing it and you want to hear from brand leaders, you want to hear from operators, and you want to hear from the technology partners that enable it. I think that's the power of what we do on Step by Step and why it's unique and distinct and why people love it. So I couldn't be more pumped for this season of Step by Step. Any last words, Adam?

Adam: [00:36:07] Ultimately, we're doing something that's not sexy, right? I remember the first time I heard about Route, some really trusted colleagues of mine that I had worked with at Qualtrics, which fine we've already timestamped this, just went public this week for 14 billion dollars, opening the market. These are trusted colleagues that left Qualtrics to be a part of Route talking about shipping insurance being the next exciting thing. And I couldn't... I had to suspend my disbelief and say, what are these guys talking about? How can this be the next big thing? But when you take a step back and you ignore, OK, it's not about shipping insurance, it's not about warehousing. It's not about QR codes versus shipping labels. It's about customer experience. And that in these stages that are not sexy, that are not fun or exciting to talk about, like what happens after a customer reaches a confirmation page, but before they get the thing that they ordered, you find that there is a huge impact on your business and it becomes a huge indicator on whether or not that customer is going to come back to you again. All that money that we spend in the other parts of the customer journey and optimization, it deserves to get that kind of... We deserve to spend that type of money and that type of attention in making sure customers are taken care of here as well, because it is a weak link process. And [00:37:25] if post purchase is your weak link, then you're going to be losing customers all day. And it doesn't matter what your conversion rate is of people that reach your site, you're not going to be around for very long if they don't want to come back.  [00:37:36]And that's ultimately what these solutions providers that we've put together at Route create. You've got some really unique thought leaders here. I mean, to make another plug for Route, we're free to the merchant. So everything I have just described to you here is funded by customers who voluntarily choose to pay an additional ninety eight cents on their order to protect it. So when I say that you should be investing into this the same as the rest, I'm not talking about increasing your spend by 30 percent to make up for post purchase. There are creative, interesting, amazing ways to solve this problem without grossly inflating your budget, e.g. Route is free. And we've created interesting, unique business models that allow it to be a Michael Scott win win win for everybody where the merchant is able to offer an amazing post purchase experience. Customers are taken care of in an automated way. And Route gets to be you know, we get to do what we do best. We add value to both. And I think that's what you'll see with these other solutions providers that we've included in this and the brands that can speak to that and show that we're not just blowing smoke or puffing our chests up. There's real impact here. And we're definitely excited to over the next few months and whatever period of time, hear from listeners on how this stuff is actually affected them and improved their businesses.

Phillip: [00:39:00] Where can people find Route? I assume it's Route.com.

Adam: [00:39:03] It is Route.com. Yeah, fortunately we are just Route.com. There's no misspelling, there's no...

Brian: [00:39:13] No Millennial's Spelling.

Adam: [00:39:14] No millennial spelling. No dot net or anything like that. Just Route.com.

Phillip: [00:39:21] Yeah. Love it. And Adam, thank you so much for championing this season of Step by Step. And I can't wait. It's going to be an amazing season. Amazing week. Thank you for listening. And we want to hear from you. Drop us a line. Let us know how valuable Step by Step is to you and how you are improving your post purchase experience with your customers. You can do that by sending us an email at hello@FutureCommerce.fm. Hey, thank you so much for listening to this episode of Season 5 of Step by Step. And it was brought to you by the fine folks at Route and all of their partners who actually made this possible. And just remember, Route is the premiere post purchase experience platform. And that means that anything that you need from the click of the checkout button all the way to the package arriving safely inside the home, Route can have you covered. That's live package tracking updates. That's order protection. That covers things from missing packages and broken items and poor carrier communication. And customer service automation. All of those things save you time and money, but it puts money back into your pockets because customers are going to come back and purchase again. You should check out Route. I'm a big fan, and 8,000 other retailers all over the world are too. It's completely free for you. And even better, it could put money in your pocket today if you take a hundred dollar gift card when you sit down and take a demo and that's all you got to do. You can go get that demo, go get it right now, at Go.Route.com/FutureCommerce. Go get the demo today at Go.Route.com/FutureCommerce. Other episodes can be found at FutureCommerce.fm. Drop us a line and email us. Tell us what you think at hello@FutureCommerce.fm and subscribe to our Insiders and The Senses newsletter that come out every Tuesday and every Friday. You can get that at FutureCommerce.fm/Subscribe. Thank you so much for listening to Step by Step.

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