Episode 212
July 9, 2021

What does a CDP do? Provide Real Time Relevance at Scale

With great customer data power comes great customer data responsibility. Josh of Blueshift and Houman of Carparts.com join the pod to chat all things CDP and why brands need to leverage their customers’ data well. Listen Now!

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this episode sponsored by

“OMG CDP” 

  • Wait. What exactly is CDP? Customer Data Platform.
  • Wielding CDP well means brands can provide a freaky-personal experience for customers.
  • Customers will freely give brands their first-party data if it means their experience will be better. Don’t blow it by making their experience worse.
  • “If the expected behavior is convenience, then not only it's not freaky, it's what they're hoping and expecting you to do and they reward you with that with more activity and more loyalty over time.” - Josh
  • CDP can power personalization and segmentation efforts. How do we know if this is too “big-brotherish?” Look at your open and click-through rates.
  • “If your open rates are suffering, then, hey, something's wrong with your messaging strategy and what you're personalizing around.” - Houman
  • Click-through and open rate metrics are direct indications of how much your customer is enjoying your content.
  • You can’t manage privacy compliance issues only through email anymore. CDP’s are important in helping manage privacy issues, etc.
  • “When customers opt into giving you data, if they never see the net benefit of that and it only benefits your business, then the customers aren't going to keep giving you data.” - Brian
  • The writing has been on the wall, regulatory changes are coming in customer privacy. Houman is combating this by doubling down on Carparts.com’s first party data strategy.
  • CDP should ultimately be used to build a meaningful relationship and loyalty with your customers.
  • “The future of customer engagement is real time relevance at scale” - Josh

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Brian: [00:01:53] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:58] And I'm Phillip. And today we get to learn together and understand my newest, most favoritest acronym, CDP. OMG, CDP. I've been hearing so much about customer data platforms and today we have with us the two folks who are going to help us solve it and hear more about it, learn how you can use it in your business to take you to the next level and how we can future proof your business by understanding what you can do with the CDP and how you can fit it into email marketing, customer service, data management, all of those things. Welcome to the show, Josh and Houman.

Josh: [00:02:33] Great to be here. Thanks for having us.

Houman: [00:02:34] Likewise.

Phillip: [00:02:35] Yeah. Just take a quick second. Give us the five second intro, the LinkedIn brief bio. Houman, who are you? Where you come from?

Houman: [00:02:45] Yeah. Hey, I'm Houman Akhavan, Chief Marketing Officer at CarParts.com and we're a direct to consumer retailer of aftermarket auto parts. And our mission is really to get drivers back on the road. And it's really fitting. All time used car ownership is at an all time high. You know, vehicles aging on the road. And these are all things that kind of point themselves to people needing to repair their vehicles without breaking the bank. So it's really done well for our business. And I'm happy here to join this conversation.

Brian: [00:03:15] Awesome.

Phillip: [00:03:15] Yeah. I'm glad to have you. Josh, tell us about yourself.

Josh: [00:03:18] Yeah. So Josh Francia, the Chief Growth Officer of Blueshift and Blueshift, is one of those customer data platforms, those CDPs that you mentioned at the top of the show. And we are a unique blend of a CDP where we combine marketing, automation, AI and a CDP all together. And we help customers connect with their customers and make their experiences more relevant and intelligent.

Brian: [00:03:48] So cool.

Phillip: [00:03:48] Awesome. So between the two of you, we have the market leading experts on the software that will solve it and an operator who actually knows how to use it. I feel like we can get to the bottom of it today. Yeah. Brian, you know how excited I am about this episode.

Brian: [00:04:04] Definitely. CDP has long been a really interesting topic for me, because I am all about the customer and having a relationship with a customer and building out meaningful experiences for customers. So I think it'd be really good place to start for the uninitiated, Josh, maybe you could give us just a quick summary of, like, what a CDP does. I think that would be helpful.

Josh: [00:04:39] Sure, yeah, and there's definitely a lot of brands that have called themselves CDPs in the last year or two, which has kind of made it a little confusing for marketers to understand what CDPs really do. But it's fairly simple. So CDP, or Customer Data Platform does three primary things. It unifies your first party data. So it ingests first party data from wherever it originates, whether that's on your website, on your mobile app, in your customer service call center, on your actual, you know, in-store... Wherever you are originating customer data, it will grab data from there. And then it unifies that data into profiles, customer profiles, that serve as more or less three sixty or single customer views. So everyone knows kind of where the last interaction happened, historical interactions and things like that, and then allows you to segment that data and slice and dice it without using sequel or any kind of engineering code. It's very easy to segment and then it allows you to push that data, those audiences, wherever they need to go. So that's in definition the very simplest way of saying CDP: unifies your first period data, makes profiles, allows you to segment data, and then it pushes data where it needs to go. So that in general speaking is like the definition of a CDP.

Phillip: [00:06:05] It's funny, I didn't hear you saying anything about transactional email or batch and blast which is, I think the thing that I keep hearing that... {laughter} "Oh, if you have X email platform, then it is your CDP." Is it? I don't know. I'm not an operator. Maybe CarParts.com, Houman, maybe you can tell me how that is a misconception or how you think about it in your business and how you use CDPs.

Houman: [00:06:32] Yeah, I think to sum it up it really comes down to relevancy. If you, and you said it perfectly, batch and blast... If you think five, 10, 15 or even 20 years ago, I mean email marketing has been around for a long time and that's what it really started as. It was batch and blast, one email to your entire email list. So a lot of guessing had to really go into that. It's like you have individuals on your email list, they're customers. They have different preferences. There's different things that really motivate them. And the ideas were then there. But the capabilities weren't from a technology perspective. I think what you're seeing today with CDPs is now you have the capabilities to really personalize and individualize your messaging on a one to one basis and do it in scale. Right? So for us, I think the perfect example is in automotive, in auto parts, everything is really about the vehicle that the customer drives. So if you're a Ford owner, I don't think you really care to know much about Chevys. Right? And vice versa. Or if you own a Honda or Toyota, you really don't care to know about other parts that don't fit your vehicle. So for us, your make model applications, I mean, in terms of number of records, we're talking about 50 to 100 million different applications of parts that fit different vehicles, but how to understand what that vehicle is that customer drives in real time and personalize the messaging, the creative, the parts that fit that vehicle has really been our strategy. And we've seen tremendous success over the last two years being able to leverage CDPs, such as Blueshift, to really personalize those experiences. And I think that's just really the beginning and that's where we're kind of scratching the surface. But there's a lot more to it that hopefully we can get into.

Brian: [00:08:17] I'm just thinking about all the different things that this could fit into, like the connection to even like the product data. And as you were talking about car parts like your PIN. So tell me how this sort of plays itself out. Like we said, email marketing. But, you know, I can imagine the data management, customer service, email marketing and other places. How are you taking that aggregated data and then pushing it out in relevant ways to all the different other channels of your business?

Houman: [00:08:49] I mean, we leverage those predictive segments that you can also use where you might identify the audience of users on your list that again, maybe it's vehicle based, maybe it's different activities that are taken on the website. So you could push those segments out to social, such as Facebook, and be able to create creative and target those users on those platforms. But again, I think you kind of touched on it. It is your PIM has to be integrated there. So our product catalog is integrated into our CDP. All of the activity that that user is taking place on the website is also in that CDP, and then also transactional history. What are the things that that individual may have purchased in the past? And it's just really bringing all these data points together to make the most relevant messaging or experience that you can. And email is a very basic place to start, but you can also push that out to other places and you can also extend it to your website, too. It just doesn't have to be limited to marketing channels. It's also about creating relevant experiences on your website as well, too.

Brian: [00:09:52] That makes a lot of sense. And one of the things that, as I thought about CDP, this is the next generation of commerce, what the show is all about, where you could create an experience for customers that is so unique to them that it almost might be freaky to them. {laughter} So really what it should be...

Phillip: [00:10:20] {laughter} The Jimmy Johns of eCommerce is what we're trying to do.

Brian: [00:10:23] The freaky personal, you know, I think back to like, what was that? The airline that had the, like, customized napkins. Customers got kind of freaked out by that. Oh, that

Phillip: [00:10:34] Oh yeah. That was...

Brian: [00:10:35] So how do you use this data to build relationships? Let's kick this one over to Josh.

Josh: [00:10:42] Yeah. I mean, it all comes down to, I think, customers as they give you first party data, and that's becoming more and more in their control on what they give, what they allow brands to use. But as [00:10:56] they give you that first party data, they have an expectation that it's going to be used by your company to make their experience with your company more convenient. And when that expectation is violated, that's where you get people that are really upset. And that's why they're saying, "Listen, forget me. Don't ever target me. Don't send me more emails. Don't send me push notifications," because you're not really using the data they've given you to make their experience any better. In fact, a lot of companies will take this first party data and use it to make the company better. They'll use it to enrich analytics and forecasting and things like that. But the customer is not benefiting. The customer hasn't seen a change and customers are expecting it. [00:11:38] And when companies do that, and do that well, those customers don't ever want that first party data to be forgotten or not remembered. In fact, it would be a major disservice and inconvenience for them if they had to reintroduce themselves to you again as a brand. And so what we found and what we see across all of our our customer base is this idea of becoming more relevant to them by using the first party they give to you and holding it and reflecting it back to them so their experiences are enriched. And so it's careful. You don't want to be, you know, freaky, in your parlance, Brian and Phillip. But I think the idea is it's not freaky if it's expected.  [00:12:23]If the expected behavior is convenience, then not only it's not freaky, it's what they're hoping and expecting you to do and they reward you with that with more activity and more loyalty over time. [00:12:36]

Phillip: [00:12:37] Would you say that the expectation scale's dependent on the industry or the consumer category? Let's use car parts as an example. You know, I currently have a 2018, no 2019 Volvo XC 60, right? So my expectation is if I'm searching for aftermarket parts, you're going to remember that because that's like the reason why I shop with you. I don't need to see every single, you know, whatever door trim that you've have in stock. I'm not shopping in that way. I have a very specific modality of shopping. But, you know, I've been a customer of other online auto parts vendors and I don't have those cars anymore either. So it's not like their understanding of me as a customer has grown and changed as I've grown up into other cars and got a family car and that's a thing that's changed over time as well. Like, my relationship to that brand didn't stay in, you know, in lockstep with my growth as a consumer. Does that translate to face cream, I guess is the thing that I'm trying to figure out? It seems very natural in your one expression of commerce, Houman.

Houman: [00:13:59] Yeah. I mean, I think every vertical is different. And you're absolutely right. Vehicles matter if you're selling auto parts, but they don't if you're selling face cream. But even within the cosmetic industry, and I've had clients in the past, it's like what skin condition do you have? And what are the products that are relevant? So, again, it goes back to personalization and relevance and really understanding your customer at the end of the day and making recommendations that are relevant to that individual because their skin condition may actually be something that you might want to optimize around. And you're right, there are going to be customer attributes that over time are going to become less relevant because you no longer have that vehicle. You may no longer have that skin condition. So you just have to make it easy for the user to update those preferences ultimately. But to answer the earlier question, like in terms of is it getting too freakish about knowing too much about your customers or to what extent you personalize? And there is a balance. But I always you know, you leverage your metrics and be willing to test. Don't always make an assumption of what you think might be relevant versus not relevant or something that's just too much Big Brother-ish. So if your click through rates or your open rates, you know, these are metrics that also indicate whether that customer is enjoying the content that you're serving them. So if your open rates are suffering, then, hey, something's wrong with your messaging strategy and what you're personalizing around. But if your open rates, engagement rates, and those metrics are improving over time, then use that as the guide to kind of really, really guide the strategy versus, you know, guessing.

Phillip: [00:15:34] Can I pitch in one thing? I think that there's something really novel also, by the way, Brian High five me, because that was called a leading question.

Brian: [00:15:43] {laughing} I caught it.

Phillip: [00:15:44] There's something interesting that I think CDP allows. I know we're all hung up on first party data and cookieless right now because that's what everybody's talking about. But there's a question that often comes up in a brand's lifecycle and it's maturity of acquiring second party data, like data overlay, and/or what do I do and how do I house some data that may be protected based on privacy regulation, things like date of birth? Where do I store household income? Does that belong in eCommerce platform? It's stuff I want to know about my customer, but where do I put that? Does it belong in the ERP? I think a CDP becomes a great conversation point around, hey, this is a natural place where customer data should live, number one, but it also introduces complexity into the enterprise because now I have yet another platform that must be integrated with all these other things. How do you balance that, Josh, in the light of like there is a point along the maturity path of a merchant at which they need to adopt this in preparation for where they're trying to get to?

Josh: [00:16:47] Yeah. I mean, I think the nice thing about CDPs is it's primarily first party data, but it's flexible enough to accept sources from any party as long as it can be essentially associated with that first party data, if that makes sense. So there's a limit to what data you can collect as a first party, and there is certain data that's going to be more maybe segment driven or market driven or things that you're not able to get insights on that. And as a company, you probably love to say, like, I would love to understand a little bit more beyond what I see of my customers, so I can enrich their experience. And you can do that and you can introduce those into CDPs, and CDPs provide ways for you to manage that data separately. Because that data has to be managed, has to be activated differently. You can't obviously take, you know, email addresses you find somewhere and then start mailing them. There's a lot of legality and regulations you have to be protected against. But CDPs allows you the format and the structure to manage and contain all those pieces, so you can still leverage them in the right places, but not misuse them in the wrong places, if that makes sense. And I think one of the biggest pieces we see now is consent and privacy management is really important. Right? It used just to be managed on the channel level. So email vendors, you know, you sent an email and they manage the opt outs for, you're CAN-SPAM compliant, and everyone's happy. But now you have to not only be CAN-SPAM compliant, you also have to be CCPA compliant and GDPR compliant. And there's going to be a host of those regulations that continue to come out that you have to be compliant there. So where are you going to manage that? You can't manage that email anymore. You have to manage it at a higher level because you can't run the risk of forgetting to forget somebody, {laughter} if that makes sense.

Brian: [00:18:39] Right.

Josh: [00:18:40] And getting in trouble. And so those also allows CDPs, or the structure of the CDP, allows you to do all those things in a flexible framework, but still manage the full consent and privacy issues that customers are now having to deal with.

Brian: [00:22:48] It feels like this is the opportunity you have to, like we're just talking about earlier, set good expectations. I think that's...

Josh: [00:22:59] Right.

Brian: [00:22:59] That's what it really comes down to, is the data. You said something earlier that just totally made sense when you said it, but I was like I hadn't thought about it that way. But when customers opt into giving you data, if they never see the net benefit of that and it only benefits your business, then the customers aren't going to keep giving you data.

Josh: [00:23:26] Right. Right.

Brian: [00:23:26] And so the beauty of like having a CDP and being able to manage things at that level and have those expectations set, like how is your data are going to be used by this company? How is your data going to be beneficial to you? Like those are all things to me that are like, OK, that's... Phillip, you brought this up like as a negative. Everyone's talking about cookieless future right now. I kind of want to talk about this, too, because these are the kinds of things we're going to have to face as we get into a situation where we can't use data the way we used to. And so I think this is exciting as like a benefit. I'd love to hear both of your thoughts on this. Now that we're having to rely on first party data, what does that mean for how we're going to market? How are we going to change how we market coming up here? And obviously, Google pushed the data out by a couple of years, but honestly, that's just because it was going to be so catastrophic. Now we really get into the next two years of like planning out how things are going to change. I'd love to hear both your thoughts on this.

Houman: [00:24:36] Cool. I can jump in here. You kind of touch on on a number of things. And in relation to this cookieless world that we're going to, and Josh touched on some of those, like in terms of all these regulatory changes that are coming. I mean, the writing's been on the wall. And from our perspective, the CarParts.com, it's we just double down on our first party data strategy. We were never really big on let's go acquire these third party lists and things like that, because they never work out and they just seem to be shortcuts. So the first party data strategy and approach that we've taken has really been just to double down on knowing more about our customers. And when they're sharing that information with you, they also know where it came from. There isn't this mystery about why you're getting marketed to and not knowing how this particular entity got your information. Right? So that's part of it.

Josh: [00:25:23] When I think about first party data and it taking the spotlight... Well, I think good companies that were in it for the long term originally already had it in the spotlight. And they were thinking about this a long time because any company doesn't want to be dependent upon things it can't necessarily control. And so you can control your first party data. But I think with the shift that we're seeing happening is first party data generally was used primarily to get the transaction. Let's use our first party data. It's all around the transaction where the most the first data is generated. And then we just say, OK, let's go to the next person that's ready to transact. Like, "OK, hey, Brian, you've got your car parts for your car. Your brakes are probably good for the next six months or a year." Let's call the next person that needs brakes. And it was always that acquisition performance, marketing focus of who is next in line to buy something from me today? And I could always tap in, if I couldn't have enough first party to tap into another third party data source and said, I know people that need brake pads. Advertise to them over here on these display networks, over here on these social networks, and they'll buy brake pads, and, oh, my gosh, isn't that great? And I think that's still important. You still need that outbound motion of finding new people. But I think what first party data is going to allow you to do is say, well, if Brian needs brake pads, Brian is interested in taking care of his car himself. What else does Brian do? Do we need to educate Brian? What other content can we talk to Brian about that he's interested in in between the next transaction? So how do I keep him engaged in between the transaction? So when the transaction comes again, like, oh, you know what? He doesn't need brake pads, but steering fluid's down or whatever, he goes and buys from me without even going anywhere else. He doesn't think about going on Google and searching. He doesn't think about going somewhere else because we built a relationship with him over this period because we're talking about things he's interested in, and we're providing value to him and we're not asking him to transact. And I think that's the difference. And you can see it across tons of verticals. Right? It's not just retail or others. [00:27:35] It can play in a lot of verticals. How can we build a relationship with someone after their first transaction, so they will come back to us and we'll have more of their mindshare when they're ready to transact again? I think that's what first party data allows you to do. It allows you to build your active customer base up and keep them engaged, which has enormous impacts on your growth and trajectory as a company, because you now can predict your revenue because, you know as I add more active customers as they get through this engagement cycle, they will become more loyal to me and ultimately will spend a lot more money with me. And they become brand loyalists. [00:28:15] So I don't have to compete. I don't require them. I don't have to compete for their business anymore. All I have to do is make sure I'm continuing to be relevant to them, regardless of where they are in the buying cycle.

Phillip: [00:28:26] We can be accused on this show of the dreamy market-y sort of, what you might call sort of the the blue sky sort of, "Oh, wouldn't it be great? You put you have this customer data and now you have this content connection and you're resonating with the customer." And you know what? When I talk to a merchant, they're actually quite tactical in the way that they want to use it. They say, "I have Nielsen and IRI data. I don't know how to use it to tell me which of my customers have pets. That's the thing I want to know," and there really isn't a clear answer for a customer that is asking a question like that, who has some sense of what they want to do with it. Like, do they bootstrap that and decide, "Well, we already have that data source somewhere, I don't know how to connect that to the actual experience?" Right? "I know how to email them. I can email them. I can do something. But I don't know how to make the experience live end to end. I don't know how to make it seamless." And that's the sort of breakdown. We can make that a first party, like we'll brute force that and put that into the eCommerce platform and make a guided quiz and we'll get that information one way or another. But we probably already have it elsewhere. We just don't know how to connect it. And what I'm assuming and not having ever implemented a CDP, because back in my day when we were doing eCommerce, you built everything from scratch, you know, and that's just how it was. So, you know, not having ever implemented something like this, my assumption is that there's parts of the experience that are beyond just marketing, that are even content based, that are being driven based on the interaction of the CDP. And I guess is is that a question for you, Houman, is like, how much of that is actually playing into on-site experiences today? How much are you driving directly out of segmentation from an engine like a CDP from Blueshift?

Houman: [00:30:28] Yeah, I think the same reasons that we've talked about. Personalization and relevancy in the email channel. They also apply to the website as well too. That same customer who's visiting back to the website, who drives the Volvo, if I can personalize experience around that vehicle, you know, I should be doing it right. Otherwise, I'm really delivering a generic experience. So I think ultimately I really see the email, even an extension of the website. So if you're not personalizing an email, you should. And the same thing also applies to your email channel as well. And then also your content strategy as well, too. I mean, we even develop a lot of content because we're trying to capture customers at different stages. At some stage, they might just be looking for informational how-to content. Or maybe something doesn't work on their vehicle and they're diagnosing it and they're doing a search. They're clearly at a different stage of that journey. So we produce content and we also try to tie that content back to these customer attributes, so we can serve them content that might be more relevant to them. So we're just delivering a better experience. I also wanted to kind of go back to the thought around this, you know, this preparation for this cookieless world that we're going. And you're right, Google's given us a little bit more time as much as we were preparing for when it was going to happen in 2022. It's great that it's being pushed out to 2023. But the preparation is you really need to prepare for getting customers to be comfortable logging into your website. Before it was always around, "Hey, keep it as frictionless as possible," and and it was OK if somebody does a guest check out they don't necessarily log in. But with third party cookies going away and having that first party relationship with the customer, you need to get them logged in. In terms of preparation for that, it's what is that value exchange as a retailer or brand that you're providing the individual to want to create an account to your website? Because ultimately, that's the preparation for cookies, you know, being deprecated. And for us, we're like thinking about, hey, what are the things that we can provide to the consumer that's going to want them to create an account on the website that is going to want them to provide information? Maybe it's 365 day, returns. There's always these things that you can provide to the consumer. And [00:32:42] I think as brands, we all ultimately need to understand what is the value of having a logged in user? Because up to this point, you had anonymous cookies. You can track whoever you wanted to and there was really no repercussion. So I think as we're getting prepared for third party cookies going away, think about what can I really provide the user? It's really this value exchange in exchange for them to provide more information that I can deliver better experiences to that individual, whether it's email, whether it's social, whether it's display, whether it's your website. [00:33:11]

Brian: [00:33:11] Interesting. I wonder, and I'll muse here for a sec, but I do have a question. I wonder how this impacts, like marketplace purchasing and even drives the value of a sale on Amazon down further because you're not acquiring data, as you've said, like when you have a guest check out on your site, the value of that's a lot lower in the future than it would have been now. And so I'm thinking that marketplace purchasing is also going to be less appealing because you're not collecting data and collecting data is almost as much of value as the actual purchases now.

Phillip: [00:34:01] You mean distributing on marketplaces.

Brian: [00:34:02] Exactly. Exactly, yes. So it's very, very interesting. One thing that they kind of caught my attention as you were chatting is, Houman, obviously you're a CMO and it sounds like you own CDP at CarParts.com, but where is CDP typically owned in org? And so it's probably a question for you, Josh, like who are you typically selling to and who are you seeing owning this side of the business?

Josh: [00:34:37] Yeah, it does vary a little bit. I mean, we definitely sell and talk to a lot of CMOs, like Houman, but what we've noticed is there's a lot, there's an up and coming kind of new ownership, which is MarTech and heads of MarTech or VPs of MarTech and stuff like that, where they're part product and part marketing, where they kind of sit in the middle and they manage the stack and they make sure that they're getting the right stakeholders in the meeting. But they kind of manage that because there's obviously a lot of choices out there in the MarTech landscape. And they want to make sure that other companies are getting to the point where they need to be. It needs to be managed, needs to be handled. And too often, I think maybe some of these companies have to hire new people. And they said, "Oh, I used to use such and such and my last company. Let's get it here." And then all of a sudden, well, we have four of those. Do we need another one? You know, and then all of a sudden they look like, "Why are we spending so much money on something?" And I think what we've seen is the move has been to when they're selecting these types of software, the move has been away from these monolithic you know, it does everything stacks, to more of these best in breed stacks with the fewest number of parts, if that makes sense. So people don't want literally individual point solutions for everything. That becomes a nightmare. And they generally scale out of that fairly quickly. But they also don't want to be just one monolithic stack. And they say, "Well, it does A and B good, but the rest of it's awful and now we're stuck with it." They want to get the best of breed, but the fewest number of options. Right? And so if they can do what they want with maybe three or four technologies, they'll do that versus 20 technologies.

Phillip: [00:36:18] Gartner would call that Composable Commerce TM. It's the best of breed stacks that create in a nuevo suite of products a la, I guess the monoliths, the SAPs of the world would have probably sold an entire suite and then staffed it with one hundred and fifty people to operate it.

Josh: [00:36:45] {laughter} Right. Right. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:36:45] You know, in another world. Houman, what was the org structure like before, prior to CDP. Where did that customer data live and how long ago did you recognize the need to implement?

Houman: [00:37:00] For us it's lived within marketing because I think ultimately we want to deliver relevant experiences to our customers, and we want to really understand the customer. But, yes, there is that partnership with technology. And even if you think about the CMO role, and this may be a discussion for a different podcast on another day, but the traditional definition of a CMO, it's somewhat also become dated. Now it's like it's if you don't understand the capabilities out there from a technology perspective, from a data science perspective, there's all these capabilities you have to deliver better experiences to your customers. So I think understanding that and being mindful of it so you could, you know, understand what the capabilities are out there now, whether you need to partner with your technology organizations or your data science organizations. It still comes down to the marketer ultimately at the end of the day, because they may not have line of sight or they may not be thinking about those things. Ultimately, as a CMO, you think about the customer and you think about what is the best experience to deliver to them. So I think it starts with the marketing organization because you own that customer relationship. But you need to also partner with the different parts of the organization. But I think it starts with marketing.

Phillip: [00:38:15] Is there a Chief Digital Officer outlined? Someone that sort of owns that or is that effectively your role because everything is digital at CarParts.com?

Houman: [00:38:28] Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think every organization is a little bit different. If an organization was... Like at CarParts.com, we're a pure play. So we grew out of the Internet. But if you're a traditional offline organization, then, yeah, it's more likely that you would see a Chief Digital Officer. Just in this organization, CMO title was fitting, but you wear multiple hats. You have to understand what the capabilities are out there so you can know to kind of source, you know, companies like Blueshift to bring those capabilities in. So and look, I got into this industry 20 years ago when, you know, open source was rampant and we were building websites and doing all kinds of stuff back then.

Phillip: [00:39:12] Yup. Preach.

Houman: [00:39:13] But yeah, technology was always my passion even going before that. I mean, bulletin board systems, even before the Internet was around. You know, I don't want to show my age here, but yeah. Like, you have to be aware of technology. You have to understand data science. I mean, we do have a data science organization as well. But these are all things that that you really need to understand because ultimately you don't want to go to a gunfight with a knife. You need the latest capabilities out there just because the landscape has changed so much.

Phillip: [00:39:47] There's so much here, and I feel like I could do a five part series just on this.

Brian: [00:39:52] Seriously. I agree.

Phillip: [00:39:53] I'm curious... I didn't prep you for this, but what does your stack look like, Houman? What is your eCommerce platform? And how are you integrating to Blueshift these days?

Houman: [00:40:09] Yeah, so we do have a home grown eCommerce stack. And a lot of the reasons for that is just because we're in auto parts and it's just not your typical shopping experience.

Phillip: [00:40:19] No, I know.{laughter}.

Houman: [00:40:21] There hasn't been like this off shelf solution when we kind of launched the business in the late 90s. So but the beauty of it is I mean, look, we understand data feeds. We understand APIs, services, and all that. And being able to kind of integrate with Blueshift, we have our product catalog that sent to them. There are tags on the website to collect real time behavior. That's a topic that we hadn't really spent a lot of time about. You need platforms that can consume real time activities. Right? Like, you know, an information that's twenty four hours old is not going to cut it. Because a consumer is searching the web, and they're in that moment, and they click on something. And if you have their information and you can get to them before they jump to the next click, then that's the time that it takes. Right? So you really need to think about real time behaviors. Part of it. It's not just, yeah, your PIM is critical because you need that product catalog to be able to create that relevant messaging that you need to, but also that real time behavior is super critical, part of any CDP implementation. So, you know, and that's the beauty of Blueshift that we really love, is the ability for the platform to really scale the massive amount of data that we send it and then also take real time actions has really been where we're seeing that, because a lot of it we've moved to a lot of trigger based activities and trigger based messaging is, hey, an action happens and you need to be ready to kind of act on that information in real time. Otherwise, you know, before you wait for some data feed to refresh or update, like it's too late.

Phillip: [00:42:01] Or God forbid, you know, you have two million products and, you know, two days. Three days...

Houman: [00:42:08] Yeah. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:42:09] That's a whole other story.

Houman: [00:42:09] Absolutely I can't wait for a marketer to kind of come up with some email to design the creative. So you have to think about like the messaging strategy, compartmentalize it, the creative. But think about like these one to one personalized experiences that are really created on the fly to that individual user. I know we've kind of talked about it, but that's really what it really boils down to. But yeah. Josh, feel free to jump in here. I mean, you live and breathe this on a day to day basis. I mean, we're just a user of the platform at the end of the day.

Phillip: [00:42:42] I mean, Josh, with two minutes left and that glorious handoff, Houman, are you a podcaster? That was amazing. What does the future look like? What does the future of customer engagement look like and how do CDPs power it?

Josh: [00:42:57] Yeah, I mean, I think the future of customer engagement is real time relevance at scale. I think that's the best way of thinking about it is brands that will... And in order to do that, you need to have access to your first party data in real time. You need to have a way to act on that first party data in real time. And you need to have intelligence to sift through the millions and millions of records and options that someone could actually provide a customer. And then you need to figure out a way to get it to them where they are. And so it's much more it's moving away from this channel focused view where channel data and channel marketers push and they just kind of operate in that silo of that to the customer, to moving to a customer focused view of yes, the customers coming to me and here's how I'm going to interact with them across all different channels. In order to do that you need a system that allows you to do that. It gives you the ability to do that and doesn't handcuff you. It gives you ability to run as fast as you want, as hard as you want. And I think that's what CDPs do, at the end of the day, like good CDPs. Obviously, there's some CDPs that are a little bit lackluster and don't deliver on those promises. And there's that. We could talk days about the different variants of CDPs. And [00:44:14] Blueshift kind of marks ourselves as a smart hub's CDP because it does have that connection and it does have that AI built in. And that's what marketers need. That's what brands need, because if they don't have those pieces, then the idea of real time relevance at scale will continue to be this pie in the sky type of dream, and you'll continue to send irrelevant messages to people through irrelevant channels. And slowly you're going to erode your loyalty base and someone else that's your competitor that does a better job of this and has a data strategy in order is going to steal market share and eventually beat you out and become the leader in the space. [00:44:55]

Phillip: [00:44:57] That was... Wow, last word. And I would say the real winner here is me, because I got to learn about something I didn't really quite understand. {laughter} So this has been amazing. What a master class. Thank you so much to both of you and congrats on all the success and best of luck as you both grow in the future. And I know it sounds like you both have... Wow. So much more to go win and and to grow into. So thanks for coming on Future Commerce and sharing your journey with us.

Josh: [00:45:29] Thanks for having us.

Brian: [00:45:30] Thanks, guys.

Houman: [00:45:30] Thank you.

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