Today we are talking with Kristen LaFrance, host of Shopify's Resilient Retail podcast. Kristen is our resident expert in all things omnichannel, DTC trends, and, of course, retail. Going omnichannel can feel overwhelming, so we're excited to have Kristen on to distill it for us and help you take your business into new channels.
Let's dig in!
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- [04:56] Who is Kristen LaFrance
- [08:18] What to expect in the next season of Resilient Retail
- [12:16] What is omnichannel retail?
- [16:54] What is the first step to make a jump from brick and mortar to going online?
- [23:56] What's the benefit of selling via multiple channels?
- [25:46] What are some downsides of going omnichannel/things people should be aware of?
- [34:51] How would you describe the perfect omnichannel experience?
- Store shoutout: Sock Fancy, Grove Made,
- Store shoutout: A Shop Called Quest
- Store shoutout: Twelve South
- Resilient Retail
- Retail Brew
- Resilient Retail CJ Johnson Episode
- Kristen on Twitter
- Kristen on Instagram
Today, we are talking with Kristen LaFrance, a host of Shopify's Resilient Retail podcast. Kristen is our resident expert in all things omnichannel, ETC trends, and, of course, retail. Going omnichannel can feel overwhelming, so we're excited to have Kristen distill for us and help you take your business into new channels. Let's dig in. Welcome to Commerce Tea, a podcast to help you succeed on Shopify. I'm Rhian.
And I'm Kelly. Grab a mug and join us as we talk about all things commerce.
Hey, Kelly. How can merchants leverage customer data to drive more revenue and increase retention? How can they create personalized experiences customers love?
I recommend Octane AI, the leading buyer profile platform for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants.
How does it work?
Octane AI features a shop quiz, Facebook Messenger and SMS, and opt-in tools. Using the shop quiz, merchants can get to know customers with interactive questions. From product recommenders to gift finders, you can learn about a customer's needs, preferences, pain points, and more. This information gets saved into buyer profiles, and you can sync your buyer profile data with your Facebook Messenger, SMS, email, and ad campaigns for personalized customer journeys.
What kinds of returns can brands expect?
Brands using the shop quiz have increased email sign-ups by 16 times and driven a 28% increase in average order value. Facebook Messenger and SMS see 80% to 95% average open rates and drive up to a 20% increase in revenue. Better yet, Octane AI has plans for any size business and offers a 14-day free trial. Every plan gives you access to the shop quiz, Facebook Messenger, SMS, and opt-in tools. There are also plans available where Octane AI's experts will help you set up and optimize your tools for success.
It sounds great. Where can merchants go to learn more?
You can learn more, book a demo, or try it free at join.octaneai.com/commercetea. Again, that's join.octaneai.com/commercetea. Good morning, everybody. Hello.
Good morning, hello.
How are we doing today? Kristen, how are you?
I'm doing pretty good today. I am excited to be here. This is going to be, what I can only imagine, a very fun conversation.
Us, fun conversations? Absolutely.
Yes, right up our alley. Right up our alley, yes.
How am I doing?
I'm doing excellent. I'm thinking. I'm like, "Yes, I am awake." That is a-
How am I?
How am I? What is?
I'm not sure.
Yeah, everything is awesome over here in sunny California. The winds have died down, so it's nice and calm. I'm just having a great, great time wrapped in my cozy sweater I got from everlane.com. What about you, Kelly?
I'm doing great. I had a doctor's appointment this morning that I had to put real clothes on for, and I decided to challenge myself to see how long I can stay wearing real clothes. At this time of recording, it is 1:17 PM, and I'm still wearing jeans.
Wow. That is impressive.
That's my big accomplishment. I know getting the giant ship, the cargo ship, unstuck was a pretty big accomplishment, but I've been wearing jeans for six hours.
Yeah. Yeah. I feel like you deserve a medal or a sticker or a cookie or something. I haven't made it more than 30 minutes.
Y'all, I have an idea for a print on demand store. I'm going to float it, and someone's going to take it. Here's the idea. We make a store where we have return to the workforce badges and ribbons like, "Wore jeans for six hours today." So I don't know, things like that. That's the one that I could think of the most. But it reminds me a lot of that ribbon. It's the "I survived a meeting that could've been an email." I'm sure we've all seen it.
It's a blue ribbon you can buy on the Internet. Stuff like that, I think it would sell very well. It reminds me of [inaudible 00:04:27] home goods.
Remembered to unmute myself in real life.
Yeah, remembered to be quiet. Instead of controlling facial features, I didn't just exit the meeting. There's so much. Okay, so-
Didn't hiss at anybody as I walked past them.
So, Kristen, thank you so much for joining us. Who are you? What do you do? Thank you for being here.
Thank you so much for having me. I am Kristen LaFrance. As you mentioned, I am head of Resilient Retail at Shopify, which is the strangest title that gives you no information about what I actually do with my daily life, and I also kind of made up that title, so it's a fun one when I get there. Resilient Retail is Shopify's podcast that is fully focused on the brick and mortar industry and the changes that the brick and mortar owners have gone through, especially with the pandemic, how omnichannel has become the go-to strategy for retail. So it's really our coverage of what is happening in local retail all the way up to large retail. You'll hear me talking on the podcast to people, very local stores like a local café up to a retailer like REI, which you will hear from in season two of Resilient Retail.
So really just covering everything that a local retailer right now would need to know to be able to continue to keep their stores open, to continue to grow and actually come back to this ... We're going through this retail rebuild right now. Because of the pandemic, everything was closed for a long time. So, basically, what I do is I just get to spend all of my time talking to people who have done incredible things and stayed alive in a situation where a lot of times they shouldn't have. It's probably the best job possible.
That sounds like an awesome, awesome job.
It is. I can't complain. I really can't.
You can also find Kristen, sorry, I'm plugging you for you right now, on Clubhouse on Tuesdays, right? Or I think you can find all three of us intermittently on Clubhouse on Tuesdays at three ... Is it 3:00 PM Pacific? Now I'm just making up a time. 3:00 PM Pacific?
It's at ... I think it's-
Is it 2:00 PM? 4:00 PM?
I think it's at 7:00 Eastern, so it'd be 4:00 PM.
It's at 4:00 PM Pacific. It's at 4:00 PM Pacific, 7:00 PM Eastern where we do office hours and we talk to store owners from all over the world. It's really, really fun. It's in my calendar. I'm ruled by my calendar.
Very fun. You can also find me on Twitter.
Ooh, what's your Twitter handle?
Yes. I also have another made-up title in the world. My Twitter handle is @kdlafrance, and I am known as the Mayor of D2C Twitter. Somehow got another fake title that was given to me by somebody at some point, and I just decided to own it, so I talk a lot about D2C, eCommerce, omnichannel retail, my favorite brands, and I post a lot of dog pictures there, too.
Also, nobody can see this, obviously, but you have this really awesome neon sign behind you.
I do. I have the greatest neon sign. It is one of the best perks of Shopify. I joined, and they were like, "Hey, Kristen, you're going to host this podcast, and we should do videos," and I said, "Yes, we should," and then they said, "That kind of messy bed that is behind you doesn't really look great, so let's redo that." I said, "I want a neon sign," so I got a neon sign.
You're like, "I have an idea to rectify this, and it includes a neon sign." I love that so very much. I love it so, so much. So you talked about Resilient Retail and the types of people that you have had on. What can we expect in your upcoming season?
Ooh, I've got all sorts of tricks up my sleeve for this season. We've already announced two new segments for the show. So season one was two episodes a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Season two is four episodes a week because I love to make myself insanely busy, I guess, and I have no boundaries. So we are producing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Tuesday and Thursday are very similar to season one, so it's the interviews that I'm having with either experts or tech partners or merchants, most of them our merchants, obviously. Those are the stories we really want to hear. Wednesday, we have a brand new host, who was actually a guest in season one. She works for Shopify, and she also owns a retail business. She used to have a brick and mortar location in Toronto. Unfortunately, she had to close her doors, but they're still running in a very omnichannel way doing lots of creative stuff.
There's one thing that I can't do as a host, is with some guests, I can't actually get on the level with them of ... I've never owned a store, so there is stuff that I'm missing in my perspective. So I said, "Let's bring on somebody who can really get real with these retailers because they know the ins and outs." So that's Real Life Retail on Wednesdays. Then, on Fridays, we're doing Resilient News, and I've got Kat Cole and Halie LeSavage joining me. They're alternating weeks. We heard from our listeners in season one that they wanted to know the larger trends that were going on in retail and what the large innovators were doing and the news and anything they needed to keep up with because there's really not a place for a smaller retailer that combines the news and then gives it to them packaged in a way that says, "And this is what it means for you." So that's what that segment's going to be.
Then our guest line-up is bonkers. We've got everybody from I just talked to a small merchant in Toronto, she owns a very small 200 square foot beauty store, the doors have been closed, but she's grown 400%, all the way up to we have many D2C brands that are entering into retail or have done retail, have tested retail. We've got [Gorjana 00:10:25], who's one of our first episodes. We have a lot of wholesale conversations, too, because that's been a very interesting thing in retail, so Kettle & Fire is coming on, Allbirds is coming on-
It's going to be a pretty crazy season, and I am stoked about it.
I am so excited to listen. Also, man, four days a week.
That's some work, but it'll all be really great.
Thank you. What-
That sounds like a stacked cast. Kat Cole's incredible. I-
Big fans over here.
Any time I get to share space with her, I'm just always in awe afterwards. I'm like, "I just learned a whole bunch of stuff." I thought I knew things, and now I'm walking away thinking, "Now, I know even more things," and that never goes away, and that is such a gift. It's such a gift. So, oh my gosh, I'm so excited.
So she was a guest in season one, and that's the exact experience I had with her. I was like, "Ah, I've talked to all these people. I'm a quote-unquote retail expert now." We came on and talked about the franchising model in retail, and I remember closing the call of the interview and just sitting and staring into space like, "I just got a master ... I just got a degree in a 20-minute conversation." Then I had all these business ideas, and I immediately emailed her back, was like, "Would you ever want to come back?" She was like, "I'll do anything you want," and then that's how I came to-
Here we are.
... I need to have her on regularly.
I also really love Halie LeSavage's work as well. I'm a really big fan of Retail Brew. If you're not currently subscribed to it, we'll include a link to Retail Brew in our show notes. Definitely, definitely recommend subscribing.
Yes, love Halie.
I'm so excited. I'm so excited to tune in. Congratulations.
Yes. You said a word, and that word was omnichannel. What does omnichannel mean?
This is such a good question. It's like asking, "What does eCommerce mean?" Before we hit record, we were just talking about this. It's like I do this all day. I say omnichannel probably 100 times a week. I know it in and out. I have examples of it. But it's almost one of those things where it's like, "How do I put this into words, into a clean definition for somebody?" I also make a lot of arguments that maybe omnichannel isn't the best word to use here. But, really, what omnichannel-
Basically, what omnichannel means is it's more this concept than it is an actual definition. It's this concept of selling in more than one channel. So a lot of brands are already doing it without thinking about it. They're selling directly on Instagram. They're selling on Amazon. They're selling on their own site. Maybe they're selling on a marketplace. Other than Amazon, maybe they even are on Etsy. There's all these different places you can sell now, right? You can sell directly on Facebook. You can sell directly on TikTok. Commerce is part of everything. So omnichannel just really means that you are selling on multiple different channels and having touchpoints in different places with customers. But I think this is where my disagreement with the word omnichannel is, is that if you take the word apart and you've got omni and channel, omni means all, and so it seems like we're saying the definition is to sell on every single channel possible. That's it.
Everywhere. Get everywhere, which I don't even think is possible, to really, truly get everywhere. Nobody can handle that. What it really means and what the term omnichannel is lacking is the nuance of it's not just that you're selling in person and online and on Facebook and on Instagram. It's actually are all those channels working together to create one common brand experience? So I like the term holistic commerce better, meaning no matter what channel you're selling through or what touchpoint the customer is engaging with, they don't really know the difference. They just know, "Oh, I'm shopping with X or I'm shopping with Y brand."
I love that. I completely agree with you because, yeah, the word omni or the part of omni just really didn't ever make sense to me. I've been in eCommerce for almost seven years now, and it's just one of those words that I've just accepted as it is what it is. But it is a really difficult term to describe.
Yeah. Yeah. Because it's this concept, and I feel like we love to do this as marketers. We love to come up with these terms that are almost like, "Oh, we're so smart so we have to come up with a superfluous term."
I repeat, headless.
Headless. Yeah, exactly. Why do we do this? And it's a disadvantage to us, too, because if you're thinking, "Okay, how do I do omnichannel commerce," you're thinking from the lens of the operator or the marketer. When has a customer ever said, "Man, it's so fun to shop Lululemon in the online channel, but I don't like that the physical channel isn't connected." This is not how customers behave or think. They don't care what channels you're on. They don't think, "Oh, good thing they set up that Instagram channel of eCommerce so it's an omnichannel experience." It can be a disadvantage to go that way, where if you think about it from a consumer perspective and you're saying ... Steve Dennis, who I interviewed in the pre-season also, he uses the word harmonized, so we have a very similar ... I use holistic. He used harmonized commerce.
That's coming from the customer perspective of, "If I'm going to shop at Lululemon, whether I'm shopping from the online store or I walk in the store, I'm not paying attention as a consumer. I don't care what the difference is. I just care that it's a good experience with Lululemon." So if you give it that kind of switched definition, I think it actually helps brands a lot instead of being like, "Oh, I got to be everywhere." Because I've heard from so many local retailers that these are the small mom and pop stores that are on your main street that are the backbone of our cultures and our societies, and we're telling them, "Omnichannel commerce, omnichannel commerce." To them, they've never done eCommerce before.
They're like, "What?"
They're like, "What? I have to be everywhere?"
They're just trying to get [crosstalk 00:16:43] commerce.
Yeah. What does this mean? So that's my tiff with omnichannel commerce, but it's the word that we've decided to use, I guess.
So I live in one of those small towns, where we have the main street, we've got the small boutiques. A lot of them, pre-pandemic, were not online, and there was a mad rush to get online, and even still it's a little bit of a ... It hasn't been a great experience, to be totally honest, for a lot of those merchants. They're mostly not on Shopify, so this is not a dig on Shopify. This is more of a if you are, right now, brick and mortar still trying to really get your hands around eCommerce, what would the first steps be to make that jump? I know merchants like that, and I love merchants like that. It's almost too much. They're like, "Well, I have all these SKUs. Oh my gosh. What am I going to do? There's too many integrations. What's happening?" Sometimes, they're almost too close to their own challenge to zoom out and say, "Here's the solution, let's just go." So what recommendations would you have to those mom and pops who are selling right now brick and mortar, so they're becoming omnichannel because they're about to sell online?
Yes. I love that you made this point because it's really important because a lot of times we're saying, "Oh, just go online. Get it online. Retail is going online, and everybody's omnichannel. Blah, blah, blah." But us three have been in eCommerce for a long time and we are all considered quote experts, whatever the hell that means. Yet, still, I don't think I could open a D2C brand and run it perfectly. I just am on the outside looking and I have this perspective that I can say, "Oh, I can see this because I'm far away from it." We know how difficult eCommerce is and how many options you have if you start to think about all the things that a brand has to do. Having a local retailer have to go through this, it's mind-boggling, and some of my favorite stories are always hearing these people just being like, "Yeah, I didn't know what I was doing for six months, but I just kept working and figuring it out, and now we're starting to get email going." That's what I think this year is going to be, is that they're starting to get it.
So my advice for someone who's going through this right now, I think what you said about zooming out is arguably the most important thing. Because when you're right up next to your brand, when you're day in and day out in that store, you're looking at your sales, they're not as high as you need them to be, you're so stressed and close to the problem that you really can't ... The challenge feels more like a challenge than an opportunity. So I think first is doing that zoom out and saying, "Okay, we have to take a breather." If that means closing your doors for a day and doing nothing but mourning the store or mourning what the past was and just getting your bearings, that's something that's worth doing.
From there, the next thing that I think that a lot of retailers have missed out on doing is taking another pause moment and working on your brand declaration, so figuring out, "Okay, if this is my brand, Kristen's Coffee Shop, and up until now it's been a local café run by me, we're not online, we do these community events, this is what we stand for, this is our mission." Write that down. Figure out who are you, what have you been? Then, now, you're looking at that and you're saying, "Okay, which pieces of this brand that I've built can stay that have to stay, like me being at the coffee shop every day and doing community work and believing in our mission to reduce and recycle?" What needs to stay to keep your brand integrity intact, and then what pieces can evolve into something new that can grow, your brand can do something different?
So that's saying, "Oh, we actually could do curbside pick-up, and, actually, that might make a lot of sense for a lot of people, so that seems like something we could put into the strategy. Okay, so our customers have said that they really like to only have touchless payments. Okay, that's something that we should probably put in, and it's also COVID-friendly." It's about understanding, even as a human being, you can't change anything about yourself without understanding first who you are and where you are and what is the present existence of you yourself. Then you can say, "Okay, these are things that I can let go of and change." So that's the first one, is get all of your employees, get everybody, obviously, in a safe way, together, and just sit down and talk about who are we, why do we exist, what do our customers say about us, how do we sell, what is the state of our brand, and then starting to comb through the opportunities and saying, "Which one makes sense for my brand?"
Because I think the most stressful thing is that you go online and it's like, "Oh, now I got to set up email and SMS and what's an abandoned cart and all these things," so first figuring out, "Okay, what do we actually need to do first, second, third," and then from there, yeah, it's the work of getting your SKUs into your inventory, making sure they're ... One of the biggest things with inventory is going to be making sure it's unified across both online and offline. So if somebody buys something online and does curbside pick-up, you don't have someone ... Oh, I did this wrong. If you have someone who comes into the store and picks up, like, okay, I go to a plant shop and I pick up a succulent, and then someone online also orders it but then it's actually not in store anymore and they come for curbside pick-up and you're like, "Ooh, sorry, we just sold it to somebody." So making sure your inventory is lined up across all of those so you can really track everything that's going omnichannel.
I think those are the biggest steps, is just making sure you don't get lost in all of this eCommerce hubbub and you just get back to why do you exist as an entrepreneur, why does your retail store work, why have you survived for so long, who are you? There's still a purpose for you to exist. It's just now in a new form, so making sure you know where that is before anything else. There's an episode in season one with CJ Johnson that we talk a lot about this brand declaration and how you create that internal document so you can have a physical copy of who are we and why should we exist and how will we evolve. So that's my fluffy answer, but I think it's the thing that people miss out the most on.
I want to-
I don't think it's a fluffy answer.
It's not. I want to call out one thing in particular that you said, and that was what should we let go of. That is something that I think is so important, whether you're going online, whatever you're doing. It doesn't really even matter. Once your customers define who you are, you might have an idea of who you are, but at the end of the day your customers are the ones who are talking about your brands, and there are some ideas you're going to have to let go of if it's just not in alignment with your brand anymore. Stop pushing it.
Yeah. Yeah. I think there's this really good example of a plant store up in Denver, and I talked to the owner, and she had a story, was in a shared space, and then finally got her own retail store, got it set up. Literally four days later, everything shut down, and she had already had ... In that quick time, it was already like everything was picking up and her sales were doing fantastic. Of course, what she did was she went and polled her Instagram followers, like, "What do you want us to do? Do you want curbside pick-up? Do you want local delivery?" They said yes to everything, of course, because she has some really loyal customers, and they tried to do local deliver for, I think, a month or two.
She was just like, "It's hard as heck to ship plants. We kept having them break, and we were losing money. Then we asked our customers, 'Would curbside pick-up also be okay,' and they said, 'Heck, yeah, we'll come and pick it up. We'd love to see you, too.'" So she was able to say, "Okay, local delivery, bye," even though it's this opportunity that all the experts are saying you got to have local delivery, you got to have curbside, didn't work for her brand, and she didn't force it. She just said, "Okay, cool. We tried it. We're going to let it go. We're going to honestly tell our customers what happened." Now, they're still growing wonderfully.
You can do these tests and stuff with your customers. People like to see you try things, and it's okay if things don't work. I think that's another really helpful thing of don't think if you launch a newsletter, you're going to be beholden to a newsletter for the rest of your life. If you run it for a month and you say, "Nobody's opening it, I don't like doing it, it doesn't feel like it fits," okay, then you just let it go. You're just a human trying to explore this crazy new world that nobody was prepared for.
Yeah. You're under no obligation to keep on doing what you've been doing, except for paying your taxes, which you're probably thinking.
Okay. So let's dig into the benefits and also the downsides of selling via multiple channels because, obviously, there are pros and there are cons as well. Let's start with the benefits. Let's start with happy topics. What would you say are some of the benefits of going omnichannel?
Yeah. I've pulled a stat for this question because I think it's ... I can tell you all day long that it's important to be in multiple places, but the stats will just prove it for me. So we've got data from Shopify. Nearly 75% of shoppers say they use multiple channels to compare prices, hunt for discounts, or use in-store tablets to shop online. So if you think about your own shopping experiences as a customer, how many times have you looked up, "Okay, I want to buy a humidifier," and then you look and you can compare prices and you can go to some product pages, and then you might decide to just ... "Yeah, okay, Target's got the cheapest one and I want it right now, so I'm going to go walk into Target and walk out of it." That happens all the time. Or how many times have you gone to Amazon and seen something, and then, now, you can say, "Oh, but I could actually maybe locally pick this up," and then you go shop there.
This is already how we are behaving, and then you go into ... You're looking at Instagram. You're looking at Twitter. Especially younger generation, they really, really care about who they're buying from, so they want all this information. So the benefit is that you are now going to be serving your customers in the channels they are already trying to shop in. I think one of the biggest differences is we have to remember that shopping used to be a very intentional decision. Even online shopping used to be our desktop computer at home. If I wanted to go online shop, the only way to do it would be to go to that computer and type in somewhere to shop and go shopping. Now, we are shopping at all times. If you think about every ad you hear while you're listening to a podcast, you're getting information there. On Instagram, you're doing more than just looking at people's pictures, you're looking at brands all the time. So there is shopping happening in all the channels.
Really, what the benefit is, is that you're playing the game that's existing right now. It's already happening. Also, another stat, omnichannel customers spend 4% more on every shopping occasion in store and 10% more online than single channel customers. I think the reason behind this is the psychology of it. If you've done the work to look at a brand, you've gone into multiple touchpoints, you know you want to buy from this brand, you're going to buy and you're going to buy more. So that is the biggest benefit, is that you can't not be omnichannel anymore. You have to be in multiple places because that is how we're already shopping. That wasn't the brightest and happiest response to that, though.
I mean, we could say it makes your customers happy.
It makes your customers happy, and it serves them better. It gives them what they want. It gives them the experience that they want. So that's the positive take on it. I liked that.
I like that. So what are some of the downsides?
Some of the major downsides, complication. It makes things very difficult, right? If you were now managing a physical store, that is a job unto itself that you are probably spending more time than most people who work a nine to five doing. Now, we've just thrown eCommerce at you, too. So you've got double the work, at least, and a brand new channel. There's a learning curve for every single channel you go into now. It's going to be a learning curve, and then it's going to be how do you build that all together so it's not just separate silos? The complexity of it, the technological needs, they're advanced. The learning curve is really big.
Then the biggest one is we all love attribution. We love to say, "They clicked this email and went to this landing page and put in their this and then they purchased here and this is when they got it," and we can't really always track omnichannel very well because there's so much of it that's just happening that sometimes you're just going to have to not be able to track it and trust that you're just giving a good experience. That's the biggest merchant pain point, is you're doing all this and you can't always tell where your customers are shopping and you just have to trust what you're doing. We all know D2C doesn't love to not track everything.
It's like a data hell, honestly.
I have mixed feelings about it because as a previous merchant, as an agency owner, I understand why that data is useful. I understand why it's beneficial. As a customer, do you really need all this information about me?
Yeah. Yeah. Steve Dennis has this line in his book. It's at the top of my head because I just interviewed him, and his point to this was we call this seamless commerce and omnichannel commerce. He wrote this line, oh my goodness, I can't talk anymore, wrote this line that says, "When has a customer ever said, 'Yeah, I like what you're doing, but there's too many seams,'" and that's what all this data is. We're trying to scientific our way around human behavior, which is omnichannel commerce, is there's so much happening, whether that's me walking into a store and seeing a product and then going and looking at it online and then comparing prices.
We want to track all that, but tracking everything can sometimes put you in a box and it can not let you do the right things for your customers because it's a longer term play. But we've noticed that the brands who say, "Right, data's helpful and it will guide our decisions, but it won't rule everything, our customers will rule all of our decisions," they're the ones who are sticking around for five, 10, 15, 20, 25 years, not the darlings that come up and then we see the money that we're burning and we're like, "Well, cool data, but how did that help?"
This reminds me of when I was first an app developer building Shopify apps. We were this bootstrapped company, right? So we were playing by a different set of rules than everybody else. Everyone else had VC. We did not have VC. A VC-backed start-up came to me, they're like, "Rhian, how do you justify doing all these meet-ups and traveling to speak? How do you justify it to your board?" I said, "Well, I don't have a board."
But it reified that idea to me, where I love a data set, I love a data set, but there's some things you just have to trust that if you're out there in the ... For instance, and I know right now, out there in the community, it looks a lot different than it did then. But if you're out there in the community, there's not a clear attribution there, but you're still building to a main authority, and it's okay that there's not a clear attribution path. I think it just has to become more okay for all of us to not be able to attribute every single piece of everything we do. It just has to be okay.
When you were saying that, I was like, "Oh my gosh, yes, I've had these conversations before," because people were like, "Rhian, this is bonkers. Why are you doing this?" I'm like, "It's working." They're like, "Point to me where."
I'm like, "I just know it is. I just know it is."
Yeah, I have to trust it. This kind of notion is one of my values that I follow all the time, so much so that I got my own catchphrase and I have it printed on a mug. The way I boil this down is customers before metrics. What that phrase means is not that we don't need the data or the data isn't important. It just means we have to do it for customers first and then let the metrics prove out that we're doing it right instead of trying to manipulate data into where we want to go. I come from a background in and I talk about customer retention all the time, and a lot of that is immeasurable stuff like writing a handwritten note and putting it in a box. How are you ever going to track what that does?
You're never going to, but you have to just get into this place where you say, "Okay, I know that I'm giving my customer a fantastic experience and I'm doing what I want and I'm doing what's best for them at every single touchpoint, no matter the channel, and because of that work, the metrics that I so desperately want to see are going to follow all of that." It's going to come, but if you start with data and then go to customers, that's where I think a lot of companies get stuck in a box.
This is kind of a shift of topic, but when I wrote down this question for you, I was thinking about Miss Congeniality and the whole describe your perfect date. April 25th, by the way. How would you describe the perfect omnichannel experience?
Oof. It's a really great question, and I think the answer is there is no perfect omnichannel experience because it could happen in so many different ways that there is no one journey that's like, "This is ideal and perfect, and when our customers do this, they spend this much money." That's another thing you have to look-
That would be great.
Wouldn't that be so nice?
Like, "Here's a rule book. Just follow these steps and you'll be successful."
Right? Well, I wouldn't have a job, though, so ...
Fair point. Fair point.
But, no, I actually ... It's funny. I just went shopping on Sunday, and I had a ridiculous omnichannel experience that happened without me even fully realizing it, and then I got home and I was like, "Why did I just spend $500 at Lululemon when I did not plan to do that today?" That was a big thing. I'll kind of outline how this went. Last weekend, I bought two new pairs of leggings, one from Outdoor Voices, one from Lululemon. I bought some other stuff from Lululemon, too, because I can't not add to cart when I'm on their website. So I spent a lot of money on that purchase, and then I got the products, and I tried on the leggings. I was like, "Oh, I really like these." Then I went to a hot yoga class, and they were wonderful. So then I wore the Outdoor Voices ones, and they kind of fit. There was something I didn't like, so I was like, "Okay, well, I'm going to return those, and then I'm going to get a second pair of the Lulus." I was like, "Yeah, that makes sense because then I still have the same amount that I wanted to get."
So then this Sunday I was like, "Man, but I want them now because I know that I like them, so I want it now." I was going grocery shopping, and I was like, "Oh, there's a Lululemon, little circle with groceries, and I'll just go curbside pick it up. That's wonderful. Then I can have it for tomorrow's workout." So that's what I did. But then I ordered two pairs of leggings because I was there and I was like, "Well, I mean, I should probably have three, right? If I'm trying to work out more, I need more clothes." So now I've gone from one pair of leggings to three pairs of leggings, same channel, until I go pick it up curbside, so I've done now another channel where I've opted into their ... It's both online and offline happening. So then I get to Lululemon and I call my husband, who was coming home from the airport, and I was like, "Hey, how far away are you?" He was like, "About 45 minutes."
So I was like, "I mean, I guess I have some time. I could walk in instead. Why don't I just walk in instead of staying in my car, get some exercise? I've also been looking for some new tank tops, but I didn't really feel like going through it on their site, so if there's something that catches my eye, I'll try it on." I walked out of there spending another $300, and so in a two-week period, I have spent five, 600 dollars. While it was intentional, I knew I was shopping, I knew I had budgeted for getting some new clothes, I knew this was something I wanted to do, because of how easy every single touchpoint was and then walking into that retail store and how good that experience was with trying on and the associates and the information they gave me, I don't need another pair of joggers, but I bought a $150 pair of jogger. If we want to go back to the-
That's some good sales marketing.
Yeah. If we want to go back to those stats that said omnichannel customers spend about four times as much, I quite literally did that. That was a fantastic example. Then, of course, I'm in their email system now, and they have my email, and they're probably going to email me, and I'll probably buy some more stuff. I also have, if you want to even go more nuanced ... Everybody knows when you shop at Lululemon, they give you a reusable bag. All of my grocery bags are Lululemon bags now. So they've got me in a place where they can now be a part of my life, one, every time that I wear it every day that I work out, and then every Sunday when I go grocery shopping, I'm looking at it, and, also, now I know that grocery shopping to Lululemon to home is a pretty good little route if I ever want to take it. So they have made an ideal omnichannel experience that worked out for them and me because now I have a lot of new clothes that I love.
I love that, and, also, I'm going to need a link to those leggings that you really like.
Oh, I will send them to you. They're amazing.
Wait till you get hooked on The Mirror, too, as another ... Speaking of omnichannel, I bought a Mirror post-acquisition, post-Lululemon acquisition, and just the placements of the Lulu throughout, I'm just like, "Oh, this is genius."
Oh, God. I just got a Peloton, and, obviously, they're all Peloton workouts, they're all wearing a Peloton apparel, and I am so tempted to hit purchase on so many things that I see.
That's the dream content to retail kind of transition there, which can be a whole ... It's going to be a whole episode.
Yeah. Oh, content to retail, one of my favorite topics.
Let's have you back to talk about content to retail.
I'll come back. Let's do it.
Okay. Yeah, that should be a whole ... Because that is a whole thing.
Oh, yeah. All right.
It's a whole thing.
So why don't we do some store shout-outs.
So if you're new, welcome, and, also, we end each episode with shouting out a store that we either just like the experience, we've recently purchased something from them, or we just came across them and we're like, "Hey, this looks like a good store to shout out." So, Kristen, why don't you go first?
Ooh, okay. So I've got, obviously, so many because all I do is online shop and spend too much money.
Whoops. Two that I have come in contact with recently that I've been really happy with, Sock Fancy. I'm pretty picky about my socks. It's a weird thing. I don't know. I haven't liked the socks that I've bought recently. It's like their athletic fit sock, it just fits wonderfully. The colors are super cute, and now I've worn them hiking, and I didn't get any blisters, so they are now my go-to hiking sock. Then the other one is Wooof. It's W-O-O-O-F. There's one extra O in there, and they make-
... food toppers for dogs. I have three dogs, and one of them has dandruff, two of them are getting old and starting to have joint pain, another one has a lot of allergy issues. So we've tried all sorts of things, a lot of times using salmon oil or something on top of their food to help with their coats, and it's, one, really messy and it's gross and then my dog's mouth smells like salmon. I don't love the experience. These food toppers, they're a pump bottle, there's different options, so there's a multivitamin, there's an immunity and allergy one, and you just squirt it right on top of their food. You don't get messy. It's more of a gravy sauce than it is an oil, so even for them they can clean it up more, so when I go to pick up the bowl, it's not oily all over my hand. They've been just licking their bowls clean this week, so I think we are now a committed customer because if my dogs like it, then I have to buy it.
So that second company, what is their actual website?
Let's see. I think it is just wooof.com.
I tried it.
Also, there's apparently a WWOOF, which is the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which I don't think is it.
I don't think that's it. Why can't I find this?
Google has failed me. Well, we'll figure it out, and we'll put it in the show notes. Yeah. Rhian, what's your shout-out this week?
So my shout-out this week is actually, one, because we were speaking of my little small town USA moment where I live, we actually have a comic book shop in town, and they have-
Ooh, that's fun.
Yeah. It's super fun. It is exactly what you think of when you think of a comic book shop. There's stickers on the windows. They have Pops for sale. I don't know much about ... My daughter likes comics. I don't really get it. If you love comics, I love that for you. I love books. We all love our own thing. Okay, so you go in, there's books with pictures and big comic books and small comic books and there's pins and there's patches and there's everything you could think of, there's games. Okay. Obviously, they had a hard time at the beginning of the pandemic. They propped up a Shopify store, and they are selling on Shopify for pick-up. They've just done such a really phenomenal job throughout this entire pandemic. I have just been so impressed watching from afar. So I just wanted to shout them out. It's called A Shop Called Quest.
I want to highlight something because I think there's something really important here. There might be some listeners who just heard that story, and they're like, "Yeah, that's really cool and exciting and I love that for them, but curbside pick-up and they're selling online, that's cool but not that exciting." Something that my brain still can't quite believe is, if you think about it, curbside pick-up was not a thing that we did until a year ago. So you're talking about these merchants, these local merchants, a small comic book store, has enabled through technology, through creating a good customer experience, through completely changing their operational processes to do something for their customers that had never been done before. We cannot overlook how crazy it is what these merchants have actually done.
They're my favorite stories, are the small ones that it sounds like there's not this huge shift. They got their products online. People do curbside pick-up and local delivery and you can also do normal shipping, whatever. It's not whatever. That is a top to bottom operational change, doing stuff that has not been tested before, that's not been proven, that there is no playbook for success, and they're just figuring it out as they go. It's bonkers to me. It's bonkers.
I love it.
We couldn't go pick up beer from our brewery a year ago.
You couldn't get to-go cocktails. Now, we can do that.
In some places.
In some places.
All right. My store shout-out this week is Twelve South. They make all kinds of Mac accessories. I've been a fan of Twelve South for years. I remember I bought a BookBook from that. That was the first thing that I ever bought from them back when I still had a 13-inch MacBook in undergrad, I want to say. I just bought a BookArc from them. It's my second BookArc from them. They're consistently just great quality products, and I absolutely love them. So if you need some Mac accessories or just Apple accessories in general, definitely check them out. Yeah, it's twelvesouth.com. I'm a big fan.
Oh, love it. You just made me think of another brand that I have to shout out. It is Grovemade. They-
... are in Oregon.
It's my whole desk. So they make custom and really, really nice desk organization, and I love it because the quality is super high, and with every product, because they're kind of made to order and everything is handmade, when you get the box, you get a card that is handwritten of who made that product for you. Now, my desk looks ... Well, it looks good when I organize it, I'll say that.
That's what counts.
That's what counts.
That's what counts.
We're going to put links to all these in the show notes because lots of really good places for you to start shopping and spending your money. It's always a good time. Kristen, one final question. Where can we find you on the Internet?
Oh, you can find me in very many places on the Internet, mostly talk on Twitter, constantly posting on Twitter. That's @kdlafrance. LaFrance is spelled L-A, France, like the country, very simple. I am on Instagram, and I'm trying to be more active there. That's kristen.lafrance. Then everything Resilient Retail, we are on every single podcast platform, so wherever you listen to your podcasts, just type in Resilient Retail. You'll see a red piece of art with my face right on the front, which is a super weird thing to constantly come across. Everything is also being posted to shopify.com/resilient.
Amazing. Kristen, thank you so much for joining us today.
This was so fun. I hope it-
It was so fun.
... met your fun expectations.
Oh, it blew them out of the water. You guys got me to sweat.
Yes, I'm so glad. You're coming back.
Yeah. Look, you got actual visual sweat. That means I had fun.
I love it. I love it. All right.
I can't wait to come back.
Yes. All right. Thanks, everyone, for tuning in, and thanks again to our sponsors for supporting this episode. We have a YouTube channel. Visit us at youtube.com/commercetea to find webinars and Shopify store tear-downs that we recorded two months ago and we haven't uploaded another one in a while. If you like our podcast, which I hope you do, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. Reviews make us really happy. And you can subscribe to Commerce Tea on your favorite podcasting service. We post new episodes every Tuesday, so grab your mug and join us then. We'll see you next week.
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