Guillaume: Hello everyone, Guillaume Le Tual here, host of the Ecommerce Wizards Podcast where I feature leaders in business and e-commerce. Today, we’re going to do things a little bit differently. I have Dr. Jeremy Weisz, who has done thousands of interviews. We’re going to flip the table and he’s going to interview me.
Before we get started, we have our sponsorship message. This episode is brought to you by MageMontreal. If your business wants a powerful e-commerce online store that will increase their sales or to move piled up dormant inventory to free up cash reserves or to automate business processes to gain efficiency and reduce human processing errors, our company MageMontreal can do that. We’ve been helping e-commerce stores for over a decade. Here’s the catch, we’re specialized and only work on the Adobe Magento e-commerce platform, we do everything Magento. If you know someone who needs design, development, maintenance, training, support, we got their back. Email our support team, [email protected], or go to magemontreal.com.
All right, Jeremy, thanks for being here today.
Jeremy: You guys are experts. I love it. I love learning from you and talking about e-commerce and websites. So check out MageMontreal, that’s where we are. We’re going to do a year in review episodes, we’re going to talk about the top lessons some of the top guests you’ve had, so this is going to be an exciting episode. If you are watching the video part, you can check out all the podcasts and go to magemontreal.com/podcast.
The first one we’re going to start off with Guillaume is, “How to Scale Your E-commerce Business” with Shawn Johal of Elevation Leaders. You actually did two parts of this. It was so good. For people who don’t know Shawn, he works with companies generating anywhere from 5 million to 200 million in revenue, he is the co-founder of DLALS, a lighting and manufacturer of LED lighting solutions and has a coaching practice. So a lot of cool stuff on this episode. He gives us top recommendations for finance: the seven levers of how small changes can make big differences, the cash conversion cycle, and why does it matter? And much more.
Guillaume: Exactly. So Shawn is a really fun person to talk with. He’s a very successful entrepreneur who built an eight figure business. And now he’s just a business coach. He’s still the shareholder, but he’s completely out of it. Now he’s coaching people at his own business. So it’s really two episodes really worth listening to. His coaching style is now affiliated with the Scaling Up system from Verne Harnish, formerly known for, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, and he’ll talk about the four pillars on how to scale up the company. So it’s a more traditional business approach to scaling up your e-commerce business by making sure you have your business fundamentals in place in a solid way that will support the growth, because you don’t have that much of a difference whether it’s online or offline. It’s just the way you sell, just a sales channel. The same business fundamentals apply to both of those episodes. Those two episodes are really good to have a strong foundation for you to scale up your e-commerce business.
Jeremy: The next one we’re going to talk about is, “Ways to Differentiate Your Ecommerce Business”, Robert Murray of Intrigue, again, another entrepreneur you experienced on your entry. He started his business over 15 years ago with the mission of empowering homeowners and professional service companies. A couple of things with this one that stuck out are; the importance of identifying your core customer, strategy versus planning and why the difference matters, reassessing your business e-commerce strategy post pandemic. Talk about the importance of identifying your core customer and why that’s important, because you probably have to do this with websites.
Guillaume: Well, Robert Murray clearly spent some time doing some soul searching because, how do you differentiate yourself with other marketing agencies there? There’re so many of those out there. So I think he has had great success at applying that business knowledge of how you stand out, how do you live your values and in communicating those with your employees and with your customers, and then truly living them. So it’s not something that’s just written on the wall. I’m not saying it’s perfect, I’ve been in their company and it’s clear that he’s spent a lot of work and effort on this to align his business. And to also have a clear identity for the company and how you position yourself differently in the market to have a competitive advantage for your company. Again, a very interesting entrepreneur to listen to.
Jeremy: The next one Guillaume is, “How to Scale Your Business Through Systemization”, with Yoni Kozminski of Escala. He runs both Escala and Multiplymii. Again, they do a lot of different things in the e-commerce world. With this one specifically, he talks about the best ways to successfully scale ecommerce business, taking inventory of your venture from the top down, how to simplify and organize your processes. You know, getting your company on the same page through systemization. You probably have a lot of moving pieces when you’re dealing with these web projects. What are your thoughts on processes?
Guillaume: Yeah, exactly. If you want to be scalable, you need to be able to hire new people. And these people need to have all the training material, they need to learn without relying too much on hands-on personal training from the other employee that has all the knowledge in his mind. So he’s really good here, he has two companies, one is really doing a business analysis. And then you will structure the business process, the current process, and then the future state desired process.
And one thing that was very interesting with the standard operating procedure, how he structures it, it’s such a clear way for how everything is labeled and structured in a logical way that is tested to see if they’ve done a good job or not. If you get a new hire, and you ask them to find a specific procedure, they should be able to find it themselves in the list of procedures without help. So if that test fails, there’s a filing convention problem here, and I think that the system that he’s putting for how to structure that sounds really good to me, basically, I want to put it in place in my own company.
Jeremy: Yeah, love it. The next one, Guillaume, that we talked about here is Derek, and “What Does The Future of Ecommerce Look Like” with Derric Haynie of EcommerceTech.io. Again, Chief Ecommerce Technologist for the company. And he saw a disconnect between e-commerce teams and the tools they were using. So he went out to kind of solve this issue. And so some of the things you talked about is utilizing AI to improve and personalize your e-commerce systems. Wide delivery will be one of the greatest hurdles for small ecommerce brands. And he talks about increasing lifetime value of customers, which obviously everyone wants, and the growing competition between Shopify and Amazon, and things about manufacturing and how it will evolve, especially in this post-pandemic world. So talk a little about e-commerce and the changes in general.
Guillaume: Yeah, I’ve done two episodes with Derric. One is, Magento versus Shopify episode for like an hour and a half long battle. If ever you’re debating which of the two platforms is the right fit for your company, I think you’ll have all the answers you want in an hour and a half from that episode and the second one. Now for this episode, we’re talking about the future of AI and so on. One thing that’s interesting is also the positioning of Shopify that they don’t see themselves as competent compared to other platforms like Magento, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and WooCommerce from WordPress, and so on. They see their competition as Amazon so there’s probably some kind of huge Shopify marketplace in the plan that’s not publicly revealed yet that’s coming. They could totally pull it off from a technical point of view, because they host all the e-commerce stores for all the Shopify stores, they can probably pull all that data in a massive marketplace.
Those are the writings on the wall on what is likely the next big business move from Shopify, that’s lots of interesting info. What’s coming up in AI, what’s available in there from image recognition, for example, in Magento we now have what’s visually similar. So when you browse recommended products, you don’t need as a business owner to go tag or somebody on your team to spend time to tag each of the products that are similar. Yes, some of it you will have to if it’s a technical part that fits with part number 77111 or whatever, that you still have to do by hand. But for the product recommendation, from a visual point of view, it can show you either shirts, T-shirts, dresses, that are visually similar tiles, stuff like that. So you can start to shop for variants of what you’re currently shopping for, very interesting. AI can also do automatic conversion rate, optimization tests for you in the product that it suggested. If the product suggested doesn’t sell, it will suggest something else. And it’s unthinkable to do this manually, let’s say with a 40,000 product catalog but you can totally automate this through AI, a lot of interesting things here.
Jeremy: I got to check out the other part with Shopify versus Magento too. The next one is “How to Successfully Implement an Ecommerce Platform” with Casper of Alumio. With Casper, a few things that stuck out were, you talked about the importance of having a high-level understanding of your platform solutions, you talked about preventing scope creep during an integration project, because it’s really common, the positives and negatives of Agile frameworks. Again, like a lot of companies who are using Scrum and Agile frameworks, it’s really interesting to learn how they use it and apply it, and why you should keep detailed documentation or systems. And again, we see a repeating pattern of systems here and the balance between efficiency and budgeting during integration. What sticks out on these topics?
Guillaume: Casper initially built an agency with almost 60 people in it building e-commerce websites, great respect for his success there. Eventually, he sold that out and started Alumio which is a platform that connects e-commerce sites with various other technology out there, ERP systems, Enterprise Resource Planning systems, and so on. So, this episode actually can literally save tens of thousands of dollars, or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the scale of your company in quality of project execution, and succeeding in your web development project and your IT project, software integration systems, and all that.
We went deep down in the trenches of two business owners who build those kinds of systems for so many clients. What worked, what didn’t work, what are the pitfalls to avoid. So there’s a lot here, if nobody goes through this episode, project managers would love it, business owners, IT directors, even marketing directors, because they are often put in charge of some of the e-commerce projects and so on. There’s a lot of extremely valuable knowledge in this, major pitfalls that Hardholt has fallen into that if you know about it perhaps you can save yourself the trouble.
Jeremy: Love it, check it out. The next one is, “How to Scale Your Ecommerce Business” with Vinnie Fisher of Fully Accountable. I actually happen to know Vinnie personally, a great guy, he’s got an accounting firm that offers outsourced accounting and finance solutions to e-commerce and digital businesses. A couple of things you discussed, Vinnie’s always a wealth of information, how he grew his company’s profit margin, you people talked about gross margin, he talked about profit margin from 8% to over 20%, tips for improving your variables and benchmarks, one of the milestones of growth in eight-figure business that you should be looking at and overcoming challenges of expanding your companies. If you’re looking to expand, check it out. And also the key to breaking through the scaling ceiling for e-commerce brands, you get a lot of talk about profit or growth.
Guillaume: Yeah, exactly. Vinnie says he built his company to almost nine-figure, the previous one. The discussion said profit versus growth. Well, if you’re not backed by venture capitalists, do focus on profit. Otherwise, you can play the growth game. That’s the only metric that matters, how much you’ve grown, how fast you’re taking the market, and so on. Private companies focus on profit, be profitable every year and grow at a slightly more reasonable pace. So it’s safer and financially healthier, and you’ll feel better in general. The milestones that we were talking about are typically, what do you think companies should focus on? Or from your own personal experience, what did you focus on when you were, let’s say, going from zero to a million dollars? I don’t remember the exact milestone we used, perhaps was 1 million to five, and then five to 10 and onward. But we did break some milestones like this. From his own personal experience, what he had to focus on for each of those steps to grow to the next milestone.
Jeremy: The next one Guillaume is, “How to Elevate Customer Service For Ecommerce Brands” with Michael Potters of Gorgias. Gorgias empowers over 7000 businesses with better customer service on platforms like Shopify and Magento. I’m sure this conversation was fantastic with Michael. You discussed the challenges of generating customers for a subscription model versus single purchase. You talked about crafting a multi-channel strategy to acquire customers, even securing funding, and also the best ways to improve the customer experience as an e-commerce brand. Because as you know, if you can improve that experience, you make more sales, and you have loyal customers too. You talked about some SMS marketing, customer feedback, limiting your skews, and much more.
Guillaume: Michael, he’s an entrepreneur who created his own company sending coffee online, through the subscription model for high-end subscriptions, and so on. And then he was using Gorgias for his own customer service, which is used for ticketing and chat, and to integrate all this. So it’s connected to an actual order and actual customer in their back-end. It’s not just like a little chat pop up there that’s not connected to anything. So that was interesting. Eventually, he sold his business and started working for Gorgias and now that’s where he’s at. We’re building a very interesting partnership with Gorgias, we’re recommending it to many of our customers, it’s a very good product in general. He’s talking mainly about his personal venture there and a little bit about Gorgias.
Jeremy: The next one Guillaume is, “How to Measure and Maximize Your Data” with Chris Mercer of MeasurementMarketing.io. It’s always good to measure your marketing. You can measure what dollars you’re spending to the sales, then you can actually grow. Because if you don’t know, then it’s really hard and you’re just throwing stuff at the wall. In this one, you talked about three key steps for measuring your marketing, frequent mistakes you should avoid in marketing, how to read and use your data properly, forecasting, which is important, and the small adjustments that can make huge improvements in your marketing, everything marketing.
Guillaume: What’s interesting about Mercer is, he prefers to be called Mercer other than Chris. So Mercer has a framework, which can be interesting sometimes to organize your thoughts and to sort of see where you’re at for each element of your marketing in your business. And then what the next suggested logical step is when you follow the framework. Just that is worth looking at, to properly know where to get to. There’s so much you can do, especially the smaller brands that tend to have very immature marketing and they could do so much more. But that gives you, what’s the next step that would be a good idea to work on and why? It was a good episode, I learned a few things myself about measurement and marketing in this one.
Jeremy: Teaching the teacher, love it. The next one Guillaume is, “Generating Traffic to Your Ecommerce Business” with Steven Pope of My Amazon Guy. They’re a full-service Amazon agency, they help a lot of clients, so he shed a lot of light probably on SEO, SEM, social media, and different things as far as growing an Amazon and e-commerce business. He talked about diverting Amazon traffic to your e-commerce website, how does packaging impact the customer experience? The number one improvement you can make for your website ranking and he shares some of the phases of SEO, how to leverage them for your website, and much more.
Guillaume: Just before that interview with Steven Pope, we had lost a bid for an e-commerce project and the customer said no, it’s not the price, the other agency also offered full service to take care of our Amazon channel so we haven’t done that with a partner. I was considering at that time should I offer full-service Amazon services to our customers as well in addition to their e-commerce building full service for the e-commerce itself? After my meeting with Steven Pope, he said no way, that’s a very specialized…
Jeremy: It’s a very different business.
Guillaume: A different business, I’m going to leave that to specialists like him. So the guy’s pretty awesome. If you want to know about Amazon in general, he’s a wealth of information.
Jeremy: I know we have a couple of other episodes to get through just to give people an overview. “How to Successfully Exit Your Business” with Joe Valley of Quiet Light. So check that episode out. They basically help sell businesses, some other things on that are, should entrepreneurs start planning for an exit? Advice on e-commerce store owners looking to sell a business. That’s something that briefly stuck out with Joe.
Guillaume: He’s an expert at mergers, acquisitions, and selling businesses. This way, he’s telling you to plan in advance, and you will not only increase the valuation of your business, but you’ll also build a better business. You have similar concepts with other books that he has built to sell, that if you put everything in practice that is in the book, you’ll actually end up loving your business so much that you probably won’t sell in the end. So very interesting concepts are presented there.
Jeremy: The next one is, “How to Use Data to Grow Your Business” with AJ Yager of Praxis Metrics. Again, another data-rich episode here talking about the five desert island metrics that e-commerce brands should track, what’s the key to running a successful remote company? And how AJ tracks the happiness of his remote employees and clients as well as common mistakes to avoid when tracking data.
Guillaume: There are five desert island metrics that e-commerce brands should track, I agree with that. So if you’re not currently tracking them, it’s a good idea to start. And you’ll typically see improvements. You know what gets measured, gets done, and gets improved. So this is an interesting one about conversion rate optimization, improving sales in general through better tracking of your marketing success and conversion on the website.
Jeremy: For the last one Guillaume, “Web Hosting and Magento Migrations” with Sonal of Webscale. Talk briefly about this one. Pushing Webscale to be faster and cheaper, challenges Webscale faced and conquering during the holiday season, the COVID impact, structure behind Webscale’s lightning-fast service level agreement, and some of the day to day responsibilities and even how is Webscale different from a typical hosting company?
Guillaume: This one’s more of a CEO interview, which is always interesting to see what’s the business vision, what do they value and so on. And what can I learn from another CEO that I could perhaps implement in my own company? You may notice a similar theme throughout many of those episodes is that it’s not always about the technology or the technical side of things. Actually, a lot of e-commerce growth is stunted from lack of proper classic business foundation, or the owner being overwhelmed, doesn’t have enough time to delegate, is in too many seats is the Chief Financial Officer, CEO, COO and CMO and IT guy and everything. He needs to remove himself from a lot of those seats, so that the company can grow. Webscale was pretty much big on scaling up to raising money. I don’t know the details of the deals, but Webscale announced last year that they purchased MageMojo or became a shareholder. I’m not too sure with the details. But now Webscale is partnered with MageMojo which we really like for our hosting.
Jeremy: Last one Guillaume, “Magento 1 to Magento 2” with Robert. We can’t forget Robert. Robert’s awesome, you were on their podcast as well, Jetrails. Talk a little about Robert and Jetrails.
Guillaume: Yeah, sure. Jetrails is one of our top partners there for hosting Magento because they have in-house experts. They’re certified experts in real Magento knowledge. It’s not just a landing page to get hosting clients in Magento. So it’s a great company for hosting there. Now, this episode is really about Magento 1 to Magento 2 so it’s a very specific episode, the end of life of Magento 1.
Jeremy: If you want to geek out on Magento, or if you are in Magento, this is the episode.
Guillaume: Yeah, exactly because Magento 1 reached its end of life but there are some independent third parties that are still publishing security of dates to sort of stretch things out a little bit. But someone who’s still in Magento 1 probably if it’s not already in progress, wants to migrate to Magento 2 because all the underlying technology, PHP, and so on is also in the flight. So it’s time to move on from VHS to DVD.
Jeremy: I just want to thank you. This is a year in review in about 20 minutes. Check out all these episodes, check out magemomtreal.com Check out magemontreal.com/podcasts and E-commerce Wizards Podcast as always. Guillaume, thanks for having me.
Guillaume: Well, thank you. Thank you for doing this episode with me, Jeremy. I wish we could go over each of the podcasts but maybe we’ll need a part two for this.