Talk Commerce - elena- leonova

Power of Sophisticated Commerce: Insights from Spryker’s SVP of Product with Elena Leonova

In this episode of Talk Commerce, Brent Peterson sat down with Elena Leonova, the Senior Vice President of Product at Spryker, to explore the world of complex ecommerce solutions and the art of effective product management.

“Ultimately, what they want to do is they want to run digital commerce, how they’ve been running their commerce practice in general. And that also means that in most of the cases, the available solutions that fit everybody don’t work for them.”

  • Elena Leonova

Navigating the Complexities of Sophisticated Commerce

Elena shared her insights on how Spryker, a digital commerce platform, caters to the needs of large enterprises with intricate business models and processes. She highlighted examples of Spryker’s customers, including those selling to dealers, powering small grocery shops, and managing supply chain complexities for industrial-grade printers.

“We built our platform to specifically be extensible in all those places to solve for those complexities.”

  • Elena Leonova

The Evolution of Product Management Across Platforms

Brent and Elena discussed how Elena’s product management experience evolved as she transitioned from Magento, an open-source platform, to BigCommerce, a multi-tenant SaaS solution, and now to Spryker. They explored the challenges and opportunities that arose in each environment, from managing an ecosystem of partners to navigating the data-rich world of SaaS platforms.

“The role of the product manager is to make sure that we as software company make the right decisions. Ultimately, we’re building a product or a platform that is going to last for many, many years.”

  • Elena Leonova

Mentoring the Next Generation of Product Managers

Elena’s passion for product management extends beyond her work at Spryker. She shared her insights on the importance of understanding the nuances of platform products and the need to balance customer-centric thinking with commercial viability.

“Besides just kind of what we just talked about, the platform products, a lot of people also don’t realize that product management is not about just building the product that customers love. You build products that you ultimately need to sell to customers.”

  • Elena Leonova

As the podcast drew to a close, Elena invited listeners to connect with her to discuss platform products and explore product management mentorship opportunities.

Brent’s Takeaway: Elena’s deep dive into the complexities of sophisticated commerce and her insights on the evolving role of product management were incredibly valuable. Her commitment to mentoring the next generation of product leaders is truly admirable and showcases her dedication to advancing the industry.

WordPress Tags: ecommerce, product management, platform products, Spryker, Magento, BigCommerce, sophisticated commerce, enterprise commerce, mentorship

Key Takeaways:

  • The complexities of sophisticated commerce and how Spryker addresses them
  • The challenges and opportunities of product management in open-source, SaaS, and platform environments
  • The importance of balancing customer-centric thinking with commercial viability in product management
  • Elena’s commitment to mentoring and sharing her knowledge with aspiring product managers

Don’t miss this insightful conversation packed with valuable lessons for anyone interested in the world of ecommerce, product management, and platform-based solutions. Watch now and unlock the power of sophisticated commerce!

Talk-Commerce Tim Bucciarelli

Exploring the Ecommerce Landscape with Tim Bucciarelli 

In this episode of Talk Commerce, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tim Bucciarelli, the Director of Engagement at Iron Plane. Tim brought a wealth of knowledge from his diverse background, covering everything from his daily role to his passion for technology and writing. Our conversation spanned various intriguing topics, including the evolution of ecommerce platforms, the agency-client relationship, and speculative trends shaping the future of ecommerce. If you’re navigating the ecommerce landscape or seeking insights into effective client communication and platform selection, this blog post distills key takeaways and personal reflections from our enlightening discussion.

The Multifaceted Role of an Ecommerce Agency

One of the first insights Tim shared was about his role at Iron Plane, which encapsulates marketing, sales, client success, and partnerships. This “engagement” role is crucial because it ensures a cohesive approach to interacting with all stakeholders. From my perspective, such a role is vital in today’s fragmented digital world, ensuring that all aspects of an ecommerce business are aligned towards common goals.

The Importance of Communication in Client-Agency Relationships

Tim emphasized the significance of open communication in preventing misunderstandings and last-minute surprises, especially when dealing with complex technology projects. This resonated with me deeply. As someone who has been on both sides of the table, I understand how vital clear and timely communication is to the success of any project. It’s about setting the right expectations and being transparent about the process, time, and costs involved.

Navigating Platform Choices: Magento, Shopify, and BigCommerce

Our conversation took an interesting turn when discussing the differences between being a merchant and an agency, particularly in terms of platform choices. Tim’s journey from a Magento merchant to advocating for BigCommerce and Shopify highlighted the evolving needs of ecommerce businesses. It’s a reminder that there is no one-size-fits-all solution; the choice depends on a myriad of factors including business size, budget, and long-term objectives.

The Future of Ecommerce Platforms

Looking at the future, we delved into the potential shifts in the ecommerce platform landscape, including the role of open source solutions like Magento and emerging players like Shopware. This part of our discussion underscored the importance of adaptability and forward-thinking in selecting an ecommerce platform. It’s not just about what works now but what will support growth and adapt to changing market dynamics in the future.

Total Cost of Ownership and the ROI of Ecommerce Investments

A critical takeaway from our talk was the concept of total cost of ownership and its impact on platform selection. As Tim aptly pointed out, businesses need to consider not just the upfront costs but the long-term investment in a platform. This is where insights from an experienced agency like Iron Plane can be invaluable, helping businesses make informed decisions that align with their financial and operational goals.

Thoughts on what we heard:

Our discussion with Tim Bucciarelli was a deep dive into the intricacies of the ecommerce ecosystem. Through his insights, we explored the importance of engagement, communication, and strategic platform selection. The ecommerce world is vast and complex, but with the right approach and guidance, businesses can navigate it successfully. Whether you’re considering a platform switch, looking to improve client-agency relations, or simply curious about the future of ecommerce, there’s a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned from this conversation.

For those eager to explore these topics further, I encourage you to listen to the full episode of Talk Commerce. And remember, whether you’re an established ecommerce business or just starting, the journey towards success is a continuous learning process. Stay curious, stay informed, and don’t hesitate to seek expert advice when needed.

The Winding Road- Navigating the Mid-Market Merchant's Journey

The Path Forward: Evaluating eCommerce Platforms for Mid-Market Merchants

For merchants feeling trapped on legacy platforms, Shopware provides an enterprise-grade alternative matching mid-market requirements. The combination of flexibility, affordability, and support makes Shopware a compelling option.

The 411 on the Magento Community

The Magento community provides a rock-solid foundation for the continued success of the platform. The connections, collaboration, and shared vision of community members give Magento unique advantages.

Hyva Checkout

Taking eCommerce to the Next Level With Hyvä Checkout

Transform your eCommerce profession with the new Hyvä Checkout platform, powered by advanced technology and a focus on the user experience, to enhance conversion rates and revenues significantly.

10 Reasons Why Shopware is More Robust than Magento

Scalability, User-friendliness, SEO capabilities, and more – Discover why Shopware is outperforming Magento on multiple frontiers.

Magento Go, what if?

What if Magento Go, Went?: An Unfulfilled Potential.

Dive into an e-commerce world that might have been, as we look into the potential operandi of Magento Go and its possible showdown with Shopify.


7 Reasons Why the Hyvä Theme is a Game Changer for Magento

I’ll cover the fundamentals of the Hyvä theme, its innovative features, and the reasons behind its skyrocketing popularity. Get ready to learn how this game-changing theme is transforming the way we build and customize Magento stores, delivering unparalleled performance, streamlined development, and a cutting-edge technology stack. Stay tuned as we unravel the secrets behind the Hyvä revolution!

Talk-Commerce Roman Kuzub

Life Goes on While Working in a War Zone with Roman Kuzub

What is your perception of life in a war zone? Most of us can’t imagine what it is like to work in conditions where air raid sirens are normal. We’ve interviewed Roman Kuzub with Default Value agency on his team, their work, and life in a warzone.

What you will learn

  • Roman Kuzub is the CEO of Default Value, located in Ukraine. He is passionate about making things work easier and saving people time for something.
  • Roman: I wanted to mention the team because I was surprised by their behavior. We have 80 people in our company. I considered moving the company somewhere safe, but only 5% of employees decided to do so.
  • Roman: The whole team decided to stay in Cherkasy and started working remotely when we didn’t have enough experience with this. They did a great job and saved the workload, so I wanted to mention it.
  • Roman says that his team has come together and that the war has become normal for them. However, he took several rides to Kyiv. 
  • Roman: We stay here because we have relatives, we have families, and we want to be closer to them because each day can bring anything, actually. But we don’t feel it’s a huge problem with our physical situation. It’s more about our mental state. It’s a difficult thing. Because it’s been a year of war, and you always expect a rocket in your city. It drives you crazy a bit.
  • Roman: I’m proud of my clients because nobody ran from us or moved the project outside Ukraine. And actually, I got spammed with different proposals to help the army or move the company to Germany. 
  • Brent: Europe and the US have been united in supporting Ukraine and helping you as a country and you as people. What was your sort of leadership journey? Did you have any struggles coping with anything in particular? And I think you’ll come out stronger at the end of this. 
  • Roman: I almost don’t remember March of 2022, but I know I filmed 10 to 12 videos for my team and customers that month, ensuring they know what is happening, where we are, and what we are doing. 
  • Roman: I struggled to gather the team because they were spread in different places, but that’s my job. For me personally, the challenge is always about being positive when you see that everything is not that bright. 
  • Roman: It was extra hard at least the first half of the year, but hopefully, family helped, the team, my closest teammates helped me to do this, and we are still functioning. We currently work at our office, but most of the team works remotely.
  • Roman: It started before the invasion because we had the COVID-19 experience. But now we ask people if we should move to a fully remote company type. More than 90% of employees said they’re waiting for the end of the war to return to the office because they lack personal communication and struggle to work just from home.
  • Brent: I wanted to ask why Ukraine is so strong regarding Magento and e-commerce.
  • Roman: The roots of Magento are here in Ukraine and in Belarus, as far as I remember. We have guys who were working in a core team development, the Magento 1, for about 15 years, and they are still here. They know the DNA of the system.
  • Roman: The second part is more about the attitude to work and being honest with the clients. You should trust your partner to do your project. When you work with agencies from other countries, and they don’t deliver the project. And when you come to Ukraine to work with the agency that does while being bombed, you understand these guys are serious. And that’s about the commitments. 
  • Roman: That’s about something how work should be done, and here we have those attitudes. We can work with businesses in Europe and USA because when we are talking about something, we are serious about it. 
  • Brent: Tell us about Default Value.
  • Roman: We do end-to-end development and help businesses grow not only by delivering the projects.
  • Roman: Our company is built by two really cool developers. We are a family-type company, we communicate freely, and there’s no such huge hierarchy here or very tough processes or something like that. 
  • Roman: What sold this company to me is a totally honest approach towards customers and employees. We communicate clearly. Even when we are fucked up, sorry, we come and say, “We’re fucked up and need to solve this.” That’s the DNA of the company. That’s something that really makes us stand out. And it makes it difficult for me to find managers who can maintain such an approach.
  • Brent: Roman, what are your plans when the war is over? Will you have a big celebration? Can you see that day?
  • Roman: I can see that day. I want to build an international company and visit different places. 
  • Roman: I want to stay here, and I definitely want to help my country to succeed. I understand that most people watching this podcast are not from Ukraine, so please push your politicians to support Ukraine, and don’t get tired because the war is not over and is not even close to the end.
Talk-Commerce-Alex Teller

An Entrepreneurial Journey in Comic Books and Toilets with Alex Teller

Magento’s life as an ecommerce solution has been a roller coaster ride.

Alex Teller is more excited about the future of the platform than ever. Alex talks about the flexibility of Magento and how it powered his business for over a decade. He dives into marketing and social media topics and more.


[00:03:00] Brent: Welcome to this magenta edition of Talk Commerce. Today I have Alex Teller. Alex is the CEO O of home. Perfect. Alex, go ahead, introduce yourself. Tell us your day-to-day role and maybe one of your passions in 

[00:03:13] Alex: life. Yep. My name is Alex Teller. I am the CEO O of Home. Perfect. We sell faucets and sinks brand name, luxury products.

[00:03:21] Alex: We’ve been in business for about 10. Business is on Magenta. I’ve been a magenta enthusiast for quite some time. And when I’m not in front of the computer breaking my head, trying to fix stuff, I like to collect old comic books. 

[00:03:36] Brent: Yeah. And I, we both met at Meet Magenta, New York and that was fascinating cuz my first experience in mag.

[00:03:43] Brent: With a client was on a comic book site and I can’t even remember the name now, but it’s been like 12 years. , you don’t remember the name? I know it’s not terrible. Yeah, that’s terrible. Anyways. did. I will look for it after the show and if I can find it, I’ll even put a link on the episode notes.

[00:03:58] Brent: So before we get into this what we’re gonna talk about, I do have an important project called the Free Joke Project. It’s hashtag free joke project. And I was, I’m gonna tell a joke to Alex. All I would like is just a reaction. The idea is, should these jokes be open source or are they like paywall?

[00:04:17] Brent: Okay, so they’re very short. Here we go. 

[00:04:20] Brent: Dude. I know. Geez. Yeah. Maybe we should open source. 

[00:04:23] Alex: This should be open source and patched and fixed for a decade. Before it’s stable, 

[00:04:27] Brent: we’re gonna have to do two.

[00:04:28] Brent: Now I’m gonna re, I’m gonna start, I’m gonna do my second joke. Ready. A ghost walks into a bar. The bartender says, sorry, we don’t serve spirits.

[00:04:40] Alex: That’s so 

[00:04:40] Brent: stupid. Yes. Very stupid

[00:04:45] Brent: All right. All right,

[00:04:50] Brent: I appreciate that. You gotta pay for a joke. That good? Yes. All right. So redo on the first one. The adjective from metal is metallic, but not so for iron, which is ironic.

[00:05:02] Brent: Yeah, I don’t know about that one. Yeah. Good thing I screwed it up to start with, but I feel 

[00:05:05] Alex: bad cuz it’s cuz the, I don’t know about that is like saying, oh, that should be open source. But I love 

[00:05:10] Brent: open source. Yeah. All right, good. I apologize. I could get a 

[00:05:13] Alex: tattoo. I would get the canoe public license across my back.

[00:05:17] Brent: There you go. Perfect. Yeah. Open source license 3.0. So yeah. Yeah. Alex, tell us a little bit about your journey. Commerce and how you started home. Perfect. 

[00:05:29] Alex: Yeah. I was always buying and selling on eBay. I would say eBay is my favorite to this day, still my favorite website ever. Because I do enjoy a, I do always have a collectible sort of nature to me.

[00:05:40] Alex: So I was buying, selling on eBay, and back then it might have been, I think I was like selling package software or DVDs. It, it was a while ago. It I’ve been buying and selling on eBay for so long that I was getting checks in the mail and I wasn’t even old enough to get a bank account. My parents needed to go in and sign me up so I could go deposit the checks and then PayPal came out and it was a game changer for me as I, I started to, just get the money straight to.

[00:06:07] Alex: So I was buying and selling on eBay, and then I knew I wanted to get into more e-commerce. And my father’s an architect and he put me in touch with some people that had access to some faucets and some sinks, and we hit the ground running and we’ve been in business ever since. . That’s 

[00:06:23] Brent: awesome.

[00:06:23] Brent: And so you got, you went from eBay to e-commerce? I know my wife had a business on eBay for a long time and a different type of business. So what, tell, just tell a little bit about what were you selling on eBay and how 

[00:06:34] Alex: to I’m still on eBay. My eBay username is comic pu. , ah, so 

[00:06:39] Brent: I understand what you’re selling.

[00:06:40] Brent: It’s not 

[00:06:40] Alex: Home Furniture. 89.8% positive feedback. One guy gave me negative 

[00:06:45] Brent: feedback. Oh, that’s frustrating. I’ll 

[00:06:47] Alex: say that I, it was for a heat sink that I forgot to include. It was a heat sink and fan that I forgot to include the backplate for, and it got shipped internationally. So the dude within I don’t know why this guy bought it from me, but I ripped it out of an old computer.

[00:06:59] Alex: I upgraded and I got 15 bucks. And the 15 bucks was not worth that one negative feedback to this 

[00:07:05] Brent: day. Yeah, no kidding. My, my experience, so I all, I had a, I used to have a retail computer store. I sold it. I ended up with a ton of inventory that everybody said was bad. I sold it all in eBay. It was amazing.

[00:07:17] Brent: And nothing came back. So anyways let’s keep moving. So e you sold it all on. I sold 

[00:07:23] Alex: everything. This is, you guys made more money on it for some of it. Yeah. This is a, you never 

[00:07:26] Brent: sold it for in the store. It was crazy. Yeah. This was in the nineties, but yeah, some of the 

[00:07:30] Alex: stuff, if you held onto it, it’s probably worth 10 times the amount, if it was like boxed computer games that are, like boxed Sierra games or something.

[00:07:36] Brent: I wish I, I also had a retail store called CD Rom City, so I’m dating myself now. 

[00:07:42] Alex: I update yourself. It’s all good, man. I was there, I was clipping the coupon for Comp U USA on Saturdays going on my gosh, Sundays getting the mail-in. I love that I paid 90 bucks for EDOs, 16 gigs of Ram, and I loved it,

[00:07:55] Brent: So we won’t go into let’s keep moving forward instead. thought it was the best deal. I was so excited. So tell us a little bit about your current Your current store and what you’re doing and is it a hundred percent commerce, e-commerce, I should 

[00:08:07] Alex: say? Yep. It’s a hundred percent e-commerce.

[00:08:10] Alex: Home Perfect is b2c. We have a large database. We have about 250,000 s skews and we have so many different product attributes cuz we have so many different product types. If it’s something like a toilet has a one piece toilet and a two piece toilet, and they might have required accessories that are different.

[00:08:29] Alex: One might chip LTL freight, one might chip X ground. There’s so many different elongated toilets, round toilets. There’s so many different product attributes and attribute sets that cuz of just the breadth of product mix. I felt like I almost had no choice to, to be on Magento. I think Magento has been a good fit for me because of that.

[00:08:49] Brent: Yep. When you were evaluating platforms, did you look at other ones to try to do your store on? 

[00:08:55] Alex: Yeah, so back in 2012, we were on something called the Venda platform. It was software as a service before it was cool, right? Back when it just sucked when it didn’t work. Now Venda was okay, but it got acquired by NetSuite, I think.

[00:09:11] Alex: And at the time we we knew we needed to move to Magenta, so we did. And Magenta one worked very well for us for many years. When it came time to migrating to two, I did debate on whether or not I should move to another option. I had a layout, right? I was like, maybe I’ll go to Shopify, or maybe WooCommerce were the two that I was bouncing around on.

[00:09:33] Alex: But I felt the number of SKUs and the attributes would’ve been an issue on Shopify for me and commerce. I just, as much as I like geeking out I was familiar enough with Magenta that, I have a business to run, at the end of the. I’m the ceo, right? Not cto, right? So as much as I love technology, I need to sell faucets on the internet and toilets, right?

[00:09:51] Alex: How can I just keep the business running while, upgrading the software? I took the plunge to two. It was a little bit rocky at first. I would say the performance for large databases wasn’t there until maybe for me personally, I saw the improvements at two 40 or maybe two 40.

[00:10:08] Alex: But now it is very stable for me. I’m very happy being on it and I’m really finally getting to enjoy all the new technology and new benefits I have of being on it. And I’m having fun with it. So I’m glad now that I made that switch 

[00:10:20] Brent: and I think you’re in a particular market space that has a lot of, like you had mentioned attributes and those are just parts of a product that can ide be identified.

[00:10:30] Brent: And in Magento’s case, they worked also to make configurables and child products. So if you think about on Amazon that left. When you’re navigating, that’s your attributes. Just for our listeners who aren’t under don’t understand the concept the, your particular market is very attuned to having very complicated products that can balloon your skew count.

[00:10:55] Brent: Maybe talk about the challenges of having so many SKUs and. How you’ve worked as a merchant to make customers be able to find the right product when they need to. Yeah. 

[00:11:06] Alex: In short Brent, it sucks. Let’s take for example, the lighting industry. The lighting industry will create, new products and they’ll already have a skew count of 2000 codes, and then they’ll just discontinue on a whim the next year.

[00:11:17] Alex: They might not have even produced some of these things. They just keep throwing stuff out there and put it on. And sometimes the information is so bare from the vendor, but at the same time, we have the information when we when we go on their website. So at the end of the day, I think our customers know what they want.

[00:11:36] Alex: We’re not really looking for the customer who is oh I wanna redo my bathroom or kitchen, but I don’t know what I want. We’re very much looking for people that come into us, the Brandon part. . And when they do, we wanna at least be able to have that brand at part number, that image and offer, ideally a compelling price for them.

[00:11:51] Alex: And we really want them to come to us, not just for one item, but for a whole list. Because we have salespeople that will walk them through a quote and make sure it’s compelling enough. Or we have a members only price club that uses the magenta cart rules to, if they log in a lot of the prices might be heavily discounted and make it compelling for them to use us.

[00:12:08] Alex: So that’s where. We want you to go to a maybe showroom first or maybe discover the product that you want somewhere else, but then come to us for the best deal. Yeah. You mentioned 

[00:12:18] Brent: price rules. Do you have ways to get your average cart value up in, in terms of when they’re navigating through your site, you wanna recommend other products, things like 

[00:12:27] Alex: that?

[00:12:28] Alex: I would say that’s 1000000% credit is given where credit is due to our recommendations, our AI-driven recomme. We analyzed years of sales history and we started with maybe maybe a more dumb AI, if you would call it, right? Just saying, which products were most often purchased with these products.

[00:12:44] Alex: But now that we’ve gotten more information and every sale makes trains that and gets that smarter, we’re now able to maybe use the category data to boost and optimize which related products we show. . It really helps, it, sometimes a customer might come in and say, oh, I, I didn’t know I needed this in-wall tank carrier for this toilet.

[00:13:02] Alex: I don’t know if we personally want that customer, but at least we show it or we show the seat that goes with the toilet or we show maybe a sink and faucet that other customer had purchased. So it’s definitely very detail oriented for us. It needs to be exact and. And we’re not selling a pair of sneakers.

[00:13:19] Alex: Somebody’s not just swapping out their faucet cuz they like a black one one day and a gold one tomorrow. They’re making that investment for a while. 

[00:13:27] Brent: Yeah. And I think recommendations is something that really scales especially as you grow your traffic and as more people, as you start collecting that information for what other customers are doing, that’s where it really comes into play.

[00:13:40] Brent: Do you mind telling us which recommendation engineer you’re using for, you mentioned ai, so are you using a outbound Outbranded one. 

[00:13:49] Alex: Oh, yeah. I’m. I really value the close relationship I have with my host and provider cloud I think they specialize in large databases and and large catalogs.

[00:13:59] Alex: And I think in particular they developed the they developed a software called computer ai, which is like product information management and also AI recommendations. I think I was like an alpha partner and now they’re going to market pretty soon.

[00:14:14] Alex: And adding some new clients. So I’m really excited about what they’ve done with me and for them to be able to offer that to other customers. 

[00:14:22] Brent: What would, if you, if somebody were to come to you and say, I’m so afraid of machine learning how would you get, how would you encourage another merchant to embrace the idea of machine learning?

[00:14:33] Alex: I can really say it comes down to cost for us merchants, some solutions are just too costly and I personally can’t sign a contract. I, I. Spend crazy amounts on budget. I have to allocate a certain amount towards ads and I have to stay profitable. I’m not a company that’s looking for I, I looked into you, Brent you said something about how, like you had loss of leaders at your software store, but we’re looking to make money on every order.

[00:15:01] Alex: And, I’m not saying we’re gouging our customers. We’re we’re delivering a competitive price, but we can’t give away these items. We need to we need to make. And if we start spending a lot on very expensive features, we could just kill our whole budget. If somebody is scared about the concept of ai, me personally, if I were to, as somebody who’s probably more computer geek than most business path sorts of people, I would just show them the price and tell them that they have nothing to lose if it’s priced well enough and if it if there’s really no.

[00:15:32] Brent: Yeah, I think I’ve talked to a number of different, say, fraud providers and they use AI to help help with the transactions to make sure, hey, is this a fraudulent transaction, non fraudulent? And always give the example of a client that we had in Mexico who had a call center that would call every single merchant to make sure that it’s the right merchant, right?

[00:15:52] Brent: And at some point that just doesn’t scale anymore. , like you want to fulfill that item. And I think anything that has to do where machine learning can help you as a merchant scale your business, that’s where it works. And Adobe has a sensei, which it’s, it sounds is very similar to what you had in, in your competitor.

[00:16:13] Brent: Do ai. There are so many computer AI or competing to win computers already. . Yes. Computer . Sorry about that computer. Yeah, there’s just so many different places where you can get wins and I think people need to embrace it more. And the other thing is that it has to learn, like it needs to be there.

[00:16:29] Brent: It has to start collecting data, and it has to learn from it, but it 

[00:16:32] Alex: needs, but cost is so prohibitive. Just to use your example of fraud, there’s so many and I see the I see the potential and I see why there’s fraud, fraud companies out there. But me personally, just to, shed some light on what I use for fraud.

[00:16:44] Alex: I have max mine filters, right? And I pay them a very nominal fee per transaction to, allocate thresholds that I’ll then review. And I’ll am I self-insured? Yes. But if I, went with a company that insures me on those frauds too, the cost would just be completely not make sense.

[00:17:01] Alex: So that’s the solution that I did and I put a lot of faith in MaxMind to, to machine learning and catch the frauds for me. But I’ve been very fortunate and very observant and and I like the software and I think that it does work for me, so I was able to keep costs down by doing that.

[00:17:16] Brent: As a medium sized merchant how do you find competing against the big stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s or something like that? Do you find that because you’re so targeted in what you’re doing, that you’re getting, you’re offering a much better value for what the clients are getting, getting?

[00:17:30] Brent: think Home Depot, 

[00:17:30] Alex: Maybe is better for a lot of things. If you came to me and you were like, Hey, I want a new toilet, Alex, and I’m in California. And I’m like, okay, Brent, what toilet do you want? And you’re like, oh, I saw this one at Home Depot. It’s 150 bucks. I would say, go to Home Depot, definitely go to Home Depot and while you’re there, pick off Faucet because that toilet for me to ship to you.

[00:17:50] Alex: If I wasn’t, shipping directly from a west coast fulfillment center, which I can do with Magenta with msi, it’s so expensive to ship something like. I almost don’t even want the sale. It might get damaged and it’s not really a luxury toilet. If you take, for example, the total nere, which is really cool, and it has a integrated heated Bday seat, and I tell everyone, you’re aple.

[00:18:09] Alex: If you don’t have a bday, you gotta have one. That $150 boy doesn’t have that. And it doesn’t have an autoclose lid promised air de odor. It doesn’t have a concealed connection, so you don’t even see the wires. But that total nearest toilet costs 3000 bucks, so it’s different customers and for us, we’re trying to give them the best possible product at a good price.

[00:18:31] Brent: So the niche part of it or the specific market segment that you’re serving serves you well because you’re working on being a targeted, you’re targeting certain types of clients and what you’re doing, and that’s been successful as that’s a good representation. 

[00:18:46] Alex: Yeah. I, all the time and even my father will be like I gotta, I need a new light fixture for a rental place in Brooklyn, and I’ll be like, , let’s go to Home Depot,

[00:18:55] Alex: Let’s go do it, man, this is 150 bucks. They do a great job with lighting, so everyone and or let’s go on Amazon and let’s, let’s find something that, whatever it is, there’s just different customers, like different things, and there’s enough of a market that what we offer is really more granted, luxury.

[00:19:13] Brent: What do you think is the most exciting thing right now in the e-commerce space? What’s getting you 

[00:19:18] Alex: excited about it? I would say personally the amount of ai in terms of recommendations and ways to retarget customers. But I think the costs have finally gotten to the point where it makes sense for someone like me a couple years ago, even something like email marketing platforms.

[00:19:34] Alex: They were so expensive for what you got. And then, value added services of recommendations. It just put me, it’s gonna rock in a hard place cause I value software and I truly understand why it costs that. But I personally, if I just started, buying the best I wouldn’t be able to stay in business how I do it.

[00:19:53] Alex: So I think we’re at like an exciting stage. . Certain things have gotten more complex to pull off, but certain things are also more possible to pull off for less money. So I’m excited to delve deep into that and make it work for me.

[00:20:04] Brent: So you’d mentioned you mentioned email marketing. I’m in a business group and our topic, one of the topics that came up on Tuesday was, people think that social media is gonna be your savior as a merchant. How do you determine how much I should do on Google ads, on, on social media, on, on just an email or a blog post or whatever?

[00:20:24] Brent: How do you break out 

[00:20:25] Alex: different that like a good buddy of mine has silver age, a site that we helped make on. It’s still on Magenta one, but it works for. And he does a lot of sales on Instagram. We’re selling vintage comics on Instagram and we’ll go live and we’ll have a couple drinks and sell.

[00:20:39] Alex: We sold like a $25,000 low grade copy of the first appearance of the flash on Instagram, which is crazy, and we’ll sell a ton of a hundred dollars books and $50 books, but you get a $25,000 sale on Instagram is nuts. And for him something like social is more important for. , A lot of our customers aren’t really on it that much.

[00:20:58] Alex: They’ll be like, they don’t even really know how to use a computer that well sometimes, or they don’t care, like they just, they know what they want and they want a good price and they know they’re gonna get a tracking number in an email and, so while for this particular business, certain things aren’t embraced in terms of allocating marketing budgets, I would say yeah, there’s more budgeted on Google, right?

[00:21:18] Alex: Or. , but but on other businesses it could be everything.

[00:21:25] Brent: Yeah. Yeah you took the answer out of my mouth. It is specific to businesses and I think as you’re even getting into B2B more, the social aspect of it isn’t as important as. Some of the other channels you have to help market your business. I think that one thing I know Gary Vi always says is, if it’s there, try it.

[00:21:44] Brent: Don’t and test it. Don’t, please don’t. I, 

[00:21:46] Alex: what do you do for testing some? I was talking to ca at the meet magenta after party right before I talked to you, and he was like, Hey man you know who you remind me of, dude? Like you remind me of. And I was like, bro, like I, I please, I’m not, like I’m my own person.

[00:22:01] Alex: And he’s nah, but you probably go to the flea markets and stuff. I’m like yeah. I go to the flea markets and you probably buy a bunch of things. I’m like yeah, I do that. But I just I don’t know. I’m not really the, I very much get a thrill from a from an actual sale, but I’m not gonna like say something more broad.

[00:22:15] Alex: I’m very specific and maybe that just comes. Having more of a technical background as well, 

[00:22:19] Brent: yeah, no I, so what I was gonna say is that testing things and trying things out are always important and I guess going back to social media, how much do you test on those social platforms to see if it’s gonna. Cr if it’s going to bring you some business from those, are they gonna convert to a sale if you did 

[00:22:38] Alex: videos on?

[00:22:39] Alex: Yeah. Probably not for the $4,000 toilet, but maybe for the $300 washlet seat. The thing is you never want to get too comfortable just doing one thing, and you always want to try everything. But sometimes that fear of missing out You get grounded when it’s a grounding feeling when before you know it, you have no more money left than your bank account.

[00:22:57] Alex: So it’s it’s a humbling feeling to be like I have no money to do this. Or and I’m not saying we don’t have the money to do it, I’m just saying, you always need to think from the perspective of maintaining, a profit line. 

[00:23:09] Brent: Yeah. So fear of missing out is a great, it’s a great example.

[00:23:13] Brent: And then also the capacity and the bandwidth to do all those different things you’d like to try. That’s 

[00:23:16] Alex: amazing too, Brent. It’s amazing to not get off the, just to say social media is incredible. The fact that we could go on Instagram at midnight from my friend’s com shop in Queens and get, 200 people in a stream, a hundred people in a stream and have people just buy is such an amazing sort.

[00:23:33] Alex: Feeling like it’s so empowering to be like we just made our own home shopping network, like feeling it with our own, we’re, we’re probably a little bit, we’re cracking jokes and we’re being a little bit Wayne’s worldy, but it’s but the customer likes it too, and that creates like a personal relationship, like I ran into a guy after we did that show, and he was like, yo, man, like you’re the guy.

[00:23:50] Alex: Drinking, like your cup was like it looked like you were drinking a cup of pee, bro. And I’m like, what are you talking about, dude? It was like I think it was like Gatorade , but it’s but the guy was watching, like you had a captive audience and he remembered and he came up to you and it’s and that didn’t cost anything, it was free and it was sincere and it was memorable.

[00:24:06] Alex: So it, depending on what you’re doing, it could be the most important thing. 

[00:24:12] Brent: Do you think as we’re going into the future for content and conversational content the content that’s wrapped around each piece of your products like is if you have a skew that’s one of that $3,000 five toilet writing, $5,000 toilet, sorry.

[00:24:27] Brent: Are, is that content around that? Say you’re writing blog posts or social or whatever, or, yeah, maybe more blog posts that, that’s pointing to that content. Educating people on why that, what’s about that and the features and breaking that content into larger content. It’s totally important. Is that more important now, 

[00:24:43] Alex: what’d you say?

[00:24:44] Alex: It’s totally important. Is that more? Yeah. Yeah. It’s also not our own brand, right? If I had my own private label Washlet, I would be doing even more, at the end of the day, at the end of the day, I have thousands of codes and I get information from vendors and then I can use like a software like computer to get more information from vendors.

[00:25:05] Alex: But I can’t, like I, there’s only so many hours in a day and I can keep going and I can keep adding. And maybe some good reviews help, but I’m a B2C and I’m selling something that people can get in a lot of different places. I think what’s compelling about me is they’re getting a great deal.

[00:25:19] Brent: You mentioned you mentioned having you mentioned b2c. You and you mentioned having the email earlier. And we always hear email is dying or email is dead. Your email list, are they still bringing in good Yes. Returns and do you see email going into the future? 

[00:25:36] Alex: Yes, they’re bringing traffic.

[00:25:38] Alex: I think, you get so many emails every day that they all board together to be like nothing. But you do see traffic and you see like an interesting, sometimes I’ll look at Google Analytics and I’ll be like, man, I sent this email like three months ago. This guy just bought this and it if the more you do, the more you get.

[00:25:54] Alex: Are our emails a little bit spammy? We’re throwing a lot of coupon codes, and are they targeted to an extent? Somebody renovates their house once every few years, ideally you’re trying to get some contractors maybe, or some architects or designers and give them, some sort of incentive to to work with you directly in bulk.

[00:26:09] Alex: But I don’t think it’s going away. . Do you think it’s going away, 

[00:26:12] Brent: Brent? No. I think email’s gonna remain strong. I saw a tweet the other day that we need a spam folder for texting though. And I would say that texting can get super annoying. And I’ve signed up for a couple of different brands for, they say, we’ll text you every once in a while to send you a coupon and then all of a sudden I’m getting a text twice a week.

[00:26:30] Alex: Yeah, I get a text from a gun range. Me and my wife she’s from Texas. We go to near her house’s, like a, there’s an archery range on the second floor and a gun range on the first floor. And we just did archery there like once, and they send me texts. They’re like come to Valentine’s Day at Saddle River Range.

[00:26:46] Alex: Like extra ammo is half price. And I’m like, I like it, but it’s, it’s lost on me. I’m in Brooklyn. Yeah. I’m not going to Saddle River Ranch for 

[00:26:53] Brent: Valentine’s Day. . Maybe that’d be something that you should try this year. 

[00:26:58] Alex: I would definitely do it if I was there. Just shout out to Saddle River Rage guys.

[00:27:02] Alex: The texting’s working guys 

[00:27:03] Brent: keep texting me. Yeah, I read it. I guess the point on the points I’m trying to make is that there is a tipping point email. We don’t want texting to turn, like people say, my texting inbox is something that I, everybody reads the text at some point. 

[00:27:16] Alex: Yeah. Unless it’s five or eight prints from high school.

[00:27:19] Alex: Yeah. . 

[00:27:19] Brent: There you go. The text group that goes around and around. Yeah. I hear ya. Yeah. If you had some kind of nugget to tell a merchant that in it that they should be doing, maybe what they could still do for Black Friday, but then what’s, what they should be doing as they’re planning into quarter one of next year, what would that be?

[00:27:38] Alex: Yeah, so I never do any code upgrades. Right around now I just because, especially with Magento, I’m just like, oh God, I might not realize something else went wrong, for another month. And then it’s a trickle down effect. And then I’m breaking my head on, who knows where, Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving dinner, right?

[00:27:54] Alex: Like just fixing something, which has happened. But like I, I think. , for Black Friday, you just want to get organized and say, what are you doing? What am I gonna do? What are my sales gonna be? Am I offering coupon codes? Make sure the, for us Google promotions are really important.

[00:28:07] Alex: Google ads are really important. Submitting, leaking the coupons and just making sure you know you’re ready because there’s so many things to switch. Weeding up to Black Friday only to then switch it all. , right? Like you’re like, man, I have coupon codes and I’m lowering prices and then I’m activating this and it’s only for this day and then this day and then like once Black Friday’s over, oh my god, cyber Monday.

[00:28:28] Alex: And then, everyone should know Cyber Monday is gonna be extended to Cyber Tuesday, but come that Wednesday, you’re stuck reverting a lot of stuff back. And if you don’t, all your marketing efforts might get mixed up and might cause a trickle down effect of a headache. Just be organized.

[00:28:41] Alex: Yeah. It’s 

[00:28:42] Brent: a plan. Organized, make sure I like that. I I think a lot of people don’t think about the fact that maybe they didn’t turn off their coupon codes after a certain time. And certainly magenta, it’s easy to just make the coupon codes stop working on the day after Cyber Monday or whatever, whenever you want to stop it.

[00:28:56] Brent: Yeah, it 

[00:28:57] Alex: is. But if you don’t do it right it’s like somebody’s adding that extra 5% on something where you only had or it’s just like, oh no and then it’s like, what do you do, as the years go on, it becomes more difficult to like, reach out to the customer and explain to them what you 

[00:29:07] Brent: did.

[00:29:07] Brent: Right. Alex, as I close out, as we finish out the podcast, to give everybody an opportunity to do a shameless plug about anything you’d like to plug. It could be your business or any, anything, your school or something a anything you’d like to plug. What would you like to plug today? 

[00:29:22] Alex: Sure. If you happened to acquired any comic books that’s say 10 cent or 12 cents on the cover price.

[00:29:28] Alex: Maybe some 15. None of that new stuff. Don’t, hit me up and be like, oh, I got these, nineties books. I don’t want ’em one or two of them, but not all of them hit me up. You could even email Alex home, Instagram Web seven nyc. I’m born and raised in Manhattan or on eBay at comment palooza.

[00:29:46] Alex: I’m always buying, I’m paying cash for your collectibles. And in particular 1960s Marvel books. I can give you a good deal and I’d love to buy bulk and I buy collections. I buy inheritances. I’ll go anywhere and I’ll come to you. And let’s just, let’s buy these books. I like to keep some of them for myself.

[00:30:02] Alex: I am a collector too, but I do also sell. 

[00:30:05] Brent: Awesome. It sounds like you should also have a online comic. . 

[00:30:11] Alex: Maybe I do. . 

[00:30:13] Brent: That’s awesome. . Alex, thanks so much for being here today. It’s been an enjoyable conversation and I wish you all the best on your your B F C M as they like to say nowadays. 

[00:30:22] Alex: Yeah, but it’s B F C M ct.

[00:30:25] Alex: What is the ct? Black Friday? Cyber Monday. Cyber Tuesday. Extended. 

[00:30:30] Brent: Extended. There you go. And then we’ll call it Christmas in July soon. Yeah. 

[00:30:36] Alex: God. I don’t, I think it’ll just be year round. Honestly, with us it’s always year round. If you join our perfect Members only Price Club and you sign into your account, all the prices are cut in half.

[00:30:44] Alex: So every day is Black Friday at home. Perfect. We’re just trying to get you the best possible deal on your full renovation. 

[00:30:50] Brent: Awesome. I will put all these links into the show notes and I appreciate you being here today. Thank you, Alex. 

[00:30:56] Alex: Thank you, Brent.