magento

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.

Why-Use-Hyva

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.

Transcript

[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 machines.io. 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 comics.com, 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 perfect.com, 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.

Talk Commerce MAIER BIANCHI

The Human Connection in Commerce with Maier Bianchi

Welcome to 2023 and the start of a new Talk Commerce year. What’s new? You will see new and updated show notes, I have a new library of music from AppSumo and I plan on exploring OPEN A I this year. Lots of great things to come in 2023. Today we interview Maier Bianchi, whose primary goal is to help businesses join the modern digital economy. The world is constantly evolving around us like an ever-flowing river of time. To adapt and survive in this increasingly difficult landscape requires us as people to work together, with the mission of succeeding mutually, not exclusively. Maier enlightens us with his business wisdom and tenacity to overcome complex problems and circumstances.

Some takeaways from this episode

  • Maier has been involved with technology and computers since childhood
  • He began working in the IT side of a Halloween store in 2002
  • He began teaching himself coding in 2009
  • He got recruited to work for a luxury kitchen bath lighting retailer in 2010
  • He has since gone on to form his own company and become involved in the Magento community, forming relationships and networking with other members to stay informed and provide better client services.
  • Maier entered the e-commerce world without any formal development background.
  • He took a job in 2015 that exposed him to advanced technology and software development culture.
  • His company was renamed Bemair, meaning “one who enlightens”.
  • He is currently focusing on Magento, Adobe Commerce, Shopify, and headless platforms.
  • He sees e-commerce continuing to form the fabric of our shopping society, but with the human connection remaining an integral part.
  • He is a partner for Shopware and is looking to make headways into the Americas.
  • He is urging people to support 4hcm.org, an organization dedicated to helping those with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  • He believes luck and hard work are essential for success in e-commerce.
  • He sees the venture capital ecosystem drying up and encourages businesses to focus on brand voices and engaging with customers.
  • He encourages people to think of others during the holidays.

RIFF Happens – Read more of what Maier has to say on Linkedin

Transcript

Brent: Welcome to this fantastic episode of Talk Commerce. Today I have Maier Bianchi, and I have for the first time, I’ve known Maier for about 10 years now. I’ve said his name correctly. Maier, why don’t you go ahead, do an introduction, tell us your day-to-day role and maybe one of your passions in life.

Brent: You are the founder of Bemeir, and again, I’ve been saying be Meyer wrong this whole time as well. And have you attended. . I think I just, I would always just say, I don’t know. Bier, bier. I would just say it wrong, but I say everybody’s name wrong but why don’t you go ahead.

Brent: You’re gonna do a better job than me, and I like the way that you spelled it out. I was super confused when I saw Bianchi or Bianchi because I would’ve said that correctly and I, nevermind. You just go ahead. 

Maier: Yeah. My name’s Maier Bianchi. Thanks for the intro. I’m from Brooklyn, New York, currently by way of New Jersey, and I’m founder of Bemeir.

Maier: We’re an e-commerce solutions agency outta Brooklyn and web development and web applications and other things just like technology and helping people. That’s what we’re about. 

Brent: Cool. And your passion in life is just having kids. Yeah. Crazy because you have 17 kids now, right? Or something 

Maier: like crazy amount.

Maier: Crazy. Yeah, procreation is my passion. No, I have five. I’m definitely probably gonna keep it five, but you never know the fact still. Yeah. One more. Yeah. But yeah, so that, that yeah, that, that is part of my origin story. It’s probably why I’m motivated cuz it started having kids like age 22. That’s, yeah.

Maier: That, that defines me. 

Brent: I am going to you have a, you have so nicely agreed to participate in the free joke project, and now I should have, I realize I should have had a joke about having tons of kids, but I don’t, I have a, I think it’s a good joke, but you’re all you have to do is tell me if you feel like this joke should remain free.

Brent: Or if we could charge for it. And today’s joke is a quick joke, but I may stumble through it. So if we have to do editing and people see jumps in the videos because I’ve said it wrong and Maier and myself have done this, take four times, . All right. You ready?

Brent: Yeah. , a man walks into a bar with a small salamander on his shoulder. The bartender says, what an interesting pet, what’s his name? Tiny. The man Repli. The bartender says, that’s an odd name. Why did you call him tiny? The man replies because he’s my newt.

Maier: That’s a good one. I’m not laughing, but I’m laughing internally. I’m definitely gonna go tell my friend that one. But I, you could charge for it as part of a scholastic book athon. Joke book, it could be part of a compendium, maybe not a standalone joke.

Brent: That’s fair. I think to be fair, a lot of my jokes are thinking jokes and like you think about it and then maybe a week later you’re like, okay, that I get it now. It wasn’t even funny, but now I get it. So that might be like something where maybe next week somebody and maybe what I should do is have, as part of the free joke project, I could have the following week, I do joke explained.

Brent: A newt is just as a small lizard. Okay, good. 

Maier: The joke revealed, no, I wanna tell that one to my dad. I don’t think I can get the intro. But I like the actual payoff. 

Brent: Yeah. And I’ll, I will admit too that I did not practice that. Like I found I was like I was getting ready for our at, just to get everybody in the green room.

Brent: Our green room conversation consisted of me waiting for you to come back from the bathroom. That’s true. I had some time and I’m like, oh wait, we gotta do the joke. So I looked one up really quick. And by the way, there is a dad joke API that you can access. And one of my, when I have some downtime, I do like to do a little bit of coding, right?

Brent: So my downtime consists of me doing bash scripts. If you go on, I do have a bunch of old Magento bash scripts on Amazon, on on GitHub, but I’m very interested in how can I make, how can I get to this api? So I haven’t gotten that far. All I’ve got, it’s still in my head and I’d love to just, Hey, how can I want to just send off a request and come back with a dad joke of the day.

Brent: I think filter ’em because some of them aren’t are. I’d get in trouble from Susan for saying ’em, but anyways. . Let’s would you like to talk about e-commerce today? Or what what would you like to talk about? 

Maier: Yeah I’m open to anything that’s my problem’s. Not always prepared, but so no.

Maier: Yeah,  you can lead the witness. You could go ahead and talk about anything, bring up any topic. 

Brent: Sure. I wanna start off with if, when you get outside, like you said you came via New Jersey today or something, or did, were you moved, did you move from New Jersey to Brooklyn? 

Maier: No, I moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey a couple years ago.

Maier: Oh, so you’re not in Brooklyn anymore? My company’s based in Brooklyn. I still have Brooklyn in my blood. I can’t, you can’t, you can take the kid outta Brooklyn, but you can’t take the Brooklyn out of the kid, but, got it. I. Currently reside in New Jersey and intend to keep it that way for a while.

Brent: Is that because whenever you drove outside of New Jersey and you came back, I mean outside of Brooklyn came back, you couldn’t get any sleep until you actually got there? 

Maier: No. , no. I would just say it’s because Brooklyn is not the most affordable place to live versus the quality of life ratio and space for your family.

Maier: So New Jersey held those answers a couple years ago, back when prices were lower and yeah, things worked out in that regard. 

Brent: I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately and I binge watch, I’ve been binge watching The Sopranos on HBO O Max on my iPad, so that’s a good, again, now just learning everything there is to know about New Jersey and about the people, the wonderful people of New Jersey.

Maier: keep wondering, yeah, that’s like a little north of here, but it’s real. There’s real places. But I did watch it sometime in the last year. Yeah, last year. Yeah. You’re gonna 

Brent: Have to revisit it. And there is some, I think there, there was some tours, some Sopranos tours in the past just to watch that.

Brent: . Let’s talk a little bit about what motivated you to get into e-commerce and again, you’re relatively young, so you started in this Magento community when you were super young, like 12, right? 

Maier: Yeah, . What motivated me to get into e-commerce is I always was into technology since I was a little kid.

Maier: Loved anything with computers and video games and Nintendo and just anything computers, since I was really. And then got my first computer when I was like, whatever. Let’s just say se pick a number seven, apple, two McIntosh. Lc, think like 16 megabytes of Ram 40 megabyte hard drive. My dad was into like Adobe Illustrator.

Maier: I play in like civilization, HyperCard, so you know, always was like into multimedia and art and like computers. And then flash forward to high school. Majored in media and communications, which was once again interactive stuff like photography, video making websites. And like my aunt got me like an HTML book when I was a teenager.

Maier: Never opened it. Had opportunities to learn like visual basic programming for robotics. Never followed through. So there was something about the book way, which didn’t appeal to me. And then flash forward, my parents had a Halloween. I was working at Halloween store in the back office, so doing more office and data entry stuff.

Maier: And then somewhere along the way I got into the IT side where they had started an e-commerce store, let’s just say in 2002. They were early adopters. I wasn’t so much involved in that. But then let’s just say more around oh 6, 0 7, got more involved in that. Cause I was working in the IT of the store.

Maier: And and eventually working in it like, POS infrastructure and MA making sure the registers were ringing during the busy times and like that type of high demand environment and customer satisfaction environment. Probably formulated how I think or think from the business owner perspective.

Maier: And then around 2009 I was working. And was managing the website or dealing with the website. And I started like teaching myself to code like html, css started doing some side projects like WordPress or static HTML stuff and I really wasn’t going anywhere there. And then in 2010 got recruited to work for like a luxury kitchen bath lighting retailer.

Maier: Shout out to Alex Teller, give credit where credit is due. And he got me into that company and they were on a SaaS platform called Venda. Back in 2010, SAS was not where you wanted to be cuz usually it was very closed source. Just adding a pixel to your checkout could cost thousand, cost thousands of dollars.

Maier: So they wanted to move to a more DIY model cause they were successful, but wanted to be able to iterate faster. So what was really great about that experience was I got with AdWords, front end development, you name it, all the aspects of the business. And then in the end of that year, they decided to look at a platform called Magen.

Maier: They were big, so they were going for Magento enterprise. This was the 1.9 version of enterprise, which was equivalent to 1.4 or one point, like right after the major architecture shift, thank God. But this was back then, so I was lucky enough to be put in charge of that project. , helping implement it, bring it to life, working with all the extension providers, working with a Magento at the time.

Maier: I was about to say Adobe, I’ve been training myself, but Adobe was not a concern back then for the Magento community except for making graphics and and so that’s really how I got into this, was working there and getting my feet. We Magento, went to the first Imagine met people like Karen Baker. Met people like yourself somewhere in there, asked, hitting you on Skype for help.

Maier: I don’t know how it hap how, and. and people, all kinds of, like back then. That’s what, how this started. And then flash forward to four years, said, Hey, I really e-commerce, I like making websites. And decided to go on my own and formed my company freelancing. And then for four years, or not in four years, like three years, two years, then I got burnt out on that.

Maier: I was like, Hey, I never wanna work for anyone ever again. No more jobs. Let’s go agency mode. And that was my. So that’s my superhero or super villain origin story in how we got here. 

Brent: That’s awesome. And Alex has been on the show and and did, how did you stay away from comic books? . 

Maier: So I’m not as good with him as the comics, but I’ve always had some comics, but I would say other.

Maier: Have been my hobby, like making babies or video games, , so yeah. That’s awesome. That’s an expensive hobby too. 

Brent: Yeah, that’s a great story. Just so our listeners give some context The Magento community has been around for about 13, 14 years. The very first imagine happened back in, was it 2011 at the Yes, at the lax at Los Angeles L Ax.

Brent: And and then that’s solidified our the actual community of people. And it is really a community driver to make this happen. So it’s a, I think a unique time in space that we’ve had this and we were, we just saw each other at at Meet Magento, New York. It continues going, and not only do we get professionally, get ourselves Make ourselves better professionally, but we also get making great relationships.

Brent: And I had the pleasure of meeting you quite a long time ago and and just doing so many things across our space. 

Maier: Yeah. And no, and I would just second that by saying there’s relationships I’ve made back then that still carry forward to this day. I was fortunate enough to meet like the founder of Uner.

Maier: Or people that like, like people who worked for Magento and Sapora and then introduced them to other people and they became formative members of their company. And it’s just been like this great, like a family reunion every time you get together with people from the community. Like when I saw you in Boston at a not Magento event at El East, and then just happened to sit down next to you at the table, it’s oh, there’s a friendly face.

Maier: So it’s just really comforting because as things change, it’s been a great constant factor out. And like that I think a lot of people don’t know about or they don’t have in their space. Yeah. 

Brent: I think that’s for me, and I started to attend non-agent events in 2019 with the, for starting with the Adobe Summit.

Brent: It was a Magento event, but yeah, I mean it was 99% Adobe and 1% Adobe commerce. Did you find it a little bit different that maybe you don’t know so many people? Shop Talk or eTail event where , it was mm-hmm. ,, it was a way to, you, you kinda had to reintroduce yourself to the crowd.

Brent: And then the other thing that I find at those events is there’s people that absolutely don’t know about it. And believe it or not, they don’t care about Magento. 

Maier: No, exactly. And so I would say I was there for multiple purposes mainly business development and meeting people. Like I went with my colleague.

Maier: who’s on strategic partnerships and business development. And so it’s different when you’re with a friend and you’re with someone, you have a different, like move and stride to you versus when you’re alone. I’m like pretty outgoing but also more timid when I’m like by myself. I feel like more in my own head, but when you have a certain wingman factor you are able to just get into different conversations or work the room as a team.

Maier: And then also that was a conference focus on e-commerce and I had a great time at eTail East. Back when it was in Philly some years ago. And so I had fond memories of that conference, like from 2014 or whatever that was. And and so it was like, just going there to be about it.

Maier: Meet with Shopify, meet with big commerce, meet with Adobe representatives, meet with partners like Air Call and Webs and so on. So it’s once again, it shows kind of the growth because there were so many familiar faces yet meeting new people at these events. And I would just. It’s cool to see the spirit in general of commerce catch up, cuz it wasn’t always like this, right?

Maier: It was a very different type of crowd. It was definitely a different type of vibe and I think it just has to do with the soup of the day flavor and how this became the big industry and more, more different folks who weren’t in industry flocked to it. So now it’s like one of the it places to be.

Maier: So it’s attracted more diversity in certain ways or more investment, which has led to more involve. . And so I would just say what’s the dark side of it right now is that we’re hearing about so many layoffs and so many people who are like at these companies who are, there’s a lot of things changing hands.

Maier: And so once again, it’s, there’s ups and downs and it’s a whole ecosystem. And so for me, the community is really like a, there’s just so many different facets to it. 

Brent: Do you find that being part of the community makes you a better agency owner? And maybe just from a, maybe from an educational and networking standpoint that 

Maier: Yes, 180 

Brent: client percent client.

Brent: Yeah. A client’s gonna ask you a question and my ear is oh yeah, I’m gonna go ask Philip Jackson that, or something like that. 

Maier: Yeah, no. I’m gonna put a plug. Like for example, in Magento World, there’s this thing called Mage talk that ca you know, not the podcast.

Maier: Sorry. Not Mage talk. Mage chat. Forget about Mage Talk mage. Is, it’s like this slack paid Slack membership where there’s a lot of really smart people all in one place, sharing ideas helping each other out. So it’s like not just these, there’s there’s a lot of free communities, like the Magento, open source Slack with thousands of people in it where you could post a question to get an answer, but imagine a more curated place where you can go learn things and people are happy to share their playbook or say, Hey I really rely upon this integration or this extension, or Here’s how we do it.

Maier: And yes, I would. Two things. Like I’ve struggled a lot in the last two years as an entrepreneur focusing too much on what other people are doing and from a social media and watching, you and getting all that in your head and oh man, I’m not doing good. And hey, the truth hurts. But then at the same time, there’s such a benefit to being connected to people because you learn so much and so yes, a hundred percent as an agency.

Maier: And I’m always on the hunt for information for my clients. That’s why we have so many partnerships. That’s why we do the networking, is because these relationships really help provide a a great way to just get support for people or answer questions. And I would say that’s definitely a big part of my the way I operate a secret sauce as.

Brent: and I will also put a plug in for Mage Chat. Kalen often asks me and I realize now that Kalen asked me in advance for ideas that he’s already gonna do, and he’s already proved successful. Soundboarding . Yeah. And I said I don’t know. I don’t know if I would do that. And then, within a day he’s Boom.

Brent: He I’m get all these text messages. I already got 50 people. I guess it really did work. . I wish I can move fast. He’s good at pointing out the fact that I often give him poor advice. So that’s how, yeah. He also 

Maier: probably didn’t have that answer the day before. Cause that’s how fast Caitlyn moves.

Maier: Yeah, he’s saying one thing this week and then the next week he’s doing something different. And that’s part of his genius is the way he iterates and can just say, Hey, because like I compare that to the way I sometimes do things is where I’ll procrastinate on something or I’ll think about how I’m gonna say something or do something for so long, not put anything on paper, but then when the time comes, that visual or how I envisioned it, Goes to plan.

Maier: So there’s some thought to it, but no, he’s on another level with that. , I can’t disagree there. You can tell him one thing and he’s probably already figured it out. 

Brent: Yeah, he’s a he’s probably a really good chess player. I don’t think I want to play him in chess cuz I’m a terrible chess player.

Maier: Yeah, I used to play chess when I was a kid, but those days are 

Brent: long over. Tell us a little bit about some of your journey as an entrepreneur. You, you worked for Alex Teller. Then you went off and started your own, you did contracting and that’s where I started as well.

Brent: In the Magento space. Yes. I did contract and then I did a agency. Yeah, what was some of the frustrations around the contracting part? 

Maier: Contracting wasn’t so bad. It was the trying to do both, like contracting and having clients or whatever. Contracting for multiple, cuz remember like my whole, I guess I’ll put it to you like this, right?

Maier: So I left and I didn’t have any formal background in development. I had some certifications, I kept leveling up, but I had no computer science background, no PHP background, no JavaScript background. So I don’t think I was the best equipped to get recruited for development. , but I was really specialized with the product.

Maier: I really have a good work ethic. Good focus on e-commerce. And so that’s useful, but that’s not a job, right? That’s not necessarily a ba that’s not necessarily an architect. That’s not necessarily this. So where I fit in well was in certain situations. So for example when I left the, that company working for Alex and then went to, it’s called Home Perfect.

Maier: I went to. , I just was like working with some other people on the side, setting up sites, trying to get involved in certain businesses. But then I got hooked into a company called Weedmaps. And Weedmaps is now a billion dollar, publicly traded company at the time. They were more of a startup going to Enterprise.

Maier: They’re based in Irvine California. And I had the pleasure to work for a brilliant cto. His name was Bill Antreosi and he was leading this project that involved Magento. It was like a marketplace. And it was some really forward looking architecture and headless and elastic search and all this stuff back in like 2015.

Maier: So I really had my eyes open to some advanced technology and also real like software development culture and that sort of stuff. So that was really, I would say one of the most formative experiences I had was I went from a DIY uploaded via FTP culture to. GIT and doing things the right way.

Maier: Culture and learning about, like the software developer handbook. And I worked with some pretty hardcore people who were really sticklers about certain things and that didn’t necessarily mesh well with my style. And so at that time, I grew as a backend developer. I actually learned object oriented programming eventually got my Magento developer certification, which to me, I never could have imagined when I started out.

Maier: The. back end one. So I was like, man, you’re doing something right. But at the time, Magento two was coming, this was like 2015. Everyone was like, okay, the writing’s on the wall. It’s gonna get a lot more hardcore from here. If you could program Magento one, it doesn’t mean you’re good at Magento two.

Maier: So I started to get squirrely. There was some, cultural issues in the company in terms. How the Magento team was functioning. And I was a little bit frustrated and so I was like, Hey, I wanna move over to the business side. I feel hey, if I know the guy that created Magento and I know these people and I work well with all the top software people and I can help speak these languages, hey, let me be a part of this side of things.

Maier: And then that was okay. And eventually, like there was this other company that was trying to recruit me to be a job and I was, I had just had my fourth kid at the time, or like once. I converted to be an employee for healthcare reasons and allowed me to get married and all this good stuff.

Maier: And we had our fourth kid. And so it was more just like I went as the situation developed and I was less focused on building like an agency. I didn’t think like that. I might have had different situations like, hey, I had the job but also had a couple other clients or, projects on the side.

Maier: But then really what happened was I was recruited by this company. . And you know how once you’re a Magento developer, you’re getting hit up by recruiters like, oh, we need a senior Magento developer. And you could be like, Hey, I just know this. And they’re like, no, we want you to solve all our problems.

Maier: And you’re the guy. And they think automatically you’re like a PHP lord. And that wasn’t me. And so I took this job that had been recruiting me for a while. I took a pay cut, I bought a car, was commuting 80 miles a day. That was already the red flags. Took a job where I was working from home and quit because I felt like I was gonna get, cut eventually.

Maier: Anyway, got hired and fired in 60 days. I was working at this company called Nobel Biocare. It’s part of the Danaher Group. Publicly traded. They’re a multi-billion dollar corporation, no lie. Logged into the Magento dashboard and had a billion in transactions, and I was like, you’ve made it when you went and you’ve worked on small Magento’s, then you see one that was a billion and you’re like, okay, this is big.

Maier: But the point is, I wasn’t a good fit for the role they hired me for. It didn’t work out. But I went from having an income to having no income overnight and I was shattered as a person. I was very upset. You can imagine when you’re a sole provider for a household, what that does to a person in your mindset.

Maier: I didn’t take it very. . And so 2017 was definitely a rebuilding year and I’m not gonna act like there wasn’t some kind of help or I like, I wrote an article about this actually recently on LinkedIn called Riff Happens just in solidarity with people who have been laid off. I wasn’t laid off, but I just meant my experiences of, like it definitely has caused me to grow as a person or different aspects of this.

Maier: And just to wrap that up, I guess that is how I went from that employee mindset and the security of that to, Hey, I don’t want to work for any anymore. The social contract is broken. Nobody actually has your back. We’re all a commodity out here. Every man for himself, not so severe. But that’s what changed my mindset.

Maier: And then I basically also, my company was called MageNYC, right? So that was, this is how forward thinking I was. I was like, Magento, New York City. I want to be the guy. Guess what? eBay had a problem. That was a trademark violation. Cause I tried to make a logo, which had the diamond in it, thanks to the glory of Ben Marks was able to work that out.

Maier: And I was gonna get a licensing agreement, but the licensing agreement was terrible. So I said, you know what, I’m gonna change the name. This was late 2016, right as that other stuff was happening with the job and like that whole transitionary period. And so that’s how the name Bemair was. Bemair, because Eric Heman from MageMojo at the time was like, oh, hey, why don’t you just name it after self?

Maier: Why don’t you do this. And I was like, okay. Like my name means giving light, or one who enlightens. It’s a hebrew name, my first name. And so I was like, cool, let the company be one who enlightens. Hey, we like helping business owners. Let’s enlighten people. Let’s empower people. So that went from a Magento focused ideology to a global ideology.

Maier: And that was like a blessing in disguise. The industry changes and being so narrow focused doesn’t always benefit you. And so it was a really just big time of transition. So that’s how I went to being agency focused. I know that was a long-winded tale, but that’s how it happened. 

Brent: No, I think the stories of how we get there are much more interesting as than when you get there.

Brent: The, it’s the journey that, that is the interesting part of it. So you talked a little bit about being super focused on Magento. What does it look like today? You’re branching out, right? 

Maier: Yeah. And I just want to add one parable to what you said. 

Maier: A person is as big as the problems they have.

Maier: And so if you look at your life and you feel like you’ve grown. You don’t think you’ve grown well look at what your concerns were five years ago and look at what your concerns are now and you’ll be shocked to see how much that’s changed. And so that’s how I’ve known, I’ve grown even since then.

Maier: And the problems. So anyway, back to your question is right now we’re focused on Magento, still also wrote an article. Why? I’m still focused on Magento, cuz I believe in it and businesses are still using it and need. We became an Adobe commerce partner this year, so that’s a big milestone because no one’s gonna have an event in Brooklyn in our hometown.

Maier: And we’re the most legit Magento agency from Brooklyn, and you can’t invite us. So I had to step up and become a bronze partner so I could get invited to the Adobe Reconnections, so that was great. We’re also a Shopify partner. We work with plus brands and nonplus brands on Shopify. We’ve been working with Shopify, I’ve been working with it since 2014.

Maier: I wish. Had the foresight to make that my bread and butter could probably be rich by now and acting like I invented e-commerce. Like a lot of these people, like everything you touched turns gold because you had it on easy mode. But but no, so we really got focused on Shopify, let’s just say more 2019 is when we’ve picked up some advanced Shopify knowledge and just been really accelerating.

Maier: And now I consider us up one of the best. I look up to big companies like Half Felix and we make websites and some of the bigger. More boutique or deluxe Shopify agencies, and I don’t consider us like that, but that plus we’re a big commerce partner. I found it hard to grow in big commerce.

Maier: Shout out to the people that do like yourself with that sign in the background, your big commerce elite status, because that’s a really cool industry as well. And . We’re focused on these kind of platforms and I have interest in your Salesforce commerce Clouds. Shopware is one that I’m trying to grow with and having the foresight.

Maier: Again, shout outs to Shopware. We’re a Shopware partner at the moment trying to help them make Headways into the Americas. And also shout out to Ben Marks since everyone jumped on the board when you were on. But I was trying before that, but he really was the catalyst for everyone. And then . And so really like my focus is to utilize our skillset in ways that make sense.

Maier: Cuz now I’m currently trying to focus. And headless is another thing where we do, but unless you’re exclusively doing that or you have your own headless framework that you work on and constantly are using on projects, it’s hard to, it’s like any muscle, it’s hard to develop your muscles if you’re not stretching ’em every day.

Maier: And so I would say the areas I specifically want to grow are Magento, adobe commerce, Shopify, and headless. That’s. Would be my sweet spot right now, but always interested in evolution and going further.

Brent: That’s awesome. Like we’re recording this right before Black Friday. Oh, yes. This is gonna, it’s gonna be a couple of weeks before this gets out.

Brent: It’ll be past Cyber Monday and all those fun 

Maier: things

Maier: in the aftermath. See you all in the, a aftermath. 

Brent: This will be an aftermath. In fact, I have I have a whole bevy of episodes that are being released over the Black Friday weekend. Nice. Now you’re listening to this. Now go back to November 24th and listen to listen to the people that I have on and Megan Bliss from Signified.

Maier: I got you. Just read my mind. That was the one. Yeah. Keep going. 

Brent: She’s on Friday, she’s on our Black Friday cuz they have a holiday guide and we’ve talked about it. I’m like, there’s no way I’m gonna get this done be so we could have this before, but hey, I could do it on Black Friday. So they 

Maier: definitely should have included us in that guide.

Maier: I’m shocked we weren’t included, but it’s okay. I have a big chip on my shoulder in case you don’t know that 

Brent: tomorrow I have Gina Ter from site and that’s another fantastic vision. Oh, we had to call with 

Maier: her today or yesterday. We had 

Brent: to call her. All right, Paul. There you go. It’s a small world

Maier: Yeah. We’re all playing in the same sand. 

Brent: Yeah, absolutely. 

Maier: And by the way, shout out to Megan, greatest partner upline ever. She’s like in the partner pyramid scheme. She’s at the top of all partners. 

Brent: Yeah. There was only other one, other partner manager that I could remember that was, I thought was better than Megan, but she went and left WATO and went to another agency anyways, anymore . Yeah. She’s still a very good partner manager but just not in our exact space. So what do you think what, how do you see now let’s look at, let’s look at the end of quarter four in the beginning, quarter one for e-commerce. Do you think it’s still we still driving towards a good next year in 2023?

Maier: I’m looking for my crystal ball. Hold on. I gotta find it. Let me see what it says. I think there’s one thing you can bend on. E-commerce is going to continue, right? That’s a safe pick is that people are going to use ecommerce people are gonna need e-commerce. It’s still going to form the fabric of our shopping society.

Maier: I think brick and mortar is here to stay too. I think the pandemic tried to put a dent on that. You can bleep out that word in case it just messes up the algorithm. But I think things that happened in the last two years tried to put a dent on brick and mortar, but people really want the human connection.

Maier: And so I think if we bridge the human connection with e-commerce, and that’s in the form of. And strengthening brands and brand voices and how you talk to your customer and how you engage with your customer really shows that e-commerce can be the vehicle or the vessel for, this neoclassical shopping, right?

Maier: It’s not a binary thing. It, that’s what I always enjoyed about when I worked back in the Halloween store was, Hey, I was the guy who was answering the phone. If you call, if you had placed an order, Hey, I saw your order in the digital space, but then we called you if there was an issue or you needed to do a store, in-store pickup, we were prepared for you.

Maier: So it wasn’t like it was this amorphic, faceless animal. There’s real people, there’s real stories. There’s real people impacted by e-commerce. And so I think if we keep the human connection in mind, it’s not going anywhere. I just think the problem is the commoditize. The ads, the ad driven feed the beast venture, capital fed ecosystem might be drying up and that’s okay.

Maier: It wasn’t really healthy to begin with, but I think if we separate the two, and we don’t just look at it as a chart or a line graph, but we look at actual, hey, a guy from X County, Louisiana started X business and it was either a lifelong family business or it’s a new business.

Maier: Someone who’s really small time getting into it themselves on Shopify and starting their own drop shipping business. Whatever it is it’s how people connect to those businesses and the actual utility of what you’re selling that is gonna determine your fate, in my opinion, and also luck and also hard work.

Maier: But yeah. . Yeah, that’s, was that an evasive answer? 

Brent: No, that’s a fantastic answer. And yeah, I know. It was a long it was a very open-ended question. My ear, we’re running out of time. We targeted 20 minutes and now we’re pushing up against 35, but darn. As we close out Yeah.

Brent: There’s so much more to talk about. We, I wanna ask you about your your camera, but anyways we’ll have we’ll do a follow up episode, maybe a special. Technology episode. 

Maier: Yeah. We’ll do a po Let’s do a 2023 technology episode. I’m down. There you go. 

Brent: As we close out the podcast, I give everybody an opportunity to do a shameless plug and you can plug anything you’d like today.

Brent: What would you like to plug? 

Maier: Okay. I’m going to plug 4hcm.org. It’s the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association. One in every 250 Americans has hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy . It’s a real heart disease. It’s genetic. You may have it, not even know it. If you get an echocardiogram, you can get your heart measured, and if your septal wall is more than 12 centimeters, you probably have it, or you’re on the verge of having it, you should get it checked.

Maier: Everyone should support this charity, the 4hcm.org, any kind of donation. I think that would be a big help to saving a lot of lives in this country and helping people get treatment for their conditions. So because it’s Thanksgiving, And we need to think about other people than ourselves. That’s my shameless plug of the day because this whole episode was a shameless plug anyway, where I talked about myself and my business a lot.

Maier: But we need to focus on 4hcm.org and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. heart condition. That’s what I want to shamelessly plug today. That’s awesome. 

Brent: Thank you so much. I very much enjoy when people do a shameless plug not about their business. So I really appreciate that. And I agree there’s so many, there’s so many causes 4hcm.org I’ll make sure I get all these links 

Maier: in.

Maier: Yeah. Lemme make sure I notes. Imagine I gave you the wrong spelling. Let me just, yeah, no, it is 4hcm.org. I’m bugging. 

Brent: Yeah, we’ll, and I’ll make sure these get into the show notes as well as thank you. Anything else that you want, any of your articles that you’ve rec recently written and your past articles, we’ll make sure we get those onto Yeah.

Brent: Onto the show notes 

Maier: about the layoffs. 

Brent: Yeah. And We will we will regroup in 2023 and have another conversation of what we’ll do with the technology conversation. Or maybe we’ll do it in person. I would love that. We’ve got a bunch of events coming up for next year. Will you 

Maier: break down this virtual wall separating us right now?

Maier: Absolutely. Find a way to link up in the physical space and can you give me a closing joke? Give me an outro joke. All 

Brent: So I was thinking about this. The, and this is coming outta. Okay. 

Brent: The first time Yoda saw himself on 4K tv, what did he say?

HD am I.

Maier: Oh my God. Is that do, if you not, there is no try.

Brent: Yeah. I guess I could have phrased it better. Hd. Am I? Yeah, that would’ve, you kinda have to go right through it, you gotta think about it for a little bit. You 

Maier: got a known That’s a good one though. It is a delivery though, isn’t it? It’s how you, I think you gotta make it something more about the connections.

Maier: There is, something or something hd I, you got, I don’t know. Anyway, thanks for the, thanks for bringing that up, . 

Brent: All right, we’ll do one more, right? Alright. You last, 

Brent: every morning after I get out of the house, a bike comes outta nowhere and ru and runs over. . It’s a vicious cycle.

Maier: Oh, that’s a good one. That’s a good one. The vicious cycle. I like that one. You’re welcome. Cheers, man. All right. 

Brent: Happy Thanksgiving. Have a great Thanksgiving and I look forward to I look forward to seeing you in person next 

Brent: year. 

Maier: Same. See you at some events and be well. Take care.