Scaling Your eCommerce Business And Building A Brand

In this episode of eCommerce 360, we speak with Brian from Neto. He discusses in detail why eCommerce brands must make branding a priority. He further goes on to describe the pandemic has changed consumer behavior rising their expectations from brands.

We cover the following topics:

  1. How does Neto differentiate itself from its competition, especially for the Australian market?
  2. How does Neto solve the challenge of multi-channel selling profitably?
  3. What are the significant trends or changes and fulfillment behavior as far as e-commerce is concerned
  4. What are your thoughts on the post-purchase experience? And do you think retailers are paying enough attention to it?
  5. What are going to be significant trends that are going to push the retailers to adopt a more customer retention-centric mindset?

Revathi: Hey folks, welcome to e-commerce 360. Today we have on our show, Brian Kartra. He is the Head of Emerging Channels and US Country Manager at Neto. Neto is an e-commerce and business management software. Hey, Brian, welcome to the show.

Brian: Hey, how’s it going?

Revathi: It’s going great. How are you doing?

Brian: Thanks for having me. I’m good.

Revathi: It’s wonderful to have you. Let’s kick off this episode by getting to know you first. Tell us a bit about yourself, your journey, what brought you to Neto, tell us a bit about yourself.

Brian: Yeah, so I haven’t been with Neto too long, just since August. I’ve been working in the e-commerce space though for almost 15 years. So 12 of those years, I was at eBay. So working there as a Business Account Manager, then up through as a Partner Manager. I’ve spent three of those years in Sydney, Australia, which was great, and had a great experience there.

And that’s where I came across Neto, in the partner program at eBay and this was a new and emerging company that had great integrations and really brought a lot to the table at that time. So, yeah, and then we crossed paths again, just last year, where Neto was looking to expand into the United States. And I came back on to lead that initiative and have been there since then. So I also run an online business on the side just because I’m familiar with it, predominantly, on eBay, but really enjoyed a state in the space and, yeah, that’s kind of my journey to where I am now.

Revathi: That’s very interesting. So we have had Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, there are like a billion e-commerce store brands out there.

How does Neto differentiate itself from the crowd, especially for the Australian market? And given that you have some sort of an e-commerce background or you have your own store. What do you see in Neto that you don’t see in other e-commerce storefronts?

Brian: So Neto, first of all, is a very well-organized, integrated end-to-end business software solution. So as we differentiate ourselves from some of those other competitors that you mentioned, the core differences are in the integrations that run the business. So where we differentiate ourselves, so the core parts of running an e-commerce business, in a business in general, these features are baked into the base of our software.

And so, while we do have a very robust partner, and app, environment, and ecosystem to help drive new things to the business, the core functions that you need that are critical for a company to grow and to get started and throughout the whole lifecycle with e-commerce. We manage those, we integrate those, we own those integrations, and they’re part of that core side. And its a less distributed model compared to other competitors but it’s best e-commerce technology has matured. These are the core things that are the basis of what every company needs.

And the other, really, I think, the strong differentiator is that a lot of our features are going to help companies as they grow and mature. So a company that comes on early in its lifecycle to Neto, you’re going to get these systems that are more enterprise-level than maybe you would with other starting places. And we’re also going to be able to grow quite large with you, so we cut down on the need for further changes to the infrastructure and system for further development until it reaches a time where you need to really accustomed development solution. We understand that life cycles where we stay in it. So, yeah, I could talk about this all day, as you can tell, but that’s really the core functions that are built up. And I should say like, while we definitely are competitors, with places like Shopify and big commerce and others, we’re also partners with them.

So if you have a Shopify experience interface, it’s not an either-or proposition so we’ll link you with them and as a marketplace and still use our more robust, more integrated solutions to run the business, if that’s what works for you, or take the whole thing over to Neto. We can do either.

Revathi: So it’s interesting when you said, Neto is built to basically scale, right? So for e-commerce businesses that are looking to scale aggressively, Nedo should be your first choice. Also, you mentioned that Neto is all integrated with different marketplaces, even with Shopify or BigCommerce.

How do you think Neto solves the challenge of multi-channel selling profitably? It could be quite a pain for e-commerce businesses, when they have to sell their items through multiple channels, whereas they have to have a central unified system to actually consolidate all of them. How do you see Neto solving this pain point? Because I came across that Neto solves this beautifully, by integrating, so please let us a little bit into how they solve it?

Brian: Great question. I think of two things so one is with scale. One, Neto in the US is still a relatively new market entrant. We are the incumbent leader in Australia, and we represent about 10% of total addressable e-commerce in the country. And so, that scale is key, especially as we own the core experience with our customers. You’re getting a pretty wide range of options. The marketplaces are interesting. So while we have those core integrations that are there, we do have a curated kind of partner experience where those integrations expand to beyond the top tier level of integrations and marketplaces.

The profitability side for us is a key that we really focus on because we are a single, single back-end system that allows a company to integrate into a wide range of marketplaces, but still manage the entire business from a simple interface. And when I say manage the entire business, I’m talking about everything from warehouse, set up pick, pack, and ship to multiple marketplaces, multiple website integration, all the CRM, post-transaction, shipping, pick pack and delivery. And on to product acquisition, wholesaling, then the B2B side, all through one interface. So by doing that, we save companies a lot of money on these multiple integrations that would normally be required to run all that multiple systems.

And I’ll tell you, that’s where we’re, we really are seeing a lot of our growth right now is in the B2B space, because customers that don’t have a great B2B or wholesale experience are getting that from us as a new growth channel. And also, because of our integrations, they’re also able to turn on easily a B to C experience that maybe they haven’t used before, without an additional company to deal with additional integration, additional management of their system. All in the one system from us. So, yeah, that’s I think one of the ways that we help make it more cost-effective to be on multiple marketplaces.

Revathi: So a single source of truth for all integration is what e-commerce businesses can expect out of the needle. So you mentioned shipping, packaging, and delivery. And I also came across the fact that Neto provides a strong fulfilment backbone for an e-commerce brand. So, in recent years, have you noticed any significant changes as far as consumer behavior is concerned. You might know that fulfillment is one of the most challenging aspects of e-commerce businesses.

So have you noticed any significant trends or changes and fulfillment behavior as far as e-commerce is concerned?

Brian: Yeah, quite a bit. So it’s one of those, at least as being an old timer that I consider myself in e commerce, that’s one of the things that I have changed, probably the quickest, and it needed to be disrupted, I think.

So we see a lot of, in our core areas, we see a lot of options for that are pandemic is driven for sure, that are the different flexible ways to fulfill whether that clicks and connect, whether that clicks and use a third party non-traditional shipper for fast courier type delivery. We’ve also seen which is not new, but an expansion of services with major marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, and others to enable third-party locations and lockers for pickup.

One of the interesting things, though, with that is the traditional method of delivery is still far and away, the most used by customers. But these options, while some of them are gaining traction, they are still about having options so that you can deal with your customers in whatever way they choose to and it’s market perception. But what’s actual reality is still predominantly a traditional shipping method that’s cost effective and that doesn’t charge a large premium to get the product to your customer.

I think one of the other things that we’ve seen as we expand is really having a very wide range of shipping options integrated into the tool. We work up something that we work on constantly to making sure that wherever our customers are, whether they’re in APAC, or the US, or Europe, that their local shipping options are integrated into our system. And that label printing process that’s in tool with us is robust and supports wherever they decide to transact, in addition to these other shipping options that I discussed that are emerging, that are still much smaller in comparison to traditional.

Revathi: Yeah, that’s an excellent point that you make that most e-commerce businesses are still opting for the traditional method of shipping, which is probably a popular shipping carrier. Not only that, but they’re also still adopting the traditional method for tracking and sharing updates, as far as origin stories are concerned with customers.

Although, they know that customers panic, they have this buyer anxiety whenever they place an order and they do not hear from merchants, still they are very slow to adopt. What are your thoughts on the post-purchase experience? And do you think retailers are paying enough attention to it?

Brian: No, they’re not. Not even close. So yeah, I mean, it’s one of those things. So there’s good better and best. Good is using, the shipping carriers experience, and not really improving on it. Better is barely the minimum amount to really be competitive. But in any space, there are those groups that are far exceeding and driving.

And I had an experience just recently with a large company in the US that I bought some items for the new for the house, where it was generationally behind what is required to do business in e-commerce, I thought. So with no further communication, no refining of my order information, no updated tracking, and really no, from a consumer point of view, no thought that I was front of mine for them or that my experience are mattered. And transition that or compare that to an experience where you’re almost being over communicated with.

And I think that that good, better, best mentality. So the best in class, are the companies that are doing that from a good customer experience perspective, but also realizing that these cuts to customer touchpoints are very valuable. So not just from a marketing opportunity, which is key, but to the future cost of acquiring a new customer, like retaining a customer getting multiple, customers coming back, and buying multiple items over time, that the true cost to your company to manage your cost savings I should say are massive. And it’s a non-traditional way to look at it but those are the companies that are going to thrive in this really high-tech e-commerce environment that we’re in right now.

Revathi: That’s right. That’s exactly what we are passionate about, as well as customer retention and extending the lifetime value that you offer to customers. So as a wrap up, I know you’ve been in the e commerce industry for 20 plus years, and you also mentioned that you have your own store.

What do you think in your opinion are going to be significant trends that are going to push the retailers to adopt a more customer retention-centric mindset? Also, if you have any other trends that are going to catch fire really soon, please share with us and our audience.

Brian: Yeah. So that the trends are interesting enough to ask you again that last part of that question. I didn’t quite hear that. But as far as trends, so the consolidation in the industry to me is really quite shocking so I see this in a couple of ways.

So there are emerging companies like pattern and others that have really emerged and become highly valuable, in that they get exclusivity in their offering for offering brands to manage their entire e-commerce experience. That’s brand management, it’s the legal side, it’s all the fulfillment, and it’s especially this really high impact e-commerce, so Amazon, especially where you’ve got a consolidated marketplace, and the winner in those marketplaces becomes extraordinarily valuable, that’s high volume, that something that we just don’t see before and more and more companies are doing that.

But in that consolidation space, it’s really about winning your customer touchpoints are just more important than ever. Because e-commerce now it’s no longer a smaller percentage of overall retail, but you kind of need to make sure you’ve got somebody looking after it in your business, but we’ll get to it later. And that was the principal driver.

And everyone knows the pandemic has seen that shift. But what we’re seeing in our data and our number is proving I think what you hear, which is the shift, the market shares shift during the pandemic to e-commerce is not going back. In fact, we’re continuing to see year-over-year growth over last year’s numbers, which are pandemic numbers, which were incredible. And that’s something that’s being shown across the industry to so. So yeah, if you’re not, if you’re not an e-commerce company with a brand, then you just don’t know that you are yet and you’re probably being hurt by not realizing that you already are an e-commerce company, you need to manage your entire company that way.

And that’s something with Neto that we feel like our tools really set companies up to do well. And then, what was the last part of that question? I apologize,

Revathi: I was going to ask you about what trends in e-commerce, in general, are going to be catching fire soon.

Do you have any predictions on that?

Brian: Yeah, so if I, my grumpy old man view of the world shows itself here, I’ve gone kicking and screaming, but the social side of e-commerce just can’t be ignored anymore. And there’s the social side, I think that socially we’re aware of, but the real business side of this is the explosion in these short terms extremely high velocity, sales opportunities that are trend driven, that are that are influencer managed.

And knowing as a business that you need a system that if you have a spike of 10,000 20,000% increase in growth over a short period of time, you have to have that built into your infrastructure so that you don’t fall over. And the opportunity there again, that’s his I mentioned it before, but it applies to this the good, better best, those that are doing the best at this are really thinking about how their marketing impacts what their customers find important from a social standpoint, from a global standpoint, and that they’ve got a market a marketing strategy and product strategy that matches what their who their customers are.

It’s a long way of saying like, it’s a trend that’s been going for years where it’s less about having a wide range of random products that you can sell, because you’re good on price. The consumer shift is really more about having this targeted product line that matches your brand message. And then that resonates to your clients on a social level. I don’t sound like an expert saying it but it’s such a key thing and it’s something that’s moved the market so much in the past three years,

Revathi: Aligning your product line with brand messaging, absolutely.

So what is the future of Neto look like?

Brian: Right.

Revathi: Right. 

Brian: Yeah, so as they’ve been publicly made known. So we’ve been acquired by Maropost, which is a marketing automation company in Canada. Super excited about the opportunities there. And I think there’s a lot of tie-ins to who we are and have grown up to be as a company. And then the opportunities to build a really exciting integrated suite of products for companies.

The launch into the North American US market is coming soon. So we’ve already been building up a partner base and initial customers there, which we’re getting extremely positive responses from. And I mentioned this earlier, but especially on the B2B and wholesale side, that’s where we signed compared to our competitors here. And, and we’re really excited about that.

And then, you know, we’ve continued Neto, as a company globally has always been able to and will continue to grow above the market share of e-commerce growth. And we really anticipate that continuing and we’re just excited to be expanding more into the US. For me, it means some more normal working hours instead of Australian hours in the US. But yeah, the system is ready for primetime, and we’re just excited to bring it to more customers and the response rates have been great.

Revathi: Okay, that sounds wonderful. So on that positive note, we are going to call this episode a wrap. Thank you so much, Brian, for coming on our show and spending some of your time-tested strategies and your thoughts on the future of e-commerce. Thank you so much.

Revathi Karthik
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