Episode 9: Caraway, Launching new initiatives with the goal of customer retention in mind

Podcast Episode 9 Josh Caraway 1

On this week’s episode of Retention Chronicles, we welcome Josh Knopman, Director of Growth and Digital Product at Caraway, a brand that centers around beautifully designed non-toxic kitchenware. Caraway has been doing such amazing work on communicating with their customers and it truly shines through in this episode. Josh recounts all of their efforts by telling Sarah and Mariah about the unique communication channels they considered and ultimately implemented in order to add value to their very loyal consumers. Josh acknowledges the strategic shift of focusing on customer acquisition to retention and importance of capitalizing on the post-purchase space, which he believes is underinvested in. Josh also tells us about the experience in growing a brand from a single product to a multi-product company with a product that has a lower frequency of purchase than consumer goods while still being able to maintain customer engagement. With all the supply chain demands and backorders, we discuss the importance of transparency and thoughtful messaging with your customers, which flows into the overall intentionality behind Caraway’s messaging and support team. Caraway does something very unique for their customers who reach out to the support team for some assistance but you’ll just have to listen to find out! Consider this your warning, all this talk about cookware and bakeware may make you want to grab a snack! Enjoy!

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Mariah Parsons, Sarah Leitz, Josh Knopman

Mariah Parsons 00:00

Welcome to Retention Chronicles, a podcast sponsored by Malomo, a shipment tracking platform that helps ecommerce brands turn order tracking from a cost center into a profitable marketing channel. Here at Malomo, one of our core values is to constantly be learning about something new. So our Marketing team, consisting of Sarah Leitz, our Head of Marketing here at Malomo, and I, Mariah Parsons have set out to do exactly that and we hope that you join us. We will be discussing everything that surrounds customer retention- what it is, why it's important, how it fluctuates, how it grows, what you can get out of it, and so much more. On this week's episode of Retention Chronicles, we welcome Josh Knopman, Director of Growth and Digital Product at Caraway, a brand that centers around beautifully designed, non-toxic kitchenware. Caraway has been doing such amazing work on communicating with their customers, and it truly shines through in this episode. Josh recounts all of their efforts by telling about the unique communication channels they considered and ultimately implemented in order to add value to their very loyal customer base. Josh acknowledges this strategic shift of focusing on customer acquisition to retention and the importance of capitalizing on the post purchase space, which he believes is under invested in. Josh also tells us about the experience in growing a brand from a single product to a multi-product company with a product that has a lower frequency of purchase, and he explains how they're able to maintain customer engagement through different messaging. With all the supply chain demands and back orders, we discussed the importance of transparency and thoughtful messaging with your customers, which flows into the overall intentionality behind Caraway's messaging and support team. Caraway does something very special for their customers who reach out to the support team for some assistance, but you'll just have to listen to find out exactly what that is. All this talk about cookware and bakeware may want to make you grab a snack, enjoy. So today on Retention Chronicles, we're joined by Josh at Caraway. So thank you for being here, Josh, and we're super excited to have you.

Josh Knopman 00:06

Thanks for having me.

Mariah Parsons 00:07

First, we thought, you know, it'd be awesome to jump in and have you tell us about what you do at Caraway, your position, and what exactly is Caraway?

Josh Knopman 00:16

Yeah, Caraway is a kitchenware brand, we launched about two years ago now. And we're really focused on bringing non-toxic kitchenware to your home. And so, you know, we started with our hero cookware set that we've seen a lot of success with. And now just recently, a few weeks back, or about a month back now, expanded into bakeware, we've seen a really strong response on and so, you know, for us, we see the kitchen and the broader home as our space. And you know, starting that with these non toxic nonstick, you know, cooking, baking products, and really also making sure you know that you have a holistic storage solution for it as well. I'm sure you, like many other people, myself included, you know, my cabinets have been a huge mess in the past, you know, it's the leaning tower of pots and pans. And that's something we also really tried to solve there as well as our products.

Mariah Parsons 01:09

Yeah, no, you're definitely right. I mean, it's sometimes. those cabinet doors, they're acting as a barrier, so everything doesn't fall out, you know? And so what exactly, you know, what is your position at Caraway? What do you contribute to most?

Josh Knopman 01:24

Yeah, I'm the Director of Growth and Digital Product at Caraway. I joined a little over two years ago, before we launched to build the growth foundation for the organization. We've grown pretty tremendously since then, you know, I was employee number four, you know, including our founder, now we're in the mid 20s. And it's been really exciting, you know, to to build out a team here. But yeah, it separates, you know, we cover a lot of ground. It includes kind of growth marketing, so acquisition and retention efforts, you know, a lot of the data efforts organization are also centralized on my team, and digital product. So for us, that's kind of the core ecommerce business that makes up the vast majority of our sales, and really making sure that we think take that and evolve it kind of similar, you know, way that we would with our own marketing channels, right, we really wanted to consolidate those, integrate them, bringing them under one team, so we can kind of treat them the same way, take learnings from both, and kind of continue that optimization.

Mariah Parsons 02:28

Yeah, sounds like, you know, you kind of play hand in everything. And so with that, how do you try and approach growing that retention? What's Caraway's approach when you're trying to grow into that space?

Josh Knopman 02:41

Yeah, you know, retention has been a really interesting one for us. You know, since we've launched, we've had really, really strong brand loyalty, but for the longest time, we couldn't really capitalize on it, you know, on our site. Now, I think we have over 20,000 reviews, we average of 4.8. And consumers just really, really love our products. And so they've been clamoring for more, and with this bakeware line that I mentioned, that just launched, you know, this was really our chance to deliver on that, sort of our most requested product line, and the response has been tremendous. And so, you know, we really kind of had to change gears a little bit, we're used to being an acquisition focused organization, and really think, okay, you know, how can we capitalize on this brand loyalty with our customers? And, you know, it's a lot harder than you think, to, you know, really do retention marketing effectively, right? You know, it's not just oh, you know, let's send a few emails people will buy, it'll be great, we're done. No, you know, no, you need a really, I mean, integrated strategy, you need an ongoing strategy, you know, to make consumers aware. And I think that's one of the biggest challenges of retention marketing in general is, you know, you have these channels at your fingertips. But at the end of the day, even if you have the most loyal, engaged email list, for instance, 50% of those people aren't going to open your email, and most likely not even see it until the challenges okay, how can we make our customer base even aware that this new product exists, many of whom have written in surveys and reviews that they want it. And so that's kind of, you know, challenge number one, and one that we've really dove into, you know, from the start with the launch this product.

Mariah Parsons 04:16

Yeah, that makes a ton of sense of trying to find different channels so that you get, you know, that uniform, that uniform awareness of all the different initiatives that you're doing. So you mentioned the email lists and how one of those hurdles is having an open rate of 50%. And so what are some other ways that you try and launch these new, as you said, the bakeware line, and really try and get those different initiatives across multiple channels?

Josh Knopman 04:45

Yeah, so we have a couple of kind of, I would say core channels underneath our retention umbrella. So email I mentioned is a big one, one of the biggest, SMS we've seen a lot of success with, both in the past and for this launch. We didn't an 'early access' for SMS. And I remember, I think it was 7pm at night or something Eastern, I was glancing on the site and all sudden, there were 2500 mobile users on there just on our bakeware pages, you know, so excited about it and purchases started rolling in from there- it was our very first push. And so that's kind of been really key to our success as well. It has much, much higher, kind of open rates, you know, kind of considering the more intimate it is as a medium. You know, we do run Facebook ads and things as well for that, but two others that I think have been, you know, really important for us, and we see as an important aspect of moving forward is direct mail, you know. We have the addresses of everyone who we've shipped our product to, obviously. And you know, when you can really get a mailer, that's very visual, like our product is very, very visual, and put that in front of the customer in their mailbox, when it theoretically has a much, much higher open rate than email, for example, that's a really good opportunity to drive that awareness and down funnel to conversion. And so that's a channel that we've been really excited about, and one that we're investing in now and continuing to invest more. The other one is Malomo. You know, for us, our tracking page has a tremendous amount of traffic, you know, as customers come back again, and again, to check the status, to click through perhaps to our car and cleaning instructions and things like that. Aso, we already integrated and are continuing to integrate even more our bakeware products and new products as they come out into that Malomo tracking page. Because like I was saying, it's really all about driving that awareness. And so the challenge for you know, retention marketing for, you know, launching these new products is, you know, how do we make them aware? How do we, you know, show consumers this product, where- in places that their attention is going to be. And so that is email, that's SMS, that's their mailbox, you know, perhaps, some digital advertising, but that's the, you know, that's the tracking page, that's a, you know, another big area of attention that consumers really have.

Mariah Parsons 07:11

I love that, that concentration on the direct mail. Because I feel like that's something that a lot of people have gotten away from, you know, like, I can't tell you the last time I got something in the mail that wasn't, you know, a birthday card or something like that. And so I think especially for like cookware and bakeware that is a very interesting route to take, because it is so like closely tied to the home and, you know, your products are beautiful. So I can just see like having something in front of me that you can look at, and just kind of picture in your own kitchen. I think that's a great avenue. And of course, we love Malomo and all the tracking page, stuff like that, but I haven't heard of another brand taking that route with direct mail.

Josh Knopman 07:55

Yeah, you know, it's definitely an exciting one. And it's one, you know, from measurability, perspective, growth, marketers love, because you have the addresses, you know, who it's going to do hold outs if you'd like. And so definitely one we're excited to invest more in moving forward.

Sarah Leitz 08:09

Josh, do you think like, especially with a lot of the iOS changes, and like not being able to track a lot of the traditional acquisition channels, that some of this like old school kind of direct mail, things that you might not have been able to do before or even like wanted to do before might be kind of the the future of marketing, going back to some of that, like, in your hands kind of marketing. Like, you know, that direct mail where you can see it, where you can feel it, you're actually interacting with the people kind of thing is, you know, I've been hearing some of these brands say, like, yeah, it's kind of like something like maybe going back to doing some of those things we used to do.

Josh Knopman 08:54

Exactly, exactly, you know, to put it mildly, you know, measuring Facebook performance in the last several months, since the iOS 14.5 rollout has been extremely challenging. And, you know, measurability and targeting, you know, were to the biggest pros of using Facebook and why so many brands dove in there first. But those are still things that from direct mail that you can still do very, very effectively as well as other offline mediums. So yeah, I completely agree, I think we're gonna see, you know, pretty big resurgence in offline media. And I think a lot of people are gonna need to, you know, a lot of growth, marketers are going to need to expand, you know, their, their knowledge, their marketing channels, and, you know, really approach things with a much more integrated mix in order to be successful. I think it's gonna be a lot harder to be just successful on Facebook, you know, and just have that be your whole business now.

Sarah Leitz 09:50

Yeah. it's definitely about thinking about creative ways and like finding ways that people are actually interacting like I know we are Malomo, so that's what we talk about, but that's a really great avenue to talk about where people are interacting with them. And I think traditionally, you hadn't really thought about that that's a really great way to interact with your customers and talk to them about the care of their product, talk to them about other products that you have, and kind of interact with them that way. And I think, you know, before before, you know, ship-mageddon a couple years ago, people might not have even thought about that.

Josh Knopman 10:26

Yeah, you know, I think just like how we combine, you know, acquisition, retention, and digital product. For us, it's all about those consumer touch points. And so those consumer touch-points, it's a Facebook ad, it's a direct mailer, it's our ecommerce site, but it's also what happens after you order. So it's the emails, it's the tracking page, it's all of that. And so it's all those areas of consumer focus and attention, you know, that we really, you know, want to be there to capitalize on it. And one to your point that especially on the tracking page standpoint, it has been under invested I think from from a lot, as a lot of places viewed as a cost center, you know, or, or CX concern, you know, then a marketing channel. And I think, you know, they're really missing out on a lot of potential there.

Mariah Parsons 11:13

As we're talking about the hurdles, one thing that came to mind as well with cookware, as opposed to some like food and beverage, or health and beauty products that are maybe consumed more often than cookware, I imagine that one of the other things that you have to anticipate or plan for is how to keep customers engaged, and coming back with a product that that's lasting for a longer time, right? Because cookware, obviously, you want it to be designed well enough that it's gonna last because it's an investment. So how do you build out your customer retention strategy with that in mind? And how do you, you know, make sure that you're having those touch points, like we just discussed, through different channels? But really, how do you have that goal in mind of keeping up that customer relationship?

Josh Knopman 12:02

Yeah, it's a great question. And, and one, that's definitely a challenge for us, you know, when we pitch, you know, our hero cookware set, right, we say these are the four pots and pans, usually only four pots and pans that you need. And so that on, you know, also, while it's, you know, a great marketing pitch, because it is very true. But it also, you know, shoots us in the foot a little bit of, you know, from a retention standpoint of, you know, it would be very counterintuitive for us to market that and then say, 'oh, by the way, here's all these other pieces of cookware we want to give you'. And so while there are certainly some people who want that, you know, we really want to be consistent with how we brand things. And so for us, yeah, you know, we have evolved, you know, from a single product organization to a multi product organization, but it's a much, much slower process. And well, I think, you know, in

some ways, that's not ideal, and others, it gives us a lot of time to learn. Between each launch, we actually did a direct mailer to our existing audience, starting when we launched our line of accessories, potholders, tea towels, aprons. And we did that I believe, maybe six months after our launch. And we were so blown away by the response there. That's how we integrated it into this launch. And so you know, we now that we have these extended windows between product launches, it's a really great opportunity to, you know, test and see what works. So the next one is kind of that much better. But yes, definitely approach in a very different way than a brand with a much, much higher frequency of purchase.

Mariah Parsons 13:32

Yeah, I think that's a great point of being able to capitalize on that time that you have, so that you really can look at what went well, with previous launches, like you said, with the linen line you have. So then being able, like you said, carrying that direct mail, into the new bakeware- bakeware product launch, I think that's awesome. And I'm curious if you happen to know when, like, with different products, what do you typically see as like the interval between buying or, like purchasing for products? I'm not sure if you have that stat at the ready.

Josh Knopman 14:07

Yeah, you know, it, it really depends. So you know, we have our VIPs who order instantly, right? Like those people who they get the text they see bakeware is there, they buy it, and you know, that's a fair amount of people. But you know, as we kind of get towards, you know, the larger parts of our customer base, it takes more, more time, more marketing, you know, in order to kind of push them over the edge, right. And so I think that's kind of on us as marketers to make sure that we do a great job of telling that story and making them informed, you know, of it in the first place. But yeah, it definitely is. It is a challenge. And I think over time as we go through, you know, we try to figure out what messaging works best, what channels work best, but also acknowledge that at the end of the day, a huge portion, most likely a majority of your customer base, will not rebuy, you know, the next product in, I should say in situations like this, you know, definitely different for subscription business or something like makeup or apparel or something like that. But, you know, if we had, for instance, 50, 70% of people buy the bakeware that would be a massive, massive win. And it's something that uptake rate that we're definitely tracking, kind of, as we get further from the launch, we're really looking at that, you know, the returning customer cohort separately, of course, and our new customer cohort, and trying to really get that number up as much as possible. But yeah, you know, for us, in general, from a business perspective, right, you know, it's hard to evolve from a single product organization. Right. And, you know, I think one, the first ones that would come to mind would be mattresses, the mattress companies, you know, when they launched, when people think of Casper, they think of a mattress, they've come out with some products since then some of it, you know, which are really great. I own Casper sheets, for instance. But you know, it's really hard to evolve from that. And so that's why, you know, I think we're really learning right now, what it takes, and really trying to diversify the business as a whole evolve from, you know, a cookware brand to a kitchenware brand and eventually just a home brand.

Mariah Parsons 16:16

Yeah, that's that's a great point of seeing how things have to- how you can evolve that brand image or that brand story that you're saying. So with the new product launch, I'd love to dive into that. And I know it was just sort of released, but just to dive in and see what have you been seeing initially and just initial reactions to that.

Josh Knopman 16:36

Yeah, you know, we've had a really strong response. And what's been interesting was, like many brands, right now, we're facing huge challenges on the supply chain front. And so we actually launched bakeware, with a pretty sizable backorder period, it was about a month long, month to a month and a half. And people still bought it, they put the money up, and they still bought it. And you know, at this point, we're about four weeks post launch, we're seeing people continue to buy it, even as our most popular skews are shipping December 30. And it's now October 20, you know, and that's the kind of loyalty I was talking about, right? People really, really want this, they're gonna pay off that credit card statement, and probably two after it, before they even receive this set, which is going to be post holiday. And so we've been really, really blown away by the response. And so, you know, facing those supply chain challenges combined with you know, how much we under forecasted the product has been definitely a challenge, but a good problem to have definitely in the, in the scheme of things here.

Mariah Parsons 17:38

So would you say like, would you attribute to a lot of that of having customers be comfortable with them receiving their products, you know, months down the line of just having such good quality product and, you know, giving resources to your customers on how to take care of, you know, their cookware, and already having that experience versus perhaps being a first time buyer?

Josh Knopman 18:02

Yeah, yeah, you know, I, I think, you know, one on one side, I think we got a lot of consumers were used to it when our original backorder for cookware start in April 2020, you know, shortly after, kind of COVID had begun, as more and more consumers were inside and cooking from home, they really looked to home brands and cookware was a category that saw substantial growth, as people were, you know, spending a lot more time cooking. And so we've kind of used that time to optimize our backorder messaging since then, to focus on the urgency, you know, be as transparent as possible, all the way from our product page, to check out, to emails- transactional emails, after everything. And we feel like we've optimized that process pretty well, since then. But also, to your point, you know, I think, you know, arguably, the best retention strategy is just having a great original product. And for us, you know, people who have now had their cookware sets over a year, you know, that is what really kind of makes them even eligible in the first place, right? Like, we can have the best email, SMS, whatever marketing strategy, but if consumers don't love their current product, they're not going to buy no matter how much beautiful imagery we throw at them. Right. And so that's kind of like the key part. And so, you know, for us, and that's why, you know, I think we're really proud of the products that we put out. And that's why sometimes, you know, we know we could definitely release products a lot faster, but we don't want to release products unless they're have kind of the quality that our customers would expect of us.

Sarah Leitz 19:36

I think that says so much for you guys and for your brand and like how authentic you are about making really good products, that you're just doing it and you're doing it really intentional and you're going to make really good products and you're going to put out something really great and so your customers are going to buy it no matter how long they have to wait for it.

Josh Knopman 19:55

Yeah, and it's yeah, it's something we're very grateful to our you know, to our customers for. And one, you know, we're always collecting feedback on, you know what new products, what new product lines, we've seen some crazy, crazy ideas we've seen a lot of consistency on on others. But you know, it's also a lot of fun. You know, I remember when we started surveying customers about bakeware, specifically after we saw how important it was. We asked an optional question of send this a picture of your cabinets. And I must have looked through 300 photos of cabinets that were incredibly messy, somewhere disastrously messy. You know, they had this bakeware that was all stained and gross and stacked, and this is falling out and the Cabinet Doors barely holding it in. And, you know, when we see pictures like that, I mean, one, it validates kind of our strategy of taking a holistic view of the product, and including storage. But it's also great for our before photos, you know, when we launched the product, and people, you know, we say leads are literally real kitchens, these are kitchens of our customers, they showed us how it is now, and this is why, you know, this is the new product, this is how we designed it to be different for you where you really want to solve that problem. And so, you know, the dialogue that we have with customers after purchase, I think has been kind of a key part of that, and one that we're you know, looking forward to continuing.

Mariah Parsons 21:16

I'm curious now, you mentioned with the feedback that you get that you've gotten some crazy ideas?

Josh Knopman 21:23

That's a good question. I'm struggling to have one that comes to mind.

Sarah Leitz 21:29

Or one that he can share.

Josh Knopman 21:31

Or one that I can share for that matter. Yeah, let's just say that they have been all over the map. And people think, you know, of their specific niche, and what would be great for them? Because I mean, that's, that's what we're asking, we're not asking of like, would this be, you know, a product that many people use? And so there's definitely been a product here there that I honestly haven't- didn't even know existed prior to reading what their response was in some I definitely had to Google before, you know, presenting the survey results.

Mariah Parsons 22:02

That's- That's funny. I- I'm also curious on a more, you know, serious note, how do you collect that feedback? So is it mainly through surveys that you send out via emails or SMS after a purchase? Or, you know, what, what avenues do you explore that?

Josh Knopman 22:19

Yep, primarily email based surveys, you know, we have a pretty substantial portion of our buyer base, opted in to SMS right now, as well. So that's something we'll also be exploring. But yeah, we really do try to collect as much quantitative and qualitative data as possible. And as our customer base has grown, we've been sending this to larger and larger segments of our base, and a huge portion want to respond, which is what's really interesting is, you know, we'll send them a survey, you know, will most likely offer, you know, a raffle of a gift card or something like that. But, you know, a huge portion, just like when a new product comes out, are responding right away. So like, if I launched the bakeware survey, I hit send, right? I believe within in less than a couple hours, we literally have hundreds of responses of people who are just they seem to drop what they're doing just, you know, provide their feedback. And that's so cool. And it allows us also to do these surveys pretty quickly and get the results and turn around maybe a follow up survey or things like that. And that's been really cool to see as well.

Mariah Parsons 23:24

Yeah, that's, that's so interesting. And I, I forget where I first heard it, so I'll fact check it. But it was a podcast that I was listening to, and I'm a fanatic for psychology. And one of the tidbits they shared was if you ask people to give their- give their opinion, then usually they're more than willing to do so because they just, you know, like, it's our nature to want to tell people what we're thinking. So that lines up pretty well with collecting feedback and customers wanting to share like, oh, I have this idea, you know, as, as crazy as it is, or as as niche as it is, this is what I'm thinking or this is what I really like, or what I don't like. And that that very much is similar to what you're saying if you get a lot of engagement pretty quickly from those surveys.

Josh Knopman 24:09

Exactly, exactly. You know, I think listening to customers, while it's a cliche, it's hard to overstate how important it is, you know, when we were early on as a business, and we didn't have a ton of creative, you know, to run on for Facebook ads. You know, we're still figuring out what messaging works. We relied pretty heavily on reviews. And you know, at the beginning, I remember, you know, building Facebook ads myself, we would take UGC of, you know, customers submitted you know, pictures and videos that they sent in of their new cookware that they love so much. And the reviews which are incredibly- some are incredibly verbose and how they describe their experience with their with their cookware, and so we would literally take those we take the UGC, we take the review, run it as an ad, throw it in an email, you know, pulled into Google Shopping and and that really helped build a lot of our initial marketing foundation. And you know, we had our brand copy, we were refining our messaging points, but just showing customers what other customers voluntarily told us. And that's kind of the approach we've taken with everything.

Mariah Parsons 25:18

And along with that messaging, you had mentioned earlier about the intentionality behind the backorder messaging and optimizing for that. So what does that messaging look like?

Josh Knopman 25:30

Yeah, so I think first and foremost, is the transparency aspect, I think what would have maybe worked in the short term, but backfired a bit later would be, you know, if we essentially just like, hide it, hide it, hide it, and maybe put it in small, you know, at the bottom of an email or, you know, very small asterisk somewhere. And so, you know, myself, I work very closely with our Head of Operations and Head of CX to really, you know, look at the entire experience and be transparent. Okay, you know, this is when it shipping and carry that forward, so that later, there isn't any, you know, complaints. We try to be a little conservative, and most likely, they're going to receive it early as well, which is also, you know, a nice little surprise and delight there. But I do think customers appreciate that transparency, and it also drives urgency, right? You know, we're saying this is one level arrive, you know, most likely, but also, you know, an example of bakeware, we already sold out at the batch before this, that was shipping, you know, three weeks earlier. So, you know, it kind of pushes them to say, Okay, well, I don't want this batch to sell out, I want to buy a part of this batch. And so it kind of has the dual function there, you know, being very transparent, like, you know, we want to do, but also conveying that urgency.

Mariah Parsons 26:42

And I think what goes so hand in hand with that is also trying to understand the customer and put yourself in their shoes. So as you know, we can use the bakeware example, again, of as you're preparing to launch this new product, how do you then, you know, try and anticipate what your customers are going to want and need in terms of that communication. But then also with the product line?

Josh Knopman 27:08

Yeah, you know, I think we rely pretty heavily. You know, one, of course, when we discuss it internally, we have some, you know, pretty open dialogue of questions, you know, so on one end, you know, our CEO, who knows bakeware backwards and forwards, right, he'll present it to the team. And then we'll ask all these questions, you know, most of what he's thought of, but of course, there's always something here or there. And so we kind of do that internally, we do chat, you know, with friends and family, whether it be the features we're thinking of focusing on, what's important to them, you know, in tandem with that survey data as well. And so, you know, it's pretty scrappy to a certain extent, but we try to anticipate as much of, I guess, at the end of the day, you know, we're consumers, too, and we try to approach it of, yes, this is our marketing hat. Yes, we want to say this is this, like, what do people really care about, and that's what you know, we've, we've really pulled in as much feedback as possible.

Mariah Parsons 28:03

That's great. I noticed too, a big part of the customer journey for Caraway is comforting your customer during that the buying process, because it is, like we said, more of an investment with cookware. So I noticed that you guys have a like, 30 day trial period that you can try things out and like happily return your products if they aren't for you. So what was the, I guess what I'd like to know is what's the motivation to have that trial period, so that, you know, you can ensure to the most of your abilities that customers are happy with their Caraway products?

Josh Knopman 28:41

Yeah, you know, I think we've taken inspiration from a lot of other brands, you know, the mattress companies, some offers long as a year, which is, you know, crazy to think about. But, you know, for us, we have a product that we can't resell. So, you know, once you receive your cookware, you know, the cookware set box is 34 pounds, right, that's not easy to move, you know, backwards, reverse logistics, and it's also quite expensive. So kind of separately, we do actually have, you know, processes in place and donate, you know, our returns. But, you know, we really wanted to make sure that yes, they feel comfortable with the purchase of 400 dollar cookware set, you know, while, you know, compared to perhaps some other types of cookware, maybe on the less premium side, is still a lot- a lot of money and for the you know, the cohorts that we're targeting a lot of the time it is a pretty substantial purchase. And so, you know, when we were thinking of how can we make, you know, customers comfortable ahead of time, that was one of the key parts so, of course, you know, we have the free shipping we have that. Another big part for us has also been just our CX team, right. We have live chat on the site, you know, if you chat in, you know, during business hours and before and after, most likely you're going to you'll get a real person responding to you in less than a minute. And they'll answer all your questions. And one of the things that I've been so impressed with, and that's been also key to kind of the loyalty is our customer service team will do, like whatever it takes to make customers happy. And there have been cases of, you know, one of the most common questions pre-purchase is I can't decide what color to get. They're also nice. And so we've literally had customer, you know, experience representatives on our side that really just say, oh, you know, do you mind sending us a picture of your kitchen? And like Photoshop, essentially, our cookware set into their kitchen? Right? And it's stuff like that, that we do. You know, that really, and some people will see that like, oh, yeah, you know, now I really want the sage one. And then you see, you know, five minutes later, they make a purchase. And so we really do it every weekend pre purchase to, you know, make the customer as comfortable as possible. And that, you know, that's been like, you know, a fun anecdote for it. But we yeah, we really tried focus on it. It's been, you know, pretty successful to date.

Sarah Leitz 31:02

That is amazing. Now, you're gonna have everybody who listens to this sending pictures, of their kitchen to photoshop.

Josh Knopman 31:11

Yeah, well, now we're working to you know, bring more UGC into the site, more kitchens to show how it looks in different types of kitchens. And so yeah, just like anything else, it's another learning channel for us. So we take that and see how we can make it scalable.

Mariah Parsons 31:25

That is a great initiative, I have to say, because the curiosity of it alone, that's great, of just seeing, you know, like, what different colors would match your kitchen. So that's, that's phenomenal.

Sarah Leitz 31:35

Yeah, I know. That is the hard choice, though, like all the colors are so pretty.

Josh Knopman 31:39

Yeah, it is a it is a tough one. I ended up going with Navy myself, but I struggled, I probably took a month to decide for my initial purchase.

Sarah Leitz 31:48


Mariah Parsons 31:49

Kudos to your, you know, your team for doing that and having that dedication to Photoshop pots and pans.

Sarah Leitz 31:56

That's amazing.

Mariah Parsons 31:57

Yeah. And to I think, as we're talking about comforting the customers while they're in that buying process, I think we have to mention also the post purchase side of things that you can, you have the resources to give to customers. I know on your tracking page, it has the care tips of how to make sure that your cookware is you know, lasting as long as it should, and that you're taking care of it because it is intentionally such a premium product. And so I think that also just speaks to the lengths that Caraway goes to ensure that customers are taken care of,

Josh Knopman 32:35

yeah, you know, that was really important to us from the beginning, I remember building up those original email flows, you know, while the customer waits for it to arrive, you know, they see it on the tracking page, now they see it, you know, coming to their email inbox. We're not trying to sell them of anything, you know, right, then we're saying, hey, you know, preemptively here, here's what you know, you want to do. And we have one blog article, I know, I think it's called Five Ways to Store Your Caraway that I think is our single most popular blog article with 1000s and 1000s, and 1000s, of hits. And yeah, customers really, really want that inspiration, they want that guidance. And, you know, we all are approaching it the same way, we want them to enjoy the product as long as possible.

Mariah Parsons 33:17

And with that, I would love to end on one piece of advice, if you had to pinpoint that, you know, you try and take with you as you're building out strategies for Caraway for your customer retention, what's one thing that you just take with you day to day or that you'd give to someone else, you know, perhaps just starting in this space?

Josh Knopman 33:38

Yeah, you know, I think just be very open to testing and new ideas. You know, I think, like I mentioned, everyone will do email. And that's the first and often the last, unfortunately, for a lot of brands, and how they approach retention marketing. And so yeah, really think through those areas of attention from- for a customer of yours. And you know, where in those attention areas, can you put your brand in an authentic way. And so, you know, I named some of the areas that we focus on. I'm sure, there's more that we'll be testing. And I'm sure there's some of the other brands that seen success with as well. And I think it's an evolving process. So definitely just try to think through and test and, you know, figure out the best way to get in front of your customers there.

Mariah Parsons 34:24

That's phenomenal advice. Thank you, Josh. And thank you for spending, you know, this hour with us. It's been great just to hear about all the amazing things that Caraway is doing and that you're, you know, helping to achieve there. So thank you for all your time.

Josh Knopman 34:37

Yeah, glad I could be here.

Sarah Leitz 34:38

Thanks, Josh.

Mariah Parsons 34:38

So here's our fact check. I just wanted to clarify a couple of things. There were a ton of facts in there. But I'm not going to specify or speak to the facts that didn't need any clarification. So Josh speaks to their hero cookware set that when Caraway was a one product brand, they advertised it as being the only cookware kitchenware set that you would need. And then we eventually learn about the multi products that Caraway now carries, such as the newly launched bakeware. And I just wanted to explain that that was launched right before Black Friday, Cyber Monday 2021. So that was launched about a month prior to when we had this conversation. And of course, it's been posted later. I also wanted to clarify that the reference that Josh makes to Casper when he's speaking to companies, other companies that have went from a single product to a multi product company, he was referring to Caraway once being only a cookware set to now expanding to things such as their linen line and their bakeware set. That was really all that we had to clarify on our end for the facts because Josh lists a ton of facts, but they were all accurate, so we don't have to rehash those out. We hope you enjoyed this episode and come back for more. As always, make sure to subscribe on your favorite listening platform and follow Malomo on your favorite social media channels. Let us know what you think in the comments.