Back 2 School: BFCM strategies to impress & retain holiday customers

On September 7th 2023, we hosting two 45-minute discussions with leading DTC experts on how to master BFCM prep & retention after the holidays.


Read our recap of the event!

The learnings from this live podcast were too good... so we put them in a blog for easy reading! Check out what our Shopify experts had to say about customer experience, retention, & more!



Recorded live 9/7/2023.

It's that time of year, so bring out the pens and grab those notepads because we've got the perfect BFCM crash course for you.

Join Brumate, Raaka Chocolates, SuitShop, Loop, Ryder Ecommerce, Malomo, & more for our first ever live podcast!

During Session One, we will ask leading DTC brands to walk through their BFCM prep, innovative marketing plays/campaigns, tech stack, and more.

During Session Two, we will ask leading SaaS providers to talk about standing out in a noisy season and retaining customers after the holiday rush.

Our guest lineup

Colin Waters

Associate Director of Customer Experience


Katy Eriks

Katy Eriks

Director of Customer Experience


Max Conley

Director of Ecommerce

Raaka Chocolates

Noah Rahimzdeh

Head of Partnerships


Ryan Powell

Ryan Powell

Group Director, Marketing and Partnerships

Ryder E-Commerce

Vaishali Ravi

Product Marketing Manager


Yaw Aning

Founder & CEO



This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.



customers, products, gift, holiday, chocolate, cx, year, items, october, brand, purchase, max, subscription, questions, order, focus, tracking, customer experience, great, team


Yaw Aning, Katy Eriks, Max Conley, Mariah Parsons, Colin Waters

Yaw Aning 02:35

Welcome, everybody, it looks like people are filtering in are super excited to have you we can get started. Welcome everybody, to a very special special session we have planned today. So this is a recording. This is a live, we're calling the live podcast, we got some video, obviously. So those listening via audio will get to see all of our beautiful faces. But we're excited to bring together three wonderful, wonderful operators in the E commerce space. Before we get started, there's a couple of things I got to make sure I mentioned Earl Mariah might murder me. So first off, we just launched at Malomo, our new two click tracking page creator. So just in time for bfcm. We're super pumped about this new feature. The celebrate the release, we just launched sort of a pretty huge design contest. And Mariah hopefully will drop some of the details in the chat. But there's more than $1,000 in cash up for grabs, plus a bunch of prizes from some of our other partners for the best design tracking page, using that feature. And the new merchants to Malomo will get free access to Malomo now through the contest deadline, which is the first week of October. So we're super pumped lots of lots of fun stuff you can win. Be sure to try to enter that. And then announcement number two, we're in a very giving mood today. We're also giving away a shopping spree during this webinar. So there's $100 gift card up for grabs for the most engaged attendee across both fashion. So whoever is the most active in chat throughout both sessions will win make sure you stay to the end and engage in the chat q&a. So I am bummed I tried to convince more I should get that gift card for preemptively doing such a good job hosting but got vetoed. So cool. Let's get started. So in this first session, we're gonna be talking all about prepping for bfcm and then second session. We'll talk about how we're going to retain those customers after the holidays So I'm joined by three amazing guests. We've got Katie Eric, from SU shot Max Conley from rocket chocolate and Colin waters from brew mate. I'll have each of them introduce themselves. Katie, why don't why don't we have youth guard just tell the fluid about your role suit shop and a little bit about your journey to get to get here?

Katy Eriks 05:21

Yeah, I'm Katie, I'm director of customer experience at suit shop. For anyone not familiar with us, we are an inclusive suiting company. They start at 199 to own. So we have suits for men, women, non binary folks and kids. We are primarily online based. So we have a lot of tech tools for sizing. So you don't need to get measured or visit a store. But we are lucky to have five stores. And we'll be opening a six in October, which we're really excited about. My background was in retail management and sales, before joining suit shop than I actually used our company for my wedding the year before I started as a founding team member, so it's been cool to be with the company pretty much from the beginning as a customer and then an employee.

Yaw Aning 06:13

Yeah, it's awesome. Good to see both sides, the inside and the outside yet. Amazing, Max, why don't we go to you?

Max Conley 06:21

Awesome. Hey, I'm the director of ecommerce, rocket chocolate. We are a small batch bean to bar chocolate company based in Brooklyn, New York. That really focuses on crafting unique flavors of chocolate using unroasted cacao and everything's vegan, organic and kosher. So I've been in E commerce for about the last seven years with six of that specifically in food in the last two and a half years in chocolate. was selling chocolate on the internet and, you know, challenges that come with it. And

Yaw Aning 07:06

yeah, yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, you live chocolate for a lot of your professional life. Yeah. So bad. Not a bad place to be. And then the the your background, I gotta we gotta mention this is the actual rocket Chocolate Factory.


Yeah, that's the original factory that we started making chocolate at back in 2010. Everything today still made in Brooklyn.

Yaw Aning 07:33

Awesome. Very good. Well, thanks for joining max. And then Colin.

Colin Waters 07:37

Yeah, hi, everyone. I'm calling waters. I'm the associate director of customer experience at brew mate. And if you don't know, brew mate is we are innovative coolers and water bottles. We're expanding slowly in the different areas there. So you know, I'm sure there'll be more to come. I've been doing DTC retail for about five years now. And I don't consider myself a traditional retail ecommerce. Customer Experience employee, like my background was in athletics. And then also I worked for the state of Colorado, in the prison system, the lottery and the DMV. So your favorite three state run offices, I kind of gravitated towards doing CX because I think I was just really good at managing people. And obviously, situations that would would pop up that were a little bit challenging. So I'm happy to be in the role that I am. I have a great team and really enjoy what I do. And I'm happy to share some some nuggets with you all today.

Yaw Aning 08:36

Yeah, that's amazing. So how did you? How did you make the leap from those three areas into econ?


I don't know. I'm just I guess I'm multitalented. The first day I worked at the DMV, they said you're too happy to work here. And I realized that that probably was not the place for me. So I need to find some place where I can stretch my wings a little bit more and be myself.

Yaw Aning 08:58

Yeah, exactly. A little bit. Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you all for joining. We're, we've got a jam packed session, I'm excited to dig in. We're going to split the session actually into kind of two parts. One, we'll talk about sort of bfcm marketing tactics with the all here what what strategies your teams are sort of putting into place to make bfcm success. And then, for the second part, we'll talk more about like the strategies and what you're putting in place now to create a wonderful experience for your customers. But first, I thought it'd be interesting to really quick, you know, walk through bfcm behavior from a consumer perspective. So getting I'm actually going to kick things off with you. What draws your attention to a brand during the holidays, like are you making lists of things to buy right now? What draws in your attention?

Katy Eriks 09:49

Yeah, I mean, no matter what time of year it is, I shop almost 100% online, so clothes, groceries, all of it. I'm always on there looking For things, I think, right now, I started thinking about Christmas presents. And making a list of who I need to shop for trying to find the best deals for my four year old because I'm not trying to spend a ton of money on toys and things like that. But I think what really draws me to like new brands and, you know, trying out new things, as always, social media and UGC ads, those really always grabbed my attention.

Yaw Aning 10:28

Yes, yeah. Maxima you.


Yeah, making a list of products I want brands I want to check out. For me, Black Friday is looking for some of those more premium brands that don't normally offer discounts during the year. And taking that as an opportunity to either buy something I've been wanting for a while, or get gifts for friends and family. I'm very much someone that will think and sit on it for a long time before I want it. And I think Black Friday, Cyber Monday is kind of that day of action, where if I'm gonna buy it, now's the time.

Yaw Aning 11:06

Yeah, yeah, I love it. So like, it almost sounds like to you that like some of this is like discovering new brands, and like, that's a good time to sort of like test them out before you like, you make a larger commitment to them. I've got a, like a bookmark tool that I've used. And then I just, whenever I'm finding stuff from tag and everything, like when I think of like, Oh, my sister love that I tag it or like, Oh, my wife loved that I tagging. Colin, what about you,


I think I'm in the same cut of, you know, from from Max, like, I am a very slow decision maker. And I will typically start my, I guess, interest in a product or for somebody else, like months in advance of Black Friday, Cyber Monday. So it's, oh, it's kind of interesting that I see, you know, another Instagram ad or something else on my feed, right? And I'm like, oh, you know, actually, I could really use that, right. So it's starting to make that connection with me. But I'm very particular about a lot of things and for a lot of the people I buy for, so I don't want to go too big, right and buy hundreds of dollars worth of items. So like, I tend to sometimes gravitate towards either a good deal, or potentially like a low like shipping threshold or something that is easy to kind of dip my toe into see if I really do like it. And then I can kind of explore from there.

Yaw Aning 12:28

Yeah, yep. I think that's like, it's pretty interesting to like, think about the consumer behavior there. And like the psychology there, like more people, when I when I first got an E commerce, this is going to date myself, probably seven, eight years ago. People started talking about Black Friday, Cyber Monday in the summer, I was like, What are you guys talking about? Like, we're so far away from that, like, we're not even. It's not even Halloween yet. We haven't even talked about Thanksgiving yet. I used to think like that, that was so far away. But then you think about how people shop for that holiday. Like they're just thinking about those things year round. And I think it's important to like think through how are you actually messaging to that moment, that might occur months from now, because you only have, you know, everybody's got limited wallet, that they're that they're making purchases from limited budget. And so you're not only competing with maybe other brands in your market, but you know, anything that that consumer might might want to buy for themselves or their friends. Colin I know brew mate has, you know, some some pretty killer sales during bfcm Like how I was approached it's bfcm strategy this year.


So, typically, you know, we are looking at acquiring new customers once we have a customer like we're about a 5050 split on our purchases, right versus a new versus an old customer. So from from a marketing standpoint, like we're trying to really actively engage people who are I mean, like we just talked about, right, that are maybe familiar with the brand a little bit or like we're trying to pull them in a little bit more. So October is our are typically our strongest, like retention month overall. So we've got to draw them in and we want to, we want to yes, we've got probably a product just for you like it's made for you it's like it's made for this right. But we need to really find a way to kind of get you in the door and then continue to keep you in the door. So we we typically see a lot of people who are purchasing and I mean, you know, this is probably going to be pretty standard is like they're looking for the best deal even if it's a deals and steals or something that was heavily marked off. Maybe it doesn't even really work for them, but we're trying to just expose people to our brand specifically this year. We have like three products that are going to I think they're innovative, there's nothing else like them, right? They're gonna drive a lot of people to the site, we might not capture them on those products but like we need to position our other products like I know our just our King coolers our normal water bottles, you know our whatever else We have, we have to position all of that around it. So they have somewhere to go. And they don't, you know, we basically help them make the decision, right? Here's a map, here's a gift guide, this is maybe a little bit too expensive for you. Well, we've got another option, right? So we're definitely gonna lean into those three products to help drive traffic. And I think the products are great, but like, I would not be surprised if, if maybe they don't enter there, but they start somewhere else.

Yaw Aning 15:24

Okay, so like, what what do you feel like is unique about those three products, then? I'm curious.


Yeah, I mean, so two of the products are like leak proof water bottles that nobody else has, right? One is a touch free straw, where you don't have to touch the straw at all. So think about like doctors, offices, nurses, right? Places where you're not really physically wanting to kind of put your dirty fingers like on that. The second one is the first leak proof. Straw, tumbler, right? It is completely 100% leak proof, like, think about moms on the go throwing something in their bag, it stays cold all day, and it doesn't leak on any of their papers or get you know any of their bags wet and stuff like that. So like, we have the that product specifically is the era we launched. We've had well, I guess two phases to that already. And we have sold out immediately. So there's already a lot of hype around that. We just got to tap into that and keep kind of going from there.

Yaw Aning 16:23

Okay, yeah, that's interesting. So obviously, like gifting is a pretty integral part of bfcm. I saw tap cart route recently released a study that said roughly 70% of consumer purchases are gifts for others, well, 30% are for themselves. So obviously, like, consumers are buying, buying for others and for themselves. Like do you call and you try to understand the split between those those those customers at all? Or remake trying to identify those people who are shopping for themselves versus buying gifts? Yeah,


I mean, I think it's difficult to tell right, especially in our our hemisphere is that we have a lot of loyal customers. So if they are loyal customers and their repeat purchases of items that have been out for a while, like we assume that that is probably from a gifting standpoint, or they're just building their collection. I think the the best way to judge that right is to meet those customers where they're at, like through live chat channel or SMS, right is to hate before I can help you basically, you're being the personalized shopper for them, right? What are you shopping for is this for you or somebody else, if it's for somebody else, we've got a gift guide created, like we're trying to make those decisions, like very easy, and we segment those, it's like, alright, this is a person who really loves the outdoors. This is a person who's more about, you know, their workout plan and their their hydration, right, here's somebody who's kind of the weekend barbecue or so like, we break it into segments, that kind of resonate with people, if we can meet them where we're at, to write for having a live conversation, while they're on our site, potentially, like, you know, a sales or we even have like holiday gifting, like we can really engage with them, and then drive them towards a product that is a little bit more tailored to, let's say universal use, or they know who they're buying for. Right? We don't want to make that gift land like perfectly for them.

Yaw Aning 18:11

Yeah, yep, that makes a lot of sense. Max, are you are you all introducing any like particular products that you know, you're targeting kind of new customers? Or like, you know, hey, this is a hero product that's great for prospecting into new customers versus the rest of the catalogs and maybe different are curious to hear how you guys approach that?


Yeah, so we launched quite a few products in q4. And during the holidays, a lot of seasonal flavors, we're probably going to have about almost 12 new products coming out over October through December. And that ranges from your fall seasonal items to your winter seasonal items plus limited batch white chocolate bar, which we can actually only do during the winter because they melt a lot easier than dark chocolate. So we're only able to really ship those q4 and q1, wow. But temperatures are low. So we release all those products that we've found have done a really good job of bringing in new customers to our website. And the trick for us has been converting those customers who came in and bought a pumpkin flavored bar or a candy cane bar in that first order. How do we then get them to switch over to one of our year round items and stay a subscriber or repeat customer through the summer when we're turning off a good chunk of our acquisition to really focus on maintaining that core customer base. So we leverage quite a few tactics to try and recapture those customers once they've come convert them from something similar to a white chocolate or something similar to the candy cane bar into one of our core

Yaw Aning 20:00

platform and products. Yeah, that's, that's really interesting, I'm going to actually come back to that particular area later with you. So real quick inflation kind of had a massive impact on bfcm. Last year. So, around this time last year, inflation was that an astonishing a percent. When we were looking and analyzing some of the data inside of Malomo, and our Merchant base, we saw that, you know, consumer spending seemed like it was at a standstill, up until November, when the dam just broke, and everyone was finally shopping again, really, because they knew they could get a really good deal. Almost feels like he can't say bfcm Without saying discount, you know, is the FCM strategy to really exercise and who can give the biggest discount, like what's the what's a good strategy? If you're not maybe discounting? Katie, I'd love to maybe go to you here and hear a little bit about, you know, suit shop doesn't really do a big bfcm Sort of like, dedicated sale, I believe, maybe could you talk a little about Yeah, suit shop strategy and how you've approached bfcm? Yeah.

Katy Eriks 21:09

I think like, for us, we've kind of set it as a standard that we don't do discounts. So no matter what time of year it is, we want everyone to get the same price. No matter what day they're shopping with us. What we do try to leverage this time of year, though, is our sale products. And we have that up all the time that if you go on our website right now, check the banner at the top, it says we have products for sale 35% off. And that's really important for us to promote, because the stale products, our inventory, we're trying to offload. So it's all of these items that are at our warehouse, just costing us money to keep there. And really, you know, hurting our profit margins. So rather than offering sales, on products that majority of our customers have to buy because they're in a wedding and their friend has told them this is the suit you have to get. So we have not really gaining anything from giving them a discount, because they may not come back until you know, three years later when they're getting married themselves anyway. But so we focus more on pushing the products that we need to get rid of.

Yaw Aning 22:26

Yeah, yeah, that's really smart. Yeah, that's really, really smart. And then do you is there targeted messaging? Like how did the messaging change from like, the Iran messaging? This is the sale to when bfcm starts? Does that change at all? Or is it kind of remain the same?

Katy Eriks 22:41

Yeah, we'll send out emails that have gift guides, and will do a gift guide on our website and try to incorporate, you know, suiting for different occasions into our messaging. So maybe you need a quick tuxedo for like a gala on New Year's Eve, or maybe your you know, significant other needs a blazer for work or new socks, whatever it might be. So we do try to do that a little bit more through like a gift guide tactic.

Yaw Aning 23:13

Okay, yeah, that's good. Yeah, Max a call and I'd be curious to hear from you guys. Like are there any things that you will do beyond or in an alternative to discounting to preserve margins during this time of year, like I've heard some brands will do a lot of like bundling. So you know, hey, buy three, get it at this price. Or you can keep a Ovi high margins still in a good place, but still sort of make it seem like there is a good deal to be had anything that you guys are doing like that on that front.


Yeah, we want create anything, you make holiday bundles over using what we have kind of flavors we have already and packaging we have already and essentially rebrand that as holiday bundles at a discounted price. And then also, we're mindful how big of a percentage discount we can do during Black Friday Cyber Monday. But one thing we do have an added bonus will be a gift with purchase. So if you spend $50 or $100, adding on an extra item last year, I know for black during the Black Friday, Cyber Monday week, we used one of our pumpkin items that we had kind of leftover from October and everyone who spent $100 got that for free on their order. So a good way to move through some of that seasonal inventory you need to get rid of by December while still providing additional value to the customer.


Yeah, similar again to max right like we have kind of a threshold right spend X receive why? We've actually also added to a kind of a post Purchase, I guess, post purchase, right Shopify checkout? And it's like, oh, by the way, would you like this mystery item for $15, right? You don't know what you're going to get, it's going to be in, we can move inventory that's kind of stagnant, right? That is just sitting in our warehouse. And also, it also helps to, it's like, Hey, I get free shipping, if I get over $90, right. So I should probably go for this. The additional thing is, too is that if someone buys it, and they don't like it, it makes for a great gift, right? And brew mate, I think makes a great gift. I mean, similar in chocolate, I'm not sure suit would make a great gift and might not fit, right, they might have to tailor it, I have a gift card. We also have been very strategic about certain items that we bring back that have like a pent up demand, right? Or releasing like new color drops, for items that either have been very popular on maybe other ones in the past, right. So like, we we, we definitely tease that stuff leading up to, you know, the Black Friday period, which really is going to start like in October for us, right? It's just, hey, it's, it's sold out, but it might be coming back. Right and, and build this like kind of demand for attracting people. And then you know, these, getting them back into some of these other little teasers that we have, we have, we have a lot our digital project manager probably manages like, I'm not kidding, like 100 Different like scenarios that if you buy this, like we're going to upsell and cross sell you some straws or a different one that goes complete your collection. So we're very, very active in that manner. For sure.

Yaw Aning 26:32

Yeah, yes, I have. I have a ton of roommate drinkware. It is it is great gifts to give and great gifts to receive. So I love that. Max. So you guys have a pretty important part of your business, which is a subscription subscription side. And, you know, I'd be curious to hear how, how you weave any of that subscription business into your holiday campaigns or like, what's the strategy around like the one shot customers or subscribers that you have during bfcm?


Yeah, so we have a part of the month essentially subscription program where we create two new flavors every month, December will be our 10 year anniversary of that we found it's like that is one of our best ways to retain repeat customers, but then also engage new customers. And what we see a lot of during the holidays is that customers who already have a subscription with our first names borrow the month program than giving gift subscriptions to their friends and family. So they may have their own personal subscription plus three or four other subscriptions at any given time going off to Christmas gifts. So we really start to lead in, in November, with kind of a the last couple years we've done like a partnership with last year we did we partnered with Momofuku, to create some bars with them, to really incentivize people to one sign up for subscriptions, but also incentivize it as a great gift for foodies. So pushing them to gift out those three, six or 12 month subscriptions to their friends. And then, you know, people who aren't subscribers of theirs buying the single flavor bars, we kind of will follow up with them with either offering them some strive and save options of those year round standard flavors. Or even incentivize them to you know, try a three month subscription for themselves at a slight discount to get them in. And what we found is kind of once you're getting chocolate in your mailbox every month, it's very hard to stop.

Yaw Aning 28:57

That's the truth. That is the truth. Are you I'd also love to hear Are you doing anything? post purchase to promote subscriptions at all?


Yeah, so that plays into our post purchase flows we have with customers, where depending on what they purchased, if they didn't get a subscription from us, then on that tracking page that they go to, they will see option similar to what they purchased or what they purchased, promoting that subscription or even a incentive to sign up for a subscription on your next order. For us, we kind of look at it as like with post purchase. The first thing we want to do is make sure we're getting them into our marketing and then second, how do we get them to easily become a recurring subscriber?

Yaw Aning 29:54

Yeah, yeah, that's great. Yeah. That's fantastic. So I'm gonna we're gonna switch gears Little bit really quickly and kind of cover some more like CX related topics. And so I'd love to hear how people are preparing their CX teams and, and how you can, you know, turn those, those first time customers into, you know, repeat customers with with a great experience. So, Max, you already touched on this a little bit, but is there anything else that you guys are doing from a customer experience perspective to really nurture those first time customers, the ones that you you might acquire during bfcm, to turn them into those repeat customers?


Yeah, so like, the first thing we do when someone places an order from us for the first time is within 24 hours, they get an email from our a member of our customer support or fulfillment team, essentially introducing themselves introducing the brand. And then also letting them know that they will be their first point of contact, if there's any issues with their order. That way customers are, if they have a delivery issue, aren't looking for how to contact us they know right away who to email. No, chocolate can be somewhat difficult to ship. During the winter, it's easier, but we still have times where our chocolate will stand a very hot day on a UPS truck and arrive melted. And that's not the experience. We want customers that we can't control that but we can control kind of how we're able to respond to that and get that fixed for the customer. So we train them all on that. And then we also, one thing we started doing this year was giving our CES team essentially like the holiday playbook. Here's every email we're sending on every day, the promotions that are starting products that are launching, that way they can kind of best configure staffing for that. They know when when things will be busy, but then also help provide the best service to customers.

Yaw Aning 32:07

You Yeah, I love that a lot. I'm curious to chop and brew my D are either you doing something similar? Like do your CX teams? Are you guys well aware of what the marketing calendar and campaigns look like?


Yeah, from from our end, we have been talking bfcm Holiday since probably June. Trying to align that right. And just, it's, it's always kind of that season, right? So we're always preparing for that. So we've been in contact and you know, things are obviously going to change but like our key things like color drops, you know, before Cyber Monday sales. Like we've gotten into a good pattern, I think here at bromate. Like we kind of know that playbook. However, there are a lot of people who are always new to our team and CX and they don't understand that. So there's a lot of like, you know, dissemination of just information that we are kind of, alright, we're receiving a lot from marketing, we're not going to give you all that. Like, let's give you the main points and handle it like that.

Yaw Aning 33:09

Yeah, yeah. Makes a lot of sense. Katie, how about you? Oh, you might be muted.

Katy Eriks 33:18

All right, we make sure everyone on our team is subscribed to our marketing emails. So as soon as something you know, goes out to the customer, our team is receiving that as well. That's definitely helpful in knowing what kind of questions might come in and what to respond to. And anytime something is changing, you know, whether like, we're offering something new, or we're using a different provider, whatever it might be, we make sure that our macros are up to date and let everyone know what the new macros are that to use. And that's super helpful.

Yaw Aning 33:54

Okay, yeah, yeah, like that a lot.


There's one thing we might try this year that is a little bit different. Like we've been typically, hey, everything's in Slack. Here's one spot on the Google Drive. Like we're thinking about just creating like a almost like Google Sites, that kind of just, I mean, I know that sounds really simple, but like, it's kind of whatever works during bfcm. And it's free. You don't have to think a whole lot about it. But it's a one stop shop for our for our team as well. Right? Because we we will definitely have our moments where someone is not informed. Right. And I think you all do. So you can say go look at that spot. And if you can't find it there then look harder. And then then yeah,

Katy Eriks 34:31

we actually have that notion. We use notion. Oh, it's great. It is the Yes. The tell all of anything you need to know should be in there.

Yaw Aning 34:40

Yes. Yeah. There's, it's on this topic. There's there's obviously there's there's a big shift happening from more like reactive customer support, where you're waiting for issues that pop up and kind of playing Whack a Mole with your teams to address them to more of like a proactive approach to trying to Yeah, knock these issues out before they even reach your your CX team. Katie, I'd love to hear if you are employing any strategies today to sort of like get ahead of issues before, you know, one of your team members needs to step in. Yeah,

Katy Eriks 35:19

I think we do a good job of this in our Malomo tracking page. We've tried to make it as informative and self service as possible. So, you know, it's easy to set up your return or exchange from there because we're integrated with blue. But we also have linked blog articles for like next steps. So someone arrives, and they weren't sure that the pants were going to be unhemmed. Now they have instructions on what to do with their product next. We also link to our Help Center rather than a contact us. So we try to direct them that way first, and then we have flows set up through our gorgeous chat. So ideally, that will answer their questions also, before they actually reach out to someone.

Yaw Aning 36:09

Yeah, I love that. Yeah, I think you do a great job with your experience trying to just, hey, here's what to expect when you're when your products on the way here. So expect when it arrives, that something's wrong, here's what to do next, like guiding the customer, step by step along that whole journey, I think you guys do a really good job of that. And then, so obviously, like, the goal is to try to deflect as many tickets as you can and answer customer questions before they become complaints. But not, that doesn't always happen. And sometimes customers just reach out. I love to hear how you guys think about staffing your teams over this period. Like what what is the what's the strategies that you that you use to make sure that you have the right people in place? As the holidays approach? Calling? Maybe I'll start with you around this topic. Yeah.


This is like, front of mind right now, right? I mean, we we currently have, we're about to go through bfcm dry run, we have 30,000 pre orders on this one item I was telling you about and they are all about to ship and then like a six day period. So it is like a Black Friday in September for us, right? We're going to receive a lot of you know, a lot of related issues to products and shipping and things like that. And what we basically have done or will do for the next couple of weeks is kind of divide and conquer, right? We're going to play to our strengths, we're going to hot we've we're hiring kind of already for holiday that we're not going to train you on the entire handbook, we're going to train you on two things, we're going to use our gorgeous, you know, system to flow tickets into this one, two, maybe three views. And that's all you have to do, right. And then if you're done with that great we can help you transition into another spot right? But for now we're instead of we used to play kind of man to man, we're going to play zone defense. And, you know, go after the we've already got macros created, we're ready to go, we may not use all 10 macros, we might only use two 1000 times and everything else only adds up to 10. Like, you have to just over over over prepare. And that's what we'll do this year, you know, try to build out a staff that we might overstaffed. Right, we've always tried to overstaffed for the holidays kind of expecting the worst and 2020 we had probably the worst shipping thing I've ever experienced I've ever I've ever had. We were in the process of getting Malomo started right before then. And if we had it, we would have been saved, we didn't. So I think you need to also just utilize like anything that you can in your Malomo flows and on your tracking pages, to alert customers before they reach out to you. Right? Even if it's bad news, like I'd rather you get that bad news from us than you come and send a ticket that my team has to individually read and respond to and react. Right. So it's a lot about its proactiveness. But it's proactive, more like a critical care plan to ensure that your team doesn't walk into a 4000 5000 ticket day. That has certainly happened to us before. So

Yaw Aning 39:07

yeah, yeah, it's almost like preventative care. Like

Colin Waters 39:12

it's maintenance. Maintenance. Yeah, exactly.

Yaw Aning 39:14

No, that's that's fantastic. So I just thought the time that it went really quick, I want to make sure that we open it up to some q&a, because I saw a lot of questions find by so I'm gonna I'm gonna pass to Mariah as she's collecting some of the questions there.

Mariah Parsons 39:32

Yes, we have a lot to get through. So we're gonna try and rapid fire through them. So the first question is from Zack, does your brand increase social media and ad spend during October to drive new visitor traffic? So for this q&a, anyone who wants to pop in into that question, that'd be perfect. And then we'll go on to the next one.


Yeah, go ahead, Max. Oh, yeah. bid for chocolate, October is a very big month for us. But we also do that as a way to get customers at a slightly cheaper acquisition cost. And we're gonna get them in November, December. So yeah, we really kind of ramp up our marketing spend in October trying to capture Halloween customers knowing that after that, we can get them on Black Friday, when you get them at Christmas, Valentine's Day, and then we hit them on all those power windows, you're pretty much golden through the summer, and you have a whole customer.


Yeah, I think like I mentioned earlier, like October is our bread and butter season to acquire new customers. And we do that through, you know, a bunch of different ad spins, right, either through Google, or, you know, we've been working really closely with a team from Mehta to really focus our customer segments, and obviously try to tap into their knowledge as opposed to us just kind of trying to guess what's going on, which I know is seems to be the case a lot of times when you're dealing with the social media ads, but yeah, we definitely increase our ad spend. And we've drawn it down quite a bit this year. And we will, we will try to get behind some of the viral illness of a couple of our products, right. So we'll definitely have to do that through social media,

Katy Eriks 41:17

we actually significantly decrease spending this time of year, because our business is heavily focused on wedding after October, we just kind of fall off until you know, engagement season is over. And wedding season picks back up next spring. So it's not smart for us to spend the higher prices and during the holidays to acquire customers. So we really pull back and then ramp things back up in January.

Mariah Parsons 41:47

Wonderful, thank you. Okay, next question is from Brooke, how do you approach audience segmentation for standard audiences who buy for themselves versus bfcm audiences who buy for others?


That's a great question. I think it's really tough sometimes, right? I mean, you can look at customer segments. I mean, here's an example for what we're trying to do, like on our post purchase flows, right. And again, this is just a small example of something that's I think, just about everybody who uses Malomo. And has, you know, a sophisticated system set up is that like, we change that post purchase flows for different customers, right, if you're a new customer, this is what you're gonna see, if you're receiving customer, here's what you're gonna receive from buying for others to like, again, we are tapping into that those segments, right and dragging them to different spots, like on our website, like if you are, you know, a 7x buyer, right, you've got you know, $1,000 worth of our product, like, we're going to kind of send you towards, you know, maybe some of our larger, more expensive newer items. If you're new, we might send you to like that gift guide, right. And just kind of looking at your kind of your your periods of, of how long and how often you're buying and what you're buying. That really helps us. So we have a we have a very strange break, we have people who are incredibly, incredibly loyal. And then there's this middle tier, and then it's a lot of new customers. So we're really focused on that. That first time buyer, whether it's a gift or not, so I leave that up to the to the growth and analytics team to kind of really go after that from the CX side, like we approach it with gorgeous, if you are 1x buyer, you get priority over somebody who's purchased maybe five times right, because we want to make sure that their issues are resolved, you know, expeditiously so they can continue to use the product and have a good experience with our brand.

Mariah Parsons 43:36

Love it, Max and Katie, is there anything you'd add on to let Collinson?


Yeah, I think we've taken a pretty similar approach there. For us, we've really tried to dig deep into segmenting out orders based off of if they're a gift or not. If someone orders a gift box or gift subscription, it's easy to tell when they're ordering other products that can be a little more challenging to figure out, are they ordering it for themselves or ordering it for someone else. So we leverage that with our tracking page, and then try and get them to share that tracking information. With the gift receiver. We also just introduced a new feature on the site where you can get a subscription, enter that receivers contact info so that we can then send them tracking details and information on their order. And leverage those transactional emails to be able to potentially market them try and get them to subscribe to our own marketing list. And then once their gift subscription is over, or we believe they might be out of that product, we approach them and get them to sign up for their own personal subscription.

Katy Eriks 44:39

We don't do anything around, you know, gifting customers, I will say we just you know, actively when we're reaching out to our own audience, we just engage them with gift card messaging that we don't usually send any other time unless it's a holiday.

Mariah Parsons 44:55

Love it. I know we have more questions to get to. But we're going to switch Check out our panelists and wrap up this first session. We might get to the other questions in the next session. So yeah, if you want to wrap this all up, that'd be great. Yeah,

Yaw Aning 45:08

yeah. So thank you all for joining Katie Cullen, Max, appreciate your insights around this. Obviously, we touched on a lot of like really important subject and got a lot of questions that that funneled in.

Katy Eriks 45:22

Thank you.

Colin Waters 45:24

Thank you, everyone.

Yaw Aning 45:25

Good luck this year. Yes, everybody go crush it



This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.


returns, customers, brand, experience, retention, colin, exchange, product, days, work, packages, proactive, communication, ryan, incentivize, starting, retain, cx, purchase, buy


Colin Waters, Noah Rahimzadeh, Mariah Parsons, Vaishali Ravi, Ryan Powell

Mariah Parsons 00:04

Hi there, I'm Mariah Parsons, your host of retention Chronicles, ecommerce brands are starting to shift their strategy to focus on retention in the customer experience. And so we've decided to reach out to top DC brands and dive deeper into their tactics and challenges. But here's the thing, we love going on tangents. And so with our guests, you'll often find us talking about the latest trends, as well as any and all things in the Shopify ecosystem. So go ahead and start that workout or go on that walk and tune in as we chat with the leading minds in the space retention Chronicles is sponsored by Malomo. A shipment in order tracking platform, improving the post purchase experience, be sure to subscribe and check out all of our other episodes at Go. Hey, everyone, it's your host Mariah here again. Today we have a very special episode for you. On September 7 2023 Malama hosted our first ever live podcast with some amazing partners of ours. This live podcast is broken up into two episodes. So this is part one, and it was focused on how to best prep for Black Friday Cyber Monday or bfcm from both a marketing and CX brand perspective, while Part Two was focused on how to best retain holiday customers from a brand and SAS perspective. A special thank you to our panelists Colin waters assistant director of customer experience at brew mate Katie Eric's director of customer experience at suit shop. Max Conley director of E commerce at rocket chocolate Ryan Powell Group Director of Marketing and partnerships at Ryder ecommerce by Sally Ravi Product Marketing Manager at loop MLM was very own no over him today in yow inning. One more thing before we get started. If you listen to the last week's episode, you'll know about the tracking page contest that we are currently running until October 2 2023. I wanted to emphasize that it's open to any and all Shopify and Shopify Plus brands and agencies. So you can check that out at Go or by following the link in our bio. Hope you enjoy this awesome episode.

Noah Rahimzadeh 02:41

I'm excited welcome everybody to session to what we are calling retention on the brain, I guess to stick with the theme of back to school. We've got an incredible panel. For those who don't know me, I'm no Rahim today and I head up partnerships here at Malomo. And before we get to the conversation, I'd love to just do a super quick intro from the rest of the panel. So I'm super lucky to be joined by two of our most strategic partners people I work with at least weekly if not daily, Brian and vice scholly from loop and whiplash and one of our favorite merchants as well brew mate. So let's have Ryan kick us off. Tell us a little about yourself your organization. And we can't let you off the hook favorite thing you did this summer.

Ryan Powell 03:30

Yep, so Ryan Powell and we're Kolbert writer e commerce by whiplash. We are a tech forward three PL. I'm responsible for marketing and partnerships here at Ryder. Best thing I did was go to a cabin without Wi Fi or cell service for 10 days. It was fantastic.

Noah Rahimzadeh 03:50

That is a great one. I want to change mine now. I did an idle wild trip in California. So I came I was a little more unique than Ozarks. And I was very cool getting away like that. Vi scholly. How about you?

Vaishali Ravi 04:05

That's fine. I went to band camp and idle wild growing up. But I'm pretty surely I am a product marketing manager at loop. And I'm lucky enough to work on our tracking integrations, among many other things. And if you don't know loop, we are a returns platform focused on engaging exchanges and retained revenue. And I went to Mexico for a week this summer. And that was really fun. Yeah, Mexico City's great, great food.

Noah Rahimzadeh 04:33

Good time to study for the whole week. Yes, I


took the class there so I couldn't really go anywhere else. Very cool.

Noah Rahimzadeh 04:40

Have not been it's on the list. Colin will round out with you.

Colin Waters 04:45

Yeah. Hi, everybody if you're new, or didn't join in the first session, Colin waters. I am the Associate Director of CX for roommate. I'm probably more of a retention minded CX person than just Tell them the bad news and kind of deal with it. So I manage our team in a way that like, you know, we protected I consider ourselves like the insurance policy for bromate. Right, we're there to protect everybody's hard work. And retaining revenue and retaining customers is a big part of what I think about. And favorite thing that I did this summer was we had a baby, so I didn't do anything difficult. But I got to enjoy the good parts of that. So yeah, so far, so good there. Congrats. Yeah, thanks.

Noah Rahimzadeh 05:30

You have to say that too. Even if you did something else. That was epic. You gotta say have in the back. Yeah.

Colin Waters 05:36

I've done so much. Right. Right. Yeah.

Noah Rahimzadeh 05:41

Awesome. Okay, appreciate you guys in the awesome intros. So since we're in session two, and everyone obviously has retention on the brain, let's talk about that. Brands are going to spend more money to acquire customers this year than ever before in history. And, you know, to us, it's it's obviously imperative that they keep those newly acquired customers after the holiday, or they risk never making their money back on the CAC. So let's start with a broad question to call in. Since he's on the brand side, can you describe to us how you're thinking about retention? As we head into the holiday season? I know you're fresh off the acquisition side. Yeah, want to get your your mind on retention here.

Colin Waters 06:27

So I mentioned it, like October was is always our biggest season ticket customers and have they have the highest kind of like, repeat rate, right. So we're able to kind of pull them in. I think the biggest thing that we do, though, is like we have a Facebook VIP group, that if you are a new customer, or you are starting to fall into the brand, like we start to promote that because like, it's this weird little groupies page, I mean, not little, like 50,000 people, right, and they just drum up this like really hype for products that like, maybe wouldn't have that necessarily. So like, we lean into that group to kind of help promote our, our kind of jumpstart into that, right. And like I was mentioning earlier, like, you know, we will do certain things that will bring that customer back, right new color, a new wave a new product, like a new collab with an influencer, things like that, too. And then in this year, specifically, you know, we started to kind of look at other ways to retain customers that don't necessarily come with an ad spend, right? Our CAC is really high, we traditionally have looked at really acquiring the first time customer, and we really haven't put too much into that second, third and fourth purchase, right, we've really kind of let that be native. So we've adjusted a little bit of our spin to kind of pull those customers back in, and then we've got to, once we get them back, we're going to spend more money on them, then we need to potentially find ways to kind of reward them to stay. So we've looked at entirely refreshing like our rewards program, like the more you spend, if you spend during this time, you'll get X amount of points, you know, to x. So we've really had to rethink that kind of that additional retention point. From the CX side, like, it's really important that if there is an issue that we're handling it right away, so if it like I said, if it's a new customer, like we are more likely to help that customer with potential like, you know, resolution of like a warranty, or something like that, to kind of retain that, and it makes sure that we haven't really, you know, blown the $40 or whatever it's cost so far to acquire that customer to bring him in, like we've got to be there like and yes, it does cost us $10 To send you a replacement apart. But like, to me, that's not the cost of a replacement, it's the cost of keeping the customer and retention. So I think of CX costs mostly as a retention costs than anything else, right. And so that's kind of how we approach it. Like, we don't let that be a barrier, we just make sure that even if we have to send an entirely new product, like we kind of acquire, we send that as a retention cost, not as a replacement cost, if you will,

Noah Rahimzadeh 08:59

got it. Do you do you have like a specific time window where you feel from the data that you need to drive a second purchase by in order to keep a customer as a repeat customer? Or do you think about that at all, like or even maybe on the community side? The Facebook group, right? Like, how much more likely are those folks to buy again, than somebody who doesn't join the community? And then I want to get on Ryan, on how he thinks you might be able to promote those things from a packaging perspective.

Colin Waters 09:31

Yeah, it's about 100 days for us, right? We need that person to come back. We are very focused on that post purchase, like experience, right? You buy one item and you're going to receive like three emails that are like, Hey, this is how you use it. How are you liking it? Okay, would you want to give us a review? Now we're going to incentivize that review with a 15% discount to kind of get you back into that right? So we're certainly trying to make that manageable and keep them keep them coming. back. So if we miss out on that first 100 days, we will then you know, we've obviously we've got customer segments built out for special promos and things like that. But we really try in that first 100 days to get them to return that second purchase. And we will try to put them hopefully into a product that maybe was a little bit out of their reach now, because it was in a promo, because it was a new launch that's outside of that discounts apply. So we're always trying to kind of give some space not 100 days, I love seeing customers who purchase multiple times on the same day or they bought it and they're like, I love this I'm getting, I'm getting three more. Another part of our retention plan to really is in returns, that we want to invest that money back into the company. And we've done a really good job doing that with return really sorry, loop. But obviously, many of you probably know return is going away. So we're having to revisit our strategy on that. And you know, that that's gonna be some a challenge in 2023 24. Right? is making sure that we're retaining that dollars, and how do we incentivize that, right? Come on, like, keep it with us, keep it with us, right? I know, a lot of customers want that experience, too. So we've also tried to make that a little bit easier for them to navigate from from that perspective, as well. Whatever, we can make it easier for them.

Noah Rahimzadeh 11:15

When you say that, Colin and then obviously would love by chalet to chime in on this as well. Is it mostly about turning returns into exchanges? Or you mentioned specifically reinvesting the money back into the org? Like, can you talk a little bit more tactically about how you're doing that?

Colin Waters 11:32

Yeah, so what we have found, you know, in our previous experiences, and it's changed, obviously, throughout, you know, my time at bromate, is that not only were people investing that return price, cost, they were then increasing their spend by an average of like, $17, or something like that. So like, our ao V was then like, higher than what we were expecting, you know, we've had to kind of, and again, every every, you know, program loop eternally happy returns, you know, Navarre, whatever, whatever they are using, right, like, we found that we were actually hurting ourselves by having an exchange experience, because we were limited with what we were doing. So sometimes, like, yes, it's a great shiny tool. But we're causing retention revenue to be the same, but less spin. So we kind of redid what worked for us. And we were the top one in our vertical for a while, I don't know, if we were there now. But like, you know, it was like, an average of like a 30%, uplift on new purchases, which was great. So people were buying something and realizing that they love the product, but the ones that they were returning were the wrong size. So they buy two more, and they start that gifting process, and it kind of branches out from there. So we just tried to make that as easy as possible for them. And again, incentivize them to to keep that, you know, purchase with us and that those funds

Noah Rahimzadeh 12:52

by Shai, I'd love to get your perspective on that. What do you see from your end, you know, whether it relates specifically to, you know, the roommate vertical, or just across the board, with your with definitely,


it's so interesting to hear you talk about that, Colin, from the brand perspective, we really believe in making it easy to exchange for the right product. So your point, it's the wrong size, or it might not be a product, but they realized in person they don't like as much, maybe it's the wrong color, maybe they saw something on the website that they like more, it's essential to be able to exchange for anything in the catalog. And also to be able to, in the returns process, capture that upsell revenue, and turn your returns and exchanges experience back into a shopping experience. Our goal is always to make it feel like you're just continuing your shopping journey, and to not even give you the idea that you should be considering a refund, at least incentivize for store credit, to ensure that they keep their money with you. And that when they find something they love, that they then become a loyal customer and are willing to shop and buy again. Because if they're unhappy the first time around, it's so hard to reacquire them and it feels completely lost. So that's definitely something we think about.

Colin Waters 14:05

I think to just to add to that, like from from the roommate side, the brand side for us is like when people are on our returns page, like we have a live chat campaign that I mean, why would you have that on there? It's basically we wouldn't be there to show you through a shopping experience. I didn't like this. Oh, actually, you know what that's damaged. You know, there's a lot of touch points that returns that I think can help save retention from a customer standpoint as well. Right. And also to the near their designated shopper. Oh, you got the wrong one. I'm going to here's the link, here's the link bam, that person shopped and they're on their way without the headache of like, well, what do I really need? Let me send an email. So I think it is really important to have that exchange. You know, the dial them really really well.

Noah Rahimzadeh 14:44

That's an incredible experience like I always think about you know, ecommerce brands striving for how do we make this experience as much like a real life or in person I should say shopping experience as possible. And I think calling you just described sort of a core tenant of that. Ryan want to go to you, since we're kind of on this kick of, you know, driving repeat purchases, driving customers back to buy again and recouping that customer acquisition costs or ensuring that you at least break even? What What should brands be thinking about from a fulfillment perspective that they can do to to drive customers back for for more?

Ryan Powell 15:26

Oh, it's I think it's working with either your facility or the three people you're you're contracted with, to ensure that the forecasts are accurate, you know, and Ryder, we started our peak forecasting a while back, just need to get ahead of it. You know, I think a lot when I see the, you know, in the space, there's a lot of issues with inventory, and, you know, ran ran a run a sale, and, you know, the three PLS, there's no, there's no inventory left, and they do it late or, you know, the shop by rate limits, or head or what have you. And so making sure that you're really ahead of what you're expecting what you're driving, if you are doing retention activities, what your expectations are around that ensuring the communication is falling back to the operational side of the business. I, what I see is a lot of companies, you know, put out Malomo and loop live, and we're seeing a ton more orders come through and, you know, we weren't engaged from an operational perspective that, you know, we have this amazing new tool that's going to help drive additional sales. And so, you know, we need to make sure that those type of communications are are active and continuous when you're thinking about, you know, working on the back end.

Noah Rahimzadeh 16:46

Yeah, 100%. In prepping for this webinar, I saw this clay vo report that said, I think it was 2022. So last year, but UPS exceeded capacity by five packages per day. So if you're a brand shipping with UPS, like one in five of your packages was late. And I imagine that you see like massive, massive retention issues and major hits to LTV as a result of that. Ryan, anything to add there any data that you've seen around that?

Ryan Powell 17:20

Well, I think that the returns spaces is a very interesting one. You know, I think the focus on trying to convert and retain is important as a, you know, processor of returns, if you will, you know, it's not, you know, it's not easy, right to go through and make sure that you're understanding exactly what's going on with this return. And so, you know, I think there's gonna be some interesting opportunities in this space when I think about ecommerce and omni channel brands, as we look to the future, because there is just a great opportunity there. And I think, you know, companies like Luke do a great job of really pushing for retention and exchanges. And then, you know, the communication side of it, it's imperative. That's where Malomo kind of steps in, which is really helped a lot of the brands that we partner with.

Noah Rahimzadeh 18:11

Yeah, yeah. I'm curious what that's been like for you, Colin, just in terms of the uptick in orders and fulfillment and shipping, like, how have you handled that is that a world that you've touched or been had visibility into any insights you can share there?

Colin Waters 18:28

It's like, I probably lose sleep at night. Over Over fulfillment and logistics, and, and I probably do a lot of things is very difficult in terms of keeping spreadsheets and data, but it's very, very important, right? I mean, I think you over communicate with the customers to let them know that there are delays, again, they're outside of their control. 99% of packages are showing up on time, but it's that 1% That like, is going to be very vocal, and most of the time and I don't know if this is everybody's experiences that like, yes, we see pockets of this, right? We know your package is probably okay. I don't know that for a fact. But it's better than us sending the second package and then you receiving two things. Now, if you have a, you know, a parcel protection, kind of a piece of your equation, they're like, Okay, great, you can lean into that. But really, you don't want to just start shipping stuff because of a small delay. And like, I think it's really first setting the expectations for the customers, right? Giving them a longer window like you're balancing like, what eight to 10 days is probably realistic, but we're gonna say 10 to 12 Just in case right. But was the customer going to buy at 10 to 12? Like I needed a little bit faster? I am I mentioned it earlier in 2020. We saw a huge increase in just exposure for our for bromate. It was insane. We went kind of overnight to be in one of those like internet sensations, right? Everybody was buying it. I was drinking at home. You know, we had about 50,000 or Was that just vanished in transit. And it was very difficult for us to manage because we didn't have a tool like Malomo and clay vo setup that like, these people were reaching out to us. And we were essentially sending them just a blanket statement, but they are looking for answers, right. So if you can give them that answer ahead of time by using, you know, in transit note delivery, after seven days after 10 days after 12, putting in a component that is not your team to handle like claims, you should do that. And then should like start yesterday, like get that done, get that dialed and do dry runs. If you don't do it, now, it's gonna be too late. And then you again, it's got to be this proactive NIS kind of fire drill, right? answer for them. But that's what that's what doesn't matter, if you're just trying to keep them from coming to your inbox.

Noah Rahimzadeh 20:50

That's a great way to think about it, I, you know, proactive versus reactive, if you're on the arm, if you're on the reactive side of that problem calling I'm sure it's much, much more challenging than if you have a system in place to solve for proactively,

Colin Waters 21:04

it kind of comes down to this to just really quickly like I use this phrase a lot, it's like, violently executed plan is better than a perfect plan too late, just get it done, put it in place, and then adjust on the fly as you need. Like, don't wait, don't wait, I know, your SEO and your marketing team is gonna want to put a spin on it. And like we should do, we really don't know, it just needs to get done. Like and you've got to push hard for that, from the brand standpoint, if you want to, if you want to retain your customers. I don't know if we've ever, you know, really revive those customers because of that experience. Right? We're talking packages 910 weeks late, you know, things like that.

Noah Rahimzadeh 21:39

Yeah. Yeah, great.

Colin Waters 21:42

Logistics, like transportation needs to be buttoned up too. So get with them.

Noah Rahimzadeh 21:47

Yes, by scholly, on that note, proactive versus reactive. I'm sure that, you know, when I think about holiday shopping, I think like I'm gonna go buy a bunch of stuff because it's on sale and see what what sticks, right? See what works for me what doesn't, and I'm gonna return a bunch of stuff. As a result, I'm sure I'm not alone in that. How should brands think about getting ahead of that, knowing that it's likely to happen from a returns and exchanges perspective?


Definitely, I think first setting yourself up for success. By automating your returns. If you haven't done that already, it can become such a headache, especially when you're a new brand. And maybe this is your first time going through peak season. A lot of brands say that they experience all of their, like 90% of their annual returns during holiday season. So they may not really see returns. And then especially with gift returns, you're seeing a huge uptick. So I think proactive ways that you can prevent returns is through accurate product descriptions and product imagery. And you can use return reasons from past items. So for example, if you know that a certain pair of jeans is always getting returned, and you can go and see that the return seasons are due to size, you can measure your products and redo the product charts, or the Fit chart just for those pair of jeans. Or if you're told that the color doesn't look the same online as it does in person. And that's the reason for the return. Take a few new photos. And I really like what Colin is saying about moving quickly. And if you can't get the whole team on board, just iterating and doing this almost as a band aid so that you can prevent returns, because, hey, we're in the market of returns. But the reality is, is they suck. And if we can reduce them from the get go, that's a win for everyone around I think in terms of being reactive, making sure that you have a really clear return policy, extend your return window. So people feel like they have time to try out products. And know if it's the right fit for them. Make sure that they're extended for post holiday season when they actually get back to their computer and they're able to complete those returns. And then make sure you can actually accept gift returns. Looking at gift returns as a as a new market. These are customers who maybe would have never shopped with you before, don't assume because they want to return it but they can't become loyal customers through the process. And that really goes back to ensuring that they can exchange a gift or they can at least get store credit and incentivizing them in that direction. So those are the two angles that I think about.

Noah Rahimzadeh 24:21

Yeah, I think really good tactical stuff there. And I think about this quote from I forget where I heard this, it's probably another webinar, but the guy talked about how like people who have a poor brand experience, but they're made right by the brand. And I think a lot of times that's what a return can feel like are much more likely to return to the brand than even if you have a good experience the first time so like you have a poor experience but the brand goes above and beyond to make up for it or makes it a really seamless process to make it right. That customer is much more likely to come back to that brand than if you just had a good experience from the get go. So not to put any ideas in Random heads, but something to consider there. Overall. I'm curious. Now let's let's talk a little bit about like, what I would consider retention channels. So email and SMS are obviously talked about, probably first and foremost, when retention is thought of, then you have things like loyalty and subscription programs. But what's like a key retention strategy that's regularly forgotten? I think, Colin with the Facebook group, I would probably liken that to community. Maybe you agree, maybe you disagree? Absolutely. Yeah. What's something from your end that you think brands regularly neglect, or don't think enough about?

Colin Waters 25:42

I think it's like that individualization like that personal touch, right? Like, again, like, we talked about, like blanket statements. But for me, I think Max was was talking about this is like, I want to feel like I'm interacting with a real brand. And so I've done things in the past to it's, it's, it's putting in notes, right, and this is so simple, right? If you had if you've had a difficult customer, right, or you've had a great customer, and you notice that their order is just kind of in the queue, something like that, drop a note in there. For us, it's really simple. It's just like, hey, thanks for your continued patience. Like we're starting sorters a little bit later. Like sign it with, you know, your actual name, it gets printed, put into the box, like, I know, it's an easy, easy touch, but like, just feeling like you care. So like, if you're reaching out through these channels, like, do as much as you can to segment their history, their their order history, right, I think a big part of that, too, is like, reviews is probably a major, major place for us, because like that customer leaves an honest review. And like right now we have it set up that every review under three stars, or as a negative sentiment is actually creating a ticket for our team to handle right. And we might not be able to solve their issue, they might just not like the color, it could have been too large, right? But we're saying, Hey, we totally get it. Like, if you ever need anything we've got you come to us, we will help you find that issue, we're so grateful that you left us a review. But if they do really have an issue, like we solve it, for them. So I think reviews is a great place, it's where customers are probably the most honest, sometimes terribly honest. And, you know, but you get an opportunity, like you were mentioning to right or wrong, and make that customer happy. Like, maybe they won't repurchase with you. But they might at least give you a pass and not go out there and do what they swear they're going to do on social media and to all their friends and tell them how bad you guys are. So I really love getting into the reviews and seeing what we can kind of do to help from there.

Noah Rahimzadeh 27:34

Yeah, reviews is a great call out what platform do you guys use for that?

Colin Waters 27:38

We use Oh, kinder, which is, which is really nice, because they're starting to build some other things too, that like loyalty, right? They have retention, they have referrals. So like they're starting to build things that we can just kind of spin up and fold into what we already have, as opposed to having to fold in another part of you know, here's another piece of your tech stack. Well, you've got 15 of them. Where Where do I send this out? Again, like oh, just go out have one Malomo has been really great for us. Right? And just to kind of shout you guys out is that like you guys have helped us, you know, eliminate problem orders, like we see these coming in before the customer even though so we can take action on that. Right. And again, it's a personal touch, right? Maybe I can't do anything, but just FYI, it was damaged. We've already got another one in transit. Got it. And even though it was damaged. So leaning into that kind of those things that just really helps with the it's the little things right, it all adds up, goes back

Noah Rahimzadeh 28:30

to the proactive side. Right, right. I'm happy you mentioned the handwritten note too, because I wanted to go to Ryan next and ask about unique things that brands can think about doing with packaging, specifically, that you've seen work well from the three PL perspective.

Ryan Powell 28:48

Yeah, I think, you know, the packaging experiences is important. I seen you know, it's really dependent on the community that the brand has. So we have customers with communities where the ARB is like, you know, $2,000 they're unboxing experience is quite extensive the packing, you know, takes like 17 minutes to pack in order, just due to the unboxing experience. And then you know, we have a good number of brands that are really focused on sustainability, which is an interesting spot and we're seeing organizations utilize things like the books box, which is a reusable engagement tool where you can actually engage with the consumer and draw them back to this site by returning a box that's reusable and from uh, so we're seeing a lot of interesting success with with products like that. And then there's a big push obviously, to steer away from the plastic Polly's you know, it's a very common thing, especially in fashion, and everything shoves in a polybag. And so we're working with a lot of our brands to look at more sustainable options. And so I think from from our side, when you look at the experience, it's not only what the consumer experience He says, but also the products that you're using, right? Is it reusable? Is it biodegradable, can can be leveraged for something else? And then how can it drive that packaging actually potentially drive people back to your site by doing an action, like a return of the packaging or something like that?

Noah Rahimzadeh 30:18

That's why I went to you would have never thought of that. Great example, we

Colin Waters 30:22

do a lot with packaging.

Noah Rahimzadeh 30:25

Yeah, well, yeah, I think probably every day, you're doing a little little packaging over there. By scholly, anything to add here, I know, might be a tougher question from a returns perspective. But I also know that you're super glued into the the overall EECOM world. So any ideas for different or unique channels to leverage for for retention that aren't often thought of,


like, I don't know if this falls into email, SMS, but I do think a positive tracking experience goes a long way. I think, like being able to have those customer recommendations and make it more of like a landing page experience, like you do with Malomo. And also having one place as a source of truth. Like being able to find your returns on your tracking page or with loop you can send the status of a return and an exchange as well. So you're reducing the number of ticket inquiries, when you're able to look at your email and say, oh, okay, like, my refund, just got like, my item just got to the warehouse. So my refund check process and three to five days, like the more information the better. I don't think there's such a thing as like an over informed customer in the long run.

Noah Rahimzadeh 31:41

Yeah, that's a great point, I think the you know, the particular use case of, especially returns and exchanges, because like I said, you know, for a lot of consumers buying a ton of stuff, knowing you're gonna return a bunch, and then having to keep track of all of that manually, is a nightmare. And until really, like this year, in our integration, it was pretty, pretty challenging to do so not manually, like everything was, was pretty much. You know, you had to track everything down on your own, you had no idea when your refunds were gonna hit or your exchange product was gonna arrive. So you could try that one. And I do think that that goes a long way, because we say it all the time. But 84% of consumers won't return to a brand after just one bad shipping experience. Most consumers are going to have more than one batch of experience in this time period, right in this holiday period. But how can we proactively get ahead of those and make sure that we're properly communicating when issues do arise? Because they're kind of inevitable?

Ryan Powell 32:44

Yeah, I think communication it we've got customer advisory boards. And the number one thing like they don't care about shipping costs, they don't care about the time in transit. Number one, feedback from consumers is proactive communication. More important than anything more important than exchange is more important than, you know, the checkout experience. It's really proactive communication. And once that occurs, I feel special. As a consumer, I feel looked after I feel that I'm actually part of the brand, and the community. So I think that's a big takeaway, which is why I'm a big, big fan of what Malomo is doing. So yeah, so important.

Noah Rahimzadeh 33:29

Colin, anything that you would add from the brand perspective, why Ryan and by chalet just,

Colin Waters 33:34

yeah, it's you've got to be almost transparent to a fault, right? Like, they people expect that their package has a beacon in it and that they can follow it exactly. Got an air tag in it. It's like, no, that's not actually how that is happening. Right? Like it's it this is at the post office lost with a million other packages, like I can't go in and pull that out. Right. So I think the more communication you can get, and like we've had this discussion to like, is it real time? Or Should there be like this delay, and we have a 20 minute delay built into our delivery window? Because we have some carriers who will scan it earlier on thinking like you're living in a giant apartment complex, there isn't at one place, and then they actually have to go and deliver it right? So you might open your door and it's not there. You then immediately email us and you're like, can you check your door again, it's right there. So we have this 20 minute window, but like, man, it's such it's, you're always you're always always going to have a customer who is going to break that mold and be very vocal about it or subset. But it really just depends on your customer base, like your customer segment, like how fast are they interacting? I think the big thing from a communication standpoint right now is you really need to be pushing your carriers and who you work with transportation like get photo evidence of deliveries, like it makes a big difference in our world with a couple of our carriers where we can say that definitely is your house and they're like Oh, you know what I found it. And we're like, we knew you're trying to slide by us here. So I think just as much communication as much visibility for the customer that they expect to have, they just don't know how logistics and transportation work. So you have to kind of mean, explain it to them. It's, it's education really write. We have a macro for our UPS, mail innovations. It goes in this weird five day pool where there's no movement ups, USPS, they don't have the package. It's somewhere, it always comes out. But like we tell people like this is exactly what is happening. The post office is not going to tell you that any there's ups. But we're telling you that because we want you to know, we're not just blowing smoke up, you know. But promise it will arrive and just just trust us, right. And I think customers do that because we tell them the truth. I was too like, oh, it's in transit. Got no data. So

Noah Rahimzadeh 35:56

yes, again, I think the theme of this is proactiveness. Okay, five minutes left, we got to get to questions. So let's go down the line starting with my scholly. One, one thing that you want the listeners to take away when it comes to retention for Black Friday, Cyber Monday shoppers,


I would say incentivize exchanges and store credit. Give them all the reasons to say yes to coming back. Perfect.

Noah Rahimzadeh 36:24

Ryan, that's hard to find. Yeah,

Ryan Powell 36:25

I know. I mean, I honestly I think, you know, just stay on top communication, leverage tools like clay Vo is the world Malomo You know, they're essential when we see, you know, the brands that we partnered with and their success. So I'd say just really lean into that proactive communication, that's essential, especially during peak.

Noah Rahimzadeh 36:44

Colin, one thing, man, give

Colin Waters 36:47

them something that they're dying for, you know, we have a couple of colorways that, you know, have been gone for a while, and we might just bring them back for holiday, right? So we've been built up this pent up demand. So listen to your customers, what they want, and just kind of lean into that like demand, right? It doesn't maybe it doesn't make sense. You know, from like, oh, well, that's a lot of work. But like, demand drives them there. It keeps them happy. And so listen to your customers pretty big time on that what they want.

Noah Rahimzadeh 37:14

Awesome. Awesome. Okay, thank you all so much. Let's bring Mariah back. I think she's gonna leave a little q&a here for the last three minutes.

Mariah Parsons 37:23

Yes, thank you. Okay, so I believe this first one is for you, Colin, with the 100 days that you were talking about at the beginning of this session? Do you have an ideal cadence for those contacts to keep them engaged, but not overwhelmed and push them away? Does it change based on does it change based on a Ovie?

Colin Waters 37:42

It doesn't change based on ao V. It really is more dependent on what they've purchased. Right? And trying to give them that ideas. Like I think that first one is triggered four or five days after they've made the purchase, right? And that's basically like, Hey, this is how you use it. Here are some of the tips. Here's some similar items, right? Like when I introducing anything, you know, brand spanking new, then that second one is like, Hey, we're just checking in, like, are you really enjoying it? Is there things that we can help you with? And then that third one is like, let's have you leave a review. And that typically, that cadence is probably spread out over about three weeks or so. And then we've got some other segments in there to like, Hey, here's another 10% off your next order. That usually falls in within that 100 days, but we'll hit that 10% Probably in the first 45 days or so. You know, be nice to grab grab those customers as first time customers, but I think you really have to understand your customers, but also like your products like are people going to buy? Like are there multiple reasons. Like for us, I have three different roommates staring at me right now. They all do different things, right? So do you have products that can do that? If you have, you know, a try think cell phone cases, something like that something that's like, you don't need seven, eight of those, because it's the same thing. So you need to know your product and like when people are going to be making that that second purchase again. So it's anywhere from probably that first 45 days, we're really hitting them hard. And then of course, obviously there's a bunch of social media marketing that we've grabbed them into and keeping in front of them for that period as well.

Mariah Parsons 39:19

Awesome, love it. Next question is from Chelsea, can you explain how your forecasting methods integrate with specific DTC Shopify businesses needs to anticipate volume fluctuate fluctuations and maintain a consistent and efficient supply chain especially during peak season or market fluctuations? Is there? Is there any use of AI to look at?

Colin Waters 39:41

Gosh, it has been one of our biggest challenges. And the three years is just kind of saying with demand and like planning and things like that. This year specifically, like I mentioned, we have a few products that we know are just ready to like go big, right and so we We are leaning heavy, heavy, heavy into that stuff. We're getting it here early like it should all be here before October 1. And then from there, if it goes, you know, the way of the dodo and it's gone, then we have found that a lot of customers will will swing to either a different color or very similar product, maybe a different size or something like that. So we're not in AI yet for that, I'd say it's, it's our biggest challenge, but forecasting, we have really, really just dialed into those, those other ones and our core products and then everything else. We've kind of just pulled back a little bit. We sell out, we sell out, but we're really going for our homerun hitters this year.

Mariah Parsons 40:39

Love it. I know. Yeah, you answer or you asked one. In the chat. You asked a question and then Ryan got to it. For the sake of time now, I think we can wrap up and share our giveaway winner.

Noah Rahimzadeh 40:49

Pool. Do you want to do that? Do you know who it is? Yeah.

Mariah Parsons 40:53

Yeah. I know who it is. Yes. So, Brooke Kidner. Congrats, your giveaway when thank you for all the engagement. And thank you for showing up and super happy to have all of our attendees here and a very special thank you to all of our panelists. This was super educational. Yeah, great. Thank

Colin Waters 41:11

you. Absolutely. Great to be here.

Noah Rahimzadeh 41:14

Thanks so much. Good luck out there.

Mariah Parsons 41:19

Hi, everyone. Cheers, everyone.

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