S4 E17: How data scrambling policies will make personalization harder with Joe Vancena, CEO & Co-Founder of Status


On this episode of Retention Chronicles, we’re joined by Joe Vancena, CEO & Co-Founder of Status. Noah, Mariah, & Joe talk about:

  • having the confidence to start a business,
  • discovering product market fit,
  • asking why there is a consumer gap rather than discovering what the consumer gap is,
  • how data scrambling policies make personalization harder,
  • what’s working in retention this year,
  • why consumers check out as guests,
  • how Shopify is a word-of-mouth environment for apps,
  • how Shopify brands can couple rewards and returns programs during BFCM & more.

To see what your custom mockup of branded order tracking and transactional email/SMS would look like, fill out this form & we’ll send your custom design right to your inbox!

Be sure to subscribe to our pod to stay up-to-date and checkout Malomo, the leading order tracking platform for Shopify brands.

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


status, customers, account, shopify, brands, love, data, signed, problem, return, people, tracking, point, app, merchants, mariah, retention, joe, email, personalization


Noah Rahimzadeh, Mariah Parsons, Joe Vancena

Noah Rahimzadeh 00:04

Hey retention pros. I'm Noah Raheem today and I lead partnerships here at Malomo. I'm super pumped to continue to chat with ecosystem experts alongside Mariah, who you all already know and love, say hi, Mariah.

Mariah Parsons 00:16

Hey everyone, as you probably know, retention Chronicles likes to bring in some of the best retention focused brands in the Shopify ecosystem.

Noah Rahimzadeh 00:24

Well, we don't just feature brands, we also feature some great thought leaders in the Shopify ecosystem that serve brands.

Mariah Parsons 00:31

And because we always want these conversations to be fun, you'll hear us talk with our guests about what they're excited about and what's helped them get to where they are today.

Noah Rahimzadeh 00:39

We hope you'll stick around to learn and laugh with us retention Chronicles

Mariah Parsons 00:43

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 episodes at go malomo.com.

Noah Rahimzadeh 01:01

Joe so good to see you man. I think we've rescheduled this one like three or four times but it's been well worth away we've got Joe CEO and founder of status one of our most exciting new tech partners joining us today it's October 2 We're gonna release on October 30. So lots of talk about ahead of the holidays and couldn't imagine a better partner for that release date so appreciate you hopping on and giving us some time

Joe Vancena 01:30

course glad to be here love it love working with your team so happy to join

Noah Rahimzadeh 01:35

Yes Yeah, we did what have we done we did a webinar well signed in signed in shopping summit which was kind of first of its kind I think which was great super unique kind of set up and you know had an agency there that was really fun it was live and then I think you've also done a podcast with Yao maybe or something else with you.

Joe Vancena 01:59

He joined the webinar together though dual hosted so we have normal webinar. We're buds at this

Mariah Parsons 02:06

point launch or integration. That's all we can't forget about that. This was centered all around.

Joe Vancena 02:12

We were executing flawlessly.

Noah Rahimzadeh 02:17

It wasn't just like hear us talk. Great Call out Mariah also. Hi, Mariah.

Mariah Parsons 02:23

Are you I know I am I'm finally back in Indianapolis. Yes, I have my whole setup now too. So that's nice. Good.

Noah Rahimzadeh 02:31

Good. Happy to have you back.

Mariah Parsons 02:33

Yes. Glad to be back.

Noah Rahimzadeh 02:36

All right, Joe. We like to start on personal side what are one or two things that you're excited about? You can't say fixing your sink because we talked about that one or two things you're excited about in your personal life?

Joe Vancena 02:50

You took away all my easy ones all the holy projects. No. So today October August, October 2 But as of yesterday kicked off spooky season in our house which is watching nothing but scary movies. I love scary movies. My wife hates scary movies. So one month of the year I just jam them all in. And so that'll be happening for the next four weeks. And I rewatched them on my favorite I think The Conjuring is like the one that scares me the most I just look forward to it every single year it actually gets me

Mariah Parsons 03:18

absolutely not oh my god

Noah Rahimzadeh 03:22

why would you put yourself in that torture?

Joe Vancena 03:24

I'm like making me feel something ways like I just want the scariest movie ever. There's a website called it's like jumpscares.com or something you can actually stack rank all four movies based on the number of jumpscares in the movie so if you just want to be scared and just go to the top jumpscare movie

Mariah Parsons 03:38

wow, I want the opposite of that. Whatever that is I want it

Noah Rahimzadeh 03:44

like the most mindless chill make me go to sleep television that's pretty much what I'm at

Joe Vancena 03:52

that's the big that's the big thing and also football season it's back when Columbus Ohio big Buckeyes town also browns are ruining our season again but a big football guy so love football season and fall

Noah Rahimzadeh 04:03

yes absolutely we're not far and in Indy colts had a disappointing loss last night but or yesterday but showed some good fight in the comeback. So forest over time, and definitely some solid takeaways Do you have? Do you have little kids? Um, at all I got Okay, so I was wondering if they if they liked the conjuring as well and was gonna say probably not but enjoy that as long as you can.

Mariah Parsons 04:34

I actually saw this is something Disney plus turned all the NFL games into like a toy story. Did you guys see that? It was interesting. Yeah.

Joe Vancena 04:45

Blew my mind. It's like literally toy store. It's Andy's room and they just drop a football game in the middle of it and it's like it's insane.

Mariah Parsons 04:52

It's like the live game but it's like all Toy Story. So they have all these cute animations so like kids can watch with their parents. It's crazy. Yeah.

Noah Rahimzadeh 05:00

Bear I was blown away by it's like live on Disney plus.

Mariah Parsons 05:03

Yeah, yeah. So it's like you're watching the real game, but the players are like all the toys, you know all that stuff. Which is Yeah, mind blowing. I also Joe, I didn't know. So you're an OSU fan? You said that right? Yeah. So I went to Notre Dame, we have the last to know, I was supposed to go as well, but I couldn't make it. Last minute. So I did not know that about you. But we had to

Joe Vancena 05:29

celebrate anything it was.

Mariah Parsons 05:32

It was a tough, he's a tough, tough one for us. I'm gonna watch them.

Noah Rahimzadeh 05:37

Please. One person on this podcast got some joy out of that game.

Mariah Parsons 05:40

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. wishes me but you know, I'll take it if it's Joe.

Noah Rahimzadeh 05:48

Awesome. All right. Cool. Thanks for sharing the dark side of you, Joe. Appreciate that. So similar to Disney's, you know, mimicking football games. With Toy Story, I feel the same way about status. It's mind blowing. Every time. The funny thing is, and I can sum this up, like, every single time I talk to a new agency, and I talked about our integrations, I have a slide dedicated to status. And I was just telling jack this like, more than 50% of the time, if they haven't already connected with you, they're like, can you please introduce me to somebody at status? So we've got to talk a lot about status today. But before we do that, tell us about your career leading up to founding status.

Joe Vancena 06:33

Yeah, well, I'm one of three co founders. And so I think like the biggest part of the founding story is just having three people to do it with it's like, all the competence in the world to jump into something together. But before status, I have done cut my teeth, I'd sold paper, like literally Dunder Mifflin style, I sold paper out of college, it's the worst job ever going door to door in a strip mall, asking people if they want to buy a sleeve up goes terrible. So I'll ignore all of that part of my career which is just a typical, the typical grinding and grinding away store. But I really started an E commerce at loop. So a friend of mine who had waited tables with Philip, when we were in college, Corbett Morgan, was that Luke calls me up and says, Hey, you know, I can't pay a lot but you want to come lead growth that loop, I think you'd be a great fit, and did it to quit my job. And that was sort of like by chance having having met him at the restaurant, and then him calling me and saying, I'm not gonna be anything but you want to come try this and then going to loop and leading growth for I was there for four years. It's all just felt a little destined at that point, I'll just chance. So anyway, that's when I got into the E commerce world that was 2017. And so I was that loop for four years, fell in love with ecommerce I was told, I mean, I still say to this day, it's like, I get paid to help people buy clothes. Like you literally cannot find a better job in the world. It's psychology, it's technology. It's all the things so I've just fallen completely head over heels in love with E commerce. And I met my two co founders there, Chris and Dustin. And we have worked together at loop since the early days, timing to come where we had a decent idea. So we thought in a competence to do it together. And thus, status we figured it out.

Noah Rahimzadeh 08:11

Okay, so what, let's take a step back the confidence to go from proper sales to heading growth. waiting tables, illusion, or confidence. Fake it till you make it right. Wasn't just like, might as well, you know, might as well roll the dice. Was there anything else behind it that sort of made you take that leap?

Joe Vancena 08:34

Well, I had Okay, so like in this intersection, before I was actually a paper salesman, I had been waiting tables with Corbett Morgan who was a senior glue for two years. And so actually, the reason I met him and why we hit it off so well is he was building a startup while he was in college, it was called Sky hops was really cool. You could go into a location, download all the photos that have ever been taken in that location. And then you could even use like the browser addition to like punch in a zip code, draw circle anywhere on the map, set any date range and see all the Instagram content in that area for a certain time period. It was sick. Now there's like many things that could likely do that. But at the time, it was brand new. So I was waiting tables. I'm like, tell me everything like I'm in college. And I've never heard of something like this. I've never met someone like you before. And the reason why I think he thought I'd be a decent fit is because I was willing to do anything. Like I had no ego about me. I do whatever it took. So what we did was we he was getting ready to launch his app Skiles. He was like, we're gonna launch tomorrow. And so we need to get a bunch of users to come on to the app, which we do. So we had this terrible growth idea that we print out postcards, and then just I would run through all the dorms and slip them under everyone's door. So I was like, I would just ran through dorms, slipping postcards, under doors, and that was enough to leave a good impression of like, this guy might do whatever it takes, which I think is gonna be that I really had. No, I guess that's really doing whatever it takes.

Noah Rahimzadeh 09:56

Anything amazing. Okay, that's all So I feel like there's like a whole lesson in there about networking and you know, staying close with, with your buddies, regardless of sort of how you cross paths, but then when you went to head growth like what all did that entail? Heading growth? And I'm imagine this was like early days, you're probably one of the first few hires.

Joe Vancena 10:22

Yeah, so the biggest thing that I learned, now looking back at loop is that we were gifted. So I was employee five, we had a couple brands, three brands. One of them was Chevy's, one of them was Albert. So it was like we already started on second base. The biggest takeaway from that was we were given we had Product Market Fit day one, before I was even there, it was a perfect solution to a very painful problem done in a way that no one's ever seen before. So all I'm there's like an example I was used now because status made the opposite problem, which is fine product market fit, right? So like, we think this is something really awesome, but we're not quite sure. And no one's really asking for it. That's been the status story. The loop story was we solve a problem like my cold outbound emails, that loop this is what had growth was subject like returns suck, we sold it for Albert's interested, yes, 50% conversion rate. So like, it was just so easy, because the problem was so painful. And my job really was to like, chase this boulder down the hill, make sure we don't mess it up royally. And, and so I don't mean like, you know, self deprecate, there were certainly things we did well, and as a team, we did that, like made sure this happened. But it was just such a lesson in it, you solve the right problem, things will just come to you. And, and that was my biggest takeaway. And honestly, the biggest insight I had was like, just make sure the problem is real. And just pound the problem home into merchants heads, and you can figure out how to grow from

Noah Rahimzadeh 11:44

there. Got it? I'm sure I feel like that's already served you well, I think we see that serving me. Well. Now it's status. And obviously loop is a super close partner of ours, as well, we launched that integration in q1 and then launch status in q2. So it's awesome that it's all come full circle, and the ecosystem continues to grow. Like, as a result of itself. It's very cool. Okay, so that brings us up to status, like, talk to us about identifying this, this problem that needs to be solved.

Joe Vancena 12:21

Well, that was a hard one. So we, so we were very much inspired and motivated and excited, and I think had been seeking out exactly what the problem was. So status, it's a customer accounts app, like let's simplify it as much as possible, you get signed in, and we make signing in easy and fun. Like that's pretty much it. And we use it to help people shop. So the customer account, that's kind of the world that we're in today. But when it started, it was like a number of things, it was we knew that you had to log in to sort of return. And so you had to enter your order number and your zip code to submit a return, you log in with your order number as your email and your zip code as your password. And that authenticates you. And so there's already this like login baked into it, which we knew very well. And then I think even like more like fundamental to the loop experience, into the status experience was. And I've said this a couple of times, but it's like, loop, one of the things I'm most proud of that we did was was really just change how people thought about returns. And so returns it was like return suck, you hate them, customers hate them. Let's solve it. And everyone was saying that loop, we were the first ones to say returns are so much more returns are an opportunity. It's a sensitive moment and your relationship with this customer, you must look at it differently, you cannot just look at it as a cost center. If you do you miss what is really happening here, which is somebody tried you it didn't work. And now you're trying to make it right. That's a relationship story, not a cost saving story. So all there's like this login components that we saw, then there's like this diamond in the rough opportunity that we learned. It's it's looking at something and seeing it for the positives, not the negatives. So then accounts, one of my co founders, Chris was already off doing his own thing. He was like building software for brands, and accounts kind of came into the picture. And what we saw when we looked at accounts is that nobody had touched them. It was this blank page that had a list of orders written in plain text. And as we spot checked all birds, and basically we just picked our best friends, all birds, Chubbies Cotopaxi Tacoma, everyone's page, it's just this blank page with text and order numbers. So like the problem statement in the discovery was just like, What could we do with this? Like, like, like, it's no one's touched it like we can do anything we want? And how do we become good stewards of this page? And and so that was really the start. And admittedly, there was a bit of like, wandering in the dark of like, what exactly is the problem with this page? The problem statement as it was when you really started out a year ago, two years ago, was that customers don't use it, and brands don't invest in it. And so like, how did we how do we solve that problem first, and that was like, the first thing we figured out was if customer accounts were ever going to be anything The most important thing to solve is the three of us as shoppers never create account, you go pull 100 shoppers at the mall and say, Why do you create accounts? And what do you love about them? 99 of them will say I don't. Right. And so that was actually the problem statement. It's like, what do you do with this real estate to solve that? And if only we can solve login, then everything else becomes possible, right? And that's like the world that we're creating out today. But it really is solving that first, why aren't customers logging in. And that was what we really rallied around. That led to the product today. So many

Noah Rahimzadeh 15:31

great takeaways. I love like, I mean, I think for Malomo, right, like looking at a bad situation and finding the positives in is the exact same right mindset. Our founders started Malomo, just based on the simple fact that like most customers won't return to a brand after one bad shipping experience. And Shopify provides a really shitty shipping experience shipping tracking experience, which is a big part of shipping for the consumer. But it also leads to a lack of visibility and data on the brand side as well. So like, how can we make this pretty poor situation, not just better, but then like, once we fix that leaky bucket actually drive LTV from these customers that we've now not just retained, but like kept engaged in a time where normally they're just frustrated and confused. So there's a lot of similarities there. And it's probably why our partnership is off to such a strong start. When you looked into the data, you did your customer research, like, what was the what was the answer that customers gave you? Why don't they create accounts? And how did that inform what you ended up building at status?

Joe Vancena 16:53

Well, the answer is pretty obvious. There's nothing to do inside my account. And so your immediate thing is, is saying, Well, why would someone do anything on a site? I sometimes I joke, like, if a customer wanted something bad enough, they'd mail you a blood sample to get it like, like, it's not actually the friction, that's the problem. It's that there's not enough reward for doing it. And so, you know, certain like giveaways some of our secret sauce, but we've been in the market long enough that this stuff is okay, we can start should I get because brands need to know, one of the most obvious things someone will encounter when thinking of the account and why people aren't signing in this phone number. They'll say, Well, like, oh, let's just do sign up via SMS. It's the best signing experience ever. Don't you have an iPhone and everyone's like, Oh, my God, it's the best? Well, if only we launched that and get more people signed, it couldn't be more wrong. It couldn't be further from the truth. Because it's not about how you get someone signed in. It's about when you get someone signed it. And that's the important piece we focused on. Customers weren't signing in because no one clicks the account icon. And the only place we tried to get people sign in was when they clicked the account icon. So you have this like self fulfilling outcome, no one clicks it no one signs up. So how do you get someone signed in and you focus on where you get them signed, and then when you get them signed in. And so what you realize is people are signing in on a website all the time, like the actual mechanic of signing in is happening dozens of times on a site. One of the most egregious examples, if you try to log into an account today, so someone's inspired, they go to a brand, they click the account icon, and they start entering their email to create an account, here's what happens. You go to a site, click the account icon, you start entering your email to create your account, the 15 second timer goes off and A pop up appears asking you to enter your email while you are entering your email. I created hundreds of accounts at this point at 1% of the time. And so that starts to paint a picture. It's like oh, anywhere we collect an email, we're halfway to logging someone in. And when you start looking at it, that way, it becomes a lot easier to solve. And and then the biggest thing we have to solve that it's just keep you coming back. And so then the value you put inside of an account isn't to get something signed it SMS isn't to get someone sign in SMS to keep them signing into the future. So you create your account and then access your account, which are two separate problems to solve. So it's all about where you get someone signed in Not, not how,

Noah Rahimzadeh 19:10

and how do you solve for that? How did you end up, you know, solving for the where problem and flipping the script there?

Joe Vancena 19:17

Well, one is integrations. And so here's a great example. I was I always loved the book, we love apparel brands, we have this bench work that's coming out October 30. It's already here. So go look at this benchmark report. It'll literally blow your mind. And it'll tell you the apparel brands are a must for this product. And the reason why little apparel brands is because you start to have this intersection of tracking returns rewards, wish lists, which are something we do very well integrates with apparel. So when we start thinking about where we look at first rewards, tracking and returns, any one of those are an awesome event. You track you log in to track an order and that's fantastic. Or you log into return that sucks but the reality is, you can sign in to all of them at once. And so that's where we need that's like a First thing we do with a brand, let's make sure that when someone signs into submit a return through loop, that they're automatically signed it to Malomo. And they're automatically signed into loyalty lion. And vice versa. When someone logs in to view their points with loyalty line, make sure they're always signed into Malomo. And always sign into loop. That right there, we'll get you half of the way there. It creates like a little mini network on your site where your apps now work together. And lo and behold, more revenue generated from your tracking pages, more points adopted and used by your rewards program. So it's, that's like the best first step.

Noah Rahimzadeh 20:34

Yeah, absolutely. I think our our integration is a great example of that, because we all know that like, virtually every customer is going to track their track their order. And so when they do track it, correct me if I'm wrong, but that just means boom, signed in shopper. And now not only not only can we personalize more on the tracking page as a result of that, because we're pulling in all those other things, loyalty and subscription programs through status, and the account, the customer account, but they have access to be able to start a return right from that experience, or, you know, and especially now, with Corso coming on the scene, right package protection, stuff, file a claim, right from their customer account. So all of the personalization is a big topic that I'd love to get into. But like, all of the personalization, that we've tried to do in the past is, is just up level to like the nth degree now, because literally every single customer experience when a customer on a merchant has status is personalized to them as an individual, when they go to track their package on a Malomo page with our integration. Totally, totally, very exciting. One of the things like I said, one of the most exciting new integrations that we've launched, and you guys are just the agency thing always kills me they they're loving it. Maybe we could talk about personalization for a second, because I know that it's a it's a hot topic, I literally just saw an Instagram or Instagram, LinkedIn post today, talking about how like the future of E commerce is personalization. And, you know, I think that we've struggled to do that well and EECOM, maybe even more so for some reason, like on the enterprise level. And I'm curious, like, what how you feel about that, and how you see status sort of fitting in and solving the problem.

Joe Vancena 22:36

A little bit of a spice to take on personalization with econ one is like that LinkedIn post has been shared for the last eight years. We keep saying that, and like this is the thing, let's, yeah, there could be 1000 people listening to this podcast at once right now. And I can say this joke, and it would work every single time all 1000 of you go to allbirds.com, you will all see the same exact website. It's like, so you know, ecommerce personalization is the future of E commerce. Certainly, what I think is a more relevant problem statement for that is that scraping data from a device is no longer going to be available to ecommerce. And, and I think that starts to then paint a picture of like, well, for sure, we got to do something about this, because all of personalization today has been scrape your browser, scrape your device, here's what happens, oh, I recognize that you're inside, we work and you are probably this person. And we can start to attach attributes to you and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. None of it done with my permission. And that's the bedrock of personalization in E commerce, right? Everyone works from that point forward. And the kicker is, I don't know when this is gonna happen. This is one of our big bold bets. But Apple has this feature called Private relay. And when I sign into my app, it's on my phone, and you have to you have to activate it. But very soon, it could be default, private really makes it seem like I'm a device random device in Miami, you have no idea who I am when I browse. And it's just taking my available feature for everyone go use it because it makes sense. You know, it makes the need for login more important. And this is sort of the punchline, in a world where you can no longer take my identity from my browser without my permission, how are you going to possibly personalize the Congress, we have this failed promise for 10 years that everyone's still saying it's going to be the future of E commerce, personalization. And there's just a freight train coming, which is you're not going to be able to take my identity from my phone any longer. So what happens now?

Noah Rahimzadeh 24:32

Yeah, you tell us well, I

Joe Vancena 24:35

mean, that's like where we hope this comes in. It's like, you know, you have to ask, and this goes back to like, back to the original point of sign in account and we're at all intersections like you just are going to have to ask, you have to get really good at asking. And part of asking is like a fair trade of value in exchange like I give you my sizes so that you make my shopping experience better not so that you take it vaulted, stored in a database that I can never see again. And God forbid, I changed my favorite color, I can't even access my data, you've stolen it attached to my IP address. And now you just use it to spam me into oblivion. Like that is the personalization story of last decade, you telling me without my permission, I can never change it and use it to spam me. And I unsubscribe from your emails, there's personal commerce. So it's like you have to ask, and you have to get good at asking. And you have to give value in exchange like we don't, we don't like to say there's like these Facebook comparisons to any startup because that's just like, you're only going to get them when we try to do that. But this is what Facebook did really well early on, was that you would sign in, and then you'd say I liked the NFL. And then guess what happens NFL appears my feet. And then you say, Well, I like this. And then that appears my feet. And then I give you more information. And I tell you, I went to Ohio State and you say here's somebody who lives in the same dorm as you was wonderful. And then the whole social networking aspect of Facebook went away. And then your feed stopped being personalized. And then it became like news and angry political content, whatever. So what do people do? Blocked on their profiles, I take my my data I take when my likes, I take away everything. And so you can kind of see that starting to play out in this future state of econ, where you're gonna have to ask for my favorite colors and my favorite sizes. And I'll tell you, if it makes shopping better. And that's where we see the salt for personalization and everything else.

Noah Rahimzadeh 26:15

So with that in mind, and actually really quick, let's do a poll. Mariah, are you ever concerned with like, Are you like, I'll share it all? Because I know that it just helps me get like more relevant content? Are you like, I'm sharing nothing? Because I'm scared of what you're gonna do with it? Or somewhere in between?

Mariah Parsons 26:32

Um, I would say I'm pretty. Yeah, I'm, I'm pretty willing to like, share, like information about me if it will make the experience better. Like, yeah, yeah, I'd lead. I'd lead towards the former camp. Joe.

Joe Vancena 26:50

I am Fort Knox, I don't want to app notifications, go off my whole phone notifications go out and give anybody anything. But that said, there are like times where that is not true. Like apps that I love. I give everything I have one app that has every single bank account I've ever created plugged into this app, and I pay 60 bucks a year to use it. It's called pilot. It's a great budgeting app. So they know everything, literally every Sunday, so they're just really good. So yeah,

Noah Rahimzadeh 27:16

yeah, I'd say I'm like, I'm probably more like Mariah. But the point I was making is I, I get the sense that, like, millennials and up are probably a lot more hesitant for whatever reason, the younger generations are. Open Book, like they grew up in the digital age fully in the sense of like, they are sharing data when they were born, it feels like and, and now. You know, the older generation, like, my dad's like, I can't believe you trust Venmo. And it's like, Dude, you're free. But you kind of get the point. I'm wondering, with that being said, Joe, have you guys experienced any pushback from merchants? Like, this feels like we're getting a little bit too personal at all? Or how have you kind of circumvented access to personal information?

Joe Vancena 28:14

Well, first is like a subjective, bias personal, right, which is like, I'll always tell you, it's fine. That's what every software person says, I solution doesn't cause any problems. It's everyone else's, that causes problems, but not. So like the subjective version of this is like, okay, Mrs. Merchant, you just said that you've made a really good point is that like, there's a lot of data that we also collect. The first and most fundamental problem is that status, showing the data in the account, does not mean that you're not collecting more of it, you've already collected all this data, the only thing that changes when you introduce status is the customer cannot see it. That's it. We're not doing anything really monumental or groundbreaking, that I've been wanting to share on this call. But it's like, recently viewed products. Klaviyo has that data saved from cart shop has that data wishlist, your wish list has that data, any sort of like sizing, for instance, or purchase patterns, or, like you've got it all, it's just stored in a vault inside your Shopify admin, and all we're doing is surfacing. So that's like the first thing that's like my subjective it's like, you should feel confident at least testing this because the only thing that's changing is that customers can now see it. So that's step one. Then step two is like measure outreach. Do people ask you to delete accounts are signup rates going down? Are people wanting you to delete their data? I've never had a single ticket come in from a brand or customer asking to delete data. And and we have to we built the infrastructure was a waste of time in hindsight, but we need it to be GDPR compliant, like one click, we can delete your account and we can, no one's ever used it. And it's just all goes back to visibility. It's like if they trust you as a brand, and you make my data visible. It's easier for me to digest like, Oh, this is this is great. I knew you had this anyway, because I'm a millennial or Gen Z. And I'm very tech savvy. I know you're taking all my data. Thank you for showing me what data you have and And that's and that's how we

Noah Rahimzadeh 30:02

got it. Okay, I want to take a really quick step back just to understand when you described, you know, the call it what would it be BS before status to as after status BS being was was the only was the only account that was available for Shopify merchants just whatever was native or Shopify? Or did you enter the space and do something unique to other account apps.

Joe Vancena 30:30

So there were a couple existing account themes, I would call it, they take the page and apply like a different theme to it, they didn't change, you sign in and change where you sign in. But the page itself looked a little better. The biggest insight for us and like the before status era, was that of the top. So before we started the business, we went and fundraisers and stuff we had our top 100 targets brands that we would love to work with Princess Polly Albrecht Shelby's, whomever. And I went up and manually inspected 100 of them, and zero penetration. So there was zero penetration into our top 100 targets of any Shopify account. Other than the classic. And so you know, there were these players that like make the page look better, but they didn't solve the fundamental problem. They weren't making more people cite it. And so it was pretty much a clean slate still is for Shopify, plus, a couple of the designs look eerily familiar. But we'll get people to start Googling accounts, please.

Noah Rahimzadeh 31:29

Yeah, we have a similar challenge, but we welcome it as well. Okay, so with that being said, like clearly no leader Shopify out of the box, was it? What do you like when you when you get a job? He's on the phone? Like, what's the clear use cases that you can exploit like explained to them that shows just how different and betters stat like the functionality status provides compared to what they're currently leveraging through Shopify?

Joe Vancena 32:02

So I usually I usually. So this was a challenge, like a year, I struggled with this, because it's like, account sort of becomes like the everything, you know, you could talk about, we could talk about the tracking integration for the entire call, and just integrating Malomo. And status makes the experience so much better, and look at all all while you're gonna get in like, that's honestly, for a lot of our mutual brands, that's enough on tone, because they love you, they like what we add to the picture, and it's like, sweet, this is gonna make my tracking experience so much better. Let's became traps, because as like a, you know, there's no sales training at status, you kind of got to just go figure it out. And so that was a trap. We kind of struggled with that for a while. And so anyway, what we focused on now with brands is like two very simple questions. And I'll even show you the product at this point. It's like what's working and retention this year. And sometimes I'll hear rewards program and all the elements of rewards that are working. But there's really not a lot of depth there. It's like our rewards program is usually the answer. Everyone else, and including the people who say that they say, email and SMS. And so what I realized is like the extent of retention strategies in e Commerce today is email. And I'll bring you back I hope 3% of the time, if I'm lucky, I'll bring you back to an email campaign. So I'm like, well, there's like this vacuum, have have good retention strategies. And there are certainly pieces of it that are, you know, vital, like tracking an order is a great way great tracking, drives, repeat purchases, great returns drives up purchases, right? But no one can really pinpoint what's working and retention. So the question is, I'm like, Alright, sounds like even last semester is your best bet. Let me show you how many spam I got today from Shopify brands. Right. That's the problem. Okay, cool. So people are running out of things to say via email, get them to admit them. The second thing is then, do you know how many first time customers are checking out as guest? Like know how many I can tell you with almost like damn near certainty that it's more than 90% On average, 95% of first time customers see an ad on Instagram, come to your site, pay with their face and leave. Yeah, the extent of the relationship you built with the first with 95% of the first 10 customers. And what I say to them is like what that also means is 95% of first time customers aren't using your rewards program. So now you're really only left with email and SMS. And so we can help you solve that we'll get seven times more first time customers signed up. And when we do, it's a great experience to want to see more. And usually at that point is like the clearest problem retention is email and nothing else and we can help

Noah Rahimzadeh 34:28

man that's awesome. Thank you for breaking that down to I think that paints the picture very clearly because I probably have done a horrible job describing just how valuable status is like this paints a picture very clearly for our listeners of like the the immediate problem that status can solve and then there's all the there's the long tail of the other integrations that are made so much more valuable in connection with status as well. Okay, let's move move on to. Man, I really want to talk talk to you more about like founding this and like founding an app and the Shopify ecosystem right now. But we should probably get to more merchant focused stuff. You talked about retention, which is like a fantastic segue. And I don't know how much more we can really add, because you just broke it down. So well, but what would you say the most important drivers of retention are in this like day and age it you know, to me, email and SMS is, is the first thing merchants think about maybe rewards a second. But you hear email and SMS all the time. And it's crazy to me that that's like the first thing people want to talk about when it comes to retention, because I feel like email and SMS is just like, one channel that distributes the rest of like the retention strategy overall, it's not like the retention strategy in and of itself, right. Everything else that you're doing with email that you're plugging into email and SMS is how you're actually driving repeat purchases, and LTV. So from your from your perspective, like what have you seen be the most important levers from a retention standpoint that brands need to be pulling, especially as they think about the influx of new customers that are coming around the holidays?

Joe Vancena 36:20

I normally like check a few boxes before getting into any advice. And one is like more product purists like we like for us. It's just like product is everything. And I mean software like digital product. But that extends to talk to a brand to I'm like, listen, there's only so much we can do. Like you might love everything I see. And I'm very clearly passionate when I sell it. But the reality is, there's only so much we can do. And so it's always product first, like physical product. Now first, it's like if you're not, if your retention is ready doesn't start there, you kind of you just have to fail. This extends into like the Shopify ecosystem with App partners too. It's like if you're launching a new ship, your shop app person listening to this right now you're gonna build a Shopify app. If you're not building for word of mouth as the primary acquisition strategy in for go to market, like you're missing the point, Shopify is a word of mouth market for apps, and this so it's like, we've already got this baked in, it's like building a Shopify app, you must get merchants talking, everyone's texting. Everyone's in Slack channels together, everyone's on Facebook, it's like you have to be thinking word of mouth. And so the same is true with Shopify brands, it's like you have to be thinking product first, because everyone, everyone's claiming attribution on your repeat purchase, everyone is included, we just joined the game like welcome, we're gonna do it. And so that's just that's like, the must be said piece. It's like unboxing experience, it's all of the peripheral aspects of buying a product that you have to get ready for the first purchase. Yeah. But beyond that, what we always talk about is like great retention. So what does like a repeat purchase actually look like? If you look at someone who's coming back for a second, third and fourth purchase, they bought one, two, maybe three things if you're lucky in their first order, big cart, right? But the reality is, you might have 100 products on your store. The first and most fundamental thing that we talked about is the moment that person comes back to your site. And typically I go to like Princess Polly or one of our brands has a ton of products in their catalog. And I go to their top nav, and I open up their clothing collection. And this full screen menu navigation appears. maxi dresses, many dresses, like I don't even know because I don't wear them. But it's like, hundreds of collections. And inside of them, I'm sure hundreds of products. And so I'm like, Okay, let's talk about this first, the most fundamental problem, your repeat purchase strategy, I come back to the site, I already had a couple of products in mind, you helped me save none of them. And I start from scratch on every visit. Not only am I starting from scratch, but you've released tend to collection since I came best sellers are not when a new order, new arrivals are no different. It's like your conversion rate optimized testing me. So now I have a different now than I had last time. And I come back tomorrow and have another different now because it's the BD version of the A B test. And so like this is the problem. That's where repeat purchases breakdown. I come back to the site, I start from scratch, and we work backwards from there. And then email can help support that and status can help support that and tracking pages can help support that. And so that's step one, what do I want? What am I already

Noah Rahimzadeh 39:12

and, you know, obviously status does clearly help with that. Because if you're making a wish list or you've left things in the cart, that's going to that's going to show up in your account when you come back to the site. Beyond that, though, do you do you think brands should be doing a better job like segmenting for in the example you just gave? Like you're not addressed where so probably don't show Joe the the all of the women's collections. Do you like do you think that that has a place or do you think that just by personalizing the the accounts and then like the integrations that fuel the customer account that you've seen that like do the do the or solve the problem that you just described?

Joe Vancena 39:57

I mean, we are certainly using the account To sum and, and I don't think in five years, we'll be talking about the account as much as we'll really just be talking about, like, my signed in session. And like what that means to a site. But, you know, thinking about it today with the account, all that really happens as we point brands to the first session on a site, where I start, slide, let's say, we talked about clicks, carts and favorites. And so just kind of walking through a first time customers session. Using those tools. Here's what happens. I come to the site, and I click 10 things. Each of those things has a collection ID product ID, if you're lucky, a variant ID. So now clicks have 10 attributes, and then carts, you put four of them in your cart. And the beauty of intent when you go from carts to click, I'm sorry, from clicks to carts, is that carts require variance. So now you've picked a color and you pick the size filled up. So now so now we've got like the first 10 Things you clicked on in your first session, which is like you probably like those something about those caught your eye. And then you fill up your cart, which you're almost certainly going to leave behind or just leave the tab open. And now you filled up your cart. And you've told us that everything in here is blue. And so it's like, well, what are you even asking me for? At that point, let's just start making some guesses and then asking if you're right, you know, so it's not like, hey, fill out this questionnaire, and we'll give you 10% off. It's like, you seem to like blues this right? Gonna save this imagine like a pop up, you fill up your cart and an exit intent says Do you love blue? Seems like you love blue. Do you love blue? Yes. And now like that is just a rich customer profile that has only been uncovered through one anonymous session. Right? It's that's how we focus on like the data and segmenting, it's like, we focus too much on like, Are you a cat? Are you a cat or dog person? Let's find a way to get you to answer this question. As opposed to like inferring, making a guess than asking the customer. So I think it's, I think how you do it. Or making it more difficult on ourselves.

Noah Rahimzadeh 42:03

Yeah, yeah. Love that. Just curious, are you using those attributes that you're collecting that I like blue in email and SMS yet? Or is that something that could be coming down the road, maybe you can't say, That's awesome. We're 30.

Joe Vancena 42:26

We're testing it allows us to be releasing it in like the next few weeks.

Noah Rahimzadeh 42:29

Very cool. And I mean, just treasure trove of data that cannot again, like email. And SMS is just a channel right to drive those repeat purchases. It's not in and of itself going to do that. And this is the kind of data that I think influences the second purchase which is so vital in in today's day and age.

Joe Vancena 42:50

One last thing to add for any of like our competitors that might be listening or thinking satisfied, not as a competitor. In any brands. We're like, what do you do with that? Do you don't get another CDP it's like my last thing to understand about first party data if you're zero party data, if you're thinking about status. Your poll wants to be your CDP claim your wants to be your CDP kinda wants to be your CDP everyone wants to be the CDP and wants to be the source of data status is not entering the ring and saying we're gonna be your CDP, you know, we put all our data Shopify meta fields, that mean Shopify holds all the data we capture, and literally anyone can use it on October 30, you could use status and Malomo use the data we capture as a Shopify meta field and change the tracking page to blue, because I like blue. And it's that's just a really important detail. I think people miss is all how many apps are trying to take the data and be like, it's mine. Yeah.

Noah Rahimzadeh 43:36

Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, part of that, too, is just like the ecosystem first approach that you guys adopted, you didn't want to be all things to all people you wanted to go leverage. And we take a, we take a very similar approach, right? Like, we don't want to, we don't want to get you out of the email tool CLEVEO that you know, and love. We want to extend that right and make it more valuable. We don't, don't want to do customer account status is really good at that. We just want to make your status experience more valuable to your customers. So there's in that regard, Okay, a few minutes left. When this comes out, it'll be about a month before Well, less than a month before Black Friday, Cyber Monday, what is something or two things brands could implement in a matter of weeks to capitalize on all the new customers are going to get around Black Friday, Cyber Monday? Gosh, yes. Put you on the spot.

Joe Vancena 44:34

Obviously. So before Black Friday. I mean, so here's, okay, fine. I have to take the bait and do like a self serving status example. specific one that I always love to share. It's like ignore everything that status does just focus on one outcome and it pulls back on some experience that I had. Refunds returns, they suck and your return rate in q4 might go up. And honestly, if you're an apparel brand in January, it's like the returns Superbowl, everyone's going to be returning, exchanging sizes, all of this stuff. So what I would like to point out is how your rewards program in your returns that can work together. And they can team up during q4, and in January when you're getting this influx of returns. And the way it works is someone signs in to submit a return, they sign into status, there's a shameless plug. But once they sign in to submit a return, it creates their account, it gives them 100 points. And now you have a perfect wind back campaign in January. It's like I've just submitted a return. But now I have 100 points, and you can email me and say, Hey, you have 100 points to spend would love to earn you back when you've got 10 bucks and credit to spend would love to earn you back. If you don't have that, all that's happening is 30% of your sales are just leaving and will likely never return. So it's like a perfect way to focus for an apparel brand. Going into q4 is integrating returns and your rewards program into one account.

Noah Rahimzadeh 45:57

Awesome use case that is that is I don't think I've heard that one. I love it. I also think that just by providing you know that there's going to be a massive influx in returns just by providing a more seamless experience, whether that be from you know, being able to start a return right from the tracking experience that's pretty filled. So you don't have to go to your email, find your order, copy your order number into the you know, we platform to start a return. And instead you just click Start to return, we already know the information that you are sorry, all of the items that you bought, you select that and you want to return my gut is like that's driving more exchanges because of how seamless that process is. Whereas if you just have to spend 15 minutes figuring out how to return this item, you're probably going to be more likely to just return it and forget about that brand altogether for for the time being because he just wasted so much time on it. So I think that the power of returns tracking and now rewards as well. Really, really, really strong use case. That's awesome. All right, Mariah, anything to add before I move to the last question.

Mariah Parsons 47:13

I'm just sitting here observing and absorbing all of this because it's Joe awesome. You're always impressing me with the knowledge you have. So I love it.

Joe Vancena 47:23

I love ecommerce. It just seeps out of my pores. I literally

Mariah Parsons 47:27

it shows do I love the Paget Yeah, yeah, it was great.

Noah Rahimzadeh 47:32

Okay, we wrap up with taking it back to the personal side. Awesome career so far really unique path to getting to where you are which is cool. What's one tip or trick or resource that's helped you get to where you are today Joe?

Joe Vancena 47:51

Oh gosh. One tip I think this is a little bit of recency bias because we talked about this a lot of steps probably not the only tip but it was something my boss versus one of my early jobs told me I needed to work on and then the more I worked on it the more it's become like something we are like extremely proud of her status that all of us share and it's an attention to detail and it sounds so like obvious overlook but the fun part about like an obsession when you have an attention to detail this is if you get really good at what ends with attention to detail ended up becoming is we're gonna put easter eggs in things because I'm like so into the details that I can like hide things in this asset or in this picture in this podcast that is like only if someone else is as invested details me what they notice it when they do it's like a hook I think it's shift S if you go to the status website and press shift us you might find something interesting there so it's just it's like the details when and and people notice them and bosses notice them and merchants notice them partners notice them so it's like the details it's just you can't if you get them right pays dividends

Mariah Parsons 49:07

Okay, while I'm also doing this on a website, I have to ask Are you like a big fan of any franchises like Marvel Star Wars? Like anything like that because I feel like they're filled with the little easter eggs and details especially Marvel. I would also offer up Taylor Swift but you know,

Joe Vancena 49:25

my first obsession you strikers was Arrested Development, which that reference might not land anymore, but that one was a good one.

Mariah Parsons 49:32

That's also a good one. Yeah,

Joe Vancena 49:33

certainly a lot more. Well, I love Marvel up until endgame. At which point I was like I've had enough like I've got it.

Mariah Parsons 49:39

This is great. Is your end game? Yeah.

Joe Vancena 49:43

I was like you brought everyone back. I thought this was awesome. Thank you and I'm moving on. I'm not watching your Disney plus special, but

Mariah Parsons 49:51

Disney plus is reserved for the NFL Toy Story.

Noah Rahimzadeh 49:56

Yeah, all the listeners need to get a status accounts. Come and hold Shift S if you hold it, it's even better.

Mariah Parsons 50:06

Oh, that's amazing

Noah Rahimzadeh 50:08

to do that, yeah, I was wondering if you knew just keeps going. Joe, thank you so much for your time, man. This was incredible. action packed, lots of great takeaways. Hopefully our merchants enjoy it. I think they will. Mariah Thanks as always, and we'll see you all soon. Thanks.