Join us for VISIONS Summit NYC  - June 11
Episode 345
March 29, 2024

The Endless-ish Aisle

Phillip and Brian have FOMO over guerrilla marketing in the *bathroom*, and break down the Jackson family walkthrough of Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart. Stick around for BigCommerce CEO Brent Bellm’s sit down with Brian live from Shoptalk.

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Phillip and Brian have FOMO over guerrilla marketing in the *bathroom*, and break down the Jackson family walkthrough of Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart. Stick around for BigCommerce CEO Brent Bellm’s sit down with Brian live from Shoptalk. 

“From $70M to $700M”

Key takeaways:

- ShopTalk has become the biggest pure-play event in North America for e-commerce, showcasing the growth and optimism in the industry.

- AI is making its way into various tools and solutions, embedding Gen AI to increase efficiency in teams.

- TikTok is seen as a viable platform for brands to engage with new audience segments, and it offers a unique opportunity for creators to collaborate with brands.

- Checkout replacement tools are shifting gears, aiming for faster and more adaptable solutions to meet the evolving needs of e-commerce businesses.

- Omega Mart by Meow Wolf is an immersive art exhibit that satirizes capitalism and consumerism, allowing visitors to explore a surreal grocery store with twisted products on the shelves.

  • {00:15:41} - “There are a lot of solutions that are actually embedding Gen AI in their tools. Everything from data cleanliness to customer service to product copy to marketing and other tools. I think everyone's just barely actually embedding it in a way that will actually increase efficiency in teams.” - Brian
  • {00:27:15} - “{TikTok Shop} is closer to almost like a B2B2C model. You have your home designers and fabric stores sell to those home designers and they work their fabrics into the homes that they're influencing. It's almost the same thing. Managing these effectively, you know, designers for all kinds of experiences, not just homes, but beauty, fashion, whatever it is.” - Brian
  • {00:52:47} - “The overarching philosophy of metamodernism in that the best way to deliver an experience is to engage in both culture and commerce but to do so with a wink to say, "We both know that for this thing to exist that you really want that I have to play into the commercial nature of the way that it exists. And so I will critique that so that you can't critique it, Mrs Consumer. I will critique it for us, but we both know that the only way that you're going to get this and the only way you can deliver this and experience this is if it's commercialized in some way," and that is the overarching narrative of Omega Mart.” - Phillip
  • {00:59:15} - “You can press a button and have a catalyst store on Next.js and React, the highest performing most popular tech in the world of composable, in under 60 seconds pre-integrated with all of our functionality, as well as leading content management solutions, as well as leading search and merch engines, out of the box hosting from top partners like Vercel. We have so lowered the bar to the world's best composable tech that we think that's the future, and it's perfectly timed with the growth again of MACH enthusiasm in the US.” - Brent
  • {01:07:21} - “What if we turned Makeswift, not just for content websites, which is what it was built for, into commerce websites too? And that was the sort of the magic aha idea, and I think we are going to transform the industry.” - Brent
  • {01:13:29} - “We're open sourcing the React component library. Meaning, any agency, any developer can come in and contribute a new component or enhance a component. We'll make sure it's secure. We'll be sort of the gatekeepers on the quality, but you're not dependent just on the components that BigCommerce builds. Anybody can be building new extraordinary website components that go into the library and make it that much more powerful to leverage that library.” - Brent

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Phillip: [00:00:00] The overarching philosophy of metamodernism in that the best way to deliver an experience is to engage in both culture and commerce. Right? But to do so with a wink to say, "We both know that for this thing to exist that you really want that I have to play into the commercial nature of the way that it exists." And so I will critique that so that you can't critique it, Mrs Consumer. I will critique it for us, but we both know that the only way that you're gonna get this and the only way you can deliver this and experience this is if it's commercialized in some way, and that is the overarching narrative of Omega Mart. What if that was a repeating and eternal cycle that the human race is only but one of many civilizations who have had to go through the cycle in the past?

Brian: [00:01:02] Oh, next level. Talk about endless aisle. That's the infinite shelf right there.

Phillip: [00:01:10] {laughter} Yeah. Oh my gosh. Brian, mic drop. Hello, and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about culture and commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:02:48] I'm Brian. That's Future Commerce.

Phillip: [00:02:51] It's Future COMmerce. FUTure Commerce. No matter how you pronounce it, we are covering the intersection of culture and commerce. Got a lot in store for you here today. We're gonna talk a little bit about metamoderncommerce, things that I think we talked a lot about narrative over the last couple of years. It's a key part of our VISIONS Summit, which we will have a number of this year. We'll get to that in just a second, but a little bit later on we have Brent Bellm, the CEO of BigCommerce joined us at ShopTalk for a little bit. We shoved him into a booth, and we asked him a million questions. By we, I mean you, Brian.

Brian: [00:03:31] {laughter} True.

Phillip: [00:03:32] {laughter} We had a good time, and BigCommerce put on a bit of an oasis...

Brian: [00:03:36] At bit of an oasis.

Phillip: [00:03:39] At the good old Four Seasons, which helped me get my steps in while at Shoptalk. But first, before we get to any of that here today, I just wanna remind you that you can get ad free episodes of this podcast by joining the Future Commerce Plus membership. Future Commerce Plus is your gateway to all things Future Commerce. It's bonus content. It's discount on print and merch. It's access to a private GPT, and you get it all for one low monthly price plus... plus. This is the plus in Future Commerce Plus. You're going to be first on the invite to our upcoming June VISIONS event at the Museum of Modern Art. Coming up, it's VISIONS New York City, June 11th, unless something changes, Brian. June 11th at MoMA. We're going to figure this sucker out, but you'll be the first to get in when the rope drops if you join Future Commerce Plus. Just $20 a month,, and you won't have to listen to me do any more ad reads. It's probably worth the money.

Brian: [00:04:42] $20 alone not to hear those. No. Just kidding.

Phillip: [00:04:44] Yeah. I'm like, gosh. No.

Phillip: [00:04:46] I feel I've gotten pretty good at the ad read.

Brian: [00:04:48] You are. Actually, you know what? Maybe don't pay us the $20 because listening to those ads is pretty fun.

Phillip: [00:04:55] My favorite part of not having paid for many years for one of my favorite podcasts was the ad reads because they always had fun with the ad reads.

Brian: [00:05:05] Yeah. I love a podcast that has a good time with an ad read. We should do that more.

Phillip: [00:05:10] I feel like we should.

Brian: [00:05:11] Sometimes sponsors have very clear messages that they want.

Phillip: [00:05:15] I'll tell you right now. When MANSCAPED is your sponsor, you can have a lot of fun.

Brian: [00:05:21] Yeah. There's a lot of winking. Lot of fun.

Brian: [00:05:23] Lot of winking and nudging.

Phillip: [00:05:24] Not even then. They just say the word balls over and over in the ads..

Brian: [00:05:28] That's true.

Phillip: [00:05:29] You can't do that with B2B SaaS.

Brian: [00:05:32] I don't know. Let's put out a little call. Let's put a little call. Anyone that's listening to this at B2B SaaS, you know, if you want us to have a good time with your ads, you should sponsor us. And let us know.

Phillip: [00:05:43] {laughter} For a good time call...

Brian: [00:05:47] 1-800-Future-Commerce

Phillip: [00:05:48] You know, it's funny. I was in the bathroom stall at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center. Right inside the bathroom stall, it says for a good time call...

Brian: [00:05:56] Just keeps coming.

Phillip: [00:06:00] Do you know I'm really mad actually. At Shoptalk, somebody did a a little bit of a derivative of my viral marketing idea that I had last year that we never executed on. I wanted to do...

Brian: [00:06:14] I've seen this a couple times now, actually. This is a move.

Phillip: [00:06:18] Is it a move?

Brian: [00:06:20] It's a move.

Phillip: [00:06:21] Not the way I wanted to do it.

Brian: [00:06:22] It's like a gorilla tactic for marketing. It's good. I mean it's a great gorilla tactic.

Phillip: [00:06:27] I love the gorilla tactic, but in the case of the way that they do it as is the case as what Zowie did, shout out to our friend, Maji, at Zowie.

Brian: [00:06:41] He would let us have fun with his ads, I think.

Phillip: [00:06:44] I think so. Possibly.

Brian: [00:06:45] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:06:46] But Zowie did some viral marketing in the restrooms at Shoptalk. They went around and they had a little bit of a sticker campaign on the sinks. And I can't...

Brian: [00:06:58] Oh.

Phillip: [00:06:58] I don't believe that was an actual activation. I might be wrong. I don't believe that that was a paid engagement activation because it wasn't on the mirror. It was kind of inconspicuously next to the sinks. Not all the sinks. Not all the bathrooms. I was drinking a lot of water, Brian. I went to all the bathrooms.

Brian: [00:07:16] Me too. You have to in Vegas. Were you trying to scrape the sticker off the sink? Like, clean it up, and it was like one of those stickers that just wouldn't come off.

Phillip: [00:07:24] It just looked like, you know, typically conference vendors, especially if it's the conference center, they kind of allow you to brand certain parts of the activation, and they usually have a vinyl vendor that comes in and applies these things for you. Right?

Brian: [00:07:41] It did feel like that.

Phillip: [00:07:42] It was a disc sticker that was preprinted elsewhere and then stuck on in sort of a gorilla manner. I have wanted for years.

Brian: [00:07:51] For years, you've been talking about this for years.

Phillip: [00:07:52] For years. I have wanted to do a... It's like a urinal cake. Have you ever seen a urinal cake? {laughter} Those urinal screens where it has the Future Commerce logo on it, but there's that Ghostbusters cross out sign on it or something like that. And then I would make some content about, "Who did this?" I'm, like, really angry. And, like, I go into the bathroom, and I take them. I'm, like, ripping them out of their urinals and throwing them across the room. You know?

Brian: [00:08:30] That'll be fun. You could do that with your meta ray bans, and it would be pretty funny. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:08:38] I could. {laughter} That's what you need is...

Brian: [00:08:39] The tough part about your idea is that not only do you have to rip your own out to make the video, you actually have to rip out the originals.

Phillip: [00:08:48] Oh, that's true. Yeah. You have to remove the original. Yeah. Well, that's some BTS content.

Brian: [00:08:53] That's next level.

Phillip: [00:08:53] You've got POV BTS, Brian, on the urinal cake activation. Anyway, shout out to Zowie.

Brian: [00:09:02] Next. Level.

Phillip: [00:09:03] It's funny. That's Zowie, not even partner. Definitely not getting paid for this.

Brian: [00:09:08] No. We're not, actually. No. This is true earned marketing. This is everything that they hoped for with those stickers.

Phillip: [00:09:17] Alright, Maji. We gave you one. The first one's free. Now you gotta pony up so that Brian can say the word balls in your ad read.

Brian: [00:09:24] Oh, man.

Phillip: [00:09:27] I have so much to say about Shoptalk, but we made it through.

Brian: [00:09:32] Did we make it?

Phillip: [00:09:34] We made it. The greatest recap of Shoptalk that you could possibly get is available from Michelle Grant.

Brian: [00:09:43] Oh, I thought it was gonna be the 10 second one that you did because that was pretty good. Shoptalk in 10 seconds. Go.

Phillip: [00:09:49] I tried to do it as, I glued that together, and it's about a 100 clips that are all, like, 0.2 seconds. And it's set to, like, the most blast beat metal music you've ever heard.

Brian: [00:10:00] Yeah. It's perfect.

Phillip: [00:10:01] Yeah.

Brian: [00:10:02] That's how I think Shoptalk feels for a lot of people. You captured the feeling, the vibe.

Phillip: [00:10:10] Yeah. Yeah. For sure. I'm really glad that we did Shoptalk the way that we did this year. Of course, attending again as a member of the press. I'm really excited though for this coming Shoptalk Fall, which we'll talk about.

Brian: [00:10:29] Me too.

Phillip: [00:10:29] It's coming up, I believe, in October, in Chicago.

Brian: [00:10:34] Yeah. Alright. Chicago. Let's go. I love a Chicago event much more than a Vegas event. Sorry, Shoptalk, but Shoptalk Fall might become my favorite, not the flagship.

Phillip: [00:10:46] I mean, no love lost for our friends at RICE, the Retail Innovation Conference and Expo, which is, you know, sort of IRCEs Phoenix reborn from the ashes.

Brian: [00:10:57] You'll be speaking there.

Phillip: [00:10:58] I will be speaking there. I'm interviewing some folks from my favorite brand. Let's do a contest. Send us an email at of who you think that I'm interviewing. What is one of my favorite brands? Tell me who it is, and I'll give you access to Future Commerce Plus for 1 month for free.

Brian: [00:11:16] Are they still your favorite?

Phillip: [00:11:19] I don't know. It's up there.

Brian: [00:11:20] They're one of your top 5. Top 3. Top 5.

Phillip: [00:11:24] I like to talk. I like to talk about them.

Brian: [00:11:26] Top 15. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:11:30] I like them a lot. So I'll be sitting on stage with one of my favorite brands at RICE, but I get to come back to Chicago in the Fall for Shoptalk Fall edition? Shoptalk Retail Edition?

Brian: [00:11:44] Shoptalk Fall, I think is what it's called.

Phillip: [00:11:45] Physical retail store Chicago edition. Anyway but let's talk about Vegas, and I do wanna talk a little bit about what we did in Vegas, and I want to talk a little bit about our point of view. But, Brian, overall, I mean, we covered some of this on the opening day.

Brian: [00:12:01] Mhmm.

Phillip: [00:12:02] On the After Dark. So if you're a Future Commerce Plus member, you already heard it.

Brian: [00:12:06] And in The Senses, as well.

Phillip: [00:12:07] Let's play it back, Brian. Give us the skinny.

Brian: [00:12:10] I think the skinny was that this is the most marketing dollars I've ever seen spent at Shoptalk. The money is back and the swag was popping. People were giving away custom Stanleys and custom sneakers and custom everything. Everything was custom. There was enough sweatshirts and it was a lot of swag. You know, it's funny, though. I was so busy. I hardly took any swag.

Phillip: [00:12:43] Oh, I took I went and did a round for the kids.

Brian: [00:12:47] Did you get a unicorn?

Phillip: [00:12:49] A loot. I got 2 unicorns from Adobe. Thank you so much.

Brian: [00:12:52] Did you get Stanley's?

Phillip: [00:12:54] I did not get Stanley's.

Brian: [00:12:56] Oh, that's too bad.

Phillip: [00:12:58] Dude, I don't wanna carry that back. I mean, lead poisoning alone is...

Brian: [00:13:02] I mean, they should... You've got a great idea for that. I'm not even gonna give this away because they're probably gonna do it.

Phillip: [00:13:10] They're probably gonna do it. We do have a friend at Stanley who may make an appearance here.

Brian: [00:13:15] Multiple friends at Stanley. We have multiple friends at Stanley.

Phillip: [00:13:19] And maybe they're listening. Call us. Hey. Give us a call. We want to finish that idea. Alright. So money was being spent. Brian, here's the big question. As the last event in the official conference season, which runs from NRF to Shoptalk, and there are about 4 or 5 shows in between, are the vibes... Did the Shoptalk groundhog see his shadow? Are the vibes high or are the vibes low coming out of Shoptalk for the industry?

Brian: [00:13:51] I think mostly high. I think that there's more optimism this year than last year. That said, there's still some choppiness, I think. It's not a 100% good vibes.

Phillip: [00:14:11] There's a lot of promise. Lot of people that were you know, there's so many things that have a lot of hope, and it's like it's giving people hope. A number of things that I overheard that gave people hope. What do you think is instilling hope? So let's do a round-robin of the the hopeful things in the bright spots that we experience at Shoptalk.

Brian: [00:14:34] Yeah. I mean, it's interesting. I don't know if this is a moment of hope or a moment of just over engagement. But seems like AI is finally worked its way down into some of the tools in a real way. And while a lot of people were interested last year, so like at the end of Shoptalk last March, there was a whole recap of the show, and the recap was basically a lot of things we thought that were interesting in retail just aren't interesting anymore. It's all AI. It was like a 2 to 1 margin. Everyone was interested in AI, but it didn't feel like anyone had a meaningful solution for what to do with Gen AI specifically. Because people have been saying AI about, you know, machine learning and so on for a long time. So there's a lot of people that have been saying they have AI solutions forever. It's just not Gen AI that was applied. And so, what I think is happening is that [00:15:41] there are a lot of solutions that are actually embedding Gen AI in their tools. Everything from data cleanliness to customer service to product copy to marketing and other tools. I think everyone's sort of just barely actually embedding it in a way that will actually increase efficiency in teams. [00:16:09] And let me tell you, I think that's another thing that I'll just kinda add to this is it doesn't really feel like team sizes are growing necessarily. It's about the toolset to empower existing teams.

Phillip: [00:16:22] You keep talking about this. I don't wanna take it away from you, but you've been, you know, sort of playing back this conversation that you had with somebody around how the team roles, responsibilities, architecture don't necessarily need to change for brand to scale, 10 or even a 100 x. Give me that line. I forget the exact way...

Brian: [00:16:47] It's basically a brand that's doing 70,000,000 online or 70,000,000 can scale to 700,000,000 with effectively the same web eComm team. You may have to add if you're going to go into other distribution, you may have to add for those channels, but you can scale those channels effectively with small teams, and so it's about having enough money come through that channel so that you can invest in the correct team size to scale. And there's kind of a minimum spend, but that minimum spend, you can take a long, long way, with the tools that are available and also augmenting without outside help. Sure. There's going to be things that require additional just hands on keyboard. But in general, it feels like the same team that's running multiple sites in two different Shopify sites, and they're doing 700,000,000 through those sites is the same team that runs a $7,000,000 Shopify site.

Phillip: [00:18:02] There's a really funny, I mean, there was a whole track or a whole day sort of dedicated to AI at Shoptalk this year. A number of those talks basically showed off a lot of vendor implementations of AI. So rather than you having to go to chat GPT to author content, oh, Attentive has it now in its SMS tool. Rather than you having to go to OpenAI and use DALL E, well, Amazon has a generative image, Gen AI image creator that it rolled out back in October. So there's a lot of conversation around do you even need separate tooling or do you just need to hold out with making sure that you're aligned with market-leading products that will adopt these features, and they will trickle up into the software stack you already have.

Brian: [00:19:02] No more cowboying it. No more Skunk Works projects. You can just use your enterprise contracts to leverage AI.

Phillip: [00:19:10] Yeah.

Brian: [00:19:11] This is actually what we've been saying since we released their AI report is that this is how it's actually going to change.

Phillip: [00:19:19] Yeah. And that's at That was our very first commerce industry usage of Gen AI, I think 300 B2B operators, people actually doing the work every day, we asked them how they're using Gen AI. And this was the big takeaway was the lack of permissive policies in your organization around how AI is being used is only restricting people from going to tools that are literally just generative AI tools as opposed to you don't need a policy to use the software stack like Shopify, where it gains sidekick or to use Attentive because it has its new AI features for authorship and for A/B testing. So there's a lot of really interesting stuff in there. Also, it's really interesting to me to see the AI aesthetic, in terms of AI making its way into brand creative.

Brian: [00:20:25] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:20:26] What I called the brand turnaround of the year, maybe of all time, the greatest B2B SaaS brand turnaround of all time is Yotpo. Their new campaign, which they call the frown campaign, is a really big it's sort of like a risky brand move in that, you know, you see these images of this brand campaign of people frowning when they get bad texts from a brand. Really interesting campaign. It's really daring when you consider that not only will most B2B SaaS advertisers refuse to let you say balls in their ad, but they also would dare not ever have a frown on their hero brand campaign that's playing all over McCarran and Harry Reid airports. The Attentive brand is just a yellow and black logo. Yotpo is people frowning. That's wild to me. But the aesthetic of what looks like very real actors in this video is sharpened video that has dramatic lighting that kind of has a bit of an AI aesthetic.

Brian: [00:21:49] Maybe. Yep. That's the vibe right now. Did you see the video that made its rounds on Twitter just recently about the first fully AI-generated short video or whatever it was?

Phillip: [00:22:04] Oh, yeah. From from Sora. OpenAI's first produced short. I think it was called Hot Air. Airheads. That's the one.

Brian: [00:22:13] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:22:14] It's extremely good.

Brian: [00:22:17] Balloons for heads. It's pretty funny.

Phillip: [00:22:19] You know, it's extremely good.

Brian: [00:22:21] Yeah. And then walking down the cactus store. I lost it.

Phillip: [00:22:27] I lost it too. I'd love to insert a little clip here. I'm gonna add a footnote here.

Brian: [00:22:32] Okay.

Phillip: [00:22:32] Insert audio clip of cactus store abuse here.

Video Clip: [00:22:39] Oh there was a one time my girlfriend insisted I go to the cactus store to get my uncle Jerry a wedding present. Yes. What do I love most about my predicament? The perspective it gives me. You know, I get to see the world differently. I float above the mundane and the ordinary. I see things a different way from everyone else. Yeah. And I feel like it's because of that perspective, I'm reminded every day that life is fragile. We're all just a pinprick away from deflation. So I try to live life with a lightness, a buoyancy... I got a lot of ideas keeping this thing full. With any luck, I'll find a way to share them with everyone else.

Brian: [00:24:13] Did you see the thing that made its rounds today? Just literally every possible...

Phillip: [00:24:18] Yes. The UGC...

Brian: [00:24:18] The UGC AI clip of this woman who's, like, repping...

Phillip: [00:24:23] Let's send that over to the After Dark because I have a lot to say about that.

Brian: [00:24:27] Okay. Cool. Let's do that. Let's do that because I have a lot to say about that too.

Phillip: [00:24:32] Got wrapped up in that discourse, by the way.

Brian: [00:24:35] Did you?

Phillip: [00:24:35] I had some people shouting... There were people shouting me down in the comments because I said that she was gatekeeping, but that's a whole other thing. Alright. So let's, we'll have a whole other conversation about that in the After Dark. If you want to get the bonus content.

Brian: [00:24:51] That is we have the most fun. Let's be honest. If you think that Future Commerce is any fun, if you enjoy the main feed, After Dark, that's where we jam.

Phillip: [00:25:02] Yeah. It's funny because I promise no ads. This whole podcast has literally just been an ad for FC Plus. Okay.

Brian: [00:25:10] If you're on FC Plus, I'm sorry. You might get ads about FC Plus. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:25:15] The TikTok booth was pizopping.

Brian: [00:25:19] Yeah. Wow.

Phillip: [00:25:20] It was jam-packed the whole time, and they centered the whole experience around education of how to use the platform. And they had customers come and help co-present. They had a lot partners hanging out in the booth. Here's the thing that I took away. There is an eCom tech angle where in a future where TikTok shop is successful and not as frustrating and incessant as it is today and ruining the TikTok experience. And also in a future that TikTok doesn't get shut down.

Brian: [00:26:02] As we've covered headlines.

Phillip: [00:26:04] Yeah. In the Doctor Stephen Strange, 1 in 1,000,000,000 universes possibility where both of those two things are true...

Brian: [00:26:12] Let's be honest, though. Let's be honest real quick. Is TikTok actually gonna get shut down? Two things right now tipping me off that it's not gonna get shut down.

Phillip: [00:26:20] What's that?

Brian: [00:26:21] You have a lot of different random groups who are like, "Yeah. We definitely wanna buy TikTok and bring in America if we have to."

Phillip: [00:26:26] That's true. Yeah.

Brian: [00:26:28] And two, all of the lawmakers' children are begging them not to shut it down, and they're gonna give their parents the silent treatment if they do.

Phillip: [00:26:39] Bydance may just decide not to sell. I don't know. Who knows what's gonna happen? Literally nobody. But I will say that...

Brian: [00:26:46] Literally nobody.

Phillip: [00:26:47] It seems like brands and retailers in particular are looking at TikTok as it is a very real place to engage with customers and especially with new audience segments. And the type of content that is useful there doesn't have to be created by the brand. The way that TikTok Shop works is there's already a network of creators.

Brian: [00:27:15] It's [00:27:15] closer to almost like a B2B2C model. You have your home designers and fabric stores sell to those home designers and they work their fabrics into the homes that they're influencing. It's almost the same thing. Managing these effectively, you know, designers for all kinds of experiences, not just homes, but beauty, fashion, whatever it is. [00:27:42]

Phillip: [00:27:42] That is so astute, Brian. That is an incredible parallel because it is literally that. You have these trade industry-focused people who have a very specific type of talent that they have, and they utilize their taste making in their work to help brands typically, in the case that you use interior design, they help furniture manufacturers, textile manufacturers, floor coverings, paint. They help them connect with a customer. Such a brilliant analogy.

Brian: [00:28:20] So brands should be looking to leaders in that space for advice and for good management of that kind of talent. So companies like Kravet, Jesse Lazarus from Kravet, who we found on the show before, those types of people who have been doing this for years are the ones that should be looked at as thought leaders right now. And the second thing is this actually gets back to the piece that I wrote about how B2B is actually the future of B2C. It's just an extension of that exact article. I should do a little follow-up to it on this exact topic.

Phillip: [00:28:59] The problem is when you say things like that, it's so abstract that people are like, "I don't know what that means." What they have to see is TikTok is the concrete use case is that the TikTok ecosystem is actually an ecosystem of creators. Here's something nobody saw coming. I had a conversation with our new friend Paul Lee at the booth, at the TikTok booth, and he was there with Jeremiah Prummer, from KnoCommerce. I had a couple different conversations with folks at the TikTok booth, and a lot of the conversation was around how the ecosystem of venture capital made the wrong bets on the right thing, but the issue was that the wrong bets were all placed around a multisided marketplace that was trying to connect creators to effectively media buyers. Okay? So you had this media buying capability in their direct to consumer business in an organization that was buying ads from Meta. And what they were doing is they were shoveling VC dollars into companies, like, I don't know, #paid and others who are trying to create new affiliate marketplaces. Right? And what TikTok did was they disintermediated. They removed the middleman because you don't need the middleman when TikTok already has the creators right there. All they had to do was partner with Shopify to plug in products. And now all of a sudden, you have the actual brand can go in and manage gifting.

Brian: [00:30:39] Right. Genius.

Phillip: [00:30:39] And audience selection, and then they can add promos and margin to specific creators and create these really, awesome programs. I watched as they showed how to manage your catalog and your store within the TikTok Shop interface and how that interface is very seamlessly with platforms like Shopify. And I was really kind of blown away. It's like, no. For every Grin or every #paid or what was the app that Shopify bought that became Audiences?

Brian: [00:31:14] Oh, yeah. Dovetail. Dovetail.

Phillip: [00:31:17] Dovetail. For every one of those, right, that existed in the world, the creator management and marketplace model, Shopify and TikTok just kind of brought them all together on the TikTok platform. It's a really interesting thing. Where Jeremiah was giving me some really interesting advice is that some of the things that work in Shopify really well need to make the leap, the technology needs to make the leap over for attribution sake into the TikTok ecosystem. So now TikTok is looking at the Shopify app ecosystem and saying, "What technology is in that ecosystem that we can open up our APIs to provide insight into so that it becomes a fully realized, native marketplace?

Brian: [00:32:05] Wow.

Phillip: [00:32:05] Here's the cool thing. If you imagine where attribution would matter the most in a transaction, it's in a place like an Amazon or a TikTok where you don't own the customer, but you need insights from the customer to see where your ad dollars are working and what tools of influence brought them to the decision point for buying a product. Post-purchase survey happens to be one of the very first things that TikTok might be going after, and I think that that's the kind of... It is eComtech. So that's the other thing is, like, this is literally eComtech that will be ported to TikTok. Pretty cool.

Brian: [00:32:45] Very cool. Yeah. And I think this allows brands to really get transaction closer to the point of decision as we talked about with Paul Jauregui, over from BK Beauty. The point of decision is often a lot earlier in the process. In many ways, there's a mental transaction that happens long before the actual transaction happens, and things can interrupt that for sure and not fulfill something that actually, conceptually happens in someone's mind, "I'm going to buy this."

Phillip: [00:33:25] Yeah.

Brian: [00:33:26] But the further up the funnel you get, the easier it is to actually have better attribution and to have better data and to have a better understanding of which channels are working in which influencers... Or influence... I feel like, yeah, creators or stylists or whatever we wanna call them, I feel like we needed a new name because we're entering a new era of how this is all gonna work.

Phillip: [00:35:30] I hung out at the Bloomreach booth, too. Once and future partner? We actually have worked pretty closely with them on helping them, you know, think through their personalization product. And so as they're tooling up their own AI efforts and having done gone down that road now, I think, 3, 4 years in their personalization, they have all of these multichannel technologies as well. One of the things that I overheard at that booth was how little people pay any attention to their checkout. And a lot of people pay attention to things like post-purchase, but what they're not paying attention to are things that actually are probably every bit as costly, like being on authorized dot net still.

Brian: [00:36:55] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I was there for this conversation. This was a good conversation.

Phillip: [00:36:59] And what I think is really interesting is personalization tools can actually be used for things like checkout. But if you think about the checkout layer,if you are already looking at making really heavy investments into where your eCom, I would say conversion rate optimization efforts might matter the most, choice of payments might be one of those, and the lack of choice of payments in some platforms isn't often due just to things like Shopify being really exclusive about its payments preference and its payment stack preference. You could be on a legacy platform or a platform that doesn't have a built in native integration into a preferred payments partner or something like, I don't know, you know, a global PayPal solution or something through, Adyen, for instance. It's looking like a lot of these high, higher end, like, nine figure brands, and global enterprises that are looking for those basis points to and save everywhere that they can and optimize everywhere they can for margin efficiency in the business. You know, eCommerce is an expensive business to run. When you're looking for that kind of efficiency, it almost makes more sense to be looking at a total checkout solution replacement as opposed to directly integrating a payments vendor into your existing checkout because then you feed two birds with one scone. So you're getting the payments integration into the checkout replacement, but you're also getting the checkout replacement at the same. You're getting something as a freebie. It depends on which way you wanna look at it. Finance might actually be able to help you get that checkout replacement you've been looking for and check out optimization you've been looking for. I found it funny that it comes out at the same time as the Ryan Breslow hit piece though. Because Bolt was curiously missing from the show.

Brian: [00:39:06] It's interesting. A lot of checkout replacement tools are about to shift gears. I just heard of another one. I'm not gonna say who, but another one that I know of that was trying to get off the ground. Totally was changing directions as a company and because it's a hard game. It's a hard game to play.

Phillip: [00:39:23] Yeah.

Brian: [00:39:24] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:39:25] Especially when checkout's kinda I mean, I know I say eCommerce has solved a lot, but checkout's really kind of solved a lot, especially when have you ever come across, well, Shop Pay is one of them. Have you ever come across a Stripe checkout?

Brian: [00:39:37] Yeah. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:39:38] It seems like they're around more and more, and it has its own pretty decent one pay that I somehow have already been in for years years

Brian: [00:39:48] Yep.

Phillip: [00:39:49] Which is interesting.

Brian: [00:39:51] Yeah. And I think some of the banks and cards out there are making moves as well to kind of come in and take over JPMorgan.

Phillip: [00:40:01] Between ApplePay, G Pay, you've got the I don't know if Amex is still doing their one click payments. It's yeah. There's a lot out there today. Anyway, do you wanna just quickly touch before we get to our interview with Brent?

Brian: [00:40:18] Oh, let's talk a little bit yeah. You had an interesting experience. You got to go to Omega Mart with your kids while you were there. I have briefly brushed up against the Omega Mart in the past, but didn't really get to spend a lot of time in it. Back I think it was actually Adobe Summit last year that they were at area 15 or maybe with Shoptalk. Those two weeks blend together pretty hard for me, because they were it was two weeks...

Phillip: [00:40:45] We avoided the back to back this year.

Brian: [00:40:47] Back to back. Yeah. No. I know. It's sad. I've been to Adobe Summit many, many times, and it's weird not being there for it this year. Next year. Next year. Maybe. Maybe. Back to back is just too much.

Phillip: [00:41:01] Many, many weeks in Vegas does it's not for the faint of heart.

Brian: [00:41:04] The least appealing thing that I can ever think of actually.

Phillip: [00:41:07] Before we shift gears there, for the nerdy, listen to 35 minutes about Shoptalk conversation crowd, I really freaking enjoyed staying at the Park MGM.

Brian: [00:41:18] Oh, yes. The Park MGM's, it's not a bad spot. It's not a bad spot.

Phillip: [00:41:24] It's not bad because Yeah. Here's the thing. There are so many better places to stay. I think the Wynn or the Encore or the ARIA, all of the above are better choices.

Brian: [00:41:36] However Mandalay is gorgeous.

Phillip: [00:41:38] Well, it's hard to stay on-site there. It's expensive. And the Delano also is amazing. I've stayed there as well.

Brian: [00:41:50] Yeah. Delano's nice.

Phillip: [00:41:52] But if you have to stay off-site, Park MGM, nonsmoking. It's great for the family. It has Eataly. It has Nomad.

Brian: [00:42:01] Yep.

Phillip: [00:42:02] It has our favorite place.

Brian: [00:42:04] The Vets

Phillip: [00:42:04] It has The Vets, which is our Chicago joint, once in future. It has a, I think, La la noodles. It has a Best Friend. Dude, it's got it all going on.

Brian: [00:42:18] It really does. And it's a really central location too. Location's phenomenal. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:42:24] Location's incredible. Really easy to get to. It has a tram to the Bellagio and to the ria. Very good. It's very good. It is hard to get to the Mandalay. You will have to take a car. But if you're gonna stay off-site because you decided, you need to take a lot of cars. But if you've already if you kinda find yourself in a position where staying at Mandalay Bay is gonna be tough, uh, give it a look. I would say the commute here... Let me last word on this. We'll talk about Omega Mart because I did have my family with me. That was sort of the segue here. The commute walking from the Four Seasons to the Mandalay Bay Conference Center is as long as the car from the Park MGM to the Mandalay Bay.

Brian: [00:43:10] Just about. Just about. I will say this. We left the Four Seasons about the same time. I don't know what route you took. I beat you by so many minutes.

Phillip: [00:43:23] I took the route that was officially on the paper that you sent a picture to me.

Brian: [00:43:29] I did. Whoever made that route was wrong because I just went a different way, and it felt way, way shorter, like, way shorter.

Phillip: [00:43:40] For those who aren't familiar, Meow Wolf is an art collective and immersive art exhibitor. They have four installations in the United States: Grapevine, Texas, which I think is outside of Dallas, Santa Fe, New Mexico, one in Houston, and the one that's we're currently talking about, which is a few years old now called Omega Mart. Meow Wolf, you know, sort of themes each one of these installations as immersive art. And it is very difficult to describe. The best way to describe it is that it is an immersive story that on its face appears to be one thing, but when you dig a little deeper below the surface and you spend some time there, something really interesting, powerful, and very interactive reveals itself.

Brian: [00:44:42] So what's the surface? What's the foil?

Phillip: [00:44:45] Okay. Spoilers for those who don't want to know the story because I'll just give it all to you really quick. Omega Mart. Omega Mart is a store, a grocery store that on its surface looks like any normal grocery store with a produce section and aisles and, you know, a butcher shop and checkout counter. But when you look at the products there, everything has something that's just a little bit off to it. It kind of looks like it belongs in a surreal universe. If Salvador Dali, you know, were to make a grocery store, you might find some of the sort of stuff.

Brian: [00:45:33] Basically, Mr Beast Shopify store. No. I'm just kidding.

Phillip: [00:45:39] Same sort of hyper capitalist narrative, but with a, I would say, very dark and sinister, more artistic take to it. It definitely has a something-is-wrong-here on a fundamental, almost like psychosis maybe portal to another dimension has opened. Things look very scary. Fallout New Vegas vibes. I don't know. Like, really, really interesting stuff. So they have incredible merchandising in the store section, which is where you find yourself when you start. First of all, you can buy quite a bit of things, not almost everything. You can buy so much of their products. Here's the bonkers thing. Okay? They have a moth milk. They have a soda that is called Gender Fluid. They have a lot of real... I took a lot of pictures, and you could probably find, not even probably. If you go on YouTube or on Instagram reels or on TikTok, you will find 40,000,000,000 videos of the store section of the Omega Mart. Here is the thing I want to talk about here, and then maybe we can talk about it deeper in the After Dark. There is exactly one real product that is sold in the real world that is on the shelf able to be purchased in the Omega Mart. Now remember, the Omega Mart is a sort of meta modern critique on capitalism that is, I'm gonna have you guess here in a second, that remember it is a critique on the tool of capitalism, which is to literally sell people's identities back to themselves. There is a whole adventure you go on after when you find a portal, you know, sort of in the freezer. You crawl through a portal in the freezer, and then you find yourself in this insane back rooms that's four stories of winding cavernous, you know, and then there's a filing room and computers to hack into, and it is completely out of this world, and you can easily spend four or five hours there, and there's multiple, augmented reality games to play. But the whole narrative is that these brands are twisted in such a way as to make a critique on both the people and the place that sells them and the people that buy them. Can you guess, Brian, the one brand that exists in the real world that is for sale at Omega Mart?

Brian: [00:48:51] Pele Nova. Just kidding. No. I'm just kidding. Is it Bisquick? I'm back to the box.

Phillip: [00:49:04] Uh, no.

Brian: [00:49:04] Okay. What is it?

Phillip: [00:49:06] It's Liquid Death.

Brian: [00:49:09] It belongs there.

Phillip: [00:49:12] Yeah. In amongst the actual joke products.

Brian: [00:49:15] I feel like that's a perfect product placement.

Phillip: [00:49:21] Unbelievable product placement because Liquid Death is...

Brian: [00:49:26] See, I was hoping it would be actual commentary, and it just turns out that it's an ad.

Phillip: [00:49:32] It's an ad. Oh, no. It's totally an ad.

Brian: [00:49:34] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:49:34] Right? It's absolutely an ad. What really moved me about the experience of Omega Mart well, besides the $59 entrance fee. The ticket is basically like the Florida residents one day pass to Walt Disney World. I can't even. I could not believe that for a family of four, just do the math. It's $260, $270.

Brian: [00:50:02] I think you've lost track of how much Disneyland costs.

Phillip: [00:50:06] Oh, no. I've definitely been to Disney for $59 within the last couple years.

Brian: [00:50:13] Those in-state prices, man.

Phillip: [00:50:14] Florida residents.

Brian: [00:50:15] Those are good prices.

Phillip: [00:50:23] Listen. This place is built and gamified and is created specifically for people to go very deep on it and to discover lore.

Brian: [00:50:39] Love lore building. I wrote about lore recently in The Senses about dudeism.

Phillip: [00:50:48] You can go into the CEO's office, and you can ruffle through all the files in his filing cabinet. You can read all of the notes on his desk in the sticky notes. He has multiple bulletin boards and framed certificates and accolades. This is just one 10 by 10 room of 30, 40, 50,000 square feet.

Brian: [00:51:10] I love this.

Phillip: [00:51:11] I mean, it is truly remarkable, the scale of this place, and there is an insane amount of detail. So there are three sort of converging stories here, But I think that the thing that makes it so impressive to me is how much world building is required to the point of and this is how this product is created. And, like, the products that are sitting on the shelves in the store and the price that they are aren't just done haphazardly. Everything kinda winds together into a it has a history. It has a reason why it exists. You'll find a video on a computer in one of the rooms that shows the product R&D process for one of the products sitting on the shelf. It's intense behind the scenes with a really dark mirror, black mirror sort of twist to the whole thing.

Brian: [00:52:15] You know what's incredible about Liquid Death being the only product in that store? It is effectively a Liquid Death store. Everything sort of comes out of Liquid Death because it is the one thing that's in the real world that is a portal into Omega Mart. So when you go there, it's not about buying the product. You're gonna buy the product other places. It's their flagship. It's a flagship store.

Phillip: [00:52:45] For sure. Yeah. I mean, if anything, [00:52:47] the overarching philosophy of metamodernism in that the best way to deliver an experience is to engage in both culture and commerce but to do so with a wink to say, "We both know that for this thing to exist that you really want that I have to play into the commercial nature of the way that it exists. And so I will critique that so that you can't critique it, Mrs Consumer. I will critique it for us, but we both know that the only way that you're going to get this and the only way you can deliver this and experience this is if it's commercialized in some way," and that is the overarching narrative of Omega Mart. [00:53:38] What if that was a repeating and eternal cycle that the human race is only but one of many civilizations who have had to go through the cycle in the past?

Brian: [00:53:50] Oh, next level. Talk about endless aisle. That's the infinite shelf right there.

Phillip: [00:53:58] Yeah. Oh my gosh. Brian. Mic drop. That's a great segue. Speaking of, before we get to our commercial break and then our interview, I just wanna remind everybody that we do have our VISIONS event coming up. So don't miss it. VISIONS, we will be in New York City. If you're coming in for another event like Commerce Next, consider coming in just a hair earlier for our event. That's VISIONS Summit, and we are returning to the Museum of Modern Art. That's MoMA, and that'll be taking place on June 11th. And so book your tickets to come to New York soon. And if you're on Future Commerce Plus when the invites go out to our FC plus subscribers, you'll be the very, very first. And like I said, you'll be the first in the door when the rope drops. You'll also be getting in for just a little cheaper than everybody else. So go check that out. is the best way to get in that. And then, Brian, tee us up real quick for your conversation with Brent Bellm.

Brian: [00:55:08] Yeah. So I got to have a really phenomenal chat with Brent, like you said, in the BigCommerce Oasis, the Four Seasons at Shoptalk. And we got into really what does a modern commerce stack look like? What is a true like mock architecture look like? And I think it's not what you might think it is. I think there are pieces of this that maybe mock actually doesn't cover everything that's necessary for the modern front end. It might require some additional tooling and pieces to make it the kind of software that you need it to be for the future. This is not sponsored by BigCommerce. This is 100% organic content at Shoptalk, which is pretty cool. So Yeah. Really excited about this.

Phillip: [00:56:02] Alright. Stick around for our interview with CEO of BigCommerce, Brent Bellm, right after this.

Brian: [00:56:12] We're at, like well, what's probably considered the coolest event in commerce or at least as far as expos go. About as cool as they can come. Shoptalk. So what have you found here at the event so far that's been interesting? Is there anything that sort of piqued your interest or you found novel?

Brent: [00:56:32] Two things. So I'll pick up where you started, which is this has become the biggest pure play event in North America for eCommerce, and it's really impressive, though perhaps not surprising. The folks who founded this also did Money 2020 before it, and it is the big kahuna for Fintech. You know, and I've been going to Money 2020  for years before Shoptalk came along, but it's been fascinating to see Shoptalk kind of replace and IRCE as the biggest one in eCommerce, and just the attendance here is monstrous.

Brian: [00:57:14] Monstrous.

Brent: [00:57:15] Monstrous. It's really impressive. So that's number one. Number two, I started my conference, yesterday evening at the MACH Alliance open house, and it was absolutely jam packed. So for those unfamiliar with composable, headless, and the MACH Alliance. The MACH Alliance is a consortium of technology and agency providers who really believe in API first, composable, headless, approaches to eCommerce, which is, you know, really maximum flexibility. And if you pick the right stack for any given business, maximum performance, maximum user experience creation. We were the 2nd platform into the MACH Alliance after Commercetools, which was sort of the originator of it.

Brian: [00:58:05] Yeah.

Brent: [00:58:05] But a lot of the MACH and composable approach really hit evangelization in Europe first. Why? Because in Europe, by definition, you have all these countries, languages, currencies. It's much more complex. And having a MACH approach lets you tailor the complexity to the different geographies and the segments you serve. In North America, mostly English, $2, you know.

Brian: [00:58:34] Yep.

Brent: [00:58:34] There's not as much of a necessity to pursue it. But what we're now seeing is a lot of companies realize, "Okay. This is how I better achieve performance. This is how I better achieve an optimal tech stack for my business, real consumer experience optimization." And so I think composable is becoming much more mainstream. And in particular, what BigCommerce is doing with our catalyst reference architecture for composable, we about 4,000 composable customers out of our 50,000 total, but we've now basically lowered the barrier so far. [00:59:15] You can press a button and have a catalyst store on Next.js and React, the highest performing most popular tech in the world of composable, in under 60 seconds pre-integrated with all of our functionality, as well as leading content management solutions, as well as leading search and merch engines, out of the box hosting from top partners like Vercel. We have so lowered the bar to the world's best composable tech that we think that's the future, and it's perfectly timed with the growth again of MACH enthusiasm in the US. [00:59:52]

Brian: [00:59:52] I think that's so essential for the spirit behind MACH because I think what has been a challenge for adoption in the US in the past is, okay. Yes. We're talking about flexible. Yes. We're talking about being able to, you know, microservices and all these things that are all around adaptability. But you can't talk about adaptability without talking about speed. And speed means lower cost. And so I think that part of, like, it shouldn't be MACH. It should be like MACHS or SMACH or something else because speed is essential for what the goal behind MACH architecture is.

Brent: [01:00:32] It's still the case that doing a real enterprise composable implementation on some of our competitors' platforms is typically a two to three year process. Would anybody ever want to engage in a two to three year implementation?

Brian: [01:00:48] No.

Brent: [01:00:48] That is the maximum of complexity. And I'm telling you, you can press a button and have a store up and running, again, on the world's best tech, out of the box, 100 Google Lighthouse scores, and that store's ready for you to design it in under 60 seconds with Catalyst and Makeswift, which is our no low code visual editor for Next.js websites. It's killer, and so I think it's gone from this being the hardest version of SaaS to now, really, no harder than a fully hosted out of the box BigCommerce store. And it's gonna change... It so lowers the bar and the speed of implementation for composable.

Brian: [01:01:34] Wild. I love that. Yeah. And just to add on that, I think BigCommerce has long been a leader in being able to create experiences that meet different customer needs. And that typically has looked like a multi brand scenario. Right? And you all were leaders in doing multi brand implementations and being able to address different audiences from a single commerce platform. And so to add this layer on top of that,  it feels just like an extension of who you've been in the past.

Brent: [01:02:06] Yeah. It is an extension because indeed, it was a four to five year investment for us to basically retool, recode everything in our original monolith. Decompose it into microservices, decompose it into MACH, and on top of that, turn it in from a single store, single storefront platform into a multi storefront platform. One store and number of storefronts, different brands, different geographies. B2B plus B2C. You can't do this with Shopify. Shopify is not this is just a true, sort of binary. You're not an enterprise platform if you're not multi storefront. And we sucked it up, and we spent four, five years becoming true multi storefront, true enterprise. And during that time frame, we're doing composable the whole time too, you know, and our composable store count gets up to 4,000. We see every different front end. We've got incredible brand names in every conceivable front end framework. And by seeing all of their experiments, all of their technology choices, eventually, we say, we can make this so much easier by at least having the option of a reference architecture that you have to do no work. You press a button and you've got it. And we bet on Next.js. We bet on React. We believe they are the highest performing, most popular. It's not the right solution for everybody.

Brian: [01:03:42] Right.

Brent: [01:03:43] But there are more businesses out there who would say that's the best choice for me, and we are getting a reaction from agency after agency after agency. They serve our competition too. They serve lots of different merchants, and they're saying, "Wow, you guys actually have picked the same tech we would have picked."

Brian: [01:04:02] Yeah.

Brent: [01:04:03] "You've got the best tech, and nobody's ever done it out of the box before with a press of a button." So they're really leaning in and saying, "Good job, BigCommerce. You saw what 4,000 of us have done on your platform, and you've picked the very best tech, and you've made it {snap} instantaneous to adopt."

Brian: [01:04:22] One of the ideas we have at Future Commerce is the idea of the multiplayer brand. And we already talked about some of the things that are essential for being able to connect with consumers in the way that they wanna be consumed. Different segments, different brands, different markets. But then also, the consumer feedback cycle is getting tighter and tighter. And so if you want to be able to work your way into the narrative and have discourse with your customers at the speed that they are having discourse online right now, whether it be through TikTok or social or whatever it is. Having the tools to be able to address Travis Kelce plus Taylor Swift, you know, showing up at the Super Bowl and being able to turn around a net new product page in 24 hours or less in like two hours. Having tools like this, to me, that's the future of commerce. Now I'm putting words in your mouth. Brent, how do you see some of these things that you're building right now kind of play into the next iteration of commerce?

Brent: [01:05:21] Well, if you're a marketer or a merchandiser and either you see a story trending, a product trending, and you want to then reflect that in changes to your website, not having to go and schedule development and get development resources and wait weeks or months to make that happen, but do it on the fly, That's where Makeswift comes in because the marketers and the merchandisers can just drop in the components. They can drop in content blocks, they can drop in recommendations, they can drop in whatever they want, and do that with drag and drop, not have to wait on a developer to kind of recode a page. So it changes everything for empowering marketers and merchandisers. And how do we know? It's because we're eating our own dog food, our own marketing website. So, our marketing website used to be on legacy tech. It was built on Craft CMS.

Brian: [01:06:29] Mhmm.

Brent: [01:06:30] And our marketers could never get anything done because it was everything was dependent on development. Right? And we were so slow. We decided to scrap it all and go best of breed composable. So we made the same choices for our own website. We said Next.js and React. We said Vercel for hosting. We picked Algolia for search. We've got a CMS partner, but the question was, without the visual editor, we would still need developers to construct the pages. That's when we found Makeswift. And we said, "We need this tool so that our marketers can own the marketing website going forward, and we don't even need a development team devoted to them." So we brought it in, and we said, "This is also the missing component for Catalyst. Right? [01:07:21] What if we turned Makeswift, not just for content websites, which is what it was built for, into commerce websites too?" And that was the sort of the magic aha idea, and I think we are going to transform the industry. [01:07:38] And you'll have it by the end of this year, you'll have a choice. If you want to be on the highest performing, most popular tech in the world that best unleashes your marketing and merchandising organizations to be nimble and fast and customer responsive, you will not get that on any other composable platform, and you will not get that on Shopify or another hosted platform. Right? It's going to be Next.js and React and Makeswift on BigCommerce.

Brian: [01:08:08] At the end of 2024, when you look at a director of eCommerce, and let's say they're an enterprise level merchant. So they've got multiple brands and so on. What is a day in the life of a director of eCom at an enterprise grade brand look like in the world that BigCommerce is building?

Brent: [01:08:33] Yes. So the reality is, this next quarter, there are actually now live Catalyst Next.js websites, many of them, on BigCommerce, and they are starting to use Makeswift as a visual editor for composable builds today. And by the end of this year, it'll be even an option for hosted stores within BC. The day in the life of the marketer and the merchandiser is you basically come in, you evaluate what's performing on the site, you know the story lines you want to incorporate, the trends that you want to optimize for. You see what's happening on the site and the things you want to invest in in terms of your next marketing or merchandising programs. And then you, the marketer, the merchandiser, create them yourself using Makeswift. You don't have to go beg for development capacity to change your theme file, you know, on Shopify or, God forbid, restructure pages on another microservices platform. You've got this visual editor and you're empowered to do it yourself.

Brian: [01:09:44] So this is great. So I think changing relationships in the industry was one of the themes that they mentioned in the keynote at the beginning of yesterday. And what you just described certainly starts to change relationships within org and without, on the outside of the org.

Brent: [01:10:01] I'll describe another change of relationship. So prior to Catalyst, a lot of the agencies and systems integrators who believe in composable, they had to invest in their own proprietary starter kits. A given agency would believe in CMS X, search engine Y, front end framework Z, and, you know, they'd spend a lot of money pre composing this in the hope that they could go pitch that reference stack, and merchants would say, "Okay, I want to use it, and it wouldn't be wasted." That's expensive for them. It commits them to something, and it's wasteful because it was being done one agency at a time.

Brian: [01:10:56] Yes.

Brent: [01:10:56] Or if you're a merchant and you don't use an agency with it, you've got to compose all of that from scratch yourself.

Brian: [01:11:01] Right.

Brent: [01:11:02] Which is, you know, why a commerce tools project takes two to three years. And so the changing relationship is we go to the industry, and we say, "We've already done this. Here's the tech that we have incorporated into it. What's your reaction?" And the reaction from, I would say, almost 100% of the agencies in SI's who believe in MACH has been, "Okay, that means we're out of the business and we want to get out of that business. It is a waste of our time. It's expensive for us. It's not one size fits all. And if you're giving us this and it's open, it's composable..." Right? You've got a choice of CMSs. You've got a choice of search and merch. You have a choice of hosts. You're not committing us to one because your approach is open, but you're anchored on Next.js and React. That is the exact same tech we would anchor on. So we are now Catalyst evangelists.

Brian: [01:11:55] Yeah.

Brent: [01:11:55] And this gets us out of the business of trying to compete as a thought leader on our precomposed tech stack versus that agency's precomposed tech stack. We're just going straight to yes.

Brian: [01:12:10] Yeah. It's not about the accelerator. It's not about that pre built component, and it allows agencies to really focus on the creative or highly technical work that they really want to do. The things that they really should be working on. And how does this affect the developer trying to get into this world?

Brent: [01:12:34] For developers, it is the best thing ever. Because if you are a modern developer, there's a good chance that you want to be working in Next.js. You want to be working in React because you know it's the highest performing tech. It's the most modern front end set of frameworks. And so there are giant developer communities around Next.js and React, including independent developers, and we're gonna lean in huge going to the developer conferences, especially in those communities, and saying, here's an out of the box starter kit. So you wanna be doing Next.js and React on website builds. The hard work's already done. It's already preintegrated with all of BigCommerce's APIs and functionality. And, you know, the final thing I haven't mentioned yet,  [01:13:20]we're open sourcing the React component library. Meaning, any agency, any developer can come in and contribute a new component or enhance a component. We'll make sure it's secure. We'll be sort of the gatekeepers on the quality, but you're not dependent just on the components that BigCommerce builds. Anybody can be building new extraordinary website components that go into the library and make it that much more powerful to leverage that library. [01:13:54]

Brian: [01:13:55] Wow. This world is...

Brent: [01:13:57] And that component library concept does not exist today in the worlds of, you know, sort of BigCommerce and Shopify themes. A React component library is not how they work and you'll get that now.

Brian: [01:14:10] Totally. No. That's wild. And what it allows you to do is just continue to have more flexibility because if more and more people are contributing to that library, the less you actually have to go build and do, you can just pull it out and use it. That's amazing. What I'm hearing is, and I've actually seen this recently with some brands. I'm not going to mention who, but a brand can go from 70,000,000 to 700,000,000 using the exact same team without expanding the team. The level of team and expertise that you need to run a $70,000,000 brand, it actually ends up starting to become the exact same team you need to scale to at a $700,000,000 level.

Brent: [01:14:54] Yes.

Brian: [01:14:55] And that is a wild world, Brent. I'm so excited about this year. I feel the energy here at Shoptalk. It's feels like 2024 is you know, coming out of last year, which was a little choppy, feels like this is gonna be a really exciting year, and I can't wait for it. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast, giving us your thoughts on the future, Brent. It's always a pleasure to talk with you, and I can't wait for the next bottle of wine we get to have together.

Brent: [01:15:19] Thanks so much for having me. Cheers.

Brian: [01:15:21] Cheers.

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