Season 2 Episode 2
September 6, 2023

[DECODED] The Key Roles of Product Development

This season on Decoded, brought to you by BigCommerce, we're going to break down the ways that winning brands build and launch new products, how decisions are made, how goals are set, and how an entire organization collaborates effectively to bring a new product to life. In this episode, Phillip and Aaron talk with Penny Porterfield and Kabeer Chopra about this idea of concept to cart and bringing a new product, a physical product, to life. The website, the eCommerce site, that channel is a product, too. That product is in constant management, constant revision, and constant evolution. How does a brand strike the balance of experimentation while also meeting goals for profitability and customer retention? Listen now for this and much more!

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this episode sponsored by

This season on Decoded, brought to you by BigCommerce, we're going to break down the ways that winning brands build and launch new products, how decisions are made, how goals are set, and how an entire organization collaborates effectively to bring a new product to life.

In this episode, Phillip and Aaron talk with Penny Porterfield and Kabeer Chopra about this idea of concept to cart and bringing a new product, a physical product, to life. The website, the eCommerce site, that channel is a product, too. That product is in constant management, constant revision, and constant evolution. How does a brand strike the balance of experimentation while also meeting goals for profitability and customer retention? Listen now for this and much more!

Progress Over Perfection

  • {00:05:48} - “One of the amazing privileges of having that perspective is seeing fads come and go and having seen things that become truth over long periods of time and the truisms that remain.” - Phillip
  • {00:08:05} - “You can spend a lot of money making mistakes. So if you're working with an expert, an agency, they have a lot of experience they bring to the table and can allow you to not only get the biggest value for your money but also do it properly.” - Penny
  • {00:24:29} - “If you are taking into account and regularly looking at your site and how it's performing and adjusting to how your customers are behaving, that's how you really build up the functionality, and then your costs are kind of contained a little bit and they're spread out over time and it allows you to kind of lean in hard, identify the critical stuff, but then grow over time as you see how customers are responding.” - Penny
  • {01:04:47} - “Timing is so important when it comes to launching products, especially when you're a young company. One of the best pieces of advice we received early on is if you are not embarrassed of the first product that you've put in the market, you're too late.” - Kabeer
  • {01:23:59} - “The payoff period may not be what you're expecting. Conditions in the market might be different. So one thing we've been very careful about is working with the right manufacturers whom we can place purchase orders with that allow us to take less risk, giving ourselves more breathing room and not investing everything into that one launch and hoping for success.” - Kabeer
  • {01:28:15} - “Obviously at a certain scale, it makes sense to have a central visualization tool which we do, but more of the investment is keeping on going into more ways of looking at the data from a pure slice and dice perspective or enriching it as opposed to fancier ways of looking at it visually.” - Kabeer
  • {01:32:26} - “The route we optimize often for removing the buyer friction, the end consumer friction for point of purchase. It's a conversion tactic. There's also removing the friction in making business decisions.” - Aaron

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Phillip: [00:00:02] Welcome to Decoded, a podcast by Future Commerce, brought to you in partnership with BigCommerce. We often take for granted the steady stream of new we have in the world. New cars. New tech. New podcasts. The new fall collection. The hot new restaurant. But have you ever wondered how those new things come into being? For a retailer or for a brand, making something new is part of the job. But despite the advances in technology and a thriving service industry that surrounds eCommerce, it's not always as simple as one, two, three. This season on Decoded, we're going to break down the ways that winning brands build and launch new products, how decisions are made, how goals are set, and how an entire organization collaborates effectively to bring a new product to life. I'm your host, Phillip Jackson.

Aaron: [00:01:14] And I'm Aaron, Director of Competitive Strategy at BigCommerce.

Phillip: [00:01:17] And this is Decoded, presented by BigCommerce. We are going from concept to cart this season on Season 2 of Decoded. Here on Episode 2, Aaron, we are continuing to build on this theme, this idea of bringing a product to market. And today we're going to talk to a couple of different people in helping us understand the roles and responsibilities that are involved in making a product come to life.

Aaron: [00:01:49] That's right. I think we talked about, Phillip, it takes a village to bring a product vision to life and get it from that concept into that cart. A lot of roles, and a lot of different expertise that has to go into the whole thing. And I think our guests are going to shine some light on all the moving parts.

Phillip: [00:02:07] Yeah. And part of that is talking to people at different points of the ecosystem, from outside help that you may have to contract to bring in to solve some problems that aren't in your realm of expertise, to how people who are leaders in the organization decide whether to bring in outside help or how they create and learn the hard way sometimes through blood, sweat, and tears and process, lots of processes, in understanding how a business culturally does things and how they motivate teams to press towards a goal.

Aaron: [00:02:44] Also how the different stakeholders inside of a brand have different views of what success looks like for that brand and how that relates to the product strategy and how they want to take something to market, what gets approved, and what gets funded. All very interesting questions. Today we're going to be sitting down and talking with Penny Porterfield from ZaneRay, which is a full-service digital agency in Montana, and with Kabeer Chopra, the CTO and Co-Founder of Burrow. Both of our guests have very different backgrounds and different perspectives on what it takes to succeed in eCommerce. ZaneRay, of course, is a digital agency, and so Penny has been leading digital projects for high, high-level, high-name recognition brands for quite some time and has a lot of really good stories and I think lessons for brands of all sizes on how they navigate their relationship with third party agencies and also how they approach data inside their organization. And Kabeer, of course, is a CTO and Co-Founder of Burrow, one of our clients at BigCommerce, and has a very unique role. He has a background in retail and analytics and technology going back many years and of course, co-founding a brand, as you know, Phillip is a lot of work and gives you a lot of insight into what it takes to succeed and win customers and keep them.

Penny: [00:04:06] I'm Penny Porterfield. I'm the Vice President of Business Development at ZaneRay. Been with the company for, gosh, almost 20 years. And I've been in this industry for a lot longer. And so I'm not sure I care to admit how many years. But in that time frame, I've played roles in different capacities. Currently, it's business development and sales for the company, but I used to also oversee all the operations and I've seen a lot of... I was employee number five. We're now at 42. So the emergence of lots of different technologies and methodologies for the Internet have been part of my passion and what I've learned over the years and love to continue to do that.

Aaron: [00:04:54] That's a fantastic introduction. I can only imagine all of the paradigm shifts that you've seen in that time as we've moved from the very, very beginning of eCommerce with the dial-up modem. Maybe we can edit in the sound of that, Phillip, for any youngins that are listening.

Phillip: [00:05:14] Yeah. {dial up sound impression}

Aaron: [00:05:15] We don't even have to edit it in. Look at that.

Phillip: [00:05:16] Don't even have to do it. I do such a great impression of it.

Aaron: [00:05:19] It was amazing.

Penny: [00:05:22] I also attended the actual first AOL conference for partners and really watched the emergence of the Internet. So now I'm dating myself. But it's been a journey for sure.

Phillip: [00:05:36] I have the same perspective. I've been in eCommerce probably exactly as long. You know, I was building eCommerce sites in 1999, [00:05:48] 1998. One of the amazing privileges of having that perspective, Penny, is sort of seeing fads come and go and having seen things that become truth over long periods of time and sort of the truisms that remain.  [00:06:05]I'm sure people today still come and ask for a website. But today the requirements of what they want in a website are very different to what they were at the beginning of your career. Tell us a little bit about how you're thinking about answering that need today. When somebody says, "I want to make something new," and that something new is a new sales channel that starts with w-w-w.

Penny: [00:06:33] Well, ironically, at this stage in the game, most companies and merchants are really on their second or third or fifth version of their website. You'll find that people who are starting off with a new site are start-ups and they're new companies. So there's a common thread throughout which is ensuring that you understand the company, the brand, what they're trying to achieve and you learn a lot about... By the time we launch a new site for our customers, some of our team could be customer service agents for them because of how deep we go with understanding their needs.

Phillip: [00:07:17] And how do you come to the understanding of those needs? To trot out an overwrought analogy, I always say it's like hiring a wedding planner. Hopefully, you don't get married more than 2 or 3 times in your lifetime. So without developing the skill to be able to plan a wedding well, you want to go to the person who has the skill to do that because that's what they do every day. Do you think that that's an apropos analogy for thinking about how to further your investment or replatform or redesign an eCommerce site?

Penny: [00:07:51] Definitely. It is important to work with experts who know what they're doing because you'll spend a lot of time trying to figure that out and not necessarily hitting on the correct thing for your brand right away. And [00:08:05] you can spend a lot of money making mistakes. So if you're working with an expert, an agency, they have a lot of experience they bring to the table and can allow you to not only get the biggest value for your money but also do it properly. [00:08:22] And so in that process, we spend time in discovery learning about the brand, the brand ethos, what they're trying to achieve as a business and a company, and how that translates to technology. And we also explore the customer. Who they're trying to reach, what is the value that they're providing to their customers, and what do those customers, what are their hopes and dreams for the type of products that this company or the merchant is selling? So there's a combination of a lot of information that you are exploring and discovering together with your merchant. So this is a highly collaborative process where you're going through an exploration of what kind of stories do you want to tell? What kind of products do you have? What are the attributes of those products, and how do those translate to display on a product page? What kind of assets do you have in terms of images and video? So there's a lot of information that you gather up front. And then what that translates into is a plan going forward for that technical and branding movement.

Phillip: [00:09:49] So it's an overextended analogy maybe. I've used it for a number of years. This idea of looking to outside experts for infrequent events and I know that the life span, the shelf life of an eCommerce investment these days is only growing longer. It used to be that you could sort of set your watch by a three year, five year cycle for technology investment in eCommerce. It feels like it's getting much longer, Aaron.

Aaron: [00:10:12] Definitely, I definitely would agree. People think as the technology improves, we're getting more longevity out of platforms. I think the rise of software as a service has a lot to do with that.

Phillip: [00:10:24] If I were even a little more cynical, let's say this was on the Future Commerce podcast and not Decoded, I might even say that the evolution of customer experience has slowed and we've sort of settled into this is how eCommerce is done. So the nature of needing to search for platforms that do something that your current platform isn't capable of has naturally come to an equilibrium. What do you think about that?

Aaron: [00:10:52] Yeah, no, I completely agree with that. There are a lot more... I'm going to say the dreaded phrase. There are a lot more features that are table stakes, we all love the phrase table stakes, in eCommerce than there were even five years ago. And the other thing that I have seen is part of the rise of the idea of composability, which is not a new idea in technology by any means. Services-oriented architecture, not that long ago, not that long ago to me and you maybe, the people who can recreate the AOL dial-up sound as needed.

Phillip: [00:11:30] Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Aaron: [00:11:34] What we see brands doing is sort of decomposing their requirements into a variety of purpose-built services and products that do a specific set of things very, very well. So the interoperability, I think, of all that technology, the fact that it's easier and cheaper to make all that work now than it used to be makes it possible for kind of a commoditization and flattening of certain capabilities. But it also means that vendors in the space can also innovate on their particular domain much faster than they used to be able to. And I think merchants do benefit from that.

Phillip: [00:12:09] I think that's the sort of bridge into this other part of the conversation where your team dictates how you build something. So internally, culturally, you have a way of doing things. Sometimes that way of doing things needs to be informed by outside perspective. Obviously, in this interview with Penny, I used that analogy of a wedding planner. I see that as this forcing function, right? Somebody who you're accountable to, that you're spending money on to help you do something well that is outside of your realm of expertise that you do infrequently. But you had a different take on sort of this analogy of a wedding planner.

Aaron: [00:12:48] Yeah, I thought it was interesting. If you Google "wedding planner," you get a couple of different results. You'll get both the experts that you're talking about, the people whose job it is to come in, you hire them, you pay them a fair amount of money from what I've seen, to act as almost general contractors and expert artists for hire in some cases to coordinate and orchestrate a beautiful experience. These wedding planners know who to subcontract various things out to, where to get the flowers, where to get the food, where to get the drinks, where to get the invitations, all of it, and how to put it all together into one big experience, which for most people hopefully happens infrequently. They don't become experienced wedders. {laughter} But the other definition of a wedding planner is just a blank book. It's a blank book that you...

Phillip: [00:13:40] That's true.

Aaron: [00:13:40] It's a planner. It's a notebook. It's a Moleskine. It's a Trapper Keeper. It's something that you would go in and I'm going to go in and I'm going to write my lists of like, here's what I want. I'm going to put my vision, I'm going to put my idea of what I want my wedding to be like in here. And the book is going to help me organize it and keep it all straight. I find the idea of planner having two meanings is very, very illustrative of two different points of view of how to approach weddings and then I think eCommerce businesses.

Penny: [00:14:13] The other thing that we look very closely at is what is your team made up of? Because if you have the resources to be able to follow through on the things that you're aspiring to do, that's great. If you don't have them, then you probably need to consider that into your mix. The other part of websites and digital channels is that it's not a field of dreams. A lot of people think that it is. You build a website and then they're all going to come and buy your stuff and you're all going to be and you have the spigot turned on in the middle of the night and people are just going to come and buy. There's a whole aspect of marketing that you have to do, in terms in terms of making sure you're directing your natural state of your site for search with Google and then also with translating it to digital advertising that you see on Google as well. So there's a lot to it and all of that is combined and discovered and put into a plan before you even program or design one thing.

Aaron: [00:15:23] Absolutely necessary to do that. You don't want to figure it out as you go necessarily.

Penny: [00:15:29] Correct.

Phillip: [00:15:30] Isn't that just Agile is figuring it out as you go? I'm just kidding. Sorry. {laughter}

Aaron: [00:15:34] We could do a separate podcast on that.

Phillip: [00:15:35] That's a whole separate season.

Penny: [00:15:37] Yes.

Aaron: [00:15:39] Separate season of Decoded. So you had mentioned, that there are a lot of expectations that have to be delivered on by, I would say, both the agency and the brand in this case. So you talked about a process by which you help the brand discover if they don't already know who are their customers, who are their products are fit for, how do I reach those customers? How do I delightfully engage them on the web? What are they looking for from a digital experience? I'm curious how you gain the perspective of the... We talked a little bit about how you're getting the perspective of the client of your client, right? You go you take them through the process, but you don't necessarily have, of course, the ability to interview every buyer of that brand. So walk us through a little bit. How do you represent the customer's voice or the customer's perspective, the end customers, the buyer's journey when you're leading your clients through that process?

Penny: [00:16:46] Great question because it's so important. The aspect of bringing the customer's voice into this process is super, super important because you can build the greatest site and it looks great. It has all your branding tenants, but it doesn't necessarily resonate with your end customer or your targeted customer. And so in the process, if a client hasn't already done this, we'll take an exercise of research and it could be a combination of working on their current site and looking at how people are responding to what they have today. In other words, auditing what's there. In addition to that, we do actually interview customers, their customers, and we bring their voice in. We record it. We also extrapolate the takeaways from that. But it's so imperative. And I can tell you one of the most common errors that people make is that there's a narcissism about websites in terms of you might think that your label of a navigation title is exactly what you need to communicate and it doesn't mean anything to your customer. So those are such important pieces to bring in because all of a sudden you're verifying by using the customer of the merchant and that allows a certain validity to that particular tenant and piece that the customer is bringing to the table. And you can't exclude that from your consideration because it's really the customer who's telling you what they want. And ideally, that's the journey that you want to create for them is what they're looking for, not necessarily what you think they need.

Aaron: [00:18:44] Right. And which is why you hire the wedding planner, right?

Penny: [00:18:48] That's correct. Well, and it's a very good analogy because there are standard things that you do for a website. But how those are done and for a wedding planner, though, they're kind of meeting the needs of the couple.

Aaron: [00:19:06] The bride. Let's be realistic.

Penny: [00:19:08] That's true. Yeah but in in this case, we're bringing in the whole family and the attendees and everybody that's coming to the wedding kind of thing. So if you really want to resonate with your customers, then bring the voice in, bring their voice in, and you can do that via focus groups or just qualitative research where you're doing interviews of customers that are in this aspiration target market. We do create personas of the different types of customers that we know are coming to the site because many times, especially for brands, they're serving multiple customer groups. They might be serving their wholesaler or retailer who's looking to carry a new product like theirs. They might be serving their dealers who are already servicing them, and they're learning more about products that are emerging and so forth, or just about the brand themselves. And it's also where consumers are. And then for companies who are publicly traded, they've got their investors that they're also serving. So you have to identify all of those and make sure that there's a good path and customer journey for all of those that is answering their questions and ultimately translating to sales.

Phillip: [00:20:36] This is the challenge and maybe not so much a challenge now. We're in the SaaS era and there's certainly a lot of efficiencies that are given to us with things like, you know, the appification and sort of the cloud delivery of software. But historically, the last 20, 25 years of eCommerce, it's been really difficult to stay abreast of things like security and compliance, and developer advocacy. You mentioned Fortune 500 or publicly traded companies, have their own processes for change management. And when you're an agency, you have to understand all of those things, deliver all of those things, but then also translate this thing that is a customer requirement into things that are also IT requirements, compliance requirements. Now, Sarbanes-Oxley, whatever. You have all these things that become sort of critical and you're the orchestrator and the criticality of that sometimes leads some people down the path of sort of needing to cut corners. And so that's where I think your job becomes really difficult. You're not just managing requirements, you're not just discerning needs, you're also having to advocate for the right way to approach solving these problems in an equitable way. That's also at the end of the day, delivering something that's workable. How do you play this translator of all these needs and how do you stay, I would say impartial, and trying not to force the customer to doing what you want, but trying to get them to make the right decision?

Penny: [00:22:21] Sure. It is an art and a science, there's no doubt about it. And especially when you have a company that's a brand that is manufacturing products and selling in multiple channels and they have multiple markets that they're serving and then they have there's always a budget. Some people might say, "Oh, there's not a budget," there's really always a budget. And so you have to take that into consideration.

Phillip: [00:22:47] I think that means there's more of a budget when they say that.

Penny: [00:22:49] Yes. Yeah. It's like, oh great. So part of it is to take that into account. But I'd also suggest to many customers that you don't want to just build out everything and just build this incredible website that does everything, including everything for their team and the customer. It's imperative to iterate and understand. And so you lay that foundation of your primary store and the things that you know are critical. And then you iterate on what is resonating with your customers. You're measuring, you're looking at your analytics, you're looking at heat maps, and so forth. You're looking at your revenue and the customer lifetime values and really taking a look at how they're responding to the site that you have or have just created. And sometimes it's important to pivot very quickly. Covid taught us that in terms of all of a sudden, that's the only channel some of these customers had. And so what do we do in this case? And we need to double down on this, this, and all these different technologies at this point in time. At those points when you have the ability to pivot quickly because you have built the right foundation on your website, then you can take advantage of either new technologies or new ideas or the lack of some of the different channels that were kind of part of your biggest strategy. So  [00:24:29]if they are taking into account and regularly looking at your site and how it's performing and adjusting to how your customers are behaving, that's how you really build up the functionality and so forth. And then your costs are kind of contained a little bit and they're spread out over time and it allows you to kind of lean in hard, identify the critical stuff, but then grow over time as you see how customers are responding. [00:25:00]

Aaron: [00:25:01] Yeah, absolutely. And I love that we've just sort of pivoted almost from at the outset of the conversation, we were talking about customers come in and saying, "I want a website and the process for that," and the seamless sort of transition into "I already have the website and now I want to iterate on that website. I want to pivot, I want to make changes to it. I want to grow. I want to launch new products." The theme of this series. Penny, you talked about the user data, the surveys, the heat maps that you just mentioned, personas, web analytics, data, all of the things that go into understanding who is buying, how are they engaging, what do they want? I'm very curious. That all makes sense when you're designing a brand new site from scratch. You want a lot of that information from the current platform that they're on or whatever they have. What you are talking about now is you have an ongoing, fruitful engagement with a brand to continue to suggest changes and implement their vision. How do you use that data or how does the brand use that data to decide how they might grow their line of products or expand into a new market? Does that data that you collect on their behalf ever suggest a strategy or ever suggest specific things that they should or should not do as they're looking at how to maybe create a new subbrand or create a new product? I'd be very curious.

Penny: [00:26:35] I can give you an example of one customer who sells products that they kind of have two lines of products. One is more military based and the other is more outdoor based. And sometimes when you have customers that are coming to the site, you may see personas that are outdoor getting turned off by the military aspect of what they're promoting and vice versa. And so you want to take a look at the dynamics of some of the homepage promotions that you're doing and the imagery and how the brand is being perceived and seeing what is the traffic doing and where are they going and really trying to take into account those couple of markets and then maybe make a decision to say, "Gosh, maybe we want to split these out into two different brand experiences and kind of separate those markets a little bit because then we can grow that business independently of each other and not have them in friction." So that's kind of one idea of how metrics and looking and understanding how customers are working in your space. But I would say that most of the work that goes into managing a website and creating the content and putting new products up, we learn about what that takes from the customers at the onset. Are they using spreadsheets for all their product data? What are they doing for product images and how are they trying to tell stories today and what kind of video content and what are they doing on their social? So you take all of that into account. And we have one client that has very complex products, very complex, and they're probably the best in the industry at what they do. And this is Yeti Cycles.

Phillip: [00:28:40] Well, I have so much experience on the agency side of trying to understand the nature of a business, and I feel like what I often encountered was people trying to manage my knowledge as an agency operator, so they were trying to manage my knowledge and how much I was being exposed to because they felt that there was price sensitivity around how much discovery I needed to do. Like "You don't need to know all of that about my business. You don't need to go deep into that because it's going to cost me money. I just need you to build me a website." At the end of the day, it's all important, right? I think even just understanding the culture of the business and how you make decisions, how you hire, what your org structure is often dictates the types of tools that get recommended and the type of technology that gets built because everybody has a different level of capability and tolerance for the number of tools they live in, the number of processes that they can endure. Being shielded from that, I think, that complexity of the business often results in a poor outcome. You and I have both had experience agency side before and I often felt like sometimes I'm getting sort of the Heisman where people are like, "You don't need to know this part of my business. It's not really in scope for this part of the conversation. We just need you to build us a pretty website or a high-converting website," or whatever the adjective is around...

Aaron: [00:30:07] For the people who are listening to this and not watching, Phillip has his arm out.

Phillip: [00:30:09] I'm putting my arm out.

Aaron: [00:30:10] He's putting his arm out, stiff arm the tackle that's trying to like bring him down the Heisman. Yeah. Keep away. Get back.

Phillip: [00:30:16] Yeah, yeah. Stay over there. Mostly because the discovery effort and you prying into this other area of my business that I perceive as not being in scope, well, it's because it's going to cost me money, right? It costs me money in time. Often what I've found is that knowing those intricacies in the business helps us make better recommendations. How much are you able to tolerate? Do you live in Excel or G Sheets or do you have tools that are purpose-built for specific tasks? Work styles, org structures, all of those things change the way that you recommend processes. And agency should be like a partner who's making recommendations based on their understanding of the complexity of both the problem that you're solving and the nature of the business in which that problem that's being solved, the solution lives.

Aaron: [00:31:03] Right. And I completely agree.

Phillip: [00:31:05] Always just yeah, it always sort of frustrated me as to how that agency gets managed.

Aaron: [00:31:11] I completely agree. I've had a very similar set of experiences. When I think, as a former agency person as well, a lot of times the relationships or the projects, the engagements that I have the most regret about are the ones where I accepted that set of limitations and really made the budget and the timeline my North Star, which you have to do at some level. Like that's a real thing, right? Don't want to move away from the idea that everything you just said is true and it is contingent on having a happy brand as a customer, but really as the agency. And this is, I think, something Penny talks about as well. It's your job to advocate for best practices or good practices even. I'd say I wish I had a dollar for every brand that has said in a discovery process, "We're data-driven. We make data-driven decisions around here." And it's usually wish casting because the process of getting that data, the discipline of collecting it and analyzing it on a regular basis and then tying that to your decisions and not just using it to rationalize another decision, there's a cognitive psychology topic we could go into maybe, but that's actually a lot of work. And agencies, I think, I don't know about you, but I often felt like I was being held accountable on the agency side to deliver a vision that was not mine, that was also totally unfunded and unsupported. And so with the if you build it, they will come mentality. And then we will never speak of this engagement again for the three years. And then we'll replatform, as you said earlier.

Phillip: [00:32:59] Also the good advice now is often looking towards, I think, what might be future-proofing for a brand, which sometimes means that they're sort of sitting on the hump of current capabilities and then the growth into the solution that they're trying to build. And those, I think that's where a lot of both agencies and brands tend to take on a lot of risk, is trying to manage for the future, but not having the org to manage that future state right now. And that is the scary place that I think all agencies worth their salt should be able to help, to be a trusted partner, and to not recommend a solution that you're just not ready for. And that is the thing that requires the deeper understanding of how the business is structured, what the future goals are, and how they're going to get there, not just, "Oh, we're going to double revenue every year for the next three years." It's like "How?" And if you understand the market and you understand the landscape of where you're trying to get to, not if you build it, they'll come. That is how you make really qualified decisions, at least in the eCommerce space.

Penny: [00:35:13] When we started helping {Yeti Cycles} decide what to do in terms of technology, the one thing that resonated clearly was that they didn't have the ability to do anything on the website without development, which is something that's kind of a weird dynamic for us because what we try to do is enable those teams to do everything they need to be able to do so that they can launch products independent of us and run their business independent of us, and they come to us for new features and new content and new functionality. So the idea is to understand what it takes for them to build out their season switches, like a lot of apparel companies or other types have new products come up every season, sometimes two, three times a year. So how do we make that efficient for the team? And that might include suggesting various technologies. In the case of Yeti Cycles, we suggested that they not only go into a headless technology, which is basically allowing them to really take command of their user experience visually and then utilize a good platform that's API first, which is we use BigCommerce because of that very reason. So you can really create the experience that you want, but not at the expense of having a developer have to come in and create that every time. We give them the tools to be able to run their business. And that's probably one of the biggest strategies for how we work with our customers because we know that they want to take control of their own digital channel and not be beholden to developers.

Aaron: [00:37:07] Makes sense.

Phillip: [00:37:07] Could I even, like maybe get in here? I think the critique I hear a lot around the way the agencies choose to implement technology is sort of on two sides, which both paint agencies in an unfair light. I think the first is you have these embedded relationships that you're going to prefer technology that you work with or have some sort of partnership with because that becomes a natural channel for you over time or on the other side that you're going to choose technology that locks the merchant into working with you in an ongoing fashion. Neither of those, in the criticism there, neither of those really takes into account or supposes that you aren't putting the merchant first, that you're putting your needs as an agency first. How would you answer that sort of criticism, understanding that that's not necessarily the nature of the relationship, as you've already had great relationships over decades with your brands, but how do you overcome that objection if you hear it in the early discovery process?

Penny: [00:38:17] Yeah, it is a common misnomer that there are underlying motivations for various recommendations that we make. And typically we try to be Switzerland and just really gather the requirements. And this is where we bring our partners in, which we will bring in big eCommerce and we'll bring in others that we're considering and we give them, "Here are all the requirements. Can you please fill out how you're going to meet those requirements as a platform?" So again, we're trying to really outline everything that's required so that we can help determine the suitability of that platform over another. And that all goes to, again, what their goals are, what their branding requirements are, as well as their technical requirements, integrations, and third parties. Similarly with third parties in terms of search engines or review companies or now there's just this massive emergence of AI. So how do you navigate that because there are a lot of companies and technology moves at a lightning speed? So how do you vet all of those? How do you recommend them and so forth? So you can't learn about everything and recommend everybody. So again, you apply those requirements to what you consider to be the recommendations. And you might bring in 2 or 3 third parties that you're familiar with that you know have solid solutions and that are a good company to work with. In other words, their support and customer service and everything else is really solid. Those are really important pieces to what you recommend to companies. And because I've had experiences literally directly with third parties where the implementation... We recommended them and then the implementation was terrible and the support was horrible. We learn about incompatibilities, etcetera. So we've become if we're more familiar with those solutions, then we have better confidence in recommending them. And then if the customer brings somebody to us, which happens many times...

Phillip: [00:40:45] That happens... The customer's never brought their cousin to the pitch. Sorry. Yeah.

Penny: [00:40:51] Yeah.

Aaron: [00:40:51] I don't need to hire you to design the website. My 16 year old cousin has a Photoshop license.

Penny: [00:40:56] Oh, yeah. Yeah. And so that that part is challenging because then it may be somebody we're familiar with and maybe not. And so in those cases, we still will consider it. We still do some discovery with that company. And at the end of the day, it's the merchant who's making all these decisions. It's our job to really help them navigate this, understand the pros and cons, understand how this can benefit you or not. And ironically, the answer for us is always yes. It's just a matter of budget and time. And what does that look like for you and how is that going to bring ROI? So we can do whatever they want. However, we do say no a lot and we'll say "No, we don't recommend you do that because of these reasons," and that might take a project off the docket for us. But if it's not going to serve the customer, we're not being a good partner.

Aaron: [00:42:02] Absolutely. Absolutely. I'd be curious to know, because of the relationship that you have with a variety of third parties, eCommerce included, many others you mentioned: reviews, search and merch, promotions, loyalty, AI now, as we're all sort of grappling with that. Going back to the amount of research that ZaneRay does on users and the relationships that you have with a variety of third parties who solve the requirements that you've talked about that the brands may have as they not necessarily when they're first starting up, but as they're wanting to grow and add new lines of business and maybe expand, do you have any examples or stories from times when you've leveraged the research that you've done, your relationships with third parties and your position of trust that you've earned with the merchant to help steer them towards the right path for how they would grow, how they would create a new seasonal line, or maybe move into a new market. We'd love to hear an example because you've got so much great perspective and data Now at this point you're two or three years into that relationship maybe. So they're coming to you as a trusted advisor. What does that look like for you and for ZaneRay?

Penny: [00:43:26] Very good question, because we do have we consider ourselves an extension of our clients' digital teams. So they have project managers and there are people that are working with them regularly. We also have members like we have a team that's dedicated primarily to Shopify, primarily to BigCommerce, primarily to headless and headless technology. And so it is a balance of having to continually research all of this. How do you monetize that? Because it's a cost to the agency because then we become an expert and so forth, so there's a lot of challenge there. However, we also spend time again understanding how our customers are looking to grow and where they're looking to grow. And I just had a customer talk to someone the other day where they went to a conference and they saw all these shiny objects and they're all excited about all this different technology. And then you come back and they're like, "Well, why aren't you telling us about all of these things?" Well, again, it's very, very difficult to know everything in the industry as we know. But at the same time, is that technology right for your business? And will you receive ROI on that? And is it really on brand? So you'll find that there are some brands that are taking very specific stances on their marketplaces or what kind of payment processors they are going to use. And it goes on. And so sometimes this is driven by our customers and sometimes it's driven by us and our partners in the marketplace. And so we definitely have to explore many of these solutions. And again, it all comes down to the suitability and always revisiting the goals and the business goals of the client and what they're trying to achieve and whether or not that aligns. My inbox probably fields about 20 different new vendors almost every day. And so that's a very difficult thing to navigate and learn about. However, I do know that as I go to conferences and learn about various technologies and how they can benefit our customers, that then kind of creates something that is important for us to pursue and look at because we have a couple of clients that are headed in that direction. We also make sure three years into a website, you definitely want to revisit and maybe audit how that's working. Again, take a fresh look at it, and there are always opportunities for optimization. But then, for example, one of our other BigCommerce clients, which is Black Diamond, we're redoing some of their key parts of their website to redesign and develop to optimize them even further now that we've seen a lot of sales and behavior from the users and how we can optimize that even further. And we've learned more from the customer on what they're looking for. So the thing about websites, and I guess this is job security for us is you're never done ever. You're always again, you want to be iterating and regularly updating so that you're relevant and you're meeting the customer where they want to be. And we're not even talking about mobile as much at this point, but that's almost becoming the norm in terms of how people are learning about you. So if you're not optimized there, that's another place that we look at very closely.

Aaron: [00:47:28] Yep. Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:47:29] On that note, I think one of the topics we're dancing around here is this idea of concept to cart, bringing a new product, a physical product to life. Well, the website, the eCommerce site, that channel is a product, too. And that product, as you said, is in constant management, constant revision, constant evolution. And in that way, I think we see a lot more of the retail and merchant set becoming much more like product management and centric around this idea of constant evolution and constant hypothesis. Call it conversion rate optimization. It's just making sure that you're challenging yourself to not stop moving, to not stop growing. Because the fact is, you know, it's very easy to launch a site and then sort of let it coast. And I think that's where a lot of sites or a lot of brands tend to sort of make a lot of effort every few years and make big concerted pushes when a lot more of this continual product management philosophy would stave off the Big Bang type launch and repeats that become huge distractions for a business. And so I think you're just making such a great point there and just kind of bringing it home to this idea of what a product is. Well a product is a physical thing you can sell, but it can also be a software product that has its own life cycle and has its own investment schedule. And it's such a brilliant point. Yeah.

Penny: [00:49:16] Yeah. I want to expand on what you just said, though, because what's interesting about product development for a merchant is that it's the website is a really great conduit to learning about what your customers are asking for and how you can innovate on your product line.

Phillip: [00:49:35] That's true.

Penny: [00:49:36] So if you're reading, I would encourage product managers to go in and read reviews and take a look at how the customer is responding. What's happening in your returns? What customer service kind of questions are they fielding? How is your chatbot responding and what are people searching for on the site? All of this is direct feedback towards product development in terms of being able to innovate and your customers are your best idea makers of your products, so why not lean in and learn from them? And so I always feel like, "Okay, we launched a site and we're good. We're just going to keep going. Now we got all our stuff up there, so then we're going to go do what we do." And actually, the internet and websites are one of the few things that we didn't have this before. So this is something that you can really get direct input from your customer without even having to do a big, you know, research.

Aaron: [00:50:49] It's the difference of is my website just a distribution channel or is it a two-way conduit to my customers and my audience. Yeah, I love that.

Penny: [00:50:59] Correct. Yes. And I would even go further with retailers that are selling multiple brands, also recognizing what their feedback is into what you're carrying and what kind of products they're looking for and how can you innovate in that regard. We work with a couple of retailers and giving the ability to innovate on some cool tools, shopping tools, for instance, if you've ever bought skis, well online you're buying the skis online, but then what bindings are going to be compatible with that? And also what ski boots are compatible with those bindings? What should I be buying? We've created tools that allow for those types of confidence builders in terms of purchases because we've given them the information that goes along with those purchases. So again, looking at what are your customers needing in order to increase that AOV average order value? And also maybe I need to carry some additional lines or other products that are complementary.

Aaron: [00:52:10] I love it. I know we're getting close to time. I want to give you the opportunity to have the last word. When we started the conversation, we said customers are coming to you, "I want a website," and that's how they're conceiving of it. We've gone through a full journey to talk about how it's so much more than that. So I want to ask you with the last word, what advice do you have for brands in how to most productively work with digital agencies who are going to help them be an extension of their business? What words of wisdom do you have for the guests today?

Penny: [00:52:46] I would say trust your partner. Build a trust together so that you're both working towards the same goals. And if the partner says, "I wouldn't do that," or "That's not a good idea," or "How about trying this instead?" You want to heed those pieces of advice because agencies are coming from a perspective of multiple merchants and they've seen a lot that has gone on. And so if there's advice or guidance that's occurring and recommendations, then trust your partner. In addition to that, in terms of, you know, there's a lot of brands that have their own teams and they, "Oh yeah, we've got our own designers and so forth." Well, those might be great graphic designers, but understanding eCommerce design is a whole nother art. And so, you know, there's a lot of times when you need to know when to trust the experts and work with the experts and really kind of lean into that so that you're not making mistakes and allow for your graphic designers to really provide those great assets for your website. But make sure you're looking at the agency to help with the actual customer journey and the flow and how those assets can come to life. So it's important. A lot of companies we've seen create their own teams. And I'll give you one last example. We were brought into a very large company and they basically asked us if we should take them, if they should go responsive or build an app. And of course, this was early on in the responsive days and we said, "Of course, you really need to go in and go responsive." I talked to the creative director afterwards and I said, "Are we replacing an agency, or what's happening here?" And he goes, "No, we're firing ourselves. We have so much infighting and nobody really knows what the right answer is. We really need to bring in an independent opinion on what we should be doing." And so it's important to know what the timing is of that and when to bring in and lean on your partners because that expertise is valuable.

Aaron: [00:55:20] So, Phillip, we've talked a little bit here about the agency point of view and where an agency steps in. And we've almost made it sound like you have to have a digital agency in order to do these things correctly as a brand, in order to make the right decisions and the right investments in tech stack and strategy. It isn't always necessarily the case. I think it's definitely true that the right team, with the right mix of personalities and the right set of expertise inside of the merchant can absolutely make these decisions and represent these different competing points of view on their own.

Phillip: [00:55:56] For sure. I think you can also kind of get into your own perfection cycle where you look at potentially you have an existing product or an existing website that already works. And so agencies can sort of be held to this high standard that it's not as good or as feature-rich or as complete feature complete as the current thing we already have. And that's a sort of a cycle that I can see agencies get into. I know businesses that produce physical real-world products get into the same cycle. And what we found in speaking to Burrow and Kabeer here in our next part of this interview is that this progress-over-perfection mentality is the way forward in not getting caught up in the details and the perfection is that there's a lot to learn in creating processes in a business. There's a lot to learn in getting products in front of your customers because customer feedback is integral to perfecting the next part of your business, which is your next product launch. And so one of the things I really loved about this conversation that we had with Kabeer Chopra, who's the CTO over at Burrow is that their unique perspective in furniture requires them to have a lot of things nailed. There's form and there's function, but there's also fashion in that things have to be desirable to the end consumer. And so nailing all of those things at the right time and putting it into the right marketing channels means that they have to be able to solve a bunch of really hard problems, which is like moving atoms around in the world, manufacturing things, nailing the supply chain, managing their cost and sometimes putting those products in physical showrooms because that's where a lot of business happens for them. Let's take a listen to our conversation with Kabeer. We would be poorer if we didn't have things to sit on in this world. And thankfully, we have one of the most, I would say recognizable new brands in the last few years who have been making the world a more beautiful place, both through the products that they create and the sites in which they develop and the marketing avenues to sell it. Welcome to the show, the Co-Founder and CTO of Burrow, Kabeer Chopra.

Kabeer: [00:58:12] Hey, guys. Thanks for having me on. Excited to chat with you guys about all things furniture and non furniture. Yeah. Let's get at it.

Phillip: [00:58:23] Yeah, well, I mean, before we get into anything, I think the level set here is I'm very familiar with the brand. I said in our pre show that I visited your store on Newbury in Boston, Massachusetts just a week ago. For those who aren't so familiar, give us a little bit of a history of how you came to be and what your role is there at Burrow.

Kabeer: [00:58:49] Yeah, let's take a trip down memory lane. So the idea of Burrow came about when I went to business school. I met my fateful co-founder there, Stephen, where both of us were in a similar situation, but slightly different, where we had to furnish our homes. Everything seemed pretty easy. I had a fully functional house where could sleep, had a mattress delivered to me in a box. Came very quickly. The only missing piece of the puzzle was the sofa. And that took months of research and a lot of compromise. I compromised in the sense that I paid a little bit more. Got it from one of your regular stores, had to get it delivered to their store so I could save a little bit on shipping, and then carried that sofa home from the store. So, you know, not an ideal experience, but I thought I was grown up enough where I needed a real sofa. My other co-founder, Stephen, on the other hand, went to a large Swedish manufacturer and purchased something in a box. He drove it home, assembled it, and upholstered it by hand. And as soon as he sat on it, the upholstery came off. So again, not a great experience. So two different tales, but the convenience and the compromise that we both had to do sort of led us to what is now Burrow. It's furniture without compromise. We figured out a way to take a high-quality sofa, put it into a box, deliver it to your doorstep, and have you assemble it without tools. Now, obviously, that was just the beginning. We've moved on from seating to tables, dining, outdoor, bedroom. We've really expanded all over.

Kabeer: [01:01:00] But the basic premise of the brand is to really improve that entire end to end furniture experience. How do you make it better for shopping, shipping, living, and moving like really that full lifecycle journey of a customer, whether it's in your first home or your second or third? And if you're buying or renting, it doesn't matter. But how do you really take furniture that can fit to your lifestyle? So across every category of furniture, that is what we focus on.

Phillip: [01:01:29] Yeah. And you yourself have a pretty illustrious career at some pretty prestigious, well recognized brands. How big of a departure from your prior career arc was Burrow? It seems like that was a pretty big leap for you.

Kabeer: [01:01:46] Yeah, massive. I mean, I've always been in technology, trained as a software engineer and then moved on to more of the data and analytics side. So just before starting Burrow and being in business school, I was at Michael Kors leading the analytics practice for the retail side of the business. I think that's kind of where my love for both the engineering technology side and retail came together. I was really able to see what difference technology can make in retail. Apart from being on the data and analytics team was also involved on the innovation side and seeing innovation across the digital channels as well as the physical doors kind of motivated me to start something in that space. No prior experience in furniture. You know, if you ask me ten years ago, "Are you going to be selling sofas or anything related to furniture?" I would probably say no. But you end up where you end up. And I think we found an opportunity that we could leverage our prior experiences, mine in technology and Stephen's in consulting and finance to really optimize and build a more holistic experience for customers.

Aaron: [01:03:09] I love that partnership there. We've spoken on an earlier episode and we'll be continuing to speak about the marriage of consulting finance and IT, I think, throughout everything that it takes to create and launch products and bring them to life and engage with your customers because it is it's a team sport, right? There's there's too much work for one person to simply own the entire domain. I'm curious. I know so from your time at Michael Kors, previous jobs, and of course Burrow now for what, seven years, I think it is? Something like that.

Kabeer: [01:03:44] Yeah.

Aaron: [01:03:45] You've seen lots of products launch I think from the product being conceived of and I can only imagine what that's like in the furniture space because everything you just mentioned, the shipping, the assembly, and of course the aesthetics and the quality all have to come together. But even on the Michael Kors side, you know, managing analytics, you've seen lots of products launch, you've seen lots of products come from an idea in someone's head all the way up to it's out on the web. Everybody can buy it. It's in retail stores, it's in showrooms. Would love to hear maybe some pitfalls of launching a new product. What are some things that you've observed or been a part of? Maybe 1 or 2 specific instances or stories where you've had your eyes on it and maybe there's a mistake that people make commonly or just an unknown unknown that people run into.

Kabeer: [01:04:34] Yeah, of course. And you spoke about a few of the things, right? The product, the physical qualities, etcetera. But I think what was most surprising to me when we first started the business was timing. [01:04:47] Timing is so important when it comes to launching products, especially when you're a young company. When we started we were very hesitant, hesitant to actually start selling the product or ship it. We wanted it to be just perfect, and that takes a lot of effort and time and where that's kind of biased is that it's perfect in your eyes. One of the best pieces of advice we received early on is if you are not embarrassed of the first product that you've put in the market, you're too late. [01:05:20] And that is so true, right? Like going back all those years, just thinking about it. We received so much feedback from our customers about our first product, you know, good, bad, everything that was so different from how we imagined, how we would evolve the product. Like getting it into customers hands, talking to them, surveying them, and then building and improving your product allowed us to do so much more than we would have if we spent more time building it internally and delaying the launch. And I think at that scale, when you're just launching, it's a lot easier to do. You're maybe affecting a thousand customers as opposed to now or we're probably looking at hundreds of thousands of customers. And we've taken a lesson from that even today. We never call a product final, just as you see like your cell phones improve every year. We improve our products and put new versions out. Of course, we operate very differently today in the sense that we can't release a fully unfinished product. But that lesson or that learning curve has helped us think about how we launch new products.

Aaron: [01:06:32] I love that. So don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Get it shipped. Yeah, it's common, I would say. Phillip, I don't know about you. I think that's a pretty common sentiment in software design as well.

Phillip: [01:06:43] Yeah. I've heard it a bunch of different ways. Progress over perfection. But I think in the real world when you're moving atoms and not pixels, things have a much longer time frame and I think that lends itself to maybe things getting a little bit more difficult to manage. I think to me at least, my career in digital seems to feel like we can have much more of an agile process. We can solve problems as they come up, whereas I think you have this cross-functional role, especially in a technology-centric business, that you have to understand a variety of knowledge and roles and meet a lot of different people's goals and help them measure results. So, Kabeer, what's your perspective there on how you identify a product that needs to be made? And then how at the end, when it's finally out in market, you qualify it as a success. When does the measurement or the goal setting begin in the product life cycle?

Kabeer: [01:07:53] I think it depends on what your goals are for the product. You can have an overall goal for all of your products. For us, we think about it in perhaps three different ways. For example, when we launched a sleep kit or an ottoman or a chaise, it's an ancillary product to our main product, which is a sofa. Over here the goal of the product is really to increase the average order value of every order. The other thing we think about is expanding to a broader audience. So in that case, a product like a new seating collection fits that perfectly. And the third category is, well, launching new categories. So thinking about outdoor dining, increasing the lifetime value of the customer, right? So in three different ways we're addressing three different metrics and it's important we recognize that early on. You talked about how in a physical space you can only take so much risk. And I think earlier on you can take larger risk because you have fewer customers that maybe you can do unscalable processes with. Obviously, now I think where we see most success is the more time we spend up front doing research on what that product is supposed to achieve, whether it's increasing conversion rate, average order value, or bringing the customer back and really thinking about what are the problems of the customer and how this product solves them. That's where we see the most value. It's that approach, as you said, very typical in software, but almost unheard of in furniture where you're surveying customers, listening to them, and then putting that feedback cycle in and continuously iterating on it. A great example for us in a product that increased the average order value is a sleep kit. It is literally something that turns a three seat sofa into a bed, a twin bed. I don't think any other furniture company out there would have developed it because it doesn't exist. It's not intuitive, but it is something our customers wanted and we've sold hundreds of thousands of those sleep kits.

Phillip: [01:09:25] Wow.

Kabeer: [01:10:11] We've essentially developed a new product category from software-led approach. As long as we follow our principles of understanding what the customer wants and not so much what's available and what the competition is doing. I think our products will always solve the problems and achieve the success they need to.

Phillip: [01:10:39] Can I ask a very specific question then? So you have this side of innovation. You have this idea of, you know, customer experience leading you down paths that hopefully uncover new areas of success and category expansion. Who in the organization, or at least at Burrow, is responsible for ideating new products? And is that person also responsible for setting the goal as to when we've called it a success?

Kabeer: [01:11:09] Yeah, I think, probably different people. I would say from a roadmap perspective of what product we're launching our CEO, Stephen, he's really taking charge and I think it's again his consulting roots coming into play where what is the opportunity size and where does the company need to expand? Do we need to attract more customers now or do we need to increase the repeat purchase rates? And that drives our roadmap of what type of product we need to develop next.

Phillip: [01:11:52] Everybody wants to sell more, right? But there are probably many goals. One would likely be, hey, expanding into this category helps us achieve a new process or work with a new vendor, helps us future-proof against having a single point of failure in our supply chain. There might be things in the organization that are outside of the just we sell more.

Kabeer: [01:12:20] Yeah, absolutely. So in terms of goal setting, Stephen and I like to take a step back and think about our next phase of the company. How can we best position the company in the future to essentially grow? An example from this year, obviously, the pandemic really helped the company grow from a top line. But that isn't the goal for this year. One of the things we've tried to do this year is really focus on profitability in order to put ourselves in a position of strength regardless of market conditions. So we take a large goal like that and really try to drill down into what needs to happen. Taking that as an example, we knew we needed to focus on product margins. To do that we diversified our supply chain, renegotiated our freight contracts, and renegotiated warehousing and opened up more warehouses so we could optimize on our shipping costs. I think over the last 12 months, we've reduced our shipping costs in double-digit percentage. We've also increased our overall margins by about the same amount, double digits. Of course, it takes time and we have to make the right adjustments in the team and align the projects to do so. But taking that larger step back and aligning with the entire company, which we do every month, is, "Hey guys, this year is all about profitability and these are the initiatives that are taking place." So that is a message that everyone in the company knows and is aware of. So there's no question of why we're doing something. They all tied back to what our all-hands goals are.

Phillip: [01:14:06] I couldn't have asked you to say anything any better than that. It seems like the founders of the business have a shared vision that's communicated every month to the rest of the org. This year seems to be a theme around profitability, which everybody's aligning around while continuing to build all the pieces of the business and continuing to innovate and deliver new product. So maybe now we can talk about how the org sort of takes that vision and makes it real.

Kabeer: [01:14:31] It's also interesting in terms of not what our titles or what the team is like. Our executive group consists of me, my co-founder Steven, and our CFO, Kelly. We went through this exercise of it's called a change indicator, how open you are to change. My co-founder, Steven, is extremely open to change. Super strategic like he will jump on anything. And it kind of just fits so well that he leads that product team because he's ready and open to try all these innovative new things. My CFO on the complete other end, more on the conservative side and I am sort of in the middle more towards the change side. I would say, being the CTO probably has moved me a little bit more towards the middle when I now see risk everywhere. But I think it's also like that perfect match where Stephen and I maybe a little bit more thinking outside the box and strategically and our CFO grounding us saying, "You guys need to chill out." I think that team dynamic itself is so important, you know, apart from the vision and strategy. So I can't say enough about that bond you form and be able to openly communicate and understand and talk through things in a really safe environment in space and knowing what each other's sort of baseline is.

Aaron: [01:16:03] Knowing there are different personality types and how they approach risk inside the business is very important. I'm wondering too, as the CTO and maybe even thinking back to previous jobs that you've had, I know that the CFO role, for instance, we talked about goal setting earlier, the CFO may have very specific goals in mind for things like the launch of a product or expansion into physical, like the decision to open up a showroom, for instance, or something like that. Also thinking a little bit about the metrics that you talked about earlier in terms of, hey, are we going to release this? Is it going to improve customer lifetime value? Is it going to improve basket size AOV? You always have to be measuring. I imagine it falls to you quite a bit as a CTO to implement a measurement strategy that will satisfy the goal of the CFO and the strategic vision. What's an example of a time when measurement failed and the measurement strategy that was outlined didn't work? It wasn't that the product necessarily failed or the strategy failed, but simply that you didn't capture what you needed to make a business decision out of it. And feel free to answer this from the perspective of Burrow. Go back to prior jobs. I'm always curious in how a team like the one you just described handles adversity in such a decision, in such an event. Well, Phillip, one of the things that we were talking about for this topic for this episode is how you take that product to market. And now that we've spoken to Penny, we've spoken to Kabeer and even Loretta on the previous episode, one of the things that's come up is the amount of planning that goes into the product launch, all the vision that goes into it, all of the measurement strategy, getting your agency maybe to work with you in the right context, getting your technology aligned with your marketing, making sure everything's firing on all cylinders. You'd mentioned the wedding planner earlier. What happens? You've done everything. You've got your product to market and there's rain. Rain on your wedding day. What happens in that case? How do you learn from that? What do you take away from that? I've seen different brands respond in different ways to this challenge over the years. And I'm sure you have, too, where people will sometimes just pull back completely from a product strategy and sometimes people will plow ahead and continue with what they were doing and not change anything and expect the world to sort of like pivot around their vision. The world will change. I wrote it in my wedding planner book, and so the world will change to match my vision in my book. Or did the wedding planner actually say, "You know what, we're going to make like Seinfeld and pivot?" What happens then? I think it's a really interesting question. How a brand responds to adversity when they launch the product.

Phillip: [01:18:57] And that's something that Kabeer speaks about at length. And before we actually go to Kabeer's story here, I find that even the best laid plans of mice and men, things things go awry. I think really great plans are informed by prior experience. And this is where it comes back to your prior experience can sort of misinform your current plans. And one of the things that Kabeer mentions is a lot of things had gone right for a long time for Burrow before they went differently from planned. And so the way that you react and respond to that also shapes the culture of your business. And so the thing I'd really clue into here is not only how they dealt with, you know, what they learned from a new product launch that didn't go according to plan, but how they adapted that learning into the way that they change their tooling and their measurement and even like the attribution window for future launches.

Kabeer: [01:20:03] Yeah, this is an interesting one because it probably goes back to I think when we launched our second or third seating collection. The first one was Nomads, the second one was Rain, and the third one, I think this is it. This was Field. Again, going through our principles, and our processes, having surveyed customers and talked to them. So we were very sure in our process, we were very sure in our design, we were very sure in our production. And this was supposed to be, in general, a net new add of customers. It was going to appeal to a different set of customers that we didn't already have, so we assumed we would see an increase in top line revenue. Very simple goal. We launched the product and it just didn't take off. It was a first for us where we've launched something and it just did not have the desired effect that we thought it would. I think that was surprising to everyone because we had followed what we thought was a recipe for success up until then, and you ask how the measurement went wrong there. I think we were looking at the wrong thing, which is we were looking at it in a vacuum, like did it succeed or not by looking at top line numbers? What we didn't really look at because we were still nascent is how is this priced compared to everything else that we're offering? We were offering a net new product that has no real brand behind it. Our other two collections were pretty mature, had a large audience, they had reviews, they had press around it. And so anyone coming to site saw this new product that was priced higher, and didn't really have any social proof or backing behind it. And literally like a flip of a switch, when we worked on margin and reduced prices to be more competitive with the others, we saw that top line slowly go up. It's you know, it is now one of the most successful products we had. But think again, like we just we're very nascent in how we measured things and didn't really put things into context with the other parts of the business.

Aaron: [01:22:23] Got it. It makes sense. You get what you measure.

Phillip: [01:22:26] I mean, you get what you measure. I think there's sometimes a factor of time where there's an investment that doesn't pay back within the measurement window. And that's the challenge in certain parts of the business, especially where I mean. This year, I think a lot of brands that we've talked to have really been focused on profitability. I think the fact is that some of these things become long term investments that teach you new disciplines and teach you of areas of gaps in your business and in this case maybe measurement, but also that some things have a longer gestation period, so to speak. It takes a lot longer for it to pay off when you're looking back on it now. Have you seen similar types of launches come and go? And do you feel a little bit better when they happen that way because you've seen it before? Or have you sort of future proofed the business in a way, Kabeer, that prevents that sort of lackluster performance?

Kabeer: [01:23:38] Yeah, I think we take investment decisions. We consider investment decisions a lot more than we used to before. Particularly so when launching products like this, we've always wanted to place large purchase orders because we believe in our process. [01:23:59] We believe that doing all the legwork, we should always lead to a successful product. But as you said, the payoff period may not be what you're expecting. Conditions in the market might be different. So one thing we've been very careful about is working with the right manufacturers whom we can place purchase orders with that allow us to take less risk. Whether it's now just ordering 100 units as opposed to the 1000 we had ordered before and giving ourselves more breathing room and not investing everything into into that one launch and hoping for success. [01:24:34] So I guess you kind of consider that first phase of the research design prototyping as a sunk cost, as hard as that might be to do, knowing that it could be a lot more beneficial if you almost think of things as what's happened from now and not what has already happened in the past, letting go of that.

Aaron: [01:25:10] Thinking about the measurement and measurement strategy and the analytics side, I'm curious how you approach the science of analytics. I know you've had prior experience before coming to Burrow. Analytics I found means different things to different people, different stakeholders, the word analytics and it sort of suggests a certainty maybe for some people and for others it sort of suggests this weird cloud of unknowing like a light, a lighthouse and a fog bank or something. I'm curious how you view analytics in your role as CTO at Burrow, both from the customer data side as well as the financial side, and then knowing your other co-founders, of course, have their own interpretations and their own needs of analytics. How you as the CTO act as the balancing point to cast a common vision for analytics and reporting inside of Burrow to make everybody happy.

Kabeer: [01:26:10] Yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head. Different people like to consume analytics differently. They've all been trained in their ways, and this was something that was very apparent when I moved from Michael Kors to doing analytics here. Also just it's vastly different how even at an organizational level, things are so different. I think the biggest thing as a you can do is ensure a source of truth. A lot of times when I thought about a source of truth, I also thought that it has to be completely accurate, almost tie in to your financial reporting. I think I gave myself a lot more breathing room when I realized that your reporting can be directional and your financial reporting can be your financial reporting. And those two things don't need to be the one and the same. Because what it does is it allows so much more flexibility for your entire organization to slice and dice data in different ways and allows them to view different data ways that they couldn't if you tried to map your financial reporting and analytics to your company wide analytics. So that's been a learning for me over the last 5 or 6 years. The other piece is every year we talk about investing into a new data visualization tool or business intelligence tool, but I think we find that people are very stuck in their ways, whether it's Excel, whether it's Google Sheets, whether it's Data Studio, or anything else. People are very opinionated in how they like to view their data. And regardless of the platform you provide, I've seen that they will put it into the way they want to. So again, there's [01:28:15] obviously at a certain scale, it makes sense to have a central visualization tool which we do, but I think more of the investment is keeping on going into more ways of looking at the data from a pure slice and dice perspective or enriching it as opposed to fancier ways of looking at it visually. [01:28:34]

Aaron: [01:28:34] Absolutely. Yeah. Excel cannot be displaced no matter what we do.

Phillip: [01:28:42] {laughter} Isn't it so interesting? There's an element of human behavior here on both sides of the equation. There's the human behavior of the consumer who we're trying to meet a need that they have when that they're expressing by coming to our sites. They're shopping around on it. But there's also the element of the employee and the operator behavior of having to work within their own means. We often talk about friction, but we're usually talking about it in the sense of like what's preventing the purchase. And I think this is a really interesting sort of inside baseball look at we actually have that sort of friction on both sides of the transaction in our businesses. I'm curious, Kabeer, on this idea of you get what you measure, has there ever been a business initiative that was blocked by the inability to measure the potential uplift or outcome that made you sort of go for other low hanging fruit while you had to sort of get ducks in a row. There's an obvious opportunity here, but we just don't have the ability to measure it or its performance yet. And so that's not on the roadmap yet.

Kabeer: [01:29:53] Yeah. And I think the timing of this show or episode is so appropriate because a lot of furniture companies during Covid did not really care about measuring during the pandemic. The demand was through the roof. Acquisition costs were lower, demand was through the roof. The biggest problem was inventory, getting product to people. So, so much of our focus was on diversifying supply chain and fixing shipping costs, fixing freight. Very little focus on the actual eCommerce and measurement piece. Fast forward now we're in 2023. And it's the equation is flipped. Everything around the business is focused on how do you optimize the on-site experience because we have limited resources and we want to make the most of it. We want to convert as many people as we can and frankly, we're not well-positioned to do so. You know, as a CTO, I know there's a lot more for us to do, and we are slowly hiring and building the team and putting in the tools in place. But I think what's harder has been perhaps the intent or the muscle memory of people to do so. We've unfortunately untrained people to optimize and experiment and now we're telling them, "Actually, you know what? Forget what you forgot in the last two years and learn how to experiment again." Just so we can make sure we're getting the most out of everything. So from that perspective, obviously people are still learning. We're still hiring, we're still building the tools. In the meanwhile, we are literally just sitting in conference rooms, me and my co-founder, our eCommerce folks tearing the site through and going into it almost from a user research standpoint and seeing where we think there's friction. We have some tools in place, the basic ones, but in lieu of that, we have to do everything manually. It takes a lot longer. It's probably not the best, but it's better than not trying anything at all.

Aaron: [01:32:11] Absolutely.

Kabeer: [01:32:12] Very low fidelity answer for you, but it is, unfortunately, how we've positioned ourselves.

Phillip: [01:32:19] I don't think so at all. Yeah.

Aaron: [01:32:20] No, it's a very good... You've mentioned friction twice now. And I think, Phillip, you talked about this a minute ago. It's [01:32:26] the route we optimize often for removing the buyer friction, the end consumer friction for point of purchase. It's a conversion tactic. There's also removing the friction in making business decisions. [01:32:37] It's having the data. It's having the vision and having the feeling, maybe feeling the freedom to experiment Kabeer, like you just said.

Kabeer: [01:32:50] Yeah. And I think our team, again, the team, the tools, are being put in place to get people there. But until then, it has to be kind of we talked earlier about setting a vision for the company to be more profitable. This half of the year, we're setting a vision for the company to embrace experimentation and optimization and think through things from a customer experience standpoint. On the eCommerce side. But again, things take time to happen. So we're working through all the pieces we can.

Phillip: [01:33:41] Let's shift gears a little bit to this idea of providing service. To a lot of our audience, you know, marketers and optimizers, anyone who's an operator in the eCommerce ecosystem probably thinks their job is done when that order confirmation email goes out or at the very latest when the shipping confirmation lands and then it's time to try to retain them. But we all know that the customer sees it a little bit differently. The customer, that's the beginning of their relationship. And oftentimes their perception of the brand has everything to do with how you resolve issues if and when they come up. As we're thinking toward the future of this series and we're talking about the importance of customer experience and customer service and the role that they play in the development of a product, what are some of the considerations during the product development phase that you have to provide for the CX team? And how quickly are they involved in the ideation and sort of the roadmap of where you're trying to get to? And what are the kinds of things you have to build out to make them successful in their roles?

Kabeer: [01:34:56] Yeah, it's a great question because when we think about products and it's how do you make it best for shopping, shipping, living and moving? It has to be a whole cycle and we expect our products to live the test of time. We also expect a lot of products too to be modular and for them to expand with you as as your needs change. So there's one pillar of the brand that's that. And the other pillar of the brand is continuous innovation. Unfortunately sometimes those two go against each other where if I know that I can improve this current product by changing a part or a piece that kind of makes the other piece or the older product less modular or less adaptable, that is a decision we need to take. It's not an easy decision and sometimes we don't take it because we've invested too much in the older product and we want to still support our old customers. So every time a decision like that does come through, we have to consider how we can best approach customers. We offer them upgrade programs, we give special accommodations to those customers to make sure they are still part of that Burrow life cycle. So there's that piece of the equation. And then when we're designing the actual product, we always have to consider how easy is this thing to assemble? We want to make sure that no customer has a difficult time assembling. People come in all shapes, sizes. We want to make sure we test and experiment that for all types of customers. We want to make sure that the products live through everyday use. Customers with cats, dogs, etcetera, and make sure that we test that. And then once we do test it, we actually provide footage, we provide care instructions, we provide what the materials are made of, you know, what certifications it has. Any of that product development information is stuff that goes always comes back to our customer experience channel and we make sure that we arm them with that information prior to even launching a product. So thinking about backward compatibility, thinking about assembly, thinking about how the product is modular, those are a few of the ways we arm our customer service. And sorry, what is the other part of the question?

Phillip: [01:37:38] I think you sort of touched on I think the idea here is how quickly in the product development process, you know, is CX involved. Are there scripts or what makes their job easier and how quickly are they involved in ideation and concept?

Kabeer: [01:37:57] Customer experience directly is probably not involved until we are in the prototyping stage. But I say that because everything we prototype is built with the customer service team in mind. How easy is it going to be for our eventual customers to think through how a product gets put together, how it can expand and what kind of questions our CX team will receive once this product is at our customer's door. Once we get the prototype, that is when our customer service team gets to basically tear down the product, break it, suggest improvements, and at that point we also provide them with sort of what are the list of materials, how it comes together, where it's made, and that is the information that we then arm them with both online and offline. I think another piece of the furniture industry where customer experience is heavily involved and this is where most NPS scores take a nosedive is how does the product get to the customer. "Where is my order?" Especially difficult in furniture because most people have to deal with trucks, service providers that are third party contracted from a furniture manufacturer who is selling through a distributor. So you are many, many levels away from who is making your product to who is delivering your product. To that end, we make sure the technology we have really empowers both the customers and our customer experience agents. Our products, as I said, maybe a million times, are modular. So each item ships in multiple boxes. At any moment in time, not only does the customer know where every box is and what part it has, but so does our customer service team. So there's never a question of like, where's the order? We're also very, very specific about estimating when things ship. Unlike most furniture manufacturers.

Aaron: [01:40:10] Umph. Yeah.

Phillip: [01:40:13] I've heard a lot about this recently. Yeah.

Kabeer: [01:40:16] We don't build to order. The whole business model is predicated on we carry a minimal amount of SKUs that can be mixed and matched to build any kind of type of sofa you want. So everything is ready to go. So when you place an order, literally someone's pulling arms, seats, legs, and putting it on a UPS or Fedex truck and shipping it to your door. So think just the way the business is modeled removes a lot of the friction that customers see when they're hoping for something to get delivered. So I think technology there plays a huge part, again, because there's only so much control we have once it's out of our warehouses door. It could be on different trucks could come on different days, it could get lost. And that's where proactive alerting through text messages, emails and providing that information again to the fingertips of our CX agents has really helped increase our NPS scores over the last couple of years.

Aaron: [01:41:18] Oh, that's awesome. You're absolutely right. That is very much a pain point. And it is one of the differentiators, I think, between when you're shipping strategy here. LTL freight is very lossy as a customer service channel, right? It's often very hard in a freight shipment to know where your item is in any given time. And so going common carrier I think is a solid strategy there. I want to pivot away from and maybe into an area that is not maybe about analytics or tech and maybe talk about beauty and aesthetic for just a moment, because one of the things when I think about retaining customers, both attracting customers to your brand and then keeping them coming back for more items is the visual appeal and the aesthetic of the overall brand and the furniture that you're selling. I think that people will pay for ugly furniture, maybe if they absolutely have to, but they'd prefer not to, right? I think that's probably a fair statement. How do you and your co-founders view the aesthetics and beauty of your brand and the pieces that you produce in the context of the actual customer experience, what they receive? And then the follow up, maybe the user generated content that you get on the other end of that to help again provide that social proof that you mentioned earlier. I know this wasn't something that we were originally going to speak about, but I just love to hear your thoughts.

Kabeer: [01:42:43] Yeah, absolutely. When we think of design and again, I'm defaulting to analytics, I think of a bell curve. There is this extreme design on one end and there is not so great design on the other end. I think as a brand, where we want to be is in the middle of that bell curve, which appeals to most people. And we're very comfortable with that because we know that our furniture isn't really meant for like your sort of this is my final home that I'm going to bespoke design with every material that I choose. It is the next best thing where you have enough options, enough customization, and it really serves as a base for decorating your home. So we like to think of design like that, where some of the bigger pieces we have are aspirational but still approachable by a large audience. And as we think about expanding and differing our audiences, we think about what that bell curve is for these different ages. We started with one product that we thought would appeal to the most age groups and most segments of people. And as we've grown the business, we've thought about that across different categories of customers. That being said, I think a brand has to sort of anchor itself in something and it has to sort of have a design language. We obviously do that online through just how we represent, how we show things. You know, we're very intentional about showing real life scenarios on our imagery. Kids, children, pets, people actually interacting and doing everyday things on their sofas and the dining tables and whatnot. But then even from a physical product design standpoint, we do take a risk when we design something small. Like it's not going to take up the most visual space in your room. It's it is going to take up some space, but that's where we can take more risk. So maybe the smaller the product is, the more risk we can take, the larger amount of space it takes, the less risk we take on on a design standpoint. Is that some of the points you're looking for?

Aaron: [01:45:11] It does. It does. And it ties back to the almost the earlier story you were telling about product design and how you start with the first was it the Nomad? I think right? Was the first one.

Kabeer: [01:45:22] Yup.

Aaron: [01:45:22] And then as you iterate based on different aesthetics, effectively, you're starting with the broadest appeal and then you're able to target that and narrow it and maybe refine that design language that you were talking about, because all of your pieces do look like they are produced by the same mind, I think, which is important for a brand. You're not just a retailer of other people's stuff.

Phillip: [01:45:44] Mhm.

Kabeer: [01:45:45] Yeah. I mean, that's supremely important to us. It's identifiable, but different enough where you're not flipping between a thousand catalog pages of light gray shade 007 versus light gray shade number 1074 in style. It is different enough where different people will like it. And that's very intentional for us to minimize the number of choices a customer has and make, again, that shopping experience of the life cycle becomes easier.

Phillip: [01:46:18] With just a few minutes left. I just want to preemptively say thank you. I always have high expectations, but this exceeded them because I think you actually got into a lot of candor, things that we love to get into the nitty gritty about. Let's just touch briefly... Our final episode in the series is about how you build out models or channels for finance or along with finance to make sure that you're tracking to those goals over time, making sure that you're ultimately making money as a business. There's been a lot of groupthink in at least the direct to consumer ecosystem about the necessity of stores. I think that followed a number of large furniture companies and maybe even some mattress companies that were early to the physical retail as a marketing vehicle story. I'm curious what your decisions were that brought Burrow into the five showrooms you have now and what you've seen and what you've learned in launching those and what are the considerations you make when investing in a footprint in the physical world?

Kabeer: [01:47:39] Absolutely. So I think we were probably also relatively early in opening our first showroom in Soho. That to us was an expression of the brand, things we wanted to do and just things we couldn't express online we would do in-store, showing how modular customizable and what Burrow meant to people. At that point, that store was successful on its own because it was located in New York and we had a brand presence here. The other thing we saw that the store did for us was it increased conversion rates in this DMA. So that to us gave us some thoughts on things to experiment for. We opened a showroom in Chicago right after the one in Soho and that was a temporary pop up. That one didn't do as well. What we learned there was we didn't have enough of a concentration of an audience that knew Burrow for it to be successful. And so from there on, luckily that was just a pop up. We've only opened up stores in DMAs where there is enough of a penetration of the Burrow brand. And that allows us to do two things. One is the store on its own, just from a retail standpoint, is profitable in a very short period of time. The second thing it does, just as Soho did, was increase conversion rates in that area. We again try to experiment with another pop up in another city. And we saw the same thing that happened in Chicago. So we are going to keep experimenting. We're going to keep trying different things where we don't have enough brand presence or concentration. But what we're seeing in general is that we need to have a base amount of penetration for our stores to be successful and have meaningful results. We can't use it as a way to generate brand penetration. It almost has to be in place before the store goes in place. And I say that now, but and it kind of sounds obvious because no one's going to impulsively go buy a sofa. But that is sort of what it comes to. People aren't walking in. It has to be a destination that they go to.

Phillip: [01:50:22] I think that really answers the question on a number of layers. I think the first being when do you decide to make that investment? And it seems like you are saying, well, the brand is present in a market. What you said is like a DMA or a designated market. What's the actual... Designated market area. That's the industry term. I think that makes a lot more sense than what fits into 180 characters on Twitter or X or whatever it is they, they tend to call it these days because at the end of the day, the kind of investment that you make in a retail footprint is usually also followed by the awareness in market so that people know that it's there too. And so why would you make that investment at the expense of other things? They all have to play together. And I think that you're making educated bets. And it comes back to your point, Kabeer, about optimizing and forming hypotheses and testing. And I've just really enjoyed having you on the show. Aaron, any last thoughts?

Aaron: [01:51:31] Yeah, I want to echo all of that. I really appreciate the time, Kabeer, that you spent with us. Grateful. You're a BigCommerce customer. I love to point people to the website because it's beautiful and the products speak for themselves. And of course you're a successful brand that I think has pretty clearly successfully executed on all of the tactics and vision that we've talked about here on today's episode.

Kabeer: [01:51:56] Thank you both. This is great. And would love to do this again sometime. Maybe we'll have a few more stories to talk through. Let's see what happens in the next couple of years. But exciting things for Burrow and I'm sure for you both as well. So thank you guys again and catch you soon.

Aaron: [01:52:19] There's a narrative in parts of... Its X. I keep having to autocorrect it now from Twitter to X.

Phillip: [01:52:26] Everybody knows what you mean.

Aaron: [01:52:27] Everybody knows. Exactly. It's like Xeroxing something on my Canon. The idea that you don't need a headless site or that there's no reason to ever put your brand on a headless site, and I come back around, and it's not necessarily related to the topic, but I think a little bit about something Kabeer said around the aesthetics of the brand, about having a recognizable design language and a recognizable brand aesthetic that is unique and different. And one of the things that always stands out to me when I visit Burrow's site is it achieves that goal. It accomplishes that. Of course, they have a different... They have built on a custom headless front end stack. Furniture is a very high consideration purchase. There's a lot of content, rich content, that goes into educating the customer along the way, and I think about how that technology choice that I think there's a lot of debate right now about whether it's even valid or useful has actually served their overall product and brand goals. And I just think it's such a good use case for the type of architecture that is often seen as maybe by some brands as an expensive distraction. I think it's really done well here, and I think it really goes to show to our earlier comments about my earlier comment about composability the value in picking the best solutions for each part of the brand representation that you have, the right tool for the right job and not simply relying on a template to get it done.

Phillip: [01:54:02] I think you're also touching on something we talk a lot about in Future Commerce across multiple properties, which is these high consideration products, especially ones that are these durable products that you spend lots of money on and you spend a lot of your leisure time on. They have multiple touches, but the distinctiveness of the experience, it lends itself more toward exploration and wanting to dive a little deeper down a rabbit hole. And it's harder to do that when you're playing into tropes of eCommerce. I also think that the the way that you build experiential sites today, the design language really kind of fixes you at a specific point in time of when you built your website. I think we began this episode talking about durability in your eCommerce investment and sort of juxtapose that in the durability of your marriage. If you want a long lasting website and you want a long lasting marriage, I think it has to look... You don't pattern it off of what you think other successful people have done. You chart your own course, and knowing specifically what makes your, you know, let's continue to conflate the contrived analogy here. What makes a good marriage? Well, it's I think having it looks like its own thing. It's not necessarily modeled or patterned after someone else's idea of what a good marriage looks like. I think websites can follow much the same pattern where they take on their own identity, their own aesthetic that lives outside of the time in which it was built. And if you did, let's say you didn't go the headless route and you built with an off the shelf template, it's going to fix it at a specific point in time that eventually shows its age. And I would assume that a furniture company is really trying to lean to something more timeless and enduring, which means I think it's incumbent on them to forge their own paths. It makes a lot of sense.

Aaron: [01:56:09] Exactly. This is the kind of podcast, can I use the word semiotics on this podcast? I think there's a certain semiotics about eCommerce to eCommerce site design where the normal templated, the Amazon approach that we've all been trained is really there to get a somewhat commoditized good into a cart as quickly as possible at massive, massive scale. Does not encourage exploration. In fact, you don't want to encourage exploration and learning on your site in that kind of model because those are just detours along the way to the cart and the transaction. And for something like furniture or any kind of high consideration brand, I think breaking the paradigm, the design language of the website, is it trying to just drive me to get out as quickly as possible or is it encouraging me to explore and learn more things?

Phillip: [01:57:02] Yeah, and I think exploration is part of that. We've been exploring or decoding this idea of how products come to life and what we've heard. I think this particular episode, it takes a village, it takes a lot of perspectives and a lot of cooperation from a number of people to make things come to life. And I'm excited for our next episode in the series. Thanks so much for listening to Decoded. You can find more episodes of this podcast and all Future Commerce podcast properties at You can also subscribe to our newsletter, which comes out three times a week at

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