October 7, 2019

Monday Update: Klaviyo:BOS

Monday update is back! Today we OWN IT. The theme of this year's Klaviyo:BOS event was to own your channel. We chat about tools like Webflow that are shortening the path from concept to launch - giving designers , marketers, and creatives the ability to own their entire experience without a developer. Listen now!

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Monday update is back! Today we OWN IT. The theme of this year's Klaviyo:BOS event was to own your channel. We chat about tools like Webflow that are shortening the path from concept to launch - giving designers , marketers, and creatives the ability to own their entire experience without a developer. Listen now!

Phillip: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Monday update by Future Commerce. I'm Philip.

Brian: [00:00:03] And I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:03] And we are live at Klaviyo, Boston.

Brian: [00:00:06] Yeah Boston is beautiful right now.

Phillip: [00:00:09] Oh, my gosh. I'm from South Florida. And it was 90 degrees when I left, and I got here, and it's like high 60s, and the sun is shining. And it couldn't be a better day to talk about what we're about to talk about.

Brian: [00:00:22] Truth.

Phillip: [00:00:23] We're going to give you the truth. We give you hard truths at Future Commerce. So I'm giving you a hard truth.

Brian: [00:00:28] I'm going to give you a hard truth, Phillip.

Phillip: [00:00:29] Yeah.

Brian: [00:00:29] Pretty much anywhere is better than Florida right now. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:00:31] This is true. This is true. You know, some people ask me... I changed my title or my subtitle on Linkedin recently to Florida Man...

Brian: [00:00:42] Yes, I saw that.

Phillip: [00:00:43] Florida man, podcaster, evangelist... It's like, why would you put the three worst things that you do right at the front of your LinkedIn profile?

Brian: [00:00:53] Because I'm tired of everything else that I see in the front of someone's Linkedin profile.

Phillip: [00:00:57] Yeah.

Brian: [00:00:58] Better.

Phillip: [00:00:59] A friend of the show, Kalen Jordan, recently said, immediate red flag for somebody that is trying to connect with you on LinkedIn is if they have their phone number in their LinkedIn subtitle.

Brian: [00:01:10] Ugh.

Phillip: [00:01:11] That's a... Anyway... Okay. All that aside, Monday update. So it's sort of shorter form. We just got have the opening keynote with the CEO of Klaviyo, Andrew Bialecki.

Brian: [00:01:22] It was a great keynote.

Phillip: [00:01:23] I really enjoyed... Because I don't know him, and we are very proud of the new partnership that we formed with Klaviyo, and so this is kind of kicking off our relationship. So for us to get to know the people behind the company helps us form a little bit of a tie in to the kind of thing that we talk about on the show. And I felt like what he mentioned in his opening keynote is very germane to a conversation that we've been having recently.

Brian: [00:01:52] Yes, it's a conversation that I've been having with a lot of people recently, which is... Effectively the tools of of e-commerce used to be very developer centric.

Phillip: [00:02:03] Yeah.

Brian: [00:02:04] And we're seeing the commoditization of those types of tools such that it used to be all of all about the craftsmen. The developer craftsmen and the I.T. organization that would lift up your business and take you to the next level of commerce heights.

Phillip: [00:02:24] Right.

Brian: [00:02:25] And, you know, that's how you're going to drive your growth. But I think what we're seeing here is a change of the guard of the ecosystem that is leading the charge to the growth in e-commerce, and commerce in general.

Phillip: [00:02:43] Well, it's shortening the path between concept and reality.

Brian: [00:02:46] Right.

Phillip: [00:02:47] And so something that we had talked about, I can't remember if we talked about on a recent show or not, Webflow is one of those companies who are creating tools right now that are commerce enabled tools. This started out as like a CMS, right. And there was this tweet that went viral yesterday from the founder of Webflow, who had this famous VC who's like, "Why would anyone ever use this?" And basically, like "I would laugh at someone in their face if they had Webflow as like on their resumé." Like "I use Webflow." But specialization in specialty tools is actually a desirable trait in a hire now. And people that are using tools like Klaviyo are not just enterprises. It used to be if you had a marketing platform, you were running an enterprise level e-commerce outfit.

Brian: [00:03:40] Right.

Phillip: [00:03:40] Most of the people that I've met just this morning, in the last hour and a half, are single owner home office who are driving non-trivial amounts of revenue through a Shopify store using a product like Klaviyo. And so the tools are enabling the visions of founders and the visions of designers to come to life in much quicker fashion. And that moves the developer out of that critical... The developer, it turns out, is an hourglass, right? It's not a funnel. It's a constrictor of two very wide funnels. You have the path for your customer to the product they want and the path of the founder to vision being created. And there was that kink in the middle, which really was a developer. So this gets into what we're talking about today, which is the idea that the developer or the programmer is something that will be that role in an organization, especially in a commerce focused organization, will diminish as the tools get better.

Brian: [00:04:42] Right. And then instead, the craftsman that will drive growth is the storyteller. It's the marketer. It's the creatives.

Phillip: [00:04:51] Right.

Brian: [00:04:52] But to your point, even the creatives are changing how they do their job now, too.

Phillip: [00:04:58] Yeah. We were just talking about that. So let's say you have a platform like Webflow, and this is not sponsored in any way by Webflow. I'm just fascinated by the tools that Shopify and Webflow can give to someone who's trying to launch an online store. The designers who are using those tools to create concepts no longer have infinite power to design with, so they're creating within a walled garden environment that gives them limitations. So they're creating their visions within the walls of those limitations, which means that all of the design aesthetic that we're seeing right now is a form and function of the limitations of the tools. Which is such a powerful thing because how many people that are listening to this show right now have commerce stores that spent countless hours and weeks and months quality testing crazy designs that they came up with that they had to try to cram into the function of any commerce platform that just couldn't handle it. Right?

Brian: [00:05:55] Yes.

Phillip: [00:05:56] And it becomes an element of technical debt later on that they have to own. It creates broken experiences and poor, poor quality. And it just creates headaches for an organization. So the fact that the tools are guiding the decisions of designers is a complete paradigm shift.

Brian: [00:06:14] I would almost argue at this point, if you're a designer looking to get into commerce and web, you should be more focused on the tools that live within the platforms than designers specific tools.

Phillip: [00:06:28] Right. I look... Again not to harp on a tool... We are at a Klaviyo conference, and I'm talking about Webflow. But a tool like Webflow that allows someone to truly have total control over every part and then to get like small little components and turn on a membership site and then have paid content.... Those were all decisions that you would sit down with and talk to a developer about how they would implement once upon a time.

Brian: [00:06:57] Yes.

Phillip: [00:06:58] And now you don't need to have the five year horizon anymore of this decision plan. I'm thinking about what happens beyond this. Let's say that these tools are used and more widely adopted by enterprise, five years down the line... You don't need to worry about where you're gonna be in five years.

Brian: [00:07:12] Right.

Phillip: [00:07:13] Because you're in an ecosystem that allows you to not have to worry about that. You can just turn it on later.

Brian: [00:07:17] Yes. Such a good point. Such a good point. And then I think there's another side of this as well, though. I think my statement before might have been a little bit of like I could hear designers and design minded people groaning a little bit and being like, "No, we want to be creative. We want to have more freedom.".

Phillip: [00:07:39] Yeah.

Brian: [00:07:39] But I think there's a place for that. The place is the content.

Phillip: [00:07:41] Say that again. Yes. Say that again.

Brian: [00:07:46] The place that you should be applying your creative resources with all of their creativity, and all of their expertise, and all of the freedom that they want... Is their content.

Phillip: [00:07:59] The expression of the brand and sort of the laboring over the expression of the brand doesn't just live in sort of the aesthetic and the visual aesthetic any more. It's in the actual creation of audio and written and... Right. It's elsewhere.

Brian: [00:08:16] It's elsewhere. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:08:17] As well. And it doesn't displace it. It's in addition to.

Brian: [00:08:20] In addition to. So all of your structure, and all of your aesthetic, and all of your places for...your flows for people to purchase things, those are all built and designed within the tool that you're using to accomplish those things.

Phillip: [00:08:37] It's so interesting because I'm going to perform an exercise which may not be a very durable exercise if you're listening to this two years from now.

Brian: [00:08:46] You're doing this live right now?

Phillip: [00:08:46] I'm going to do the live right now. I'm opening up Allbirds. OK, so let's look at the Allbirds home page.

Brian: [00:08:51] Love it.

Phillip: [00:08:52] And right now, they've just launched their new weatherproof high top called the Mizzle. It's the Mizzle forizzle, y'all. If Snoop was going to wear an Allbirds, he would wear the Mizzle.

Brian: [00:09:05] You were wearing Allbirds just the other day, so you know.

Phillip: [00:09:06] Yeah. When you look at the Allbirds home page, if you were to turn off images, just think about what this page looks like with no images. There's nothing.

Brian: [00:09:15] There's nothing.

Phillip: [00:09:16] There's nothing here.

Brian: [00:09:17] Literally nothing.

Phillip: [00:09:18] And this is a hallmark of...

Brian: [00:09:24] There's a header and footer. That is it.

Phillip: [00:09:27] It's a header and a footer and everything else is photography in between. So the thing that we're talking about already exists in the world. People have been working within the bounds of the content and commerce platform. As much as I'm a hype on things like guided selling, and I think that they are the future, there are certain brands that does not apply to right now.

Brian: [00:09:46] And even guided selling is becoming commoditized.

Phillip: [00:09:49] That's true.

Brian: [00:09:50] Right? With tools like zoovu...

Phillip: [00:09:52] Right.

Brian: [00:09:53] Zoovu is the Klaviyo of guided selling. Right?

Phillip: [00:09:56] Right. But I think if you look a little further down the line... OK. Let's come back to why we're talking about this, because Andrew Bialecki said this in his keynote.

Brian: [00:10:04] Yes.

Phillip: [00:10:04] He said anybody now with a platform like Klaviyo, anybody with the ability to create a flow chart or some sort of a decision tree is a programmer.

Brian: [00:10:17] Yeah, I'm programmer. I'm a programmer. What's up now? {laughter}

Phillip: [00:10:25] Which is so interesting to me, because that means that the tools that used to be expressed only... Which is interesting, I'm forming my thoughts on the fly. There is a debate that happens in modern programmer circles now that the programmers who write code today aren't real programmers because they don't understand the lower level languages. So you're writing some code that's actually being interpreted by something that turns that into something...

Brian: [00:11:00] Gosh, I think I know where you're going with this.

Phillip: [00:11:02] But if you keep taking it backwards. Let's keep going.

Brian: [00:11:04] Yeah. Keep going. Keep going.

Phillip: [00:11:06] And so let's say that you're using a programming language like PHP. It's a scripting language. It doesn't get compiled. It's interpreted whenever it runs. So it's like prettier. It's a pretty or more expressive and verbose way of saying things almost in English.

Brian: [00:11:22] Right.

Phillip: [00:11:23] I'm not programming with binary and hex codes. I'm writing some beautiful language in like a structured way that gets interpreted by the computer. There was the same argument 35 years ago by people who were programming an assembly. They were saying people that are writing in assembler aren't real programmers because they're not doing like we used to do which are punch cards that really like literally flipped bits and interpreted 1s and 0s and they can't understand the electron flow. And eventually you kind of get if you get further and further and further up the stack, you start to realize how far removed that the tools that we have today have brought us from the actual expression of the craftsmanship like the "how" things work.

Brian: [00:12:07] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:12:07] So we're on this...

Brian: [00:12:08] Nobody reads and writes in Latin anymore.

Phillip: [00:12:11] Yes, 100 percent.

Brian: [00:12:12] But it's the foundation of all the romantic languages.

Phillip: [00:12:16] Right. And that's where we are now is that the language that we're writing commerce experiences in are derivatives of the tools that allow us to write the language.

Brian: [00:12:27] Sorry. Nobody speaks Latin anymore.

Phillip: [00:12:28] Right.

Brian: [00:12:29] Plenty of people are read and write in it. OK.

Phillip: [00:12:31] Thank you. It's a Monday update. Nobody listens to it.

Brian: [00:12:33] It is Monday. Yeah. {laughter}.

Phillip: [00:12:33] I just find this a fascinating topic because it's something that's being said a lot right now. There was a Twitter thread recently about, you know, programming being blue collar work and how it's trending more toward vocation. And, you know, long, long story short, I really identify with that because it used to be that you had to hire a computer science grad to engineer on e-commerce platforms like Hybris, you know, because they were owned by big companies like SAP. And those are enterprise level softwares. You don't need to have a comp sci graduate degree to do Shopify work.

Brian: [00:13:15] Right.

Phillip: [00:13:15] For most Shopify work, you just don't need it. And I think that if you take that and you project it forward, maybe you don't even need to understand programming to do Shopify work.

Brian: [00:13:25] Yeah, I think the place where developers are going to continue to be really successful is in integrations.

Phillip: [00:13:31] Yes. I mean, the way the world will connect to each other does require technical...

Brian: [00:13:37] Correct.

Phillip: [00:13:37] But I would argue that they're tradesmen.

Brian: [00:13:40] Yes. Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:13:40] We have plumbers and electricians. And then you have people that turn lights on and off.

Brian: [00:13:45] Right. No, it's building things, and building things eventually develops standards that everyone works within, and that becomes commoditized.

Phillip: [00:13:53] It makes me wonder if the the future state of building things online when we have more GDPR, and more CCPA, more regulation, ADA compliance in the United States, if that ever gets interpreted to web... Where we're heading is building code for web sites. And you know, we have building code for building products in the real world that are durable, that don't fall down on people when there's an earthquake. We don't have building codes for building web sites that ensure people's data and safety and privacy.

Brian: [00:14:27] Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:14:28] And the only way that you're gonna get there is by skilled tradesmen who are utilizing tools that allow them to build it without having to understand how everything else below the stack works.

Brian: [00:14:38] I totally agree with you. I think there will be standards related to security, privacy, and so on. I think where developers who want to be more creative are going to succeed is working for companies that are developing new software for people to use. So...

Phillip: [00:14:59] They are creating the tools.

Brian: [00:15:00] They're creating the tools. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:15:01] In the gold rush you want to be in the pickaxe business.

Brian: [00:15:04] Exactly right. So, you know, this could be working for Microsoft or Google or Klaviyo or whoever is putting the tools out.

Phillip: [00:15:14] But it's not working for the end brand.

Brian: [00:15:16] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:15:16] Unless that brand has a true differentiator that requires the technical expertise like we just had Hampton Catlin, who is VP of Engineering at Rent the Runway, which will...

Brian: [00:15:27] By the way, I know this is in the interview, but I just want to underscore like how powerful and how big it is... This guy...

Phillip: [00:15:37] Prolific. Yeah.

Brian: [00:15:37] This guy invented SaaS. Super awesome subscripts...

Phillip: [00:15:40] Which is the foundation for like a lot of what you see on the web.

Brian: [00:15:45] Right. Correct. Our audience might've missed that the first time around. But hear it now... This guy is amazing.

Phillip: [00:15:53] Yeah. He has street cred.

Brian: [00:15:55] Yes.

Phillip: [00:15:55] And he's working for a brand that needs street cred level developers because the challenges that they're solving require technology to solve. They're apparently the world's largest dry cleaner. They have a very unique business. But that's not all retail businesses.

Brian: [00:16:13] I would agree.

Phillip: [00:16:14] Not all retail businesses need that level of complexity.

Brian: [00:16:18] Well, even if this is like Mizzin + Main, which has clearly been out on the forefront of technology on the web. And we had Drapr on with Mizzen + Main. And Drapr is at the forefront of technology in retail.

Phillip: [00:16:31] Right. But it's a tool.

Brian: [00:16:33] That's still a tool.

Phillip: [00:16:34] Right. It's a tool that's being used by the brand.

Brian: [00:16:36] Yes. Right. Correct.

Phillip: [00:16:38] Yeah. OK, well, I want to hear this... We are at 15 minutes. So I want to know what our audience thinks of this.

Brian: [00:16:47] Please.

Phillip: [00:16:47] Yeah.

Brian: [00:16:48] This is a great conversation. I think this is a big conversation.

Phillip: [00:16:50] And I'm sure that there are brands out there who have experiences for themselves. If you work for a retail brand, and you are utilizing tools to shorten the distance between the creative for the concept and the actual launch of your commerce products and initiatives, we want to hear from you and you can drop us a line at  And that's the Monday update.

Brian: [00:17:14] Thanks for listening.

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