Join us for VISIONS Summit NYC  - June 11
Episode 156
May 8, 2020

"Scrappier and Faster"

Google Sheets as a "scrappy" tool for brands, eCommerce "body swaps", and making good on a promise. PLUS: we announce a new project called Nine x Nine, a new report from Future Commerce.

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this episode sponsored by

Main Takeaways: 

  • Somehow Google Docs has become the future of eCommerce
  • There's a virtual mall in Google Docs, and it's insanely cool 
  • Phillip may or may not be really into Jurassic Park
  • Brands are finding "scrappy" new ways to get feedback from their customers 
  • eCommerce has become the name of the new shopping game, could that be a forever thing? 

Google Docs is The Future of Everything: At Least Right Now: 

There's so much going on in the world during quarantine, and Google Docs is somehow the thing right now. And somehow everybody has decided that Google Docs are how we do everything, even how we throw shopping sprees. 

Not to “Googlesplain” but the mind-blowing game-changer is how business are using it as a collaboration tool with the world writ-large 

  • Seventy movies revolve around body-switching, just in case you needed to know that, and you do because Phillip's Insiders (#036) this week, aptly called Freaky Friday revolves around this very concept 
  • Everyday eCommerce gets more accessible, because of the body swap that occurred between eCommerce and brick-and-mortar 
  • What would have happened in Freaky Friday was forever (we may find out) 
  • Jurassic Park is an incredibly frightening movie, which somehow relates to Google Docs 
  • Brands are utilizing all elements of Google Drive to do all kinds of crazy cool things (lots of fun links below)  

eCommerce Is Body-Swapping With Brick and Mortar: 

With everything that's happening in our community, from massive eCommerce numbers in the wake of a complete brick-and-mortar shut down, and the possibility of COVID-19 continuing, bands are finding ways to utilize Google Docs (especially Google Sheets) in unique ways. Still, brands are also trying to find ways to entertain and distract their customers in the wake of a global pandemic. 

And we're seeing a semi-body swap that's happening between brick-and-mortar and eCommerce, with a forced way that's happening is with returns. 

  • One of the things that's very different in the age of COVID-19 is returns, often quite an in-store experience for customers. Which is why customers often choose in-store brands that make returning a product a seamless experience 
  • Now, though, with online brands often being the only option, shopping is happening online, and now customers have to contend with eCommerce return policies as well (which could get tricky) 
  • Phillip takes the time to mention a new Future Commerce sponsor, Relay Cloud, a platform that makes returns easier for everyone (customer and company), which is very helpful right now.
  • And to mention another fresh Google Doc concept, Bambu Earth, put together a form for customers to fill out so they could send "love letters" to first responders, and they aggregated feedback for customers and then baked it into ad-creative for first responders. 
  • And as Brian so eloquently said: a lot of these google docs solutions are just a great example of brands not always having to have the perfect solution. 

Future Commerce Is Having Fun: So Much Going On The Horizon: 

Phillip says the show is more fun this week, Brian says the show is always fun, and that's up to the audience to decide, but there are so many great stories this week. 

And even with all the fun, this is the most boundary-filled time in recent times, and so brands can take risks, as Brian said, now is the time for brands to get scrappier than ever.

It's the New Abnormal, one might say. 

  • One of the best parts of all of this, and there are advantages for brands willing to try new things during this period, is how much fewer fanfare initiatives need to have right now. 
  • Instead of putting together fancy dramatic productions, brands can send a Google doc form to customers, put together a presentation on Slides, or relay information in a Google Doc that everyone can view. 
  • It's a new kind of User Generated Content, where customers can participate in a new way. 
  • Brian: “We're in a moment right now where people are more excited to contribute than trolls are to destroy." (This is so Tweetable it needs to be Tweeted) 
  • Digitally native brands are now fundamental scrappier, and the operators in those brands are more skilled and wear more hats, and they are the ones who know how to work the moment (from a conversation between Phillip and Matt Axline from 4x400

New Things Are Coming Up: Even More Future Commerce Fun: 

Brands are starting to engage with their brands in new ways, which is so important, which is going to lead to reinforced customer expectations. The brands that are getting scrappy and doing the work right now to get the job done are going to set themselves upright. 

Which is very much a PSA to brands: Do the work so that you can succeed in the brand new world.

  • Phillip and Brian bring up a returning sponsor, Gladly, who are doing incredible things when it comes to customer service, radically personal if you will. 
  • Future Commerce is going to be doing some pretty cool projects with Gladly, so make sure you're signed up to our mailing list to always be in the know (and get some fantastic content in your inbox). 
  • Phillip decides to end the show with a brand new segment: What was the last thing you bought online? (links below) 
  • Phillip and Brian agree that Monoprice is the absolute best. 
  • Also, we have an incredible market research report coming out with Klayvio called 9x9 in a few weeks (hint: it's super freaking awesome) 

Relevant links from the show: 

Phillip and Brian's recent purchases:

Other episodes mentioned: 

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Phillip: [00:00:01] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce. I'm Phillip

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

Phillip: [00:00:04] And today we're talking about Google Docs because that is the future of eCommerce. {laughter}

Brian: [00:00:09] Oh, yeah. Google Docs.

Phillip: [00:00:13] That's the world that we live in now, because you don't have time to screw around in this economy. You can't mess around.

Brian: [00:00:23] Just get it done.

Phillip: [00:00:24] Get it done.

Brian: [00:00:25] Get it out there.

Phillip: [00:00:26] Even if that means just launching entire web sites that are just literally a Google sheet. Google slides. I sound like an old fart. I'm actually a really big fan of this, as much as I'm being... I mean, what else are we going to talk about? Like Neiman Marcus?

Brian: [00:00:44] No.

Phillip: [00:00:45] Filing? No? Okay. J.Crew? We're going to talk about J.Crew?

Brian: [00:00:50] Nah.

Phillip: [00:00:51] Okay, so we're literally just going to talk about Google Docs? I kind of like that.

Brian: [00:00:57] Yeah. I mean, I think Google Docs are awesome, and I've been using them for years. So there's nothing novel about Google Docs. That's for sure. But what is novel is the way that people have been using them recently. Doing all kinds of things. Product development. You know, lifting people's spirits through kind messages.

Phillip: [00:01:21] Well, before we get into that.

Brian: [00:01:22] A mall, a whole mall...

Phillip: [00:01:24] We're teasing. We're teasing you. We'll get into that in just a minute. In the meantime, I would love if you would support the show. Could you show this show? Could you show this show a little bit of support? Give us some love. I want you right now... Stop what you're doing. You're running on the treadmill. Riding your bike. You're walking your dog.

Brian: [00:01:44] Dealing with the kids.

Phillip: [00:01:46] You're standing six feet apart from everybody and everyone you see. But whatever you're doing right now, stop it, and go to and sign up for our Future Commerce Insiders newsletter. It's an essay that we publish that is crazy good at least two to three times a month when I'm not writing it, but at least... But when Brian writes, it's really good. When I write, it's OK.

Brian: [00:02:08] These are lies. Phillip is most proud of his writing.

Phillip: [00:02:12] I'm very proud of my writing, if I'm being honest. It is a skill I'm trying to get better at, and it's not easy. But I am very proud of the content that we put together that I think is deep and insightful. And it's only about the things that I think are meaningful for your business. And and that is because you're in eCommerce, and you need to know about what the world is doing right now. And you don't have time to try to sort through all the news... Oh, my gosh. There are so many newsletters, Brian. Do you have time to read thousands of newsletters?

Brian: [00:02:44] We need a podcast about newsletters.

Phillip: [00:02:45] That's what we need.

Brian: [00:02:47] A podcast dedicated...

Phillip: [00:02:48] We need Talk Soup. Remember Talk Soup? It was a TV show on Comedy Central that would like cover every talk show of the day.

Brian: [00:02:58] Oh, The Soup? No. Talk Soup?

Phillip: [00:03:00] Talk Soup. It was called Talk Soup. I don't know if it was then rebranded as the soup. Jon Hansen was on it for a little while. Hensen? John Henson? I don't know. Long story short, a roundup, a weekly roundup of podcasts in a newsletter or newsletters in a podcast... Both of those would be valuable. But you as a brand operator do not have time to sift through all of them. We've already sifted through them for you, and we've distilled everything down to one essay that you should care about every week. Future Commerce Insiders. Go get it right now, and you can get it at

Brian: [00:03:34] Phillip, why don't you preview your next article.

Phillip: [00:03:41] Are we gonna give it away two days early?

Brian: [00:03:43] I think so. Why not?

Phillip: [00:03:43] I think we should. That's a good idea.

Brian: [00:03:45] Yeah. What are you gonna be talking about in your next article?

Phillip: [00:03:47] I'm going to do it, and I will warn everybody. This is how I do things. I tie into popular culture because I have no other way of making this news relevant to you in your life than to tie it back to some sort of analogy that I can wrap my head around. Let me... I'm going to quiz you. So Sunday morning, 8:00 am, that's when our newsletter goes out and our essay publishes live on the web site. Brian, how many if you had to take a guess, how many movies do you think have been made where the protagonist body swaps with another character in the movie?

Brian: [00:04:27] Well, you've got big ones. The Shaggy Dog, he switches with a dog.

Phillip: [00:04:32] Right.

Brian: [00:04:34] Right. And there's like three or four of those.

Phillip: [00:04:36] So that's at least three.

Brian: [00:04:38] Yeah. Freaky Friday. There's at least two of those that I know about. And so I don't know. There's a few others.

Phillip: [00:04:47] Jumanji. Did you see the recent Jumanji remakes?

Brian: [00:04:49] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Jumanji, yes. Good call.

Phillip: [00:04:52] There's two of those.

Brian: [00:04:53] They body swap. Yeah. Good point.

Phillip: [00:04:54] That's a body swap movie. 13 Going on 30.

Brian: [00:04:58] Oh man, that's a good one.

Phillip: [00:04:59] So I will tell you.

Brian: [00:05:01] OK. There're a lot of them. All right. I'm going to guess twelve.

Phillip: [00:05:04] You're way off. There are no less than like 70 movies that have been created in the world that are about body swapping.

Brian: [00:05:12] I have to admit, I've actually read your article, but...

Phillip: [00:05:14] I know you did. There is an entire podcast, by the way, if you're looking for other podcasts to listen to, a really fun one is called the Swap Cast Podcast and the Swap Cast Podcast, literally they only review movies where in a body swap has occurred. Forty five episodes they've done.

Brian: [00:05:35] Given that there are 70 of those movies.

Phillip: [00:05:37] Yeah.

Brian: [00:05:37] There are like at least 70 episodes. You could do more than one show per movie.

Phillip: [00:05:42] I'm gonna blow your mind. I'm gonna blow your mind.

Brian: [00:05:45] How many episodes are there?

Phillip: [00:05:47] So there's forty five episodes so far. They've been running for two years. But here's the thing. They haven't even gotten to TV yet. And there was an entire TV series called Quantum Leap that is literally just about body swapping.

Brian: [00:05:58] Right. Quantum Leap. Oh my gosh.

Phillip: [00:06:00] So what does that have to do with my essay? You'll find out. I'm going to... I'll distill it down to this. Everyday shopping in real life gets harder. There are more layers of protection, right? There are more layers of safety. And that puts more physical barriers between you and the retail worker.

Brian: [00:06:24] It's friction.

Phillip: [00:06:24] It's more friction between you and getting the products that you need and getting insight and service from the people that work in those companies. And I'll tell you what, everyday eCommerce gets easier and less friction is removed. And I submit in the thesis of my eighteen hundred word essay that a body swap has occurred between brick and mortar retail and eCommerce. And unlike most movies of this genre, I believe this body swap might be permanent, Brian.

Brian: [00:07:02] Wait...

Phillip: [00:07:02] If you want to weigh in. I'm not gonna say anymore.

Brian: [00:07:04] That's a brutal movie. That's a brutal movie.

Phillip: [00:07:07] Yeah. You're stuck forever. Freaky Friday. Lindsey Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis stuck forever.

Brian: [00:07:14] Oh, I started watching Tales from the Loop on Amazon and there is a body swap episode and they switch, and the whole point is they can't switch back.

Phillip: [00:07:22] So, OK. And we're gonna get into talking about body swaps with Google Docs and regular old web sites in just a minute. But go right now, subscribe at I want you to do it. Be great if you did. And subscribe to our Insiders, FC Insiders newsletter. We would love for you to do that. And you'll be the first to know when the new essay drops every single week. And then just a quick preview. We've got a new report, the most ambitious thing we've ever done at Future Commerce.

Brian: [00:07:55] Ever. Ever.

Phillip: [00:07:55] The most intensive market research that we've ever performed is to surface. Eighty one brands, nine brands in nine categories apiece that are changing the world as we know it and are using commerce to unite people and act as a great agent of change in our society. And that report is called Nine by Nine. And we're going to unleash that upon the world with our partners, Klaviyo in just a few weeks time. And if you're on our newsletter, you'll hear about it first before anybody else. Just saying. is where to go. And then can I show some love to one of our sponsors before we move on to the bigger parties show?

Brian: [00:08:35] Yeah do it.

Phillip: [00:08:35] So longtime sponsor, just want to give some love to Vertex. Vertex is the tax solution that you need to run your business. Hey, listen, if you are an eCommerce startup, you're probably thinking, "Taxes I'll figure that out the end of the year." No, don't do that. If you're a small to medium sized business, Vertex can get you covered, and they will take care of you. And they do so for some of the biggest brands in the whole world. But they also start small with you and help you with everything from filing to tax rate calculation. They'll help you sort out your catalog to make sure that you're paying the appropriate amount of tax to wherever you're shipping products from, wherever you're shipping from. They know how to get you set up. They'll take care of you, head over to and when you sign up with Future Commerce, they'll give you 15 months for the price of twelve. And listen, when you make a tax provider solution selection, right? When you choose your tax provider, you're stuck with them for a long time. I want you to be stuck with the best in the world. Vertex is the best in the world. Go get him at OK, Brian. What is this Google Docs thing? Tell me.

Brian: [00:09:50] Google Docs has become effectively the way that we communicate that we write things down. It's a public repository for information that anyone can contribute to and anyone can edit until you lock down...

Phillip: [00:10:07] Anybody, and I know because I'm homeschooling my kids right now. Like everybody else in the world. And my kids use Google Docs all day. Every day.

Brian: [00:10:17] Yeah. Google Docs are amazing. It's such a powerful tool. It's been around for so long. And it's interesting. Like Google did something very interesting. They surpassed Microsoft in pretty much every way when it came to collaboration. Like 10 years ago. Now, interestingly, I feel like they didn't do a lot with it after that. Microsoft came roaring back. And now we have things like Teams and collaborative docs online with Microsoft, and they're really powerful and amazing as well. But the nice thing about Google Docs is it's free. It's easily accessible. It connects to your Gmail account. It syncs up really well with, like, all of your other Google stuff. And so it's just a really, really quick and fast way to communicate and record information that you want to have public or saved for later, in a meaningful way, in an organized way.

Phillip: [00:11:17] I mean, I don't think we need to Googlesplain people. I feel like the mind blowing game changer is how businesses are using it as a collaboration tool with the world writ large.

Brian: [00:11:31] Right. Well because of all the things I just said.

Phillip: [00:11:33] Why am I doing this? Why is my face like this right now? I don't know. It's like the thing from Jurassic Park.

Brian: [00:11:41] You quoted Jurassic Park earlier today.

Phillip: [00:11:43] What is my deal with Jurassic Park? I have not introduced... Did you introduce any of your kids to Jurassic Park yet?

Brian: [00:11:48] I have, yeah.

Phillip: [00:11:50] What age were they when you did that?

Brian: [00:11:53] I mean, they were young, like seven and up.

Phillip: [00:11:58] That's young. I feel like my seven year would not be able to handle Jurassic Park.

Brian: [00:12:02] We skipped parts. We skipped parts.

Phillip: [00:12:05] You are a part skipper.

Brian: [00:12:06] We are part skippers. Yeah. There was some pretty scary parts in that movie. Like that is like the severed arm. Right. That's kind of scary.

Phillip: [00:12:16] I mean, the guy getting eaten in the port a potty.

Brian: [00:12:19] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:12:20] Yeah. I mean. Jeff Goldblum shirtless. There's all kinds of things that are scary in that movie.

Brian: [00:12:27] That's pretty scary. That's for sure. Not sure how this relates to Google Docs, but...

Phillip: [00:12:32] Because I was doing the face thing. But you know what? We've been accused of not having fun on Future Commerce. So we're having fun. This is us having fun.

Brian: [00:12:41] Have we been accused of that? I feel like we have fun.

Phillip: [00:12:44] Well, I accused us.

Brian: [00:12:46] Oh you accused us.

Phillip: [00:12:46] I didn't say who. It was me. I don't know. I feel like as a collaboration tool, we always want these purpose built tools in business or enterprise to like only accomplish one thing really well. Like, I want to use Zoom because it is perfect for me accidentally having people come in and disrupt my meeting with, you know, racist rants and/or genitalia. Right? If I want one perfect tool for that, Zoom is my perfect tool.

Brian: [00:13:21] Oh man. Has that happened to you yet. Hopefully that hasn't happened to you yet.

Phillip: [00:13:27] It has not. I've not had a Zoombomb yet. But I'm just saying, like, we want these perfect tools, and there are a lot of collaboration tools out there that people are buying into for teams to collaborate. But most everybody in the world has access to Google Docs. And I totally understand why brands are using, you know, slides and Google sheets and just plain old Google Docs to do all kinds of really interesting things. So let's start with something that I don't think is a very far stretch of the imagination of what Google Docs could be used for. So recently I saw on LinkedIn a spreadsheet that was going around of eCommerce professionals.

Brian: [00:14:12] Yeah. Adam Rose, I believe.

Phillip: [00:14:14] Who was it?

Brian: [00:14:15] Adam Rose. I think. I think there's a few of them going around.

Phillip: [00:14:19] Yeah, that sounds about right. Yeah. So Adam Rose is an eCommerce recruiter and is pretty well-connected in eCommerce placement, formerly of Borderfree. And he has been sort of advocating and leading an effort to take people who have been put out of work during the coronavirus economic fallout from social distancing and quarantining. And he's been able to compile probably the most comprehensive list of talent that is currently looking for work that is now public.

Brian: [00:14:59] It's a massive.

Phillip: [00:15:01] Well, I mean, first of all, that's kind of sad.

Brian: [00:15:03] Yeah. Yes, it is.

Phillip: [00:15:06] Right. But that being said, this sheet, which I am going to have to link up in some show notes somewhere at some point here, so that you all can see it quickly. That sheet has incredible job openings and people searching for jobs. And it is an incredibly smart use of a public available tool that anybody can read. And many people can contribute to.

Brian: [00:15:37] Almost 400 lines of people here.

Phillip: [00:15:43] Gosh. That's incredible. When you see this, I think you'll be incredibly heartened by the fact that other people in our industry are suffering. And one way to support them would be, hey, if you're a business hiring, hey, maybe start here. This would be a great place to start to try to reach out to find some folks. Maybe reach out to Adam Ross because he's putting in a lot of work and a lot of hours with a lot of people to keep this list up to date and growing.

Brian: [00:16:12] Or talk to us, because we know a few people that...

Phillip: [00:16:14] Hey, we know one or two...

Brian: [00:16:15] We know a few people that are that are really good people. So give us a shout.

Phillip: [00:16:21] Yeah. So we'll link this up in the show notes. One thing that I find really interesting about this is as folks are using it, like you can actually see that people are literally in this doc right now. This is being viewed by like tens of thousands of people all over the world. Twenty seven people, including myself, are live in this Google sheet right now.

Brian: [00:16:42] And me.

Phillip: [00:16:42] So it's really cool. Very impressive. That is one creative use of Google Sheets, too. But, you know, of course, like that is column data, right? I am a line on that list of a person looking for a job. That makes sense. But there's some really creative uses of Google Sheets that brands are using right now to power new experiences. Right, Brian?

Brian: [00:17:07] Yeah, well, Elliot, which is an eCommerce platform, tried to do a mall in Google Sheets.

Phillip: [00:17:12] It's had five or six different iterations. And that is like super interesting.

Brian: [00:17:17] Yeah, it did eventually have to shut down, though.

Phillip: [00:17:20] Did they shut it down?

Brian: [00:17:21] Well, I think they did. They maybe they started back up by now again. But at one point I think it had to get shut down because it was being abused. Public sheets open for anyone to edit. There's challenges with that.

Phillip: [00:17:41] You know, we had mentioned a few months, about a month ago when Kiri Masters was on the show that Unbound Babes... I take no responsibility if you search for that and then find, you know, a web site that has very interesting adult centered products. But Unbound Babes did a very similar thing to share love and support among its own community, and to share all kinds of things like what you can do with your time while you're shut in. And so here's a bunch of podcasts that we like and here's a bunch of books that we're reading that we like, and here's links to audio books that you might like. So I find that to be really like that is community. Like if you're a growth, if you're head of growth at a brand and you're trying to get your community to give feedback. Google Docs looks like the right place to do that in 2020.

Brian: [00:18:34] Google sheets, namely.

Phillip: [00:18:36] Especially in Google Sheets. The Elliot thing was really, really interesting because they created like a physical mall in a Google Sheet in that, like, you came into the entrance, and then as soon as you walked in, it was like a courtyard or like a food court. Like a food court. And it had like a bunch of tables where, like, cool kids sat at the tables.

Brian: [00:19:01] It was Star Court.

Phillip: [00:19:04] Yeah, it was Star Court. Yeah, it was Star Court from Stranger Things. Star Court Mall. And then as you went up the levels, it was grouping like links to products from brands that are all in departments. So everything from personal care to health and fitness to like the women's shop and the men's shop. But it was only direct to consumer brands. Actually, to be more accurate, it was only direct to consumer brands that are in the little DTC click of that crew.

Brian: [00:19:40] Yes, that's a very good description of what was in there.

Phillip: [00:19:44] That's a very accurate description.

Brian: [00:19:48] It was it was cool, though. I like what they did there.

Phillip: [00:19:51] They did a whole thing for charity where they were giving... They did like a shopping spree where they gave a thousand dollars to a random person on a Friday to go shopping and buy things for other people.

Brian: [00:20:05] Yeah, that was cool.

Phillip: [00:20:06] Emmett Shine participated in that on one occasion.

Brian: [00:20:11] Love Emmett.

Phillip: [00:20:13] Someone else...

Brian: [00:20:15] Future Commerce alum.

Phillip: [00:20:15] What's that?

Brian: [00:20:15] Oh I love Emmett. Future Commerce alum.

Phillip: [00:20:17] Yeah. Yeah. Emmett's been on the show before. We love Emmett. But it was very cool, a really creative use.

Brian: [00:20:25] Speaking of giveaways and like creative Internet things. Did you see? Was it Wendy's that did like the Internet scavenger hunt where they had gift cards like hidden away in different places?

Phillip: [00:20:40] I have not seen this. Explain this to me.

Brian: [00:20:43] They just had like little things you could go find, and then you would get I think was gift cards that you would get as a result of finding them. It was like on their web site, on their Twitter, on their Instagram, on different places. Just something fun for people to do with prizes connected to it. I think there's been some really cool stuff that brands have been doing in that range. McDonald's Belgium did like a puzzle giveaway. A McDonald's 500 piece puzzle give away.

Phillip: [00:21:14] If you're not done burning your McDonald's whopper candle or like a Big Mac candle with the ketchup candle on the mustard candle and the onion candle... If you've run through all your candles during quarantine, and you need a puzzle, and it must come from your favorite fast food joint, say no more, fam. McDonald's has...

Brian: [00:21:36] What like the pieces would like scratch and sniff. That would be...

Phillip: [00:21:39] That would be ridiculous. Adweek had a video on this and actually it's made a bunch news everywhere. But basically, yes, Wendys gave Twitter followers a chance to win free food in digital scavenger hunt across the Internet. Their cyber search was to give away $5000 in prizes and they could find gift codes on Spotify, Twitch and And yeah, the gift card values rise everyday after the kick off at ten dollars each. And then the final day is May 8th, when they'll be offering one grand prize of one thousand dollars. It was really interesting is and nowhere near the scale of what Wendys has done, but Todd Snider, the brand, sent me an email saying, "Did you find our coupon code in your last catalog yet?" And I was like, oh, my gosh. I threw that catalog in the recycling. And I literally, like an idiot, ran out to the curb and I dug through the recycling...

Brian: [00:22:40] You dug through the recycling to find your Todd Snider coupon.

Phillip: [00:22:43] It was a one hundred dollar off coupon.

Brian: [00:22:47] Wow.

Phillip: [00:22:48] Up to 50% off. So like two hundred dollar minimum, hundred are off. It's 50% off coupon.

Brian: [00:22:56] That's incredible. That's a good coupon.

Phillip: [00:22:58] Yeah.

Brian: [00:23:00] Worth digging through the recycling for. You all like to treasure hunts out of that.

Phillip: [00:23:05] Yeah, actually.

Brian: [00:23:07] You got the recycle hunt. And then you got that catalog hunt.

Phillip: [00:23:10] And then you got the catalog hunt. I mean, it's part... What I love is that so few people found it. They had to remind everybody via email.

Brian: [00:23:20] Nobody knew about it. So that was actually the bigger issue is like it was like a reverse scavenger hunt. Todd Snider had to help people find the fact that they had a scavenger hunt.

Phillip: [00:23:30] I think that's brilliant. And I love brands that do creative stuff like that.

Brian: [00:23:35] Especially right now. Like things that people can do from their homes.

Phillip: [00:23:38] Yeah just to kill time. You and I've been doing crosswords together.

Brian: [00:23:42] Yeah. Oh, by the way, I sent you the link.

Phillip: [00:23:44] Oh, are you working on one right now?

Brian: [00:23:46] Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It's a really hard one too.

Phillip: [00:23:49] Oh my gosh. Actually for those who like crosswords, the Atlantic has a co-op capable buddy system crossword that's free.

Brian: [00:23:59] It's so good.

Phillip: [00:24:01] It's actually quite good. And I say that as someone who used to overpay for the New York Times crossword app every month, but it's a lot of fun and...

Brian: [00:24:12] That's disruption right there in a nutshell.

Phillip: [00:24:15] Basically. It's Brian slowly coaxing me over to just caring more and more about the Atlantic.

Brian: [00:24:22] Man, it's not just me. I don't have to say a word about it anymore. Everyone's saying something about the Atlantic.

Phillip: [00:24:29] Speaking of saying something, I wanted to just quickly give a shout out to a brand new sponsor to the show.

Brian: [00:24:37] Yes.

Phillip: [00:24:37] Relay. Relay Cloud. Relay is an app for Shopify and Magento that makes shipping and returns work for you. Super easy and super affordable. And if you are using something already, I don't want to name drop, but if you're using something that sounds like Schmaschernly or sounds like Shaimarvare, then this might be something that you may want to look at. They have a 90 day free trial and a 50% discount for a year after your trial ends and brands are trusting them. Brands like Catbird. They integrate with things like big commerce, Shopify, Salesforce, Magento and a lot of carrier partners like UPS, FedEx, USPS and the like. I want you to check them out. They're just getting started. And I'm super happy to have them supporting the podcast. And they're going to make some big splashes. If you're looking for a shipping and return system that works for you and for your customers. And by the way, your customers, hey 92% of them say they'll buy again from a brand that offers easy returns. The best way you can offer easy returns and make it totally seamless and transparent for your customers is to use something like Relay. So head over to and check them out and tell them Future Commerce sent you when you sign up as a customer for life. We'd love for you to do that. So

Brian: [00:25:59] Nice. Thanks, Relay.

Phillip: [00:26:01] We love you Relay. Yeah, I freaking love buying something that I know that I can easily return and then I never return it because I'm that guy.

Brian: [00:26:14] Well, it's really interesting you bring up returns because there are some funky things going on with returns right now, I feel like.

Phillip: [00:26:20] Yeah?

Brian: [00:26:21] Yeah. Because I think a lot of people...

Phillip: [00:26:23] Oh because it's not safe to take stuff back from people.

Brian: [00:26:27] Right. I think that a lot of people are hesitant to go out and returning something kind of feels like an unnecessary trip right now in some cases.

Phillip: [00:26:38] Ooooh.

Brian: [00:26:38] And so I think that... I wonder. I'm curious, and I haven't seen stats. There are probably some out there already. But I wonder how returns have fared during this period, especially for people that used to buy pretty much exclusively in person, in real life, in brick and mortar.

Phillip: [00:26:58] Yeah.

Brian: [00:26:59] And used to return exclusively in brick and mortar. How have they coped with sort of the rhythm of returns online? Which is its own like thing that you have to kind of get used to doing.

Phillip: [00:27:14] Yeah, you're right. Buying online... This is the body swap that we were just talking about.

Brian: [00:27:19] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:27:20] Buying online is fundamentally safer and more convenient and returning items is safer and more convenient if you can easily return through an eCommerce store that you trust. So, yeah, I'm right there with you. Hey, if we... Could we highlight one more of these Google Docs usages?

Brian: [00:27:37] Oh yeah.

Phillip: [00:27:37] I want to give eCommerce operators some ideas that they could use to like... How could they make this work in their own brand? There was a love letter example.

Brian: [00:27:50] A love letter example? Maybe I missed this one. What do you have? What you got?

Phillip: [00:27:54] Yeah. So Kristen LaFrance, who's a good friend of the show, you should check out her podcast. It's called Playing for Keeps.

Brian: [00:28:01] It's great.

Phillip: [00:28:02] And I think she's rolling out a new property pretty soon. A little birdie told me.

Brian: [00:28:11] Hopefully we didn't just spoil that.

Phillip: [00:28:11] I don't think so. I think it will, actually... I think it might land tomorrow.

Brian: [00:28:16] It's going to beat this episode out.

Phillip: [00:28:18] A little birdie told me that, too. {laughter}.

Brian: [00:28:25] Extra spoiling.

Phillip: [00:28:28] Actually they have, if you had subscribed to the Inbox Inspo Trello board that they run over at ChurnBusters. It's super interesting. But there is a brand called Bambu Earth who Adrian at Admission and the folks over at Common Thread Collective are always on about. And they wanted to test some ad creative that said something like Packed with gLOVE, where love in glove is capitalized. But they didn't just want to like do that for no good reason in the ad creative. So they actually took it one step further and they sent a Google Doc to customers and said, "We want to send love letters to first responders and we want your own voice in those love letters. And so they found that just issuing a Google Doc for people to write into was the easiest way for them to aggregate feedback from customers. And they did in droves. So I thought that was really creative to then bake those kinds of love letters into ad creative, to get in front of first responders to say, hey, you're supported. And we glove you? No, we love you. And we're thankful for, you know, putting yourself in harm's way to keep a lot of people safe. So I thought that was really creative.

Brian: [00:30:09] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:30:09] And yet another way of creating that like a virtuous cycle with a feedback loop that's super easy to implement at the brand level that doesn't require like creating anything more than a Google Docs spreadsheet.

Brian: [00:30:25] Yeah, I think you really hit the nail on the head with what you said earlier about not always having to get the perfect solution. I think this is the key here. When you are in a crisis, all of a sudden you have to reset how you think about how you do things and you get scrappier, you get faster, you find ways of doing things that are more immediate, that are more accessible. And this is just an example of that. I think that this is something that a lot of brands are having to do. We talked earlier this year, it's just kind of gets back to the article I wrote a couple weeks ago... We wrote at the beginning the year about boundaries and how important it is to set boundaries. But there's also knowing when to break them and when to create new ones. I mean, we're in the most boundary filled moment we've been in a long time. Maybe in like a hundred years. And this is the moment to say this is a new abnormal. This is a time to reset and rethink about things. And we've got all of these other boundaries we have to deal with. So let's break some boundaries that we would normally have up and get more immediate feedback instead of going through a more thorough testing process and a more like perfect way of doing things, and just get out there and get some feedback. Or provide, people with encouragement or whatever it is. I think right now is the time to get scrappier than ever.

Phillip: [00:32:07] I think you're right on that. So, like, what are some other things that you can be scrappier with? I just want to enumerate them like off the top of my head. You know, user generated content... You could roll out, let's say you're on Shopify, you could roll out an app that could do that. Or just send an email, and get that sort of feedback.

Brian: [00:32:28] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:32:28] Send an email to your customers and do exactly what they've done here. Just execute this new...  Try this strategy. Throw together, you know, a really creative Google Slide or a Google Sheet or something where customers of yours can just enter in information in a wanton fashion and just hope for the best. And what we're seeing is it's actually kind of awesome how many people are positively contributing. And maybe that's one way that you can test user generated content and then bake that into other areas that will help create social proof that other people trust the products and other people trust the brand and that they care about the brand and want to share with other folks.

Brian: [00:33:13] That's a really good one. Yeah. I think you kind of brought up something interesting here, which is it might be we're in a moment right now where people are more willing... They're more excited to contribute and more willing to contribute than trolls are excited to destroy.

Phillip: [00:33:32] Yeah. Yeah.

Brian: [00:33:34] And so, actually, like, now is the best time to get this kind of engagement with people in a more unprotected, unsecured sort of way, because you're gonna get a better, stronger feedback loop than you normally would. I don't know. That's an interesting thought.

Phillip: [00:33:55] Yeah. I had this really interesting conversation with Matthew Axline from 4x400, which is part of a Common Thread Collective. And he was saying that like digitally native brands now are fundamentally scrappier. And the operators in those brands wear way more hats and they have more specialized skills. And I feel like they're the ones who understand how to work the moment that we're in right now, because they're the ones who said, you know, we need guided selling on our web site. We want to quiz on our web site. I'm just gonna hack it together with type form and Zapier and, like, make that go into some Klaviyo bucket.

Brian: [00:34:42] Yes.

Phillip: [00:34:42] And then we'll figure out the rest later. And they're the ones who aren't sitting around waiting for a perfect purpose-built solution. You know, as much as I love purpose-built solutions, they're testing hypotheses every day. And they've been scrappy since day one. And that's what made them like, you know, they're not looking for the perfect tool, they're looking for strategies. The tactic isn't as important as making sure that they're employing the right strategy to try to make the number, close more business, ship more product and keep the business running.

Brian: [00:35:18] I think it's a really interesting point as well here, which is that this is great that people are getting scrappy and they're starting to engage their customers in new ways, which means that I think that, you know, as we kind of come out of this and we can be more thoughtful and we can take more time and that's more in line with where we really want to be... Actually, we kind of have to. And that's actually a really interesting point. As you start to engage with your customers more, they're going to expect it out of you. And so what I do expect to see is as we come out of this, brands that did get scrappy and brands that are being more engaged, those are the same brands that are actually going to take the time to then go and get the right solutions in the end.

Phillip: [00:36:08] Yes.

Brian: [00:36:08] To accomplish the things that we're doing right now and we're talking about right now.

Phillip: [00:36:12] Right.

Brian: [00:36:12] And so for all of you tech providers out there that are listening to us, I think that you need to identify these trends and understand where you fit into them. And then talk about how what your solution does plays into that. And like, why it's ultimately going to be the right long term move.

Phillip: [00:36:32] Just before we close out, because I want to be respectful of our listeners time. And this has been wow... We haven't had a you and me episode in months.

Brian: [00:36:46] Was it months? Or did we do one like three weeks? I don't even know.

Phillip: [00:36:50] Did we? I don't think we did. Did we?

Brian: [00:36:53] I talk to you all the time. I don't even know what I say on the air.

Phillip: [00:36:55] This has been the longest... 2020 has been the longest Monday ever. By the way that is Raj Nijjer quote from Yotpo and I'll give him love and credit where credit's due.

Brian: [00:37:11] Thanks, Raj.

Phillip: [00:37:11] I do want to, before we close out, I want to give more love to Gladly, which is rejoining Future Commerce to do a lot of really awesome initiatives in 2020.

Brian: [00:37:23] So excited. So much cool stuff coming.

Phillip: [00:37:25] Dude, Gladly is gonna rock the house in 2020, and they've been back for a few weeks now supporting the podcast. We want you to support Gladly. If you are looking for radically personal customer service and you need a platform to be able to run that in your business, Gladly is the platform for you. Hey, I'm going to ask you a question. You know, wouldn't you rather have customer service that feels like a conversation, like feels like a conversation between friends?

Brian: [00:37:51] Yes. I would.

Phillip: [00:37:51] Yes. The answer is yes. You don't want to be treated like a ticket. And remember, I said earlier, eCommerce body swap. eCommerce is more personal now than it has ever been before. And you don't want that personal and clienteling relationship to end after the purchase. Right? You want it to continue well past the purchase. Gladly is radically personal in that it treats people like actual people, and it gives customer service teams the ability to do that by giving them the insight into everything about the customer history from last purchase and dress size to upcoming birthday. Every single bit of information that you need to communicate effectively with the customer is available before you even say hello to them. Customer service agents are the real heroes, and they want to deliver exceptional customer service, and they need the good tools to do it. And so I want you to check out Gladly. You can do that and you'll know why when you talk to them. You're going to know why the most innovative brands in the world like JetBlue and Tumi and Joanne and Godiva and Native Shoes, why they all trust Gladly. You'll know because seriously, Gladly the absolute best. We love them, and we thank them for their continued support. I have a weird, interesting way to close out the show, and I did not prepare you for it.

Brian: [00:39:12] Oh, boy. Here we go.

Phillip: [00:39:14] I want to do a segment. What was the last thing that you bought online? Period. No matter how random. Brian.

Brian: [00:39:24] OK. You ready?

Phillip: [00:39:25] OK. I want to know.

Brian: [00:39:27] These wired headphones that I'm wearing at this very moment.

Phillip: [00:39:32] Was the last thing you bought online?

Brian: [00:39:35] And a double walled water bottle.

Phillip: [00:39:41] Does it have a brand name?

Brian: [00:39:44] From Monoprice.

Phillip: [00:39:46] Oh, my gosh, really, dude?

Brian: [00:39:49] Yup.

Phillip: [00:39:50] Isn't Monoprice the best? Now this is the best.

Brian: [00:39:53] Monoprice is the best.

Phillip: [00:39:54] You know, they just came out with speaker stands. They had to email me about it. They've never sent me an email. I can't remember a marketing email from Monoprice ever. But I got one when their new speaker stands came out.

Brian: [00:40:04] That's so dope. They're incredible. They're incredible. Like, their prices are incredible. The quality is often incredible. I almost bought the sort of Yeti-esque cooler that they have. I don't know. I wanted to do a water bottle, and I had been thinking about getting one for a while, and I also needed new wired headphones. And so I bought them.

Phillip: [00:40:30] What is your old water bottle broken?

Brian: [00:40:33] Oh it's pretty beat up. I know it's also really big.

Phillip: [00:40:39] Is that the Nalgene you bought when we were at REI?

Brian: [00:40:42] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's great. It's great. I drink a lot of water as a result. This is just one step down from that. And so I think it might still be a little bit large, actually. I think I want to go just maybe a little smaller. So I'll probably end up buying another one soon. But that's what I bought last. You asked.

Phillip: [00:40:59] Yeah. No, that's great.

Brian: [00:41:01] Wait, before you move onto you because I want to know what you bought as well. But what I've been actually spending a lot of money on is flowers. And this is a little tip off to what my next article is going to be about on FC Insiders. I am looking forward to my next FC Insiders, and you should, too. Go sign up today.

Phillip: [00:41:19] It's about flowers?

Brian: [00:41:21] Oh. Oh.

Phillip: [00:41:21] Are we tipping the hand about Farmgirl.

Brian: [00:41:25] Oh no, no. We already aired Farmgirl.

Phillip: [00:41:28] Yeah. I thought you were going to go deeper on it.

Brian: [00:41:29] More stuff coming with Farmgirl. Yes, that's true. But Farmgirl is incredible. You should check them out. No, I don't mean cut flowers actually meant garden like potted plants. I have been buying a lot of potted plants. We have been guarding our brains out here.

Phillip: [00:41:48] That's awesome.

Brian: [00:41:49] So, yes. More on that to come on my next FC Insiders. You're up, Phillip. What did you buy last?

Phillip: [00:41:56] This is a total random thing. But I wanted to give a shout out to Lee Glandof and to Matt from Tracksmith. And so Matt Taylor has been on the show for at least two podcasts that I've done, one with Future Commerce, and has contributed many times to the show. And thank you for that. And Lee runs a lot of the content there at Tracksmith. I had reached out to see if they had something in stock that wasn't in stock on the website. But I was like, can you check the stock room? Because I'm that guy. And they hooked me up. They gifted me with a hair athletic club membership which was super cool of them. And I in turn wound up buying a bunch of exclusive hair athletic club gear from them.

Brian: [00:42:54] That's why they gifted it to you. Just kidding. {laughter} That was sneaky, guys. Well played.

Phillip: [00:43:02] They know me. So here's the random question. Do you want me to do it unboxing right here? Cause I'm ready to go.

Brian: [00:43:08] Unbox it.

Phillip: [00:43:09] Yeah. I'll grab it.

Brian: [00:43:10] Do it. This is not that weird. This is awesome.

Phillip: [00:43:12] This is so random. And we don't do stuff like this on Future Commerce. But why not? Why don't you take us home and tell people what they need to do to subscribe. Five star and all that while I get the box.

Brian: [00:43:21] I mean, do we even need to say this? We say it every week. Please, we want your feedback on the show. We just talked about nothing for about, I don't even know how long it's been. It felt like five minutes, but it was a lot longer. So please come contribute. Tell us what you're doing that's scrappy right now in you're your business and how you're breaking down barriers that used to hold sacred. And let us know how you're adjusting to the new abnormal. You can do that at or you can reach out to us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and pretty much any other social platform.

Phillip: [00:43:58] All right, here we go.

Brian: [00:43:59] We're about to unbox. Let's do this.

Phillip: [00:44:02] I've never done anything like this before. I feel like I should have a top down camera. That's like specifically meant for this. Very stoked for this. Oh, so I've been at home where my wife keeps the air conditioner at like 30 below zero at all times. And so I've been wearing a lot more sweatshirts recently. And so I bought a sweatshirt from Tracksmith, which I would probably criticized two years ago as not being running apparel. It's a sweatshirt, but I love this sweatshirt. Look at that. That's a cool sweatshirt.

Brian: [00:44:32] That's a cool sweatshirt. That's dope.

Phillip: [00:44:35] That's pretty cool, right? I love that.

Brian: [00:44:37] I would wear that. That's awesome. I like that.

Phillip: [00:44:39] And I got a track jacket as well.

Brian: [00:44:41] Ooh, a track jacket.

Phillip: [00:44:44] Because you know how often I go to the track. {laughter} This is a I love their packaging, by the way. It's very, very cool. So here's the track jacket. Look at that.

Brian: [00:44:56] Whoo! Yeah, that's really cool.

Phillip: [00:44:58] That's classy. That's classy.

Brian: [00:45:03] I love it. Yeah. I love that. They always do such a nice job with design at Tracksmith.

Phillip: [00:45:09] It's amazing.

Brian: [00:45:10] So well thought through. Great just that throwback vibe and I really enjoy it.

Phillip: [00:45:18] Oh, okay. Well you've watched and/or listened long enough. You know what to do. Go show our sponsors some love. Go show us some love. If for nothing else, you can give us a five star wherever podcasts are found. And stick around. We're gonna have some amazing content in the weeks to come. Hey, get scrappy out there and stay safe. And let's... You know, we still have the ability to shape our future.

Brian: [00:45:41] Yes.

Phillip: [00:45:42] There is a future in front of us. And I think we're starting to see brands come up out of it now. And we want to hear your success stories. Drop us a line at

Brian: [00:45:52] Thanks for listening.

Phillip: [00:45:53] Thanks, Brian. Adios.

Brian: [00:45:54] See ya.

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