Join us for VISIONS Summit NYC  - June 11
Episode 296
March 24, 2023

"The Digital Natives are Analog-Curious"

Today we cover the absence of a modern media format war and the reemergence of convergence devices. PLUS: What is the key to building a better future for your brand? According to Peter Karpas, CEO at Bold Commerce, it's the "customer trifecta": great products, quality customer flow, and thoughtful customer journeys. Listen now!

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Today we cover the absence of a modern media format war and the reemergence of convergence devices. PLUS: What is the key to building a better future for your brand? According to Peter Karpas, CEO at Bold Commerce, it's the "customer trifecta": great products, quality customer flow, and thoughtful customer journeys. Listen now!

The Commerce Quilt

  • {00:03:28} The digital natives are becoming the analog curious, and it’s now a sustainable business model to sell analog formats to a new audience
  • {00:09:48} “eCommerce itself is its own convergence device in that it's the natural intersection of all of these things like logistics, payment, and catalog.” - Phillip
  • {00:27:28} Bold Commerce is a stepping stone to create a revenue impact that heads towards the composable world. Brands can integrate Bold and solve common checkout problems
  • {00:33:35} “Any word that you have to explain what it means is not a good marketing word.” - Peter Karpas
  • {00:35:11} “We would be better if we all realized that there is a skill and a trade that is as old as humanity itself to acquire and that's really just understanding human needs and desires and trying to bring those things together.” - Phillip
  • {00:36:45} Good communication is customer-focused
  • {00:43:14} Improving your checkout conversion numbers even by 1 or 2 points can have a massive impact on your bottom line, but you need the right checkout solutions to be able to achieve that

Thanks to WB Research and eTail Palm Springs for making this interview possible. eTail is one of our favorite retail and eCommerce industry events. Plans are already underway for their Boston show, happening in August. Get more information and register right over here.

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Brian: [00:01:26] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about the next generation of commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:31] I'm Phillip, and today we have a little bit of a two-parter episode. We're going to open up with a sort of what we've been thinking about, kind of building up some content that we've been musing on as we make our way towards our Visions Summit coming in June, which you'll hear more about here in the coming weeks. And then a little later on, we have Peter Karpus, the new CEO, installed over there at Bold Commerce, who we talked to at eTail West in Palm Springs just a week or two ago. And we're going to talk to him a little bit about what it's like to come into a role in his first sort of directly in the eCommerce world gig and how he's figuring out all the acronyms and phraseology and the inside baseball nature of how we make the world of commerce work. And so we'll sit down with him in just a little bit. But Brian, before we do any of that...

Brian: [00:02:29] We've got an upcoming summit. We put out an incredible report every year called Visions, but Visions, not to telegraph too much, but it's evolving this year.

Phillip: [00:02:43] Yeah, there are a bunch of big ideas, but one of the ideas that we're teasing out and sort of workshopping at the moment is this idea of media format innovation. And the fact is there are just no media formats anymore. You can download video games. In fact, that's the preferred way of consuming video game media. Movie stream to you. There's really not a lot of innovation in physical media format because physical media is kind of dead or is it?

Brian: [00:03:15] Or is it?

Phillip: [00:03:16] Is the question.

Brian: [00:03:16] I mean, there's a whole world out there of analog media just waiting to be discovered.

Phillip: [00:03:26] Or rediscovered.

Brian: [00:03:27] Rediscovered, Yes.

Phillip: [00:03:28] I think what I've been saying is the digital natives are becoming analog curious and so much so it's like it's become a sustainable business model to resell analog formats now to a new audience.

Brian: [00:03:41] Sustainable. It's interesting. We seem to be going backwards in time. Vinyl sales just outpaced CD sales for the first time, which I guess both are physical media. But if we're going to go back to physical media, we might as well go back to the coolest formats.

Phillip: [00:04:01] Let's go all the way back. I just saw an Instagram ad for $150 Sony Walkman cassette players that have been refurbished. And there's an entire company. In fact, it's sort of transcended beyond the Etsy variety of refurbished, eBay variety resale as/is to full-on like digital commerce brands, companies that are running Shopify stores where they're actually selling goods refurbished as new. And these are retro gear. This is old technology. And that's because Billie Eilish and others have released modern media on legacy formats like cassette tapes. And I find this to be... If I had to think through why we're here, I think we're overdue for a media format war.

Brian: [00:04:57] Of some sort.

Phillip: [00:05:00] I grew up with... Did you ever go all in on a defunct media format? Did you buy minidisc?

Brian: [00:05:06] Well, not minidiscs. No, but I guess I was at the end of the tape era, so we had a lot of tapes and then we had a lot of CDs.

Phillip: [00:05:21] Cassette tapes.

Brian: [00:05:22] Cassette tapes. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:05:23] Did you ever have the bridge device, you put a cassette tape in the player, but you plug it into the headphone jack of like a portable CD player?

Brian: [00:05:34] Yeah, I didn't have the bridge for tapes because tape players were abundant for a long time. Even in my 1999 Ford F 150 there is a cassette player.

Phillip: [00:05:49] Wow, that's pretty late.

Brian: [00:05:51] I know.

Phillip: [00:05:52] I guess that makes a lot of sense. I guess it makes some sense. Sure.

Brian: [00:05:55] Think about that. That's very late.

Phillip: [00:05:58] That's millennial-era transportation. We had a cassette player. That's interesting.

Brian: [00:06:05] That's like post-Napster.

Phillip: [00:06:09] Many people listening to this right now were born after that car that you're waxing nostalgic about.

Brian: [00:06:16] I know, but it was late for tapes. A lot of people were born after...

Phillip: [00:06:21] Not anymore. That might be collector era now.

Brian: [00:06:26] My truck is a classic.

Phillip: [00:06:28] You can listen to the newest whatever the kids listen to. What do I know? No idea what I'm talking about.

Brian: [00:06:37] I think this is super interesting. No, I did have a VHS and DVD combo player. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:06:46] Okay. Yeah, this is an interesting... Hold on. This is super interesting and not something we've talked about for Visions, but there is the concept of convergence devices. The leatherman's probably the greatest modern example of convergence device. Swiss Army knife would be a prior-era example of a convergence device. But Swiss Army knife I think has often been derided as it's not really good at any one thing. Leatherman is actually quite good at a couple things. And so well, some people, some people swear by them. And there is like a category of media consumption around everyday carry culture, where people sort of have come to depend on convergence devices as sort of an aesthetic and part of their identity. And I think that there's this combo media player that needs to come back where it is the cassette player or the tape player...

Brian: [00:07:42] Dude. This already exists. This is every single record player that's out there right now is also a Bluetooth player.

Phillip: [00:07:50] It's a Bluetooth player. That's true. That is for sure.

Brian: [00:07:53] And I'm pretty sure there are some combos with cassettes as well. Yeah. No, the combo players. Amazing. I love it. I'm sure that someone else out there was like, "Oh yeah, I'm going to make a lot of money off of this." And then they did.

Phillip: [00:08:08] It's interesting. The smart TV is actually the greatest convergence device.

Brian: [00:08:13] True.

Phillip: [00:08:13] Because you have the media streaming formats all in and of themselves. Have you seen the ads recently for Verizon One where there is a new... I think it premiered at the Oscars, this new service from Verizon where you can start, pause, and cancel on demand any streaming service subscription from One Verizon app. So we're back at the cable provider is effectively where we are because maybe the greatest of all media convergence period in that all these streaming services are now being bundled into one. And that's an interesting sort of modern affectation of we're just tired of the proliferation of more things, more channels, more places to consume. I guess Tubi is a thing. We've run out of names. We've run out of names for things. So I think we're at that place where we need to see more agglomeration. But I find that to be really interesting. In fact, this will bridge us into our interview later on. But Bold Commerce itself is sort of an interesting convergence device sort of company in and of itself in that it was like Shopify apps that were born of an agency and then became sort of mainstay subscription media and then now on all platforms, right, checkout and etcetera. So [00:09:48] eCommerce itself is its own convergence device in that it's the natural intersection of all of these things like logistics and payment and catalog... [00:09:58]

Brian: [00:10:00] I do think it's really interesting though, we talked about physical convergence showing up in this Frankenstein device that's CD players and tape players and record player all in one.

Phillip: [00:10:19] Frankenstein's monster devices.

Brian: [00:10:20] Yes. Frankenstein's monster survives. Thank you. Thank you. Well, I guess it could be called a Frankenstein device. It would just be the device itself would be the monster.

Phillip: [00:10:28] The creator of the device would be Frankenstein in this. Yeah. Get it right. Mary Shelley's stans out there, they're all yelling at their podcast player at the moment/phone/calculator.

Brian: [00:10:43] What's really interesting about digital media is that it's disembodied. So the monster is different, it's not exactly the same kind of monster that we had before.

Phillip: [00:11:01] Say more about that. I'm not quite following. It's disembodied in that streaming media has no format, no tangible physical.

Brian: [00:11:08] Right. So we talked about media format wars in a physical era and you had to change your literal device to get to the next one.

Phillip: [00:11:19] Oh, it was a means to consumption. It was a tool of consumption and reconsumption.

Brian: [00:11:24] Correct. But in a digital world, format wars are still consumed through single screens. So the monster is actually just a way of reconfiguring information. So I was thinking about this recently. Digital in many ways is it's not real. It's a projection, it's a projection of data. It is a way of organizing intent and information. But it is actually not something that's real. So really, when you talk about Bold's checkout and the different payment options available, that is a way of sort of constructing information and displaying it back to us.

Phillip: [00:12:23] It's like a commercial zen garden.

Brian: [00:12:25] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:12:25] We can push things around and arrange the rocks and but it's a closed system in that we have only so many things to employ and to plug in. The next level up is either revisiting nostalgic experiences of old potentially, but maybe that is what's driving a lot of this pushback to nostalgic media formats. You talked about digital format wars and maybe there are examples of digital format wars, but we haven't really teased them out. For instance, there seems to be a lot of frustration with WebP files. So you have this imposed media format that is web only that's really not useful outside of viewing in a web browser, if you save, like you go on Google Image and you search for an image on Google Images, you try to put that in a PowerPoint presentation that's going to be like, "I don't understand this format. What is this?"

Brian: [00:13:22] Right.

Phillip: [00:13:23] And that is its own sort of digital nativity of its own. That is a format that's only meant to be consumed by one format player. It is actually a format war in and of itself. Maybe that is the greatest modern example of the imposition of a media format from a proprietary source where it would have been Sony in a prior era saying, "You need minidisc," but now it's Google saying, "We need to save bits and bytes and gigs because reasons."

Brian: [00:13:53] Well, what about Apple mail not consuming AMP?

Phillip: [00:13:59] That's a really good example too. Yeah, yeah. It's also the extension and the heightening of the experience. So what format wars have always done is they provide greater fidelity and greater immersion. And when you see what Google can do through AMP email.

Brian: [00:14:17] Yes.

Phillip: [00:14:18] It's kind of wild that we still have static email altogether. The reason that nobody is coding the AMP email is one, there's vendor lock in, and so you have this. It is the minidisc player. There is an audience for greater fidelity and higher immersion, but it's probably not, if you're a commercial entity, you're trying to serve the greatest surface area of audience.

Brian: [00:14:43] Right. So no one's going to code for it because Apple's not consuming it. This is actually the definition of...

Phillip: [00:14:48] There actually are no players or builders for it.

Brian: [00:14:50] Right.

Phillip: [00:14:50] It's funny. If you look back, I'm going to date myself here. Do you remember the movie O Brother Where Art Thou?

Brian: [00:14:58] Of course. That's Cohen brothers, my favorite.

Phillip: [00:15:01] There was a time when you would have either a radio station or a recording booth, and you would go rent time and you could pop into there and you could walk out literally with a playable piece of media. So you had these record lathes that would literally record onto a piece of vinyl, that you could walk out and say, "I have a piece of media that I have created because I am an artist and this is one of one." And that was lost for some time. Magnetic tape sort of did that to some degree, but magnetic tape, the cassette tapes didn't have this great of fidelity as maybe other media formats.

Brian: [00:15:41] Hence vinyl being the preferred media format.

Phillip: [00:15:44] Exactly. It was always preferred like Hi-Fi media format. It wasn't until CD came about, but CD had this greater fidelity but required specialist equipment to actually be able to walk away with it. So you had this digital thing that required, I don't know, plastics and chemicals and computers to create and reproduce. There's a really interesting period of time in the early 90 seconds where we were almost analog, not quite analog anymore, but we were verging on digital. It was like that hump period of time where I think a lot of us might have grown up, some of us might have grown up. I definitely grew up in that time where you kind of had some things were physical format, and some things were digital format. And it was an interesting blend of the two that kept that mode of consumption alive and recreating libraries in new formats, kind of a Cambrian explosion of media formats in that era. A very special time.

Brian: [00:16:48] The Matrix got it right. I mean, actually, they said the late 90 seconds would always come back in, but I would argue that it's like the just pre-internet era that we're always come back in, like the late 80s. I did not grow up in the late 80s. I grew up in the 90s, but I actually think the late 80s were kind of a special time because it was so still physical. It's right on the verge of everything becoming electronic media at every level. And I don't know, I think, yeah, maybe that period from like 1980 through 1995, there's going to always be some level of let's go back to like just before we went digital.

Phillip: [00:17:36] That's what I don't think... So you're saying Lana and Lilly Wachowski are the greatest modern media theorists to...

Brian: [00:17:44] Potentially.

Phillip: [00:17:46] What's interesting about the Wachowski sort of point of view in the Matrix is it was choosing the modern era to place this conceit of you're doomed to relive this time frame over and over and over again because it was the most acceptable. It was also sort of in this, as far as media format is concerned, it was like this peak period of consumption of media format. We have more media to consume today. We don't have any more physical media to consume. So really the only thing that is left to consume is just a constant stream of information. It wasn't actually the collection and the recollection and the building of a library of physical things, so you still had to rely on the physical world in order to consume media of any kind. It's kind of an interesting, that is a unique moment in history, which feels like we're very post-that, but maybe it's coming back. The digital natives are becoming analog curious.

Brian: [00:18:47] Luddite. Luddite curious.

Phillip: [00:18:49] It is interesting watching. So GPT4 was announced yesterday and you're seeing some of these white papers that showed the challenge, the adversarial nature of things like GPT4. It is creating the new Luddite and maybe some people that have anti-commerce points of view and saying, hey, maybe we've gone too far. Maybe it is pushing us back to the era of the Matrix. Who knows?

Brian: [00:19:18] Or the era that The Matrix simulated. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:19:23] Yeah. And speaking of simulation, we can simulate great commerce experiences nowadays, both online and off. And one of the folks that are making that possible in the world is Peter Karpus. He's the new CEO over at Bold Commerce. And he's going to talk to us a little bit about what it's like to bring a storied history of bringing the world together in payments innovation and prior life at PayPal and then in helping the world to work better at companies like Intuit and how he's bringing all of that experience to bear and building the future of commerce at Bold. We're going to go to our interview now with Peter Karpus, the new CEO over at Bold Commerce, live from eTail West. We are together with Peter Karpus, who is the newly installed CEO over at Bold Commerce. Welcome to the show.

Peter Karpas: [00:21:01] Hello everybody. Thank you for having me.

Brian: [00:21:02] We're excited.

Phillip: [00:21:03] Yeah. I'm loving the energy so far. Is it a good show? Yes or no? You feeling it?

Peter Karpas: [00:21:07] Oh yeah. I came to learn and I'm learning a ton. And I had a plan, and the plan has been great.

Phillip: [00:21:12] Oh, let's talk about that. I just had this conversation before we walked into here. What is a plan for you when you walk into a show like this? What do you do to prepare?

Peter Karpas: [00:21:24] So for me, it was about what are the things that I really want to know and learn. So my team is here and they're selling. We're going to get our message out and how do we serve it? But for me, I came really for two reasons. One, I come more for the payment side and I want to understand what are all of the solutions and offerings that are just that pummel the sort of the digital side, the eCommerce side of brands. And I'm actually flabbergasted by how many... Isn't that a good word? Flabbergasted?

Phillip: [00:21:55] I love that word.

Peter Karpas: [00:21:55] Like just how many possible problems there are and therefore how many solutions there are. Many of which have nothing to do with Bold. But it's good to immerse yourself.

Brian: [00:22:05] Yeah, totally. Where do you fit in the world?

Peter Karpas: [00:22:07] And the customer... And also I try to get in the customer's mind as much as possible. And so to understand all of the things that they look at, it sort of helps put you in your place a little bit to be like, okay, I really have to be sharp. And so that was sort of the one thing that I wanted to learn. And the other is I just want to talk to as many people as I possibly can to sort of get a sense of does Bold resonate? Does what we do make sense? How do we talk about it? So because I'm learning how to talk about Bold, so only a few months in the role and so to be able to get that understanding is incredibly valuable. Plus you get to meet a bunch of cool people and that's fun, too.

Brian: [00:22:42] Yes, it is.

Phillip: [00:22:42] You have some pedigree. I don't want to take that away from you. For people that aren't familiar with who you are, tell us a little bit about, you're four months in the role you said.

Peter Karpas: [00:22:52] Yes.

Phillip: [00:22:52] What were you doing before?

Peter Karpas: [00:22:54] So immediately before I had my own startup and so I was the Founder and Co-CEO. For a while, I was the CEO, but then we actually merged with a company in South Africa. And so that's actually one of the more interesting things. I was Co-CEO with a woman in Cape Town, South Africa, who I have never met.

Brian: [00:23:12] Wow.

Peter Karpas: [00:23:12] For a year. Never met her in person and still never met her in person.

Phillip: [00:23:16] Wow.

Peter Karpas: [00:23:17] Even though we merged our companies.

Brian: [00:23:18] Incredible.

Peter Karpas: [00:23:19] And so that was fun. But my history, I started I'm a P&G trained marketer and I got the brand manager stamp on my forehead that marks me as a P&G guy for the rest of my life. Then I went to Activision video games, but then I spent ten-plus years at Intuit, so I was Intuit's Chief Marketing Product Management Officer. I ran the Quicken business and did a bunch of stuff when you were at a company that long you do. Then I went to PayPal. I was PayPal's most senior marketer, ran PayPal's largest PNL. Then I went to First Data. I did SMB product for First Data, which is kind of like a GM job there. But that means that I've sort of been on both the brand side, like Intuit, and then also on the payments side, and now I've sort of migrated towards the Commerce side with Bold.

Brian: [00:24:02] Love it.

Peter Karpas: [00:24:02] That's the way to think about me.

Brian: [00:24:04] That's such an interesting path. It seems like you've got such a rounded view on what's happening, having been on brands side and also in video games. Actually, I didn't catch that earlier when we were talking. That's super cool. Given what's happening in digital right now. A lot of interesting stuff happening in commerce, in gaming, but I'm really excited. I'm really interested. You've been at the show for a couple of days now. What's been something that stood out to you so far?

Peter Karpas: [00:24:32] Again, the sheer number of problems that today's marketers face or just the amount of optimization. I mean, again, the number of competitors here is actually low as a percentage of the booths.

Brian: [00:24:48] Yes.

Peter Karpas: [00:24:49] Because there's like you just walk and I just keep asking, what do you do? How do you solve problems for the merchants, like for the brands. And they all have just different answers. And it is, again, for somebody who wasn't as immersed in this part of the world, it's shocking. It is sort of shocking and it really gives me a sense, just I feel actually for my customers in a way that I might not have felt before because I understand now a bit more of all the things that they have to deal with. That by far is the biggest.

Brian: [00:25:19] That's true. Commerce is so complex. I think this is what draws me to commerce is it's so so, there's so much depth. There are so many components to it. It's like you're taking eCommerce, brick and mortar, technology for customer technology, for store... It's like it's everything.

Phillip: [00:25:38] Employee experience.

Brian: [00:25:39] Employee experience. All of it.

Phillip: [00:25:40] It really is like this intersection of all of the hardest problem areas. Payments is one of the hardest problem areas, but it's only one small factor. But Bold provides a lot of solutions for merchants. I have to give you an opportunity to talk about that.

Brian: [00:25:54] Yes, please.

Peter Karpas: [00:25:55] Yes, I will. But just to sort of finish, one of the ways that I know that somebody BS'ing me is if they tell me they're either a payments expert or an eCommerce expert because there's no such thing as a payments level expert or an eCommerce because there are all of the pieces, like they're just so complex. You have to know so many pieces of it that I know people in payments who have just worked with gas stations their entire career. And that is like... So in any case, thank you for letting me talk about Bold. What does Bold do? So Bold has two parts to it. One is we are a ten year old company, we've processed $4.7 billion worth of GMV through us. So we're sizable. We're not sort of small. We have a Shopify part of the business. We actually grew up as a Shopify app developer. So we have a bunch of Shopify apps, subscriptions, QuickBooks and Xero integrations, pricing, and upsell. That's not why we're here at eTail. Why we're here at eTail is to talk about what the company has been working on for the last 4 to 5 years, which is composable checkout. And basically, if you're on Magento, if you're on Salesforce, if you're on Oracle Commerce Cloud, if you're on any of sort of the big monolithic type systems and you say, "Hey, I want to think about composable, but it's scary. It's expensive. I no longer have a single throat to choke. How do I go about this?" Bold solves checkout for you [00:27:28]. We are a stepping stone for you to be able to rather than talk about quarters and years, in weeks and months, create a revenue impact that heads you towards the composable sort of world because you can integrate Bold and solve your checkout problems, the checkout part of the eCommerce journey in a very real way for these monolithic sort of bigger, very solid pieces. But we enable merchants to sort of get off them slowly and solve checkout, which is one of the big three parts of eCommerce. [00:28:06]

Brian: [00:28:06] It is. And it's often tricky. It's a tricky part of it.

Peter Karpas: [00:28:09] Yes. Yes. And then if I can keep going, the other thing that people always ask me is they're like, "Well, what does it mean to solve checkout?" And for us, it is about, particularly there're four areas, but one of the primary areas is just flows. So the ability to create any kind of flow anywhere that you want so that people can check out in social, through QR codes on your packaging, in blogs, in addition to... We talk about anywhere flows and the ability to create those flows tailored to you, this is the difference between like a Bold checkout and an Oracle or sort of Salesforce checkout, which is a generic checkout. It's a sort of solid generic checkout. We allow you to tailor the entire checkout journey for the customer, and that's what grows your revenue.

Brian: [00:30:35] It's amazing. In context checkout. Super cool. We've talked a bunch about in context. I love that. And you also just had some big news, a big announcement with PayPal, is that correct?

Peter Karpas: [00:30:46] Yes.

Brian: [00:30:46] Tell us a little about that.

Peter Karpas: [00:30:46] So PayPal, one of my old haunts, I was super happy when I arrived, that we were doing this. Well, what we announced with PayPal is the ability to unlock the PayPal network through every touchpoint, through our checkout. So having been at PayPal, I can always say and actually any tech company, if they're honest, will say there are integrations and then there are integrations. We did the full on integration in with PayPal so that you can access all of the sort of the PayPal capabilities. So which isn't just PayPal, but it's PayPal, it's Venmo, it's the pay later capability. It's the entire PayPal network effect. And they've got, I think it's like 430 million now.

Brian: [00:31:30] Wow. Yeah.

Peter Karpas: [00:31:32] 430 million people through, and you can use now all of that very easily through the Bold checkout.

Brian: [00:31:40] No brainer. I love it.

Peter Karpas: [00:31:42] Yeah, it's great. And again, we just sort of unlock all this capability with this partnership, which is wonderful.

Phillip: [00:31:49] I got to ask you, and this is completely out of left field, but for someone who's four months in the role in eCommerce enablement role, you really talk the talk. You know the industry speak.

Brian: [00:32:04] You said composable.

Phillip: [00:32:05] You said composable. And I was like, I believed you. I was with you. You come from outside the ecosystem. I mean, you certainly have enabled it for a long time. You've been, sure, plenty of businesses use Quicken. I'm sure plenty of businesses use PayPal. So it's not like you're completely an outsider. But you're new. How hard was it for you to sort of acclimate to the current complexity of this ecosystem and all of the jargon and all of the solutions? You said there's probably as much jargon as there are vendors on this show floor.

Brian: [00:32:41] More. There's more jargon than there are vendors. {laughter}

Peter Karpas: [00:32:44] {laughter} Yes.

Phillip: [00:32:44] And I think that that's a real challenge here in trying to understand how you come in and maybe make sense of all of that, or am I not giving you enough credit?

Peter Karpas: [00:32:56] No. So, one, I appreciate the feedback. And I think that I've educated myself to the point. And part of that is just talking to customers. Talk to partners. Nothing replaces getting out in the world and going and talking to people like you. But one of the stories I have is like when I first literally, literally in my first week when I joined Bold, they started talking to me about composable. And my question was, is that a Bold word, or is that an industry word? Because if it's a Bold word, can we change it? Because the word composable...

Phillip: [00:33:28] What does it mean?

Brian: [00:33:29] Decomposing...

Peter Karpas: [00:33:32] Right, Exactly.

Brian: [00:33:33] Commerce is decomposing.

Peter Karpas: [00:33:35]  [00:33:35]Any word that you have to explain what it means is not a good marketing word. [00:33:39]

Brian: [00:33:39] Yes. Yes.

Peter Karpas: [00:33:41] But eventually, okay, everybody will get it and we'll all agree to what composable means. And mostly, it's sort of a thing, but the concept of composable is a great one, which is rather than having single monolithic, I'm going to sort of break it up and do component parts and through those component parts, I can have best of breed. So that's awesome. But I think honestly a lot of it is just learn, learn, be open to learning and then don't be afraid to sound really stupid by asking questions because you just don't know. I don't know, there's a lot of things I don't know. And so I ask and I think sometimes people look at me like, "Are you the CEO of Bold, and you don't know that?" And I'm a few months in. Tell me and then I'll know it.

Brian: [00:34:25] We've been doing this for 15, 20 years and there are still things we don't know we're talking about. It's so big.

Phillip: [00:34:32] Yeah, I don't know what I'm doing. Especially to your point earlier saying like, "Oh, I'm a payments expert," I don't know that... What I've realized recently is my journey is a lot like others in this room. I'm a technologist. I was a technologist. I built teams that built technology. And I wasn't a merchant. I worked for a merchant. But I think a lot of folks in this room and a lot of folks in our industry, especially on the "e" side of eCommerce, they're technologists. They've never really learned retail or how to be a merchant. And I feel like [00:35:11] we would be better if we all realized that there is a skill and a trade that is as old as humanity itself to acquire and that's really just understanding human needs and desires and trying to bring those things together. And it's not just in how we sell consumer products to people. That is one facet of it, but it's also in how we sell these solutions to each other. [00:35:34] You ask folks what they do here, and I don't think most of them can even explain it because it's too multifaceted. It's not really as much of a point solution as they would like you to believe. It's like we're trying to touch multiple points of a customer journey because it's a little bit safer. It's a little bit... Most people are trying to stretch their dollar further. They're trying to have fewer hands to shake. It's a natural part of the challenge in our ecosystem. But it's technologists trying to sell technology to people that aren't necessarily other technologists. I don't know. I find that this... Here's my monologue for the day. Sorry. But I do find it refreshing to just be in a room where we can say that out loud finally. We don't have to pretend to know it all.

Brian: [00:36:19] I think the question is like, what does that mean at a show like this? We come together, we make our product announcements, we talk to merchants, but it's funny, there are a lot of people here to sell, there are a lot of people here looking for solutions, so maybe really what we should be doing is thinking about how customers are thinking and learn from that.

Peter Karpas: [00:36:45] There's no question that the... Look, I don't remember where I heard this, but I heard it a very long time ago. But it is communication is for the receiver. And it's so easy to forget that. Because we're always in our heads and we're sort of thinking, "This is what I want to say. This is what I want to get across." But it's like communication is for the receiver, which means fundamentally good communication is customer-focused. If you think about the person who you're talking to is a customer, go with me on the analogy, it's not the greatest sort of thing, but if you're talking to a friend, you want them to be interested.

Brian: [00:37:17] I love this. I love this. I think what you're getting at is you could say something the most brilliant way possible, but if the person on the other side can't receive it, can't process it, and they can't make it a part of themselves, you did not communicate.

Peter Karpas: [00:37:34] You did not communicate, and so, therefore, it's like a lot of this is okay, part of this then is let me take the cognitive load off, which means I need to be clear and the clearer I can be, which takes effort. It is hard to be clear. And especially if you're talking about something that is technical or that is complex and everything looks easy. And then as soon as you get into it, you're like, "Oh, it's a little bit harder. It's a little bit harder. What about this?" What about BOPUS? You sit there and you're like, BOPUS, what the hell is buy online paying store? Oh, right. Buy online, pick up in store. But it always gets more complicated and more complicated. But if you can pull back up and you're like, this is what I think. And then somebody can receive that easy communication. This is what marketers try to do all the time in some way. If they can receive that easy communication and then they can do it back, then you can talk about is there something there?

Brian: [00:38:25] Right. This is the problem is that you get so caught up in these terms, you start speaking in ways that your customers don't care about or never understand. You brought up BOPUS. No normal consumer has ever heard of BOPUS ever, and you might even be putting it on your website now. "Bopus." No. Don't do that.

Peter Karpas: [00:38:44] Don't do that. Right.

Phillip: [00:38:45] Getting back to some of the challenges that we have in trying to sell because we are here... Well I'm not here for it. But a lot of folks here are in search of a solution. What are the ways that we can do better? In your role, I'm sure that you talk to a lot of your customers. What are their challenges looking like right now and how are you trying to meet their challenges with solutions?

Peter Karpas: [00:39:12] So the big thing and we talked about this a little bit, I think it's sort of worth repeating, right, which is, okay, let's talk macroeconomically. Everybody's feeling the pressure, so the free spending days are gone. They will come back. They always do. But for now, everybody's like, "I need money quickly." And so you sit there and you say, okay, go quickly. And then everybody is like, "Okay, okay, okay. I want to go sort of quickly. What about this composable headless thing? Can that help me? Can that help me quickly?" And then they start sort of diving into it. And of course, one of the things that they run into is like, "Oh my God, do I have to replatform?" Because replatforming is neither quick nor cheap, so you sit there and you're like, "Oh, I hate replatforming." And so this is a case where I think if you look at the history of even our message, we weren't clear to people that we're like, "We can be your first step towards a replatform." If you're on any of these check out can grow your business again in weeks and months, not quarters and years, this is the sort of quickly. And you can implement us and then you can do all these things that you sort of want to do. And then the beautiful thing is when the days come and you do have the money and you can go replatform, you don't have to throw away. Because it is, we are composable and headless.

Brian: [00:40:35] Yeah.

Peter Karpas: [00:40:35] And you can use us. And then as you do the rest of your replatforming, you don't have to throw us away. And by the way, if we're then not good enough, you can replace us. We're going to be good enough so that you won't. But it isn't that you're now marrying on another replatforming type decision. You don't have that sort of that kind of threat hanging over you. And we were talking about like messenger, like the fact that I'm able to say that this clearly was work.

Brian: [00:41:02] Yes.

Phillip: [00:41:02] Right.

Peter Karpas: [00:41:03] Right. I could not have said this this clearly even 2 or 3 weeks ago, as me as the sort of the CEO. But that is, again, it's practice and it's work and it's communication. But this is what we can offer. And I think it solves a real need, which is why I joined the company. I think we can help people and in the end, the jobs I take, I want to help people. That's the job.

Phillip: [00:41:23] This is the quilt, actually.

Brian: [00:41:25] It is the quilt. Yes.

Phillip: [00:41:26] We have a concept that came out of a big research report we put out last year called Visions. And there's a concept that eCommerce is more of a quilt nowadays. It's sort of a friendship quilt of vendors where there are small, discrete portions that have unique experiences that are insular unto themselves, and they can be sort of swapped out and replaced at will. The underlying sort of the filler or the batting doesn't... You don't have to replace the entirety of the front end experience to replace the batting. And so we've actually it's never been harder to choose technology, but it's never been easier to replace it either. And business buyers have become consumers unto themselves. They sample technology. They don't want long-term contracts. Shopify has enabled an ecosystem where they can just one click, install something, decide they don't like it, and uninstall it tomorrow. And that dynamic means that a lot of the way that we engage in business and we sell to customers has to change because the consumer, the business buyer is a consumer now. They're not a strategist. They're not an operator. They are a consumer. And we have to identify them as such. And if we, what it sounds like you have done is you've taken this one critical part of this ecosystem and you've de-risked the platform choice to make the platform purchase a consumer affectation as well. And that de-risks the company to say, "Well, I can make forward progress and investment in one area of my quilt without having to worry about the entirety of the customer journey because some of it is UGC. That's a third party, some of it is some experiences on the PDP, that's a third party. Now checkout can be that too."

Peter Karpas: [00:43:14] Yes, that is exactly it. There is one other... You sort of asked, okay, what are the other sort of messages for the merchants? And that is, I think people ask me like, "What's your frustration in the first four months?" And I think like on the industry side, it's that everybody just seems to think that checkout loss is just checkout loss and we're going to have to deal with it and we have to suck it up. And Bold research was 53% drop off after people hit the checkout button. On average, people hit the checkout button and there's roughly 53% sort of drop off. That is pathetic. Okay. That is pathetic. Now, there are good reasons for it. People are like, "Oh, I didn't realize shipping was going to cost this much." But there are bad reasons for it. According to our research, 17% of the time it's because they don't have the right payment options. So let's bring back the PayPal thing, so why is PayPal such a good option? Because it gives them these payment options, to pay later being sort of a great example of that, and you give them payment options. If you change by even 1 or 2 points your checkout conversion number, the impact to your bottom line is massive. You spend all of this time and effort getting people to the site, getting people to actually want something on your site like the photography and the layout and the UI like all of this. And then we're like, "Yeah, we can't do anything about checkout." And I'm like, "Oh my God, don't be so, don't give up. There are better solutions." And again, it comes back to your point earlier around do we understand customers? Because if you can create different customer journeys and that's part of what Bold does is we allow you to create all of these different customer flows. If you create a customer flow that fits that customer, it will work and it will improve. And so that's I think the other thing, which is just don't give up on your checkout number. You don't have to accept what is a crappy number because you think I can't do anything about it. You can. You just got to sort of like think about what it is to do and you might need help. And again, this is where companies like us can help.

Brian: [00:45:34] You said, "Like us," so how does Bold differentiate from some of the other checkout experiences out there? What are some of your key markers?

Peter Karpas: [00:45:44] Key markers. So the beautiful thing, one of the pattern recognition is one of the great things when I was at Intuit, Intuit's primary competitor... So Intuit: QuickBooks, Quicken, TurboTax. Its primary competitor, was paper and pencil or Excel spreadsheets kind of thing. It's really fun to compete against paper and pencil. For Bold for checkout, what we're competing against are these generic checkouts from the monoliths? They are fine. They are solid, just like paper and pencil is fine and solid. But for the most part, we don't have competition that does what it is that we do today. We have people who I think do piece parts of it, and I'll give you an example of a piece part because I don't want you to think I'm just totally evading because that wouldn't be any fun. But let's talk about the sort of the instant checkout or the one click checkout kind of thing. So through the PayPal partnership, we enable one click checkout, but one click checkout is not the solution. It is a part of the solution. Because the problem with one click checkout, we talked about buy online pick up in-store, and you can't do buy online pick up in store. You can't do that and you can't cross-sell or upsell. So your average order value gets impacted. You can't you can't, you can't. There are all sorts of things. So for a portion of your customer base, they might want that one that fast, we can talk about fast dot com because they're no longer with us, unfortunately, so like that fast checkout.

Phillip: [00:47:19] "Wow. That was fast."

Peter Karpas: [00:47:20] A portion of your customer base. But to think that 100% do and that's what's going to maximize, that's not the right thing. And so again, we have one page click out. We enable sort of all of that, but we enable you to be smarter about it. And so I think, again, we don't necessarily compete with all of these, but I think we have a different point of view around like, okay, what is best for the brand and for the merchant is rarely "this is the only way to do it."

Phillip: [00:47:55] Right. Yeah. And that's where I sit in a room like this. This has been so refreshing. Thank you, Peter. But I sit in a room like this, and a lot of the advice that you hear, a lot of the sales conversations you hear, a lot of the merchant to merchant interactions that you hear is really like it's just highly context dependent. There's no silver bullet because everybody has a completely different scenario, even if they're in similar competing categories. It's like you wind up having highly contextual decision making that's based on a lot of times on teams, budgets, maturity model, the growth objectives and goals, the age of the company, these are all things that are highly context dependent and it's really hard to communicate context a lot of times. We always sort of wind up these interviews by asking you what the future of commerce looks like for you. What does the future of commerce look like for Bold, as you see it now, four months into the role?

Peter Karpas: [00:48:54] We're going to conquer the world. I always like to say that. Look, I've been in big companies. I went to Bold because we're going to make ourselves that much bigger. I like that. But I think the best businesses to me are ones where you do such a good job or you have such a good product that your customer throws money at you because they're like, "Don't go out of business." And if you can nail that where they're like, "Keep doing..." And I have certain stories in my life, like Netflix. I remember really early Netflix when they were DVD only. I was one of those. I was living in the Bay Area. So like I knew about them and they sent an email to raise the price and I actually emailed them back and I was like, "Thank you for raising prices. Don't go out of business."

Phillip: [00:49:39] I agree with that.

Peter Karpas: [00:49:39] That's the thing. And so for me, [00:49:42] the future of commerce is always about how do you help brands do that? How do you help them satisfy their customers? Because if they create great customer flows, great customer journeys, and great product. It isn't just about the product. It's about the full experience, as we know, and increasingly what the brand stands for and all that. We get that right, That to me is always going to be the future of commerce. And if you ask me 20 years from now, that'll still be the future of commerce. [00:50:07]

Phillip: [00:50:07] Still the future.

Brian: [00:50:07] Yeah.

Peter Karpas: [00:50:07] Twenty years ago, that's still the future of commerce. It is the fundamental. But if you get it right, life is happy.

Phillip: [00:50:12] I love it.

Brian: [00:50:13] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:50:13] Thank you so much. Peter Karpas. New in the CEO role, but sounds like he's been building the future of commerce for years. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Peter Karpas: [00:50:22] Thank you very much. I really had a great time. Thanks.

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