E172: Brad Houldsworth

Choosing The Right Channels And Marketing Tactics To Drive Growth In 2024

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eCom@One Listen on Spotify

Podcast Overview

Add 30% net sales to your business by doing this one thing. 

…and it isn’t incorporate AI! 

Sell on more than one sales channel. Obvious? Well then, why aren’t you doing it? 

Brad shares all in this week’s podcast!

eCom@One Presents:

Brad Houldsworth 

Richard Hill is joined by Brad Houldsworth , a seasoned eCommerce professional with over 15 years of experience in marketing. As the Director of Sales and Strategy at Remarkable Commerce, Brad is responsible for the innovation instilled in the agency, sales and marketing activities, leading the team and onboarding multi million pound clients. 

In this podcast, Brad shares valuable insights into eCommerce strategies and technological usage. If you are struggling with deciding which sales channels to stock your products on, this episode is for you. Listing on other channels that aren’t just your website will boost customer acquisition, loyalty and enhance your data capture. 

Choosing the right technology for your business can be a minefield, it is the reason your sales skyrocket or plummet. Brad shares the significance in deciding your tech stack, emphasing efficiency, understanding customer behaviour and demographics, and leveraging data profitably. 

So listen to this podcast to explore the ever changing eCommerce landscape with actual real life insights from somebody who has spent years in the trenches. Real data backed by evidence. 

Topics Covered

00:10 – Brad shares his career journey in eCommerce 

06:14 – Reflects on past experiences and shares successful eCommerce elements 

09:24 – His opinion on headless eCommerce 

10:54 – Retailers are handling increased traffic and costs during the holiday season

18:02 – Internal debate on brand reputation impact of selling on Amazon – should you do it? 

19:56 – Emphasises the importance of customer engagement and loyalty in business

23:41 – Data silos create inefficiencies; integrating systems is key to success and opportunity for businesses

29:41 – Discussing challenges of tech adoption & investment assessment in business

32:57 – Understanding different stages of business growth helps in partnership and expansion decisions, based on experience and potential

35:36 – Considerations for customer acquisition costs and technology planning for business growth

38:38 – Need solutions for retail growth milestones

43:58 – SEO

46:21 – Platform offers 300 flexible third-party integrations for faster development and more options for merchants.

48:23 – Book recommendation 

Richard Hill [00:00:00]:
Hi there. I'm Richard Hill, the host of eCom@One, and welcome to episode 172. In this episode, we speak with Brad Holdsworth, sales and strategy director a remarkable commerce. With more than 15 years in agency and client side, it was great to get Brad on the show and share his 15 years of wisdom. We cover topics around exploring new growth channels, and, of course, we couldn't get Brad in and not talk about the never ending tech stack and how to choose the right partners to work with when it comes to growing your agency, and, of course, so much more in this episode. If you enjoyed this episode, I think you know what to do by now because this is a 100 and 72 episodes in. Hit the like or follow wherever you are listening to this episode so you're always the 1st to know when a new episode is released. Now Let's head over to this fantastic episode.

Richard Hill [00:00:51]:
Well, thanks for joining me, Brad. Great to have you on the show. Now for our listeners, I think it'd be great for you to introduce yourself and tell them a of how you got into the world of ecommerce. Cool.

Brad Houldsworth [00:01:02]:
I'm Brad. I've been in ecommerce for probably 15 odd years ish. So I started as a dropout of uni. And I, I was in a I was in a media management degree started working in marketing in kind of different guises, starting events, started doing promotion and various bits and bobs. And then, I started working at a creative agency in Manchester. So that was an agency that was doing branding and Little bit of eCom, but kind of that was my introduction to the digital world, I would say. So I started doing SEO, started doing PPC for pretty decent sized clients. So likes of, Manchester City Football Club and, New Balance.

Brad Houldsworth [00:01:52]:
And we had quite a good sales line, so I was like an account manager. So I started there and then, that's yeah. I started doing the kind of SEO and PPC stuff, which led me to Nottingham. So I followed my wife over to Nottingham. We started living in Nottingham, and I found Remarkable. And at the time, we were a really, really small agency, some good clients. But I was I'd say I went Went there to start a marketing function. So we went and we created a team.

Brad Houldsworth [00:02:21]:
So I was the kind of first there, and we kinda built up an SEO and PPC team. Did that for a few years. That was cool. And then I thought maybe I don't wanna kind of I don't know. I kind of had a revelation where I was like, I'm trying to teach retailers how to trade and how to do, You know these channels without ever being a retailer myself. Mhmm. And it's one of those kinda moments where it's like, I should go and get my hands dirty. I should go and Practice what I can trying to preach on the rest.

Brad Houldsworth [00:02:52]:
So I went to, an education supplies company, We're in as head of eCom and did a really interesting role, kinda leading trading, merch, various kind of functions. And I was there for just shy of a year, but I learned so much from being I'm kind of head of ecom. I learn about, you know, properly doing promotions, properly doing about trading. I properly learn about, how to grill an agency. I learned how to evaluate technology. I learned how to, do a lot of stuff. So I did that, and then I got serenaded back to Remarkable.

Richard Hill [00:03:36]:
And then they You were a character thing?

Brad Houldsworth [00:03:38]:
Little bit. Yeah. Yeah. Little bit. And they said, you know, if you want to come back and do a slightly different role, we need someone to look after product and kind of our strategy, business, and product, and help clients with kind of growth strategy as well. So a very strategic consultancy type of role. We sounded cool, so I went back. I took all of my knowledge that I'd learned about Demandware and the other technologies that I was using over there.

Brad Houldsworth [00:04:05]:
There's a really good bit of insight. I took all of that. Came back to Remarkable, and we built some products, Which they later got rolled into our main offering. But, like, the initial plan was to build out a really cool merch solution, a really cool, CMS for example, which we did. And they form what we have now as our platform. But initially, you know, going back to 2017, I think, when I rejoined, That was the plan. And then since that point, I've kind of evolved into having, I guess a split role. So part of my role is around marketing and sales and building the brand Yep.

Brad Houldsworth [00:04:44]:
Which is fun. And then kinda that goes further than just kind of it goes into onboarding and that whole kind of process as well, the presales stuff. Yeah? And then the other side is about, client work. So I do in the business, I do work with our clients as a consultant. So I say, I work with probably about 5 or 10 clients. We have about 100 ish, but I work with a few on their strategy, helping them to kinda grow from, You know, 20 up to 50,000,000 in evaluating technologies, helping them to scale, helping them to better use our technology as well. So, yeah, that's Yeah.

Richard Hill [00:05:23]:
I guess, been the past 10 or 15 years. Wow. That's, a nice rounded set of experience there. I'm loving the bit where you dropped out of uni.

Brad Houldsworth [00:05:31]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You gotta go in there. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Brad Houldsworth [00:05:33]:
It was Yeah. Yeah. I don't know. You know, use uni is good for some people, for many people, but, I guess I don't know. I I thought maybe that's not for me.

Richard Hill [00:05:44]:
And it's one of those, isn't it? I think, yeah, the university discussion, my Aldis, he just started uni. Okay. But a a year prior, he wasn't going to uni. What are they doing at uni? He's doing business management at Norwich. Yep. So he's coming close to 3, 4 months in. Mhmm. Loving it.

Richard Hill [00:06:02]:
Mhmm. You know? But we'll see. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He's got yeah. 3 months out, what will be 4 years in theory if it is the full sort of gap year or the the year in an industry that's available to him? But, yeah, university is not for everybody, isn't it? No. It is not.

Richard Hill [00:06:14]:
Wasn't for me, although I did, you know, I did go. You know, in hindsight, the experiences that I got there were not the academic experiences that I brought with me, I believe, to to work and building businesses and whatnot. But, obviously, since then, you've, had a lot of time, working agency, tech, and growth in marketing, but also got that that experience in the middle there of working sort of client side, working in the trenches. You know, before we hit record. We were talking about some of the things that make up, you know, a successful eCom store and some of the episodes that we've that we've ran on the show. You know, whether we're talking about, you know, you know, walking in a warehouse one day and just thinking, hang on a minute. Wow. Hang on.

Richard Hill [00:06:55]:
There's 20 people in this warehouse. There's £7,000,000 worth of stock. There's a 1,000 columns going or whatever the it's like, hang on a minute. There's a lot more to to it. And I think some of the guest represent some of the, listeners may think, you know, when they listen to a couple of episodes about SEO specifically, You know, I think that'll be good to we'll do we'll jump into some of the tech side. Sounds good. So I think, you know, it'd be good for you to give us a run through of the remarkable commerce, You know, there's there's sort of, differences in your platform. Yep.

Richard Hill [00:07:27]:
The sort of the other sort of tech partners and platforms that we've had on

Brad Houldsworth [00:07:30]:
the show. Cool. So 3 big differences. 1st of which is it's a a solution we have where it's not SaaS. So every retailer doesn't have the same. We have a core product which we then hive off, and each client has their own version of it. Which means ultimately that From a functionality and features point of view, although you get out of the box, you can then take it in the direction you want it to go. So you're not locked down to, okay, this particular feature only works in this way Yeah.

Brad Houldsworth [00:08:04]:
Or lots of buy a load of add ons for something else to work in a different way. It's a very, very customized, fully configured solution. That's the big difference. And, of course, there are More monolithic solutions, which you can customize, of course. I'm not gonna go into naming platforms, I'm going to that. But There are some that you can customize in certain ways, but ultimately, there's always a ceiling to it. That goes into the 2nd point, which is around how remarkable is the platform, but also the agency that delivers it as well. So you don't have the whole Debacle of agency versus, you know, blaming the platform and the platform dealing with the agency just implemented it poorly, for example.

Brad Houldsworth [00:08:46]:
So, Yeah. We're 1 and the same. So it's 1 cost center, for example, and it's the same team that wrote every line of code in that platform working with you as a retailer on your version of the platform. So so it's that. It's the agility, the first thing. The second thing is around The platform and the agency being all in 1, and we don't really have you know, some platforms have a suite of Agencies who also develop on their platform, we don't have that. However, that said, we do have some retailers that have their own developers in house, which is cool. So if they want to have their own admin and then just use our front end, it's cool.

Brad Houldsworth [00:09:24]:
If they want to use their own front end and just use our admin for certain things in a very Headless, composable way, then that's cool as well. So, yeah, that's the fur and then the other one is commercially. So commercially, we are very different as well as the technology. We don't allow, we don't do a whole GMV model where we take a commission of orders, Commission of revenue. We just don't believe in it. We think that as a retailer, if you have an awesome weekend and have an amazing sale, The platform, you know, of course, has to stay up and work, but what more did it do other than just, you know, being stable? So taking more money for just you being successful as a retailer feels a little bit weird. So we don't abide by that, which is Most enterprise solutions have that type of model. Mhmm.

Brad Houldsworth [00:10:16]:
Some lead into it, and it's for some retailers. They like that. It's variable. We think fixed costs are a better solution. So we have, a tiered solution based on Traffic, not revenue. So based on your traffic, it's your job as a retailer to convert that traffic. But, Yeah. We have kind of 4 levels, and they're very sensible as well.

Brad Houldsworth [00:10:38]:
So it's not it's it's good enterprise grade technology without having the million pound price mark. So, yeah, those are the 3 main differences.

Richard Hill [00:10:46]:
I know. It sounds quite a sort of hybrid sort of option, whether that's the right word or not.

Brad Houldsworth [00:10:51]:
No. It's yeah. Yeah. I think, yeah, the challenge, you know,

Richard Hill [00:10:54]:
we've just come out of them possibly still in, you know, a a peak season, you know, for a lot of retailers and obviously getting penalized potentially for that That will triple traffic that you might have got in peak season, you know, Black Friday's, long gone, but they are now around around that time, Christmas, etcetera. Obviously, now probably listening to this. A lot of those bills need to be paid usually, you know, whether that's with the stock in the the the £7,000,000 we referred to earlier, you know, and and that making sure that that, cost for the platform, the technology is, you know, got that sensible, Whether there's some increases in some tech, or there shouldn't be, you know, if it's 3 times the amount of orders, 3 times the amount of traffic, maybe there's 3 times the amount of Well if it's a tiered process.

Brad Houldsworth [00:11:36]:
It's, we do it. We we're all about fairness. I'm a I'm big on fairness. And so we review annually. So we'll say, over the last 12 months, what's your average annual month of traffic? And that's what will base your tier. Mhmm. So you might have a really good month, but have a really good few months. That doesn't mean that you're gonna pay more.

Brad Houldsworth [00:11:54]:
That just means your average might be slightly more, and you might then tip into the next Yeah. You may not. Yeah. But we review annually so you know ahead of time a retailer knows ahead of time what their costs are gonna be. Yep. The other thing which is quite interesting is a lot of platforms well, historically, a lot of platforms will charge you, penalties if you don't hit your targets. So certain enterprise grade technologies will say, okay, you're gonna do 20,000,000 this year. If you don't do 20,000,000 though, we're gonna charge you an extra fee because we've set up architecture and Technology to be able to scale that way.

Brad Houldsworth [00:12:30]:
However, you're not gonna hit it, so actually we're gonna charge you

Richard Hill [00:12:32]:
because of the resource you're not using, but we're still gonna charge for it potentially.

Brad Houldsworth [00:12:35]:
There's lot there's loads of different eCom in those types of Yeah. GMV models, which

Richard Hill [00:12:40]:
I just don't like. There's maybe some sort of roundtable we need to do with other platforms forms that have been on for one day. That's maybe for later in the year.

Brad Houldsworth [00:12:47]:
We got the boxing gloves out.

Richard Hill [00:12:48]:
We do have some round tables and various events coming up. So check out our, I think it'll beecomone.comforward/events, and you may well see, a couple of round tables that I know the team are working on the background. So, Obviously, I know you work with quite a lot of well known high street brands. A few stores that I've shopped in, I know my teenage son's shopping Mhmm. And and various other brands. I just wanted to introduce you very quickly to our sponsors, Prisync. Now Prisync is a competitive price tracking and monitoring software that can dynamically change a product's prices on all sales channels. They work with brands such as Samsung, Sony, Suzuki to increase their online revenue.

Richard Hill [00:13:25]:
Now if you run Google Shopping, which I know a lot of you absolutely do, this software is absolutely key to accelerating profits. One of the reasons I recommend pricing To my clients is because you can find out your competitors' pricing and stock availability all in one simple to understand dashboard giving you a huge competitive advantage. Now if you have Any inquiries and questions about this software or you're ready to get cracking, we have worked out a very, very special deal for our listeners where you can a 3 month trial and then 25% off for the 1st 3 months. Head to eCom eCom complete the inquiry form, and we will connect our listeners to the pricing team. Right. Let's head straight back to the episode. Now, obviously, we're sitting here, new new year, almost. Obviously, we're we're into a new year, a few weeks in.

Richard Hill [00:14:10]:
You know, what are some of the growth opportunities you see for your clients this this year specifically? Mhmm. You know, whether that's with the tech stack.

Brad Houldsworth [00:14:19]:

Richard Hill [00:14:19]:
You know, whether that's with the marketing side of things or anything else that you're seeing. Obviously, you work with quite a lot of well known brands. Yeah. And I would say, you know, Seth leaves certain, evidence, clues, etcetera. And you've got obviously, you're working, you know, literally on the coal face with I think you said, Brad's going up to sort of 20, 50 mil. Yep. What are some of the sort of, things you're saying that people are focusing on

Brad Houldsworth [00:14:40]:
this year? Diversifying the channels is one of them. I'm not talking about marketing channels. I'm talking about sales channels. Yeah. So introducing, selling on Debenhams or John Lewis or, You know, multi brand channels. Yep. I think if you're not doing that as a brand, that's certainly something to look into. Yeah.

Brad Houldsworth [00:15:00]:
You can probably add an extra 20, 30% net onto sales by doing 1 or 2 extra channels a year. Yeah. Essentially, that just gives you the promotion and amplification of your brand. Yeah. Even if it's not directly selling on those channels, they'll retailers, I guess trying to build brand awareness. So the more opportunities you have to put your brand in front of a customer, the better. And if that is in a physical Debenham store oh, got a new store now, or, online, there's still a great opportunity there. So, Yeah.

Brad Houldsworth [00:15:32]:
I'd say that's the first one. So

Richard Hill [00:15:35]:
I guess with that, there's certain channels that fit certain size merchants, So, obviously, anybody can go on, you know, ish, Amazon, eBay. But then we start talking about so within the platforms, is there any sort of, criteria

Brad Houldsworth [00:15:49]:
that our listeners need to be aware of. Having good product data is fundamental Yeah. In any business. I think that's 1, probably, one mistake perhaps that retailers can sometimes make is not spending enough time enriching product data. Yeah. Oath, I guess, is a multi brand store if you're selling products of different brands or selling your own brand. Sometimes you can, I guess not focusing off on product data? I'll come onto that in a bit, but that's one thing. In terms of assets, you probably need to think about imagery imaging, Product images, a lot of different platforms have different criteria for product images.

Brad Houldsworth [00:16:30]:
So if you don't hold stock, that's one thing you need to think about. Yep. So if you're drop shipping or if you have another, another model, then perhaps you need to think about how to get images of product. There's well, there's a there's a channel I've been looking at recently called List Oh, right. With a y. It's a fashion channel. Yeah. I'd recommend having a look at that if you're a fashion retailer, but not listed on the list yet, having a look.

Brad Houldsworth [00:16:55]:
You could run it as an affiliate. Yeah. So if you've got an affiliate program, you can do it through there. So it's really low cost. But yeah. Yeah. Probably this. Yeah.

Brad Houldsworth [00:17:04]:

Richard Hill [00:17:04]:
I think, probably how my listeners are sitting there, you know, they're couple of 3 weeks into the year if you're if you're a die hard eCom, a 1 fan, and you're you're watching this on launch. Well, 1 or 2 channels. You know, 1 or 2 new channels, you know, if you're sort of, you know, so many years into this, that can be a little bit more challenging. But I think, Yeah. We've done quite a lot of episodes with, you know, for example, Feedonomics. Mhmm. Mhmm.

Brad Houldsworth [00:17:28]:
You know,

Richard Hill [00:17:28]:
depending on a different channel. Well, there's different channels in different countries, obviously, depending on, you know, the the sort of, Spread you want, you know, nationally. Yep. You know, your whether that's European, further overseas, Australia, US, etcetera. It's surprising how many options there are. You know, they're concerned, as you say, you know, maybe 20%, you know, added. So, you know, what channels and who you're not on? That's a quite interesting, debate, conversation. I think I think some people can be a little bit shopping gown.

Richard Hill [00:17:58]:
I'm not sure that's even possible, is it? There's also a bit of a, I guess,

Brad Houldsworth [00:18:02]:
a brand reputation thing. Like, when I was, when I was ahead of ecom, we were talking about, should we go on Amazon or not? And there was this massive internal thing about, okay, what do we lose as a brand if we're on Amazon? Yes. We'll have to give away whatever it is, 5%, 6%. But Is there a reputational impact of being on Amazon, and what does that do to us? And does it perhaps devalue the other core channels that we're selling on? And it's that whole internal discussion that, you know, sometimes can distract, I think, from actually a massive opportunity. Yeah. And I would recommend Not hesitating and just going on as many times as you can. Yeah. From that, I'd also say about, referrals.

Brad Houldsworth [00:18:46]:
And, obviously, in our b to b world, it's referrals is everything. You know, it's new clients for us or it's, yep. Yeah. But Referral marketing, I think not enough retailers focus on it enough. Yeah. And obviously you're using if you're doing referrals, you know, the whole, You know, using a solution like Mention Me, for example Yeah. All others available. Yeah.

Brad Houldsworth [00:19:07]:
And it's using your existing customers to refer their Colleagues, friends, mates, family, to self to buy from you as well. Yeah. Loyalty. Loyalty. And it's that whole piece around acquisition versus loyalty. And a lot of Retail's retailers will have an acquisition team who do SEO and do email and just think about, you know, net new customers. Not many retailers think about retention and loyalty Yeah. And actually help someone who's doing proper CRM and doing proper okay.

Brad Houldsworth [00:19:36]:
What's our customer lifetime value? Yeah. And how are we monitoring that? How are we tracking there? How are we improving it? Yeah. And loyalty and referrals, perhaps should have a bit more attention, in my opinion.

Richard Hill [00:19:49]:
Yeah. We've done a lot of a lot on that recently. I think it's, it's it It makes me very angry that Impairably.

Brad Houldsworth [00:19:55]:
Yeah. We just Yeah.

Richard Hill [00:19:56]:
It's just so obvious, really. You know? Even in, you know, even in any business, whether we, know, he's sitting here as agencies. You know, obviously, as a and I think you said you got, like, a 100 brands you work with. We're having conversations with those whole 100 brands about the different services and, You know, the different things that you offer, because some of them won't know, probably, you know, a simple thing like a conversation. However, that that into an ecommerce, you know, simply having a loyalty program simply, you know, as as simple as having a very nice you know, when you packaging And when you open the packaging, he says, hey. You know, you're now 1 one order away from, oh, you know, personalized packaging. You know? You've got to invest a little bit in You know? Or you simply open it up and there's a card in there that says, hey. You know? It's a simple, you know, flyer from You know, about your brand, but also then you've got referrals from other brands as well.

Richard Hill [00:20:43]:
You know, I've, you know, I've I've mentioned it a few times, probably a little bit too much of an addiction to caffeine and coffee and different coffee brands. We need

Brad Houldsworth [00:20:51]:
to talk about coffee then. Okay.

Richard Hill [00:20:52]:
Yeah. And and, you know, subscriptions. Yeah. And although I've I'm sort of weaned off Quite a few, to be fair, more recently, and there's a couple of local firms that I've been supporting more, you know, I'm I'm going in there. But, you know, during was at the start of COVID, you know, close on 4 years ago, it was like Subscription subscription subscription. But the ones that really sort of wouldn't with me, and I know have done really, really well, because we've had we've had some conversational podcast with them, are the ones that have got, you know, insanely nice packaged products that then talks about where I am in as the as a customer. I get one order away from this, and then and then also recommending other products from other Companies as well. So, yeah, yeah, yeah, loyalty within that brand, but also recommending.

Richard Hill [00:21:35]:
So we got loyalty and referral in one sort of packaging, actually. Mhmm. But personalized packaging, you know, I think, that's a beautiful thing, you know, that, obviously, we've all probably had god knows how many packages delivered ever the last going back 6 weeks, Christmas and all that jazz. Some stuff comes in a brown box that's low. Shocker.

Brad Houldsworth [00:21:52]:
What what's up? Yeah. Yeah. Did I Which one of the sweetesties is that? And then

Richard Hill [00:21:56]:
this thing. This is a nice experience, sort of thing. So loyalty, retention, lifetime. You know, one of our guys did a podcast about 4 weeks ago on it, You know? And it's, you know, it's just sort of a lost focus It is. I think on so many retails, especially,

Brad Houldsworth [00:22:12]:
you know, I

Richard Hill [00:22:12]:
think when you're getting started and you're in that 1st million or 2, you know, he's a little bit more, you know, acquisition acquisition acquisition. But when you've got that data in the business I mean, even a few 100 grand to be fair. Mhmm. You've got that data in the business. You know, how how difficult is it with the tech that's available to segment and, you know, educate those existing customers about other products, Etcetera, etcetera. So, yeah, we do we talk a lot on that. So I guess that brings me nicely into my next question, mistakes. What are of the biggest mistakes you see these, I would say sort of mid size, mid tier eCom stores is 20,000,000.

Richard Hill [00:22:47]:
Let's take that number. Yep. I know we have a lot of agents sorry, a lot of merchants on the podcast that are sort of 5, 10, 20, 30 that are trying to hit that next plateau, mhmm, potential plateau, or push through that next plateau. What are some of the mistakes you see with some of the guys that are trying to get through to that next sort of key turnover

Brad Houldsworth [00:23:08]:
figure. I'd say a lot of retailers will have what's called the dark stack. I don't know if it's been talked about before. No? Okay. So the dark stack is in most businesses, you'll have your platform and your technology. But what actually runs that business is a load of Google Sheets or Excels on a shared drive or a A PowerPoint somewhere or a Slack channel or a, you know, a, a Figma file somewhere. Yep. Canva file even perhaps.

Brad Houldsworth [00:23:41]:
All these I called the dark stock because all these different, pieces of data are completely siloed from running your business. So your platform or your review partner or your site search or your system for using promotions, for example, All of them are disconnected from the dark stack. And it's called the dark stack because no one, you know, is used all the time, but it's not really on the call face. I see mistakes where there's a disconnect too vastly between that technology and your dark side. So if you're spending all day doing reports or creating promotions or exporting and importing out of your ecommerce platform and doing stuff elsewhere Werner bringing it back in. Inefficiencies in those disconnected systems is the biggest The biggest challenge, but also the biggest opportunity, I would say, internally for becoming more successful. And I see, I guess, the opportunity where if you've got a technology that allows for greater connections, between different systems and also the ability to get data out of those technologies, put data back into them Quickly as well without having to mess about. We had a we had a merchant come to us, and they were like, oh, we wanna we wanna launch a new collection on a certain x platform.

Brad Houldsworth [00:25:01]:
To do that, we have to take an export from our PIM, mess about with it in 50 hours, change all the files, fields, and etcetera, Reform it in a certain way, import it back into our PIM, then sync it back into the eCom platform, then put it back in somewhere else. It was like a 3 hour job for, like, just launching a promotion or creating a new category. That's what happens when you have systems and a dark stack over here doing something. So I would say that's that's absolutely vital, no, and a really common mistake is where you're using technology inefficiently. And that's that's both, you know, obviously, the the technology has to allow for that, and you have to have the functionality and the features to do it, of course. But also it's a process thing. And being a retailer, you can get so in the trenches on a day to day basis. You're running from meeting to meeting, call to call.

Brad Houldsworth [00:25:52]:
You don't have any time to do any like, you don't have any time to go and, You know, set a promotion on the fly. If you've got 5 minutes, you haven't got time to run run a promotion. What you do if you've got good technology, yeah, because it's quick. Just quick. So it it is around time saving and efficiency, but you've got to have the good processes and the good systems.

Richard Hill [00:26:10]:
So I would imagine most people are less than thinking, yeah, that's me. We've got these you know, we've got this great, you know, this great data tech here. Not this here, but there there's this 2, 3, 4 hour lay or there's some well, that relies on John. It's only John that knows how to use that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I guess, would we say maybe auditing? Well, I've ordered into Ryan's word for it, but auditing that sort of disconnect Yep.

Richard Hill [00:26:32]:
And then bridging and putting a somebody in charge of sort of speeding up, connecting. Yep. It sort of reminds me of it's almost like, I think I I used to run stores. We go in a different lifetime, but, you know, we'd we'd We'd spend so much time acquiring computer components at such a rock bottom price. Yeah. You know? And we'd go, you know, we'd go right with a $100 on 256 I imagine 256 meg memory sticks back in the day, and we'd buy out many 1,000 of them. Mhmm. Well, yes.

Richard Hill [00:27:02]:
We got the have got the best price in the UK. We know we have. We've bought right. We've got you've got a delivery within a day. Mhmm. But dollar rates gone through the roof, so we bought at the old lease fleet. We've got, like, 5 anybody buying today. Well, it's not on the website.

Brad Houldsworth [00:27:17]:
Exactly. Exactly. We sit at

Richard Hill [00:27:18]:
the back of the warehouse Oh, yeah. Yeah. Sitting in the sit sitting in the strong room. Yeah. But but you gotta promote it. You gotta get it out there. You gotta connect it because of your audience, all that and all that particular segment Yep. In your, you know, email stack or your, you know, loyalty stack, you know, that are are have looked at memory 15 times yesterday.

Richard Hill [00:27:37]:
Now or something associated with, you know, a motherboard, but no memory. Yep. You know? So using the technology that no doubt had a 20,000,000 merchant 1,000,000 pound merchant, you've got that data there, but it's probably not surfacing it. It's not being used. Yeah.

Brad Houldsworth [00:27:51]:
But on the back of that, it's, you know, taking on that efficiency piece. It's around scheduling as well. Because if you've got you can be as efficient as you can be, but ideally, what you should be doing is scheduling everything ahead of time. So if you've got stocks out there and you're thinking, right, next Monday at 7 AM Yeah. I won 50 new lines going live. I want them discounted. I want them going to a category. I want the category to become available.

Brad Houldsworth [00:28:16]:
I want a homepage banner. I want my navigation to change. I want maybe a merchandising rule to kick in so that all my categories are then merchandising in a certain way. Yeah. And I want Also an email and SMS, and I want all of my channels going live. But I don't wanna get up at 6 AM and do that. So I wanna schedule it all. So scheduling becomes incredibly important.

Brad Houldsworth [00:28:38]:
Yeah. Not just on the, ability to, but also the, efficiency you'll gain because you, you know, you're not having spend that time doing that then. You can schedule things a week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks 3 weeks in advance. Yeah. Many of our merchants are doing that. So they're saying, okay. I've got Black Friday coming up or Christmas or whatever it is. Or I'm going away on holiday.

Brad Houldsworth [00:28:57]:
I don't wanna have to log on to my phone and set up promotions to go live or, you know, remove products from basically. Yeah. So, Yeah. We focus a lot on the scheduling kind of capability, and I think that's really valuable to a lot of merchants.

Richard Hill [00:29:11]:
It is, isn't it, as you're relying on maybe Too many team members when somebody's off. It's quite obvious what he's saying saying out loud sort of thing, but reality is, you know, scheduling can, You know, there's a lot of change happening on the flyers. There were lots of new products, the seasonality. We're just eComOne out of a, you know, a very big season for most retailers. So it's like, right. What's on the horizon now? Well, I think Bobby Valentine is probably the

Brad Houldsworth [00:29:33]:

Richard Hill [00:29:33]:
The other next big event. Obviously, that that's not for everyone, but, you know, depending on What you sell,

Brad Houldsworth [00:29:39]:
it also, your personal life.

Richard Hill [00:29:41]:
Yeah. It could but it is obviously something that, you know, huge demand for certain products, but obviously scheduling, getting the team on board. So, obviously, that skirts around the different tech that can be used. You know, so much tech. I think we've been we've probably done, 30, 40 episodes with different tech partners, you know, and the majority that we love, but some of these guys, obviously, Some of the tech out there, you know, is not right for every, merchant, you know, depending on where that merchant is, you know, whether a 5 mil, 10 mil, 50 mil, you know, different tech And depending on the products and, you know, whether you got retail stores and, you know, except there's so many variables potentially, but, you know, what would you say to companies that are sort of assessing tech, and assessing sort of, investing in different areas of the tech stack. Have you got sort of a go to sort of, due diligence, process?

Brad Houldsworth [00:30:34]:
Yeah. Yeah. I'd, this is, you know, a eComOne thing I get talk I talk to clients about, it's about reviewing what you have and where the gaps are. So I think starting with the gap analysis is important. What's native out of your platform versus what other third parties that needs to be plugged put in? So do that gap analysis first and look at where your opportunities are. And then in terms of choice of technology to use, I'd say It it depends on what it is. Depends on the type of technology you're talking about. If it's a if it's a single, I guess, function like a site search, for example.

Brad Houldsworth [00:31:10]:
Most site search solutions will run some type of, you know, proof of concept to free trial. So, of course, you have to do as often as those you can. Yeah. But also AB test a lot. So try and think about, okay, if we're gonna do a site search, let's put 3 or 4 in the mix, and let's review all of them and see how they all perform. Of course, they all will report performance in a different way. They'll all have their own ways of tracking and reporting.

Richard Hill [00:31:37]:
So you actually are a

Brad Houldsworth [00:31:37]:
trial, maybe. So you you have to have it a, I guess, an anonymous way or a, Fair way of tracking performance over multiple solutions. Sales probably using a third party. So using GA or using something to track performance. So running proof proof of concept trials with as many third parties as you want. I think that's a good way of seeing what works and what doesn't work. Taking it back a little bit to that efficiency point of view, you know, not everything is about just making more money singularly, because more Money might sometimes mean actually just saving time. So or connecting systems together.

Brad Houldsworth [00:32:16]:
So if you've got a a a technology that is well connected, Perhaps might not be the best performer in terms of average order value, but it might actually save your team loads of time and is Quite cost effective. There are so many attributes to think about when you're choosing technology. It's not just which is gonna make me the most money. The other part of it is always ask what the roadmap is for technology. We have it a lot where, you know, merchants will come to us and say, Oh, that looks really cool, but is that what it is? That and we're saying no because look at the road map for the next 12 or 18 months. Yeah. So always ask her for a a technology for what they're planning on doing, what their road map

Richard Hill [00:32:57]:
would call. What isn't that? I think you, you know, as a merchant, everybody probably know what what you don't know at that stage. You know you've gone from you sit in the 10, you're trying to get to 20, but this this this, but hang on then when you hit 20, what do we need to obviously, if the Partner potential partner you're speaking to has got an experience of the different growth, plateaus, targets, then they can talk to you about areas that you haven't thought about. Yeah. You know, you might have thought you might have gone from, you know, a strong retail background, built an ecom store, and all of a sudden this retail this this retail store this ecom store is now doing 5 x what your all your retail stores are doing, and then you're closing retail stores maybe, and that's quite eCom on. But hang on a minute. Actually, certain city centers and certain areas now are gonna start opening stores again 5 years later. May you know, we've had people on you we just had an episode a couple of weeks ago with 20 stores, 19, 20 stores, you know, and they're opening more and more stores.

Richard Hill [00:33:50]:
Obviously, when COVID kicked in, stores are shut, so the focus is the eCom. You know, it's getting a balance between the 2. Yeah. You know? So it's understanding, you know, what options there are. For maybe things you think, well, we might not do that. We might do that.

Brad Houldsworth [00:34:05]:

Richard Hill [00:34:06]:
We just don't know what, you know, a year and, you know, You know, COVID year was another 5 years or whoever's it is you wanna look at. You know? So you're just not sure. It's great to have those options available to you. And that could mean that you could do this or you could do that.

Brad Houldsworth [00:34:20]:
And I guess good analysis as well of what is happening is really important. Nothing in retailers focus on actually tracking performance. Yeah. If you run a promotion or you run a set of promotions, for example, And you look at, you know, that promotion end. It's like, okay, well, we saw revenue uplift by a certain amount, and that's all you'll kinda look at. But actually, if you analyze the reporting of that before of that promotion and that campaign, and analyze how he compared with other campaigns of different natures. Trying to analyze, I guess, What actual campaign promotion, performance looks like to you and the impact on the greater business is actually Vital, because you might find out that running a free delivery doesn't actually uplift anything. Or it might be that Stacking certain promotions in a certain way actually gets you the most conversion rate, for example.

Brad Houldsworth [00:35:13]:
And every business is different. Like, you can't say, oh, well, You know, a lot of our merchants will look at their other competitors and say, oh, they're running a 2 for 1 or not. They're doing it. Yeah. That doesn't mean that your customers are gonna engage with that. Yeah. And it also means that by launching that, you might then start to devalue the other stuff that's going on Yeah. Or that you that you're trying to do.

Brad Houldsworth [00:35:31]:
Yeah. Plus sometimes the technology wouldn't even allow you to stack things, and that's, like, the other

Richard Hill [00:35:36]:
Yeah. That's an interesting one, isn't it? I mean, it gets us back to that, You know, acquire cost of acquiring customers, you know, that I think, you know, a lot of people now have the 6, 7 weeks of the the busy season we've just come out of. You know, at what cost have people gone out there to require? You know? Smart guys, I think, are the ones that have stacked certain, Sentibs. Yep. If you wanna maybe discounts maybe, but usually, you know, the tiered things that have increased the average order value. Mhmm. So A lot to think about there. I think, you know, tech and tech planning, tech partners, working with the right team, obviously crucial when you get to a certain size.

Brad Houldsworth [00:36:17]:
I think you when you mentioned then about partners as well, like a lot of triggers something. Like, a lot of prospects that we talk to will say, The technology worked. It's fine. But we got nothing from the partner. Like, if you're in business And you're you're trying to grow. You need to lean on the people to your point that have done it before, but have done it with other businesses Yeah. Or that have got a slightly different mindset to you that not in the trenches in your product, which you are as a retailer. So that's something that we try and do.

Brad Houldsworth [00:36:46]:
And I know, not many brothers do, but we try and Actually, I guess, push back on and challenge appropriately Yeah. On selection of certain things or the running or trading or the, I guess the even the road map of what you're trying to do as a retailer,

Richard Hill [00:37:05]:
like requesting and ink.

Brad Houldsworth [00:37:06]:
Question it and actually saying, okay, let's plan ahead. Let's look the next quarter or the next year, what we're trying to do. Yeah. Actually, how are those, you know, review sessions with clients? We we see clients as often as we can, to really get into their business, to understand it. And if you're as a technology, if you're an agency, if you're standing away and not really listening and not really collaborating, I think collaboration actually is the most vital thing that both retailers want and ask for, what an agency or or a technology like us Should provide. Yeah. Another massive cost, like, just comes with it.

Richard Hill [00:37:41]:
It's so key, isn't it? I think, having, by spending time with that potential partner. You know? And, like, when you go into the market, I mean, it goes back sort of 10, 15 minutes ago, you're going back to, You know, 3 or 4 options, whether that's for a platform or an email, loyalty, whatever it may be. You know, it's a big thing. You know? Yeah. We'll take that. Such and such uses that. We'll use that. Hang on a minute.

Richard Hill [00:38:03]:
Yeah. Hang on. Woah. Woah. Woah. Just slow down. You know? It's like no we nobody would ever walk in hit into this business. Go, yeah.

Richard Hill [00:38:08]:
We want SEO. We'll sign the no. Work we would have you take your business. We would have to take your business because we need to also need to make sure you're a fit for us.

Brad Houldsworth [00:38:16]:
Yeah. You know? Yeah.

Richard Hill [00:38:17]:
Yeah. We need to understand the business more, but then It's like, actually, hang on a minute. That's not actually what you need. This is what you need. Oh, okay. And so people can quite easily Take the wrong thing just because somebody else is doing that thing or it's maybe a short sighted and get, like, 6 month thing. Hang on. We're gonna before we know it, we've got gonna have out out sort of perform that stack.

Richard Hill [00:38:38]:
We're gonna need something that can do, you know, a lot more, a lot, lot more. So, Obviously, you've worked with a lot of retailers, you know, and I'm really keen for you to sort of give sort of some inspirational, ideas to our listeners. You know? I know you work with some big brands. Mhmm. You know? So I think, there's some key, Maybe plateaus on key milestones at eCom, you know, hitting that 1st mil, hitting that first 5 mil. You know? So think about a client that you've maybe that have hit a mil if this is possible, and that have then hit a 20 mil Sort of things and the sort of thinking, the sort of strategies that you've implemented to take a client from 1 mil, 20 mil. It's a self warm.

Brad Houldsworth [00:39:26]:
Well, we most of our clients come with us when they're about 5. Yeah. So that's the kind of not the minimum, but roughly Yeah. I'd say most clients come to us when they're at sort of maybe 5 to 10 maybe. So if I think of a retailer that's done five And have grown quickly. So Yeah. If I look at eComOne as a good example. So Roman are a fashion brand, ladies fashion, fashion retailer.

Brad Houldsworth [00:39:50]:
And they grew they came to us about 5 or 6,000,000. They were on, Vendr, I think, as a platform. And they grew from five To, let's say 20 within about 2 years. They then grew from 20 to 50 within another 2 years. We went from 50 to a100. And last year, they'll I think they did about 150 last year, maybe a bit more actually. So within 7 years, they grew from 5,000,000 To near closer to 200. And, of course, as a technology provider, we have to Ensure stability in the platform and the technology.

Brad Houldsworth [00:40:28]:
That's massively important for us. Efficiency and giving them the ability to run As fast as they want to run. Because if they want to run a promotion that lasts that goes live in 10 minutes' time and it lasts for 2 hours, You can't have a technology stack that's got a 1000000 different other solutions that takes 45 hours to to sync over. Yeah. So that efficiency in technology is important. That's I think them, for example, the the things that they've done particularly well, in my Personal opinion are, firstly, buying. You know, a site can be as good as as possible and as quick as possible, but if it doesn't have good products, then it's not gonna do So products and cost buying merchandise is incredibly important. Merchandising, I guess So

Richard Hill [00:41:14]:
have they maybe gone from, you know, buying to setting up their own factory type type Scenario or the they I guess they're well into that maybe if they're doing Yeah. I mean, they

Brad Houldsworth [00:41:22]:
they've got their own product. Yes. They they do they do buy, sensibly, and, of course, looking into different categories as well is vital. Like, we we have some retailers perhaps not growing at that Kind of speed. They may be only growing 10, 20, 30% every year. Yeah. Which, of course, it sounds great, but compared to all the clients that are doing Double, triple digit growth, it's it's vital. So I think those retailers that have grown quickly have looked to other categories to sell into.

Brad Houldsworth [00:41:52]:
So if you're a ladies wear brand, perhaps look at some all the clothing types that you're not selling, perhaps look at some other categories like, I don't know. Kids wear maybe or Yeah. Some other categories to look into. So di diversifying in product, I think, is a really strong thing. The other thing I think that they've done particularly well is around proposition. So delivery proposition, trading proposition, understanding who their customer is. I think a lot of retailers Think they know who their customer is without actually knowing who their customer is, especially if you're if you're a pure play retailer, you don't physically see your customers in a sense. You have these digital customers buying from you without really knowing who they are, perhaps.

Brad Houldsworth [00:42:40]:
So doing a piece of work to understand who your customer is And obviously having a good customer data platform and other technology needed needs to be there. But you on you need to understand who your customer is to sell to them And sometimes that's not understood enough. Yeah. If you're in a really niche market, like if you sell maybe, I don't know, school uniforms, you know that your, You know, your customers are gonna be parents. Yeah. Yeah. But if you just sell ladies wear, then who is your customer? What is their demographic? Who are they? You know? Yeah. What age are they? What are they into? You know?

Richard Hill [00:43:10]:
Yeah. No. So I think understanding that is is Anything specifically on the marketing track?

Brad Houldsworth [00:43:16]:
I mean, SEO, We focus a lot on SEO as a platform. SEO is the 1 channel not 1 channel. I'd say the main channel that grows the quickest when Retailers replatform to us. Yep. Working with partners like yourselves and with other, agencies to understand What are the drivers around SEO and having the ability to customize your platform to work in an SEO friendly way is important. So Yeah. I I would say focus just on SEO to begin with. I've seen a lottery platforms go poorly Mhmm.

Brad Houldsworth [00:43:50]:
Or even just retailers start to go downhill because they're implementing Stuff poorly. An SEO is is a is a fickle. I think that

Richard Hill [00:43:58]:
is a key one, isn't it? I mean, I I know, obviously, we are we are an agency, But the amount of car crashes and the huge, you know, multi, multi 1,000,000 pound sort of car crashes we've seen, maybe even last year is one particular Serious car crash comes to mind that we were told about after the the car had, unfortunately, had hit. But, Yeah. The the it's just underestimating the amount of work that is needed to replatform on the SEO side or or certain work that just gets, overlooked and doesn't get done. It's Oh, I didn't realize that the agency wasn't doing the bringing the x, y, and zed at April. Who's doing this? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What do you mean there's no redirects?

Brad Houldsworth [00:44:38]:
Yeah. It happens. Yeah.

Richard Hill [00:44:39]:
It's hard. Totally. Totally. Totally. I could, we could talk about that one, for a while. So Yeah. I think that's given everybody, you know, a lot Think about that. That's on the big thinking, you know, which is a is a good time of year for that.

Richard Hill [00:44:52]:
Now for you guys, What can you share that's on the road map for, remarkable commerce this year?

Brad Houldsworth [00:45:00]:
There's a few things we're doing, we're focusing time on. So, of course, the chat GPT stuff, is important. Yeah. And take take it again about to the efficiency piece. How can I create a pro description based on an image? Yep. So we've already built in some chat GPT functionality as the platform natively As of many, not all, but some. We're gonna go deeper on that. So we've got a roadmap of, Automated functionality that we're gonna be bringing into the core solution, which is cool.

Brad Houldsworth [00:45:33]:
Subscriptions is also quite a big thing for us. Of course, other platforms, you can use plug ins and add ons and various things to you to do subscriptions. But what I found with subscriptions is they're often quite a Either they're done well or they're done not very well. And if you use some type of plug in or add on, you can tell, Perhaps, you know, it loads into 5 seconds or there's something a bit dodgy about it. So we're building in some subscription functionality into the Nasir platform, which, I'm really excited about, and I think it's gonna also give our clients the ability to look at different Business moms as well, not just think about, you know, direct d to c selling. You know? Perhaps we could think about subscriptions in a b to b world as well. Maybe that's That's an on another angle. Mhmm.

Brad Houldsworth [00:46:21]:
So, yeah, subscriptions is the other thing. And the other thing is, Integrations with third parties. So we've got about 300 integrations into the platform. All of them that that said, we are all of them can be configured in any shape or manner. So going back to the whole reason of Remarkable, it's A a a third party doesn't work in one direct way. A direct a third party can work in whatever capacity you want it to and can be as extended or as Composed as you want it to be. So we're gonna build on that list, and we're gonna add in an extra, however many, third party integrations into the platform Just to give our merchants the ability to switch and change a little bit more Yeah. And ultimately, develop Faster as well, because if those 3rd parts are available, it means that they can be deployed a little bit quicker.

Brad Houldsworth [00:47:12]:
So Yep. That's great. Wow.

Richard Hill [00:47:14]:
Thank you for coming on the show.

Brad Houldsworth [00:47:16]:
No problem at all. Thanks for having me.

Richard Hill [00:47:17]:
Like to finish every episode with a book recommendation. Have you got a book to recommend to our listeners, Brad?

Brad Houldsworth [00:47:21]:
I've got 4.

Richard Hill [00:47:21]:
Well, I'm a 4 hour senior record, I think.

Brad Houldsworth [00:47:24]:
Well, I tried to think of 1, but then so I've got 2 work ones, and I've got 2 personal ones. Okay. So my work one, I think someone did use this in before. It said Start With Why by Simon Summitt. Great book. It talks about, the whole marketing proposition about where you should how you position yourself and, what your why is as a person as a as a company. So start with why is good. Yeah.

Brad Houldsworth [00:47:50]:
Never split the difference is another one. Yeah. Chris Frost, he is a great author. He's done a few, but, I listened to the audiobook of that, and that was yeah. Really changed my mindset in terms of pricing, value, both in a sales capacity, but also in just in a person.

Richard Hill [00:48:09]:
Well, he's an ex hostage negotiator. Is that Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Brad Houldsworth [00:48:12]:
Yeah. Yeah. And he talks about, yeah, giving yourself value and and yeah. It's good. Yeah. It's good. And then on a personal note, I like Bob Mortimer. So his book, he's well, he's not his recent one.

Brad Houldsworth [00:48:23]:
The one before was the Satsuma eCom. And he's a, he's, yeah, a great comic, but that's that's a that's more of a story about, I guess, again, values. It's about, What you should kind of think about in life. It's good. Yeah. And the other one is The Storyteller by Dave Grohl because, you know Oh, yeah. Foods are awesome. We bought me that the other week, actually.

Brad Houldsworth [00:48:47]:
It's good. That's more of an autobiography about his Yeah.

Richard Hill [00:48:49]:
Knife and yeah. I started it on my last job. Well, 2 months ago, I had a little trip. So Yeah. I got a bit into that, but it was very, very good.

Brad Houldsworth [00:48:56]:
Again, inspirational. You know, you take from it everyone takes something different, but I took from that, about, you know, using what you have in life and, having fashion, I think, is is important.

Richard Hill [00:49:09]:
Yeah. Great guy. Well, thanks for coming on the show. Thanks, mate. For those who wanna find out more about you, more about Remarkable Commerce, what's the best way to do that?

Brad Houldsworth [00:49:16]:
LinkedIn, probably. Got me a message, and then Remarkable .net. And then yeah.

Richard Hill [00:49:21]:
Good to see you. Well, thanks for coming on.

Brad Houldsworth [00:49:23]:
Thank you very much. No. I appreciate it. Thank you so much. Russell.

Richard Hill [00:49:30]:
If you enjoyed this episode, hit the subscribe or follow button wherever you are listening to this podcast. You're always the 1st to know when a new episode is released. Have a fantastic day, and I'll see you on the next one.

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