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In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our podcast conversation with Michael Perry, Director of Product, Marketing Technology at Shopify, a passionate digital entrepreneur and empathetic leader.

Welcome to Growth Interviews!

Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth. Our mission is to provide valuable insights from the eCommerce arena, and each episode is a fascinating quest into the best-kept business secrets and money-making strategies of an insightful world-class expert.

In his role, Michael Perry specializes in product development for SMBs as it relates to tools that would simplify marketing. He is the founder of Kit, the virtual employee app for small businesses, which was acquired by Shopify in 2016.

As an entrepreneur himself, Perry founded GVING, which helps small businesses manage, reward and engage consumers through a merchant CRM system. Michael has been recognized as Forbes top 30 under 30 in Marketing and Inc Magazines top 10 influencers in the Chatbot.

Michael Perry is an inspiration in the world of digital entrepreneurship and his advice is golden! Grab your pen and paper for some insightful notes! 

Here are the biggest takeaways:

  • Where is the opportunity for eCommerce? – 01.30
  • Why are companies so product-centric? – 03.13
  • Is Shopify the last resort for small merchants?  – 05.19
  • How to grow your company – 07.46
  • How would eCommerce grow faster in 2020? – 06.55
  • Why should Shopify be the first choice? – 08.48
  • Why should clients migrate to Shopify +? – 10.16
  • How does Shopify view the permanent growth mantra? – 13.21
  • What is your best advice for SaaS companies? – 19.15
  • What is the future of work in an AI-driven era? – 20.28
  • Advice for your young professionals – 21.41
 
 

The Less Obvious Opportunity in eCommerce 

‘The reason why historically we have grown to love to buy from our local merchants and brick and mortar businesses is the relationship that has bound us together. And that relationship creates repeat buying and lifetime value and we should always be carrying about that.’ told us Michael Perry in our last Growth Interviews talk. 

There is still a big gap existing today between the physical world and the digital world as the physical merchants deeply understand who you are and what you like and the relationship is the biggest opportunity. The relationship is why customers continue to go back. Anyone can buy coffee from any coffee shop but almost all of us tend to go to the same place for a very particular reason and that is the relationship we feel we have with the staff, with the brand, with the business itself. 
E-commerce businesses need to get hyper focus on how can they recreate the physical experience through the digital lens of today’s world.

Valuing the relationship with their customers is the most important aspect for any eCommerce company. In Perry’s view, the global market and the possibility to expand rapidly is not the biggest opportunity, but the long-time relationship merchants should develop with the customers. 

Shifting the business from a physical space to a digital space is not only about expansion but mainly about relations and what most companies miss is not taking into consideration the consumer needs and consumer behavior that has not changed. No matter in what kind of space they are shopping, consumers deeply crave the unique relationship, intimacy and experience. 

The Practice of Growth and Its 2020 Outlook

Caring about the customers and doing the thoughtful things at scale are becoming a must not only in terms of business ethics but in the daily practice of it.

Online customers are massively underserved in Perry’s opinion and although marketers are looking deeply into segmentation, and the personalization of communication in general, there is a layer above all these marketing tactics of relationship management and that is the actual relationship development. Keeping in touch with the clients is already a most common thing as there is a plethora of digital tools that help doing that. 

Developing a relationship means moving a relationship from an acquaintance to friendship. Showing interest in personal details and communicating with interest for the wellbeing of the customers is what will separate good businesses from great business in 2020.

It’s not a secret that eCommerce is not restricted to a physical space so, thinking global and selling to a larger audience is achievable. 
eCommerce knows no boundaries in terms of where customers are and how much the business might expand. A lot of platforms, like Shopify, are offering specific country personalizations, like pricing and information about delivery and they take a lot of pressure off the merchants’ shoulders leaving them to focus on the most important aspects like fostering and facilitating great relationships and building trust.

The Philosophy Behind Shopify

Shopify is a complete all-in-one commerce platform that lets you start, grow, and manage a business and already powers over 1,000,000 businesses worldwide and is uniquely dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs. Through new products that facilitate the relationship between merchants and customers, or that leverage communication, Shopify is proving that it is taking steps forward in providing its eCommerce partners with the best and most appropriate tools to make the shopping experience more rapid and pleasurable.

From a unique perspective, Michael Perry believes that Shopify ‘is the entrepreneurship company’ who’s team deeply believes that ‘the direct consumer space isn’t just about cutting the middlemen out but it’s about owning the relationship.’

Shopify’s focus is on investing and building better products to help and empower entrepreneurship up front and center and allow them to compete with anybody. For that, one of the most interesting and nevertheless impressive developments is Shopify +. The company realized that a lot of their merchants were reaching a stage of maturity and brand awareness and they needed a bit more control.

With these first observations in mind, the upgraded version of the platform was specially designed for fast-growing, bigger merchants that require a high level of sophistication in their design, offerings and communication tools. 

Shopify is the fastest growing platform for eCommerce, permanently simplifying and improving its product and choosing Shopify over Magento or Woocommerce or other big platforms is not even a choice based on big performance differences but as Michael Perry states ‘it comes down to taste and preference.’

Best Business Approach for SaaS Companies

In Michael Perry’s opinion, there are two important things that really matter no matter if we are talking about a Saas company or the business has another setup and it’s not about growth and performance and targets and investors. One of the most important aspects, especially for the leaders is keeping themselves humble and thankful for the amazing opportunity of creating something special.

In time, conversations and observations are replaced with reports and numbers and statuses and dividing the business matters form the relations in an almost surgical way will only create distance from the core purpose and values that actually gave birth to it. Keeping grounded and close to the “battlefield” will always make understanding of the problems much more easier and will have a ripple effect across the company that will keep everyone hyper-engaged.
No one should be too good are too high up in the company. No one should be avoiding the problems, no one should be not turning over stones and being honest.

The second important aspect is to invested very heavily in the staff. Whether it’s having book bars in every single office, sending people to conferences, sending people to executive coaches or having coaching circles, every company is depending on their resources and the most important are people. A leader should give to the people who come to work to join on the  mission of the company the best of what can be offered, as he or she is the heart of the business and the inspiration of the people who are building it. 

What is AI Really Changing? 

Perry spent a lot of time thinking about virtual labor while building his company completely around the subject of virtual labor and his experience dictates a more balanced approach in the matter of AI and how it will influence our lives in the next period. 

At this moment, the reality is that human interactions still creates that  unique and undeniable human element. The biggest probability in the future of AI development and integrations is that some things that we know and experience now will become more efficient, more streamlined. We’ll have robotic and artificial intelligence assistance and the optimistic view is that these tools will empower people to do a better job. 

As history already showed in other high technological development periods, there will be some job replacements but, in Michael’s opinion, because of our deeply empathic nature, we will prefer working with humans as the relationship is always bringing an increasing value. For sure though, machines will be extensively used to improve and help people in becoming better at their jobs and in their interactions with other humans.  

Conclusion 

The consumer needs and consumer behavior from the physical world has not changed so focusing  on recreating the physical experience through the digital lens of today’s world is the most important pillar towards global expansion of any eCommerce.
Shifting from common getting in touch marketing tactics to genuinely building a  relationship with the customer is the biggest opportunity every eCommerce should bet on in 2020 for being not just a good business, but a great business.

We hope you enjoyed our video interview with Michael Perry!

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