With Jay Myers
Written by Franco Varriano.
Our last Marketing Chat with Richard Lazazzera about entrepreneurship was simply awesome. This week’s marketing chat features a Bold entrepreneur and an awesomely Bold company. We’re happy to welcome Jay Myers, co-founder of Bold Commerce, the Shopify app store biggest developer. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a Bold Chat. Bold Commerce did an amazing job telling their story, you can read it here.
2. The Interview
Ned: Thank you for chatting with us Jay. Your story is the classic entrepreneurial story of “There was a problem so I created a solution”. Behind the entrepreneur, who is Jay Myers?
Jay: Ha, well who I specifically am is not nearly as important as who the all the other amazing people at Bold are! But if you want to know about “Jay” specifically, I’m a guy that has worked in a family retail business for 15 years since I was 13, and has been selling online since 1999. I grew up working beside my dad learning about entrepreneurship, and I cherish the lessons I learnt early on and still apply them to this day. I have a beautiful wife and an amazing family. I can honestly say I drive to work everyday thinking to myself I’m the luckiest man alive!
Ned: Bold Commerce currently has 22 apps available in the Shopify App Store. Why are you working so hard to make ecommerce better?
Jay: Ecommerce is a big part of who I am. I’ve had stores on just about every platform. In 1999 I was working in our family business and ordered a product that my father didn’t think we would sell. It was an archery set, a compound bow. At the time, every item of inventory we had on the shelves was costly, and he was quite upset. He said I needed to sell it, and he didn’t care how. I tried listing it on eBay just to see if it would go. Lo and behold, it sold almost instantly, and for more money than we had it listed for in our shop!
That sale was the beginning of a journey for me. I started selling more and more on eBay. At some times I had thousands of items on at once. About a year later I built a custom online store with MS Frontpage. Yup, that’s old school right there! It didn’t even have checkout, it was basically a catalogue and customers would call to place an order. From there I just kept creating more stores on different platforms and the journey continued until 2012.
In 2012, I decided to start building tools for ecommerce not just help me sell better, but help everyone else as well! I guess I’m passionate about the tools (apps) we build because I’ve been in the store owner’s shoes for the better part of my adult life, and I feel like I understand them.
Ned: In a world where Bold Commerce achieves its vision, how is ecommerce better from a store owners point of the view?
Jay: Well first of all, stores would be making a boat load more money! Our number one goal from day one has been to create apps that make stores more money. Straight up, that was it. There were many “integration” apps, and backend apps out there. We wanted to build apps that increased the bottom line.
If we achieve our vision, stores will have a sophisticated suite of tools available to them with world class support backing them up. We aren’t trying to define where ecommerce goes, our goal is simply to follow along, stay at the front, and wherever it goes, make it better!
Ned: One of the biggest winners of Bold Commerce’s success is the city of Winnipeg. Can you tell how special it is for you to play a big part in the growing Winnipeg business ecosystem?
Jay: Interesting that you pick up on that! We’re actually super proud of this. Probably 99% of our revenue comes from outside of Manitoba, and roughly 90% outside of Canada. So we’re proud of the fact that we’re bringing money into our province. We could build the best restaurant in the city, but we’d just be recycling money within the city. It’s just something we’re personally proud of.
Beyond that, we’ve created 100 new skilled labour jobs that didn’t exist 36 months ago. We’ve created a company that has been called “Manitoba’s Fastest Growing Tech Company”, and we’re growing today faster than we ever have. But it’s not just about numbers for us, we’re trying to create a company with amazing culture where people can grow, develop, and hopefully raise the bar overall in our city. So far we seem to be going in the right direction.
Ned: You’re Shopify’s top app developer. What are your keys to success in the Shopify App store?
Jay: Oh man, wouldn’t you like to know ;-). Just kidding! Honestly, we have no one secret, it’s a lot of hard work, a lot of going WAY over and above when customers call in for support, a lot of listening to customers and responding with new features and improvements, and it’s a lot of innovation. A number of the apps we’ve built shouldn’t have been possible, and we were told many times it couldn’t be done.
I can tell you what isn’t the secret though. When we first started building apps almost every app in the store was unique. Now there are beginning to be copycats of just about everything, but poorer versions. They’re quickly thrown together apps with poor support. Building and maintaining ecommerce apps is a long term play. If you don’t plan on supporting your products, don’t even bother building it. We see so much of that.
Ned: Assuming I’m opening an online store on Shopify today. Which Bold Apps would you recommend me to install from day 1 and why?
Jay: It depends a little on what you’d be selling. If you have anything that could be purchased as a subscription, I’d get setup from day one with our Recurring Orders app. If you have a fair amount of SKU’s with complimentary products or accessories, definitely our Product Upsell app. That was our very first app and still one of our most popular.
Probably one more I’d mention, that we just released, would be our Loyalty Points app. In the short time it’s been out we’ve already seen a HUGE increase in customer retention for stores, and repeat orders. Our Loyalties app is a bit different than others because it’s a “true” loyalties point app in the sense that customers earn points when they shop, and can use those points to buy items later.
That said, we really do have a lot of apps, and probably something that any store could use!
Ned: The first quarter of 2016 is almost done. How’s the remaining year looking for Bold?
Jay: It always looks good my friend! I mean, if you’re talking about installs and sales numbers, it looks great. If you’re talking about our vision for the rest of the year, I’d say even better! We have some VERY big products nearing the end of development that I’m extremely excited about. 2016 will be a huge here for Bold. Stay tuned!
Ned: Our readers are entrepreneurs like you. What is/are your piece(s) of advice for someone looking to start a business?
Jay: Don’t just do something you love. Do something you love, something you’re the best in the world at, and something that has economic potential. I see most people starting businesses with only one of the three, most often the “love” one. If you love something, but you’re you’re not the best in the world at it, and it doesn’t have economic potential, don’t do it. If you’re the best in the world at something, but you don’t really love it, and it doesn’t have economic potential, don’t do it. If something make the most economic sense but you’re not really skilled at it and you don’t love it, don’t do it. Find an idea where those three statements are true, and you have yourself a business!
I imagine most people reading this are storeowners, so I’ll speak to that a bit. If I had to give advice to someone running an online store, I’d say pick one product on your store that has decent margin and spend 4-6 weeks marketing the crap out of it. Run paid advertising, retarget users, create content around it, emails, blogs etc. Try different product copy, product images and really just do everything you can do maximize sales on that one specific product. Find a formula the works, and then scale it like crazy! If you can figure out how to make one product sell 10X what it normally does, imagine what your bottom line would be like if you did that with the rest of your store. Would it make sense to hire someone to do that? It probably would ;-). Make small calculated experiments like that often, and then blow them up.
Ned: To finish, I have a Bold question for you. Ecommerce in the 22nd century, how does it look like from a shopper and store owners point of view? Does it even exist?
Jay: Well one thing I know for sure, it will look nothing like it does now, and it will all be curated. Search engines will be a thing of the past. My hunch is we won’t even be “shopping” online in the way we think of shopping. Everything we have in our homes will self order, and will be 100% curated. We’re seeing some cool things with products like the Amazon Echo and smart buttons, but I think it will go deeper than that. I imagine we’ll have daily experiences where whatever device we interact with is smart enough to recommend almost everything we’d be interested in. Wearables and IOT are just starting now, so in 80 years, they’ll be fully integrated into everything.
For example, based off how you use your steak knife, how you hold it, fumble with it, etc, you’ll wake up and interact with a device (I say device because it could be part of a smart wall, your computer glasses, etc. That part I’m not sure) and it will recommend 4 better knives you could buy based off yesterday. Imagine every item we use being “smart”, we’d sit down at the end of a day and click a daily summary button “what would I be interested in” and all the products that appear are because of something you did that day. A bigger TV because it detected you squinting, a phone battery case because you phone died more than 3 times in the past 30 days before 5pm. A pack of vitamin C because your house audio system heard you cough more than usual, baby diapers because your diaper pail just read that the 48th diaper when in, detected it with either RFID or something similar. Oh and a new shirt because one of your previous ones just went through the wash for the 50th time, and that’s the average lifespan of one of your shirts.
All of this will be curated and “Search” as we know it will no longer exist. Huggies won’t be paying for adwords, they’ll be paying Diaper Genie to be the brand it recommends when you run out.
100 years is a long time. We have to remember that even the way this question is asked is applying a current model to the future. In the 1920’s if someone said “what will shopping look like in 100 years”, it would all be about how physical stores would be better. Who knows, maybe the web as we know it will be completely different in 100 years. It could be all AI and VR for all we know! I’m excited for it either way
Jay: This was a lot of fun! Rare is one of our favorite apps to recommend to our clients. So when Rare reached out and asked me for an interview, I was of course excited! If anyone has specific questions for me, I’m always happy to talk to people. The best way to find me is at @jasonnmyers on Twitter! Thanks guys!
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