#21. Seller beware! Navigating the pro’s & con’s of E-commerce & online distribution platforms

Season 2: ‘Product development’, Episode 9

Selling via Online Platforms & Distribution Partnerships Can Be a Powerful way To Extend the Reach of Your Product. But You Need To Be Careful. In This Episode Three Top Entrepreneurs Reveal How It’s Done.

Guest Bios:

Dr Wei Shin Lei (https://www.linkedin.com/in/weishinlai/)and Jason Wolfe are the founders of Acoustic Sheep, the manufacturing company of Sleepphones (https://www.sleepphones.com/).

Jessica Sepel (https://www.instagram.com/jshealth/?hl=en) is the founder of JS Health Vitamins (https://jshealthvitamins.com/)

Anson Parker (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ansonparker/) is Head of Product at digital bank Up.com.au

What to listen out for:

2.48 The story of Unlcked vs Google

11.13 How to use influencer marketing & celebrities

12.01 The importance of authenticity in brand marketing

13.44 How to scale content marketing

23.36 Upbank & the Afterpay partnership

27.34 Why Sleephones use Shopify for eCommerce

32.19 What it’s like to sell through Amazon marketplace

39.19 RECURRING SEGMENT: Nerd Superpower

Resources & links:

  1. ‘No man is an island’ The Devotions, by John Donne https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devotions_upon_Emergent_Occasions
  2. The story of Unlcked vs Google https://www.smartcompany.com.au/startupsmart/news/unlockd-goes-administration-laying-blame-squarely-googles-anti-competitive-conduct/
  3. ‘The Four’ by Scott Galloway https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-four-9780552173438

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Transcript
Darren Moffatt:

Hi there and welcome to the nerds of business podcast. My name is Darren Moffatt. I'm a director at web buzz, the growth marketing agency. And I'm your host. It's great to have you with us for episode nine of the product development series. Now, regular listeners will know that our vision is to make entrepreneurs happier. We usually achieve that by solving the key challenges that all businesses must overcome one problem at a time. But today briefly, I'm trying a rather different approach, poetry to be precise. If the idea of a bit of 16th century verse doesn't exactly set your entrepreneurial heart aflutter, then I hope the poem you're about to hear won't scare you off. But bear with me as you'll see, there is method in the madness.

Quote:

No man is an Island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent. A part of the main, if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less as well as if a Promontory were as well as any manner of my friends or a vine own where any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee.

Darren Moffatt:

So, as we'd say today, of course, no person is in the Island. That very famous quote is from a piece called the devotions by the Elizabethan poet. John Donne. Of course, the point he's making is that we're all connected. And this is perhaps never more apparent than when a business seeks to expand distribution for its product or service. You simply can't do it all alone. These days that inevitably involves the online platforms that have come to define the nature of commerce in the 21st century, whether it's Facebook, Google, eBay, Amazon, Instagram, Stripe, woo commerce, Shopify, Alibaba, PayPal, or Apple chances are your business already relies on one or more of these platforms to get your product to the people. But as you'll soon here in our opening story, such interdependence does carry risk for entrepreneurs. And sometimes it can even destroy a business entirely.

Darren Moffatt:The year is:Darren Moffatt:eviously approved the app, by:Music:

[inaudible].

Darren Moffatt:

Now there's a postscript to the tale of unlocked. Google was ultimately awarded 200,000 pounds for its legal costs in the UK court case. As sad as this story is for the founder and his team, it's a pretty extreme example of a distribution partnership going bad more often than not such arrangements are positive for both parties in different ways. And there are plenty of tech businesses that have scaled almost entirely on the back of other platforms. The best example I can think of is probably Tinder in the early days, they relied heavily on the Facebook API for their user profile data. The sign up with Facebook feature minimize the onboarding friction for users and also had the added benefit of importing their demographic data, So that age, gender, and location

Darren Moffatt:

Was accurate, an important requirement in a dating app. If you're getting ready to launch a new product, or you just want to boost your existing distribution through the online channel, what can you do to maximize your returns without eroding your profit margin or damaging your brand?

All:

I love ata. I love the kind of things you can do with data. You need to have systems; you need to have structure. You're going to get chopped to pieces. Enthusiasm is unstoppable. We kind of hit a point where we were like, we need another leaver. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and richer than you.

Darren Moffatt:

This is nerds of business. We'll start the show in a minute, but first a word from our sponsor.

Ben Carew:

Hi everyone.

Ben Carew:

It's Ben Carew here. I'm a director at web buzz, the growth marketing agency. I work alongside the host of this podcast, Darren Moffatt. If you're a business owner who wants to grow, but you don't have the spare funds to invest in marketing right now, you're not alone. Since COVID hit, we've noticed more clients suspending campaigns or delaying their marketing altogether due to cashflow issues. In response to this, we developed a solution called buy now pay later digital marketing. It provides eligible small businesses with nothing to pay on SEO, digital marketing, and website development for up to three months, we think it's perfect for entrepreneurs who need a helping hand getting sales flowing again. I'll be back later in the show to explain how it works, but if you can't wait, you can download a free info pack now, at webbuzz.com.au, slash B N P L, which stands for buy now pay later that's webbbuzz.com.au slash BN

Ben Carew:

P L

Darren Moffatt:

The title of today's episode, and the problem we're trying to solve is seller beware, navigating the pros and cons of e-commerce and online distribution platforms. Now we're breaking slightly with our normal format today to focus exclusively on three entrepreneur guests, you'll hear from the young founder of a healthcare company with more than $250 million. She's massive on Instagram, and you'll hear how that drives the growth in her business. You'll also hear from a product designer of an Australian neo bank, who's established a partnership with hot FinTech afterpay, and you'll be hearing from an electronics manufacturer who reveal's what it's really like to sell through Amazon. If you're a founder or business owner, wanting to expand your distribution via the online channel, then you won't want to miss this episode. But first here's just a quick reminder that if you're enjoying nerds of business, to please hit the subscribe on your podcast player. It means you'll automatically receive each new episode every fortnight, and it makes it easier for us to stay in touch.

Darren Moffatt:for achieving an astonishing:Jessica Sepel:

So, if you're a subscriber to our website, you get 10% off. So, I think that really does appeal to people. Um, so that's probably the main thing, but on Instagram, I think what's happened now with the JSL vitamin range is that there's so much trust in our products that they get so excited about any product that we launch. And we just, I think the other thing is our actual website and how informative it is. So, if you want to understand or know more about the product, it's very easily understood and accessible, it's just all laid out for you on the website. So, I think that's definitely a big marketing strategy, is making sure the product pages on the website are really informative. Then conveying that all through social media, through our EDM, which is our newsletter, and the through paid advertising. So, it's all about the communication of the product, how this product, as you very cleverly picked up on how it's going to be a problem-solver for you. So, we will, if we make sure that people are aware about products through those channels, we have a lot of celebrities and influencers who take our products, and they get so excited about the results that they tell their community. So that's another huge marketing strategy for us. So, you're using

Darren Moffatt:

the influencer channel quite, quite actively as

Jessica Sepel:

well yeah. Quite actively, But I have to say as a founder, it's very important for me that the influencers and celebrities are genuinely taking the product before we engage them or work with them. You know, they have to have really seen genuine results because otherwise their community don't believe them. You know, it's only when that celebrity has genuinely been able to get rid of that bold patch in their head because of our hair product, that’s backed by science and has this incredible kelp that's exclusive to us. You know, when they communicate the genuine results and transformation, they've experienced with our product is only when their community will believe them anyway. So, I love with important celebrities to, uh, to a degree, it has to be completely genuine. Um, otherwise it just doesn't even convert.

Darren Moffatt:

Yeah. Well, it's, uh, been really telling in my, uh, you know, I've interviewed probably, I don't know, 15, 20 really top entrepreneurs now. And the notion of authenticity is a real golden thread that runs through. 100%. yeah, like it's, it's, it's kind of the magic sauce, so to speak, you know,

Jessica Sepel:

It's the magic touch, it's a magic touch. And I think that, like, if you really said to me right now, what do you think has been the main reason you guys have succeeded? And the first thing that would come to my mind is the authenticity of the brand is the fact that from day one, we've cared so much about the community. So much about the customer. It's always been a genuine, authentic desire to create products, to help them. And, and I think people feel it. So, you know, the community, the online community, they can really get a sense of authenticity. And I think that's what Jay hub has obviously done, done something good with.

Darren Moffatt:

Clearly, I think you guys have done a great job there, and that leads me to the next question. I mean, content marketing is obviously such a big part of what you do. I mean, you're with such big social followings and, um, and such a big community, right? Like that just inevitably creates a huge demand for new content all the time. Okay. So, uh, you know, of course you're only one person, you know, you can't do it all. So how have you, how have you juggled that challenge of people still want the authenticity, but wow, I've got to produce all this content all the time. I can't do it all myself. So how do you, how do you, you know, how do you make that work? I think a lot of people will be really interested in that. Yeah.

Jessica Sepel:

I mean, in the beginning, we, as founders and entrepreneurs had to do it all our all ourselves, you know, for at least the first four or five years, Dean, my husband and I were just doing it all ourselves with maybe one or two other staff members. I think as, as you have now, you probably know very well. Entrepreneurial' s definitely do have to put on a few different hats, especially in the beginning, but then there comes a point where that's just no longer sustainable. And that's when I really believe so much in the success of a company is the team. It really is the team and finding people who are smarter than you and better than you and really honing in on what you do best and focusing purely on that and trying not to divert your attention to too many different places. I think that's when things get very scattered and confusing, overwhelming, I have been quite good at saying no, you know, I'm not, I'm not a designer.

New Speaker:

I am certainly not a paid ads manager; I am certainly not something likes to engage influences. That's just not what I'm good at. So finding a team then who are good at those things, and then going really remembering what you are good at and focusing all your time, energy and attention on that, and when I don't do that, it shows, you know, when I start trying to do everything and I think also as a founder, founders, Dean and I don't like to micromanage too much, we like to give our team independence to do what they do best. And I think that actually leads to a really brilliant working culture where you're not micromanaging, allow people to be free to do what they love to do and give them that, that sense of trust, you know, the team like to feel trusted. And, um, that also definitely helps the overall brand succeed. So, we are now a team of like 15 in Australia, and then we have a team in China, UK and South Africa and the U S

Darren Moffatt:

And you have like a socials team and a content team and all that kind of stuff.

Jessica Sepel:

Exactly yes. Yeah yeah yeah. So, I was doing, you know, and if you say, like I was doing all of that in the beginning, but I probably wasn't doing the best job at it. Yes Yes. That's the other thing in the beginning, you do it because you have to hustle and you definitely don't have the, um, the means to pay for so many different staff members. So, Dan and I did that, we used to do customer support. I used to do the EDMS. I used to do all of the social media, all of the, um, social media was sponsors to the community. Um, but then there comes that point where you really do have to hand over. And I think, as I said in the beginning of the conversation, it's very scary for entrepreneurs and founders to hand over certain roles. Like my husband only just recently handed over customer support. Can you even believe that? Because he felt, and he's the CEO now he's running, you know, the growth of the company, huge company now. Um, and it was really hard for him to let go of the customers and, you know, just trust that someone else would take care of them the way he did

Darren Moffatt:

Well. See, that's the thing, I think that's a really good decision. In fact, it's an unusual decision. You wouldn't see too many CEOs, you know, sort of looking after customer support, um, these days and particularly, at a company of your level, but nevertheless, I think it's actually quite wise. And, and the reason for that is of course that you are a community-based business

Jessica Sepel:

And. It just shows the care.

Darren Moffatt:

Shows the care, but it's also risk management, right? Like, you know, if you've got someone on that customer desk who's not caring, who's burning customer's left right and centre, and then there starts a negative sentiment in the community, bad reviews for your products or for your programs. Well, you know, that can pretty quickly, uh, you know, uh, set fire to your business that you've built, you know, work so hard to build. No, I think that's actually a smart decision.

Jessica Sepel:

Yeah, no, I agree. That's exactly funny that he said that you say that he said it was just too risky to hand it over in the beginning, but then we found an amazing customer support team and we absolutely trust them. So sometimes it does take some time to find the team that you can really, really trust and rely on. And I definitely think that's a huge challenge in every small grown company , is to find good team members, you know, it really did take us a couple of years to, to really, to concrete a good team. Great.

Darren Moffatt:

And, um, I noticed that the websites on Shopify, um, you know, what other e-commerce platforms do you guys sell on? Like, so for instance, can, can people find your products on Amazon and so on? Yes. Like where are your products, what on particularly I'm interested in, on, on e-commerce platforms and which of those platforms do you find best and why?

Jessica Sepel:

So, we're really just on Shopify and Amazon for our international customers. I mean, we've been on Shopify forever. Brilliant. I mean, would you call another retail? Uh, um, an e-commerce site, like the,

Darren Moffatt:

Well, so you're out through Priceline pharmacies. Is that right? Yes. Yeah. Look, um, I think that's distribution. Um, I think you, you're welcome to talk about that. Um,

Jessica Sepel:

No, we're on one online retailer called adore beauty, but no, that's fine. We, we are mainly on Amazon and, um, Shopify really, but it's our only two platforms and they both were brilliantly.

Darren Moffatt:first launch in Australia in:Anson Parker:

I guess that like primarily outgrowth is sort of word of mouth. Um, but it, it admittedly it sorts of through, out through its internal program, we called they call hook-up a mate. So, it's we're essentially rewarding our customers for bringing their, um, bringing their mates on. Um, and so that's, that's the bulk of our growth. Uh, and that's fantastic, right? Because particularly in the space we're in where trust is top of mind for the people, like, how do I know these? I'm going to send my money into this, uh, into this bank and how do I know I am ever going to see it again, right? Like that is a, probably a fair question that people might ask. So, um, we can put out snazzy billboards and have great, you know, uh, marketing materials and say you can trust us. And, um, but ultimately, I think if, if you're, if your mate's telling you like this bank is awesome, uh, I've been using it for three months,

Anson Parker:

you have to check it out. I mean, you can't get any better than that, right, then that personal endorsement. So, um, that's been really key for us. Um, we were always sort of experimenting in the digital marketing space, um, you know, so your typical platforms, like, you know, that your Facebooks and Instagram’s and, uh, uh, you know, tic toks and, you know, I think that's, that's a really interesting space because it's not an obvious place to sell a bank, you know, like, uh, and so can you even sell a bank? There's an interesting question, but for us too, it's always about, you know, reaching out to different people and not just kind of growing the bubble, maybe existing customers and their networks. So, um, we really do want to reach all of Australia and different, different groups, different ages. Um, and so that's sort of been key for that.

Anson Parker:

Um, but we also look at, um, you know, partnering with, uh, what we say is kind of the best in the business or, or really popular brands where, where we can sort of offer values for that partnership. Um, and I think also speak to how we're a different organization to a typical bank, you know, so, uh, international payments, um, as an example of where we've tried to partner with TransferWise, we thought were just like by far and away, the best in that best player in that space, you know, the fastest, the cheapest, the most transparent in a, in a notoriously sort of opaque, uh, industry of like international remittances where typical fees are like $30 to send, send money. It takes days or weeks. And, um, so we, we, we really love what they were doing and we're like, we didn't just because we're a bank, we have to build it ourselves or do it the banking way. Let's just partner with this great, great FinTech, you know, um, uh, we have a partnership with Afterpay, uh, not because we're saying everyone should use Afterpay or, or, or, or, um, or anything, but just like millions of Australians do and a tonne of our customers use them, And Hey, if we can integrate and provide customers a better understanding of their afterpays through UP, like that's a great, uh, you know, we can help people with that. Um,

Darren Moffatt:

And tell us about that. Because I read about that was actually one of the key things, I was hoping you'd bring up the afterpay, um, partnership. So how does that manifest itself to your users?

Anson Parker:

Yeah. So essentially what, um, you know, when you think about the Afterpay experience from the bank side, like when you log into your banking, what do you see? Um, as what I mean by that, you know, like you, you might have a bunch of afterpays, you've set up, like you might have bought a pair of shoes and, uh, you know, X, Y, and Z, and you were just seeing your bank afterpay transaction, afterpay transaction. You have no idea what it was through your banking app. So, we kind of saw that as, um, you know, UP sort of one of our missions has been to help people understand what they're spending their money on, which is like showing the actual store that they bought the goods at, like a logo, location, category, all of that stuff. Got it. So, with, uh, with, uh, with these players and like the buy now pay later, and even like your PayPal’s and other people like that, that's all completely blocked off because all the banks can show is just the name of that business.

Anson Parker:

Um, so we were like, ha like this suck, we gotta do better here. Um, let's like, and we know that afterpay has this rich data they're actually collecting and showing in their own app. You know, they'll even down to what you purchased. We thought like, how cool would it be, if you could see all that stuff in the UP app, as well as when your next payments are due, and how far through you are and all that sort of stuff. So, it really came from that point of view of like, oh, this is kind of a blind spot for us. Like, how do we give customers a better experience there? Um, and we spoke to afterpay, and we were like, hey, we want to pull this stuff into the app. And they were like, that'd be awesome. Let's do it. So, we worked with their team, they actually built an API for us, um, to do that. Uh, and yeah, I mean, again, when we were like, banks don't do this, right? Like banks don't go and reach out and try and do a better job in this space. So, we thought that was a massive opportunity to do better there.

Darren Moffatt:

See, I think that's, that is such a great example of excellent product development, because you you've built something really new that hasn't been done before, it’s a genuine little innovation might not sound like a lot, but for, for, for your customers and users, it's really important. Um, the bigger players have ignored it because, you know, or they feel like they don't have to make the effort, but you're also partnering with of course, a brand in Afterpay that is massive in your demographic. So, it's just, I see so many sorts of green ticks there. Um, I think that's a really great example for our listeners on how to do product development well, for purpose, purposeful meaning, is probably the best way I would put that.

Anson Parker:

Yeah, totally agree. I mean, you know, the interesting thing was when we first started looking at that, uh, partnership after it was a fraction of the size, it is now they were still getting really successful. But what you were seeing, like, what are these Afterpay logos on every email we're getting now, it was taking off. So, we were like, to your point, like, this is, this is a great partnership opportunity for us to do something better in this space. and it's very well aligned to a core customer too.

Darren Moffatt:

Yeah, well done. Congratulations on that one. Now, anyone who's sold goods on the Amazon marketplace will know what an incredibly powerful platform it is to reach consumers, but like any platform, there are pros and cons to consider before signing up in his excellent book. The four author, Scott Galloway reveal's one of Amazon's key growth strategies. Apparently when they identify a new vertical in which they want to offer their own product, they first open up that vertical to vendors on their marketplace. This allows them to amass valuable data on how that market actually works. Everything from pricing to consumer trends, behavioural analytics, and competitor depth. Once they've got that data, they can then move in with their own product and completely dominate the vertical. It's very smart business, but it can deliver a brutal outcome for the smaller players who are too reliant on Amazon to sell their product's.

Darren Moffatt:

One founder who's successfully partnered with Amazon is Dr. Wei-Shin Lai of SleepPhones from Pennsylvania in the United States. Now, if you can visualize a soft aerobics type headband with tiny speakers inside it, that's what it is. Sleepphones allow you to listen to music in bed via Bluetooth as you go to sleep. Regular listeners will remember SleepPhones from earlier episodes in this series, in today's show, I asked Dr. Lee and her husband Jason Wolfe to reveal which online platforms they use and how they manage the different distribution channels for optimal growth. Excellent. And, um, I noticed that your website, um, is a Shopify website. Um, uh, you know, I'm guessing that, well, clearly it wasn't always a Shopify website. It must've been something more basic at the start, like maybe a WordPress site. Um, what, what led you to use Shopify as your, um, you know, as your sort of base, uh, for, for eCommerce?

r. Wei-Shin Lai & Jason Wolfe:

We have kind of a bifurcated approach. Like the top of our funnel, we've always kept in some other technology that we have more control over because we felt that, uh, it was kind of constraining building something, you know, with, with the CMS provided by Shopify. Well, you're locked in. What you are Selling on Shopify, and then, uh, all of your, um, uh, its content is on there and you want to switch away, it's very, very difficult. You're locked in. There's some technical debt there, if you want it to, to grow in particular ways. Right. But, but, you know, we did do our e-commerce at times, but we definitely, I don't want to be involved in the business of maintaining the e-commerce portion of the site because it, you know, for us know, security with it, with regard to e-commerce is the most important thing, right? Those are our number one overriding goal.

r. Wei-Shin Lai & Jason Wolfe:

I mean, I mean, Shopify performs well enough, the UI is, you know, works well enough, it's inviting enough, but the place we just, we were not going to compromise was the security. And they had established themselves, you know, by the time we got ready to, we outsource it. Uh, we, we worked with, uh, what was it, Google, Google pay or Google wallet, Google checkout early on. Right. And then of course, and PayPal, you know, Google is infamous for, you know, going in different directions. It wasn't available to us anymore. Right? right. We, we, we looked at Shopify and they they'd established themselves as, you know, the industry standard, you know, essentially utility. And I'm not saying that we won't evaluate other options, but I, at that time I felt quite comfortable that they would provide the security. We still feel comfortable. Now that this time they're keeping up with all of the different standards, uh, credit card processing, PCI, and, you know, for us to kind of have to maintain all of that. It's, its very cost prohibited, it would take as much time. You have to live in that you eat and breathe in that space. Right. And, and, you know, they do, they have the bug bounties, which, which, you know, is fairly reassuring. We just didn't, we didn't want to take any chances there. And I think there, I still feel they're the best solution. And, you know, you're a game developer. Not the only solution, right. There are others that would probably serve us, but we're quite pleased with it.

Darren Moffatt:

Well woo commerce, for instance, woo commerce are like, you could, I would imagine like a lot of e-commerce, um, uh, vendors use woo commerce in a in a WordPress installation, for instance, that would be probably another option, but, but Shopify, uh, as you allude to they, um, they kind of bundle it all up and they're constantly security is very good. And it's yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's an all in one, it's a pretty attractive proposition. Yeah.

r. Wei-Shin Lai & Jason Wolfe:

We're doing okay. Great great. I think with his background in game development, we are very, very aware of cybersecurity as an issue. Um, and the, you know, places like WordPress, um, are hackable, uh, and, and that's a, that's a vulnerability, uh, different scripts can sneak in through there, uh, and get to your shopping cart and through your, uh, your checkout process. And, uh, we, we want to have a better control over that whole situation. So, in fact, um, Shopify, uh, does the shopping cart and the checkout process, but all the front end, uh, information is served in a whole different platform. And, and, you know, we've got our, our front end now and we've, we've had it for a long time, but eventually, um, you want to refresh it periodically. So, we're just about to refresh that front end and, uh, I'm quite pleased with how it's turning out. So, we'll, uh, we'll have a new version next week. [inaudible], you know, once you accrue so many pages migrating to different platforms. Thousands of pages. Yes, it becomes an effort and we've been consuming for quite a while on it. Um, I'm quite pleased with where we're going.

Darren Moffatt:

Yeah, no, it it's, uh, uh, it's a big job. It'd be a particularly, you know, yes, it's sort of adding more and more content. And, um, I just, to back up a few minutes ago, you guys used some acronyms there. Uh, the one, uh, that some people might not be aware of, you said CMS. So just for the listeners there, CMS stands for content management systems. So, um, I just to explain that, but, uh, what I see that you guys are, you know, aside from your own website on Shopify, you're also distributing your product out through different e-commerce platforms. So, for instance, you have a presence on Amazon. So, I'm really interested in, um, how that channel, those channels work for, you know, your, those third-party distributors and partners, uh, uh, you know, which do you find best and why, and how much of the, uh, of the business does that channel makeup.

r. Wei-Shin Lai & Jason Wolfe:

I, I, you know, the different platforms, you know, quite simply reach different audiences and hit different people's comfort zones. Right? So, we, we never, we wouldn't think of, you know, movement to one and not supporting the others, I suppose. Amazon can be difficult to, with as a vendor to Amazon. Um, and, but they're the elephant. You, you have to work with them. They give you access to customers that you just would not be otherwise. Yeah. And so then, um, you know, they, they make up a large chunk of our net sales . We do quite well there. Yeah. Uh, and, and of course we do a lot through our own website, uh, but we also have international distributors that we work with now. Um, and how did we find them with some of them came to us, in fact, uh, and then others, we, um, kind of, uh, started talking to, uh, through our industry groups. Um, so we're part of the consumer technology association. Uh, and so we hooked up with, you know, people who are selling in that area in other countries, uh, through, uh, the consumer electronics show. Uh, and we meet our, some of our distributors there, uh, on an annual basis just to say hi, and, you know, cement that relationship a little bit better. Perhaps not this year. Yeah, not this year.

Darren Moffatt:

Probably virtual this year, won't it? Um, yeah. Okay. Well, that's, um, yeah, I think it's really important for, you know, sort of aspiring and new entrepreneurs to understand the power of distribution. You know, like, I mean, it's some of my, um, most highly rated sort of entrepreneurs I've, I've seen on the record are saying that they're agnostic about the channel. You know, it doesn't really matter which channel these days, which is pretty much what you guys just said. Right. So, but you've got to have those different channels out there. And the more channels you have, the more ways for customers to, to buy your product. And it's just obviously going to, if it's a good product it's going to accelerate sales. Um,

r. Wei-Shin Lai & Jason Wolfe:

Well, one thing I do have to point out though, you do need to control these channels. Uh, you, you don't want to just get it all out there because, um, there are potential issues, uh, when we kind of just kind of sold to random people, they would, you know, buy it at a certain discount because they're a wholesale and then they would sell into Amazon again and compete against us within Amazon. It's difficult to enforce map, no matter how careful you are. Yeah. And so then, you know, instead of selling it at the $99.95 price, they might sell it at $99.94, And then they would win the buy box. And then we would have to tell them, hey, you know, you gotta play fair. You know, everybody wants to sell together in this playground, and you can't be doing this type of thing, but, you know, so, and, and then eventually we learned the hard lesson of, okay, Yeah, nobody can sell except us on Amazon. You know, the rules for maps vary from country to country too, so that adds some complexity. They do, right, um, but you know, there there's the manufacturer's suggested retail price. And if, if they really aren't, uh, you know, working with us well, then we don't have to sell to them.

Darren Moffatt:

And now another word from our sponsor.

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Darren Moffatt:

So, the problem we set out to solve today was how to navigate the pros and cons of e-commerce and online distribution platforms. Our three entrepreneurial guests, Jessica from JS health, Anson from UP bank and Dr. Wei-Shin Lai of sleep phones all provided amazing practical, real life experience. I hope their wisdom and insights have given your ideas to crack the code to growth in your own venture. For me, there are three clear conclusions we can all draw from this episode. Number one, leverage the power of community wherever possible. The way Jess from JS health has developed strong connections with her vast Instagram community and across multiple online channels is a textbook case study in how to use digital platforms to expand distribution. Number two different platforms, reach different audiences. As Jason from SleepPhones said, one of the key benefits of using different distribution channels is that you reach new audiences that have never previously been exposed to your brand.

Darren Moffatt:

So, expanding your distribution can promote discovery of your product. And number three, use partnerships creatively. I loved the Afterpay story Anson shared with us. What's truly notable about this is the impetus to approach afterpay came from a drive to improve the user experience for their own customers. In this case, it was less about boosting short-term sales and more about enhancing the brand position to stimulate user engagement and referrals. Now I'm a big believer in the power of distribution to extend, reach and power sales growth. I've used it in my own businesses in the past, and I've seen it up close in big companies I've worked with over the years, but it's not all upsides. As we heard in the unlocked story at the top of the episode, relying on one digital channel or partner for distribution is highly risky. It can kill even the most promising start up. So don't put all your digital eggs in one basket, so to speak, diversify your risk by building multiple partnerships and using different platforms within the whole product development cycle distribution and online platforms might seem like a bolt on component that you can leave until the last minute. But you should actually be thinking about this well before launch, because if you've developed a truly awesome product or service, and you can then marry that with the right distribution, then the sky truly is the limit for your venture.

Darren Moffatt:

We're coming to the end. But before we go, it's time for a regular segment. And this week it's nerd superpower, where a guest has to reveal one character trait that really gives them an edge as an entrepreneur, let's find out who else super nerd is today. So, Anson, um, we now come to another recurring segment here at nerds of business called, Nerd superpower. So, nerd superpower. Um, as a nerd, as, as someone that's really gets into no doubt on product, product design and data and, and financial services, what would you say is your superpower as it maybe, you know, as it relates to your work as a, as a product designer?

Anson Parker:

Um, I think it's, uh, probably just, um, a love of creativity and a love of sort of innovation. Like to me, that's, that's probably where my approach might be different to others in this space. I'm sure there are others like me too, but I, for me, I find it, uh, its amazing creative outlet, right? Like to, to, to come up with these ideas and connect things in new ways. And so, it's fun for me. Like I don't, I can't switch that off, you know, even when it's not work hours, I mean, the that I, I think most of my best ideas would be riding the bike to work or in the shower or taking, you know, like mowing the lawn or just something where I'm completely away from the computer. And everything's just kind of percolating. And you just have this amazing moment where everything just kind of suddenly clicks and this, all of these pieces fall into place. And it's very exciting. And then you're just like, I can't wait to tell that to show this to the team and, and, uh, and hopefully they get it. And most of the time they do.

Darren Moffatt:

So, Thanks for listening to episode 21 of nerds of business. If you've enjoyed it, please leave a review on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. It helps us climb up the ranks and become more visible to other people, just like you. Remember, we want to help as many entrepreneurs and businesses as possible. If you've got a question or some feedback, we'd love to hear from you, you can engage with webbuzz.com.au forward slash nerds that's webbuzz.com.au forward slash nerds. So, feel free to reach out and say hello. I want to thank all of our guests and the team at Webbuzz for helping me put this show together. We'll be back in two weeks with our final episode of the product development series, it's launch marketing, and how to promote your new product or service to market for the first time until then I'm your host, Darren Moffatt. And I look forward to nerding out with you next time. Bye for now.

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