Panel Recap: Large Conversions, Small Screens

By Anshey Bhatia • April 11, 2016

On Wednesday evening, April 6th, 2016, Verbal+Visual held their first ever panel event, titled Large Conversions, Small Screens. The panel was focused on how ecommerce brands can convert at a higher level within the mobile space.

We were lucky to have 4 of the top industry experts join us on the panel, including:

Jan Sorensen, Head of Customer Success at Nosto. Nosto is an ecommerce add on which delivers highly personalized ecommerce experiences for shoppers.  They’ve worked with brands such as Lush Cosmetics, PuraVida Bracelets, and Fredericks of Hollywood.

Daniel Owen, VP of Search Marketing at Direct Agents. Direct Agents focuses on digital marketing solutions which achieve omni-channel results. They’ve worked with brands such as Samsung, Amazon, 16 Handles, and Serena & Lily.

Nihal Mehta, founder and general partner at ENIAC Ventures. ENIAC is fully focused on the emerging adoption of mobile technologies for media properties and consumer brands.  They’ve worked with brands such as AirBNB, Boxed, Trumaker, and my personal favorite, MeowChat.

Jay Bhatti, Founder and CTO at Brand Project. Brand Project is a venture fund which partners with founders and companies to create products people love.  They’ve worked with brands such as Nike, Lego, Colgate and Virgin.

Highlights of the evening include our very first discussion about automated bots and how purchasing with micro interactions with artificial intelligence will take over the ecommerce space, optimizing conversion rates through the right selection of technology, shopping via mobile apps and saved credit cards, and utilizing advanced transactional emails to keep customers coming back.

Watch the panel here:

Large Conversions, Small Screens: How To Convert Better On Mobile from verbal+visual on Vimeo.

Photos from the event:

Nihal Mehta, Jan Soroenson, Daniel Owen, Jay Bhatti, Anshey Bhatia

Nihal Mehta, Jan Soroenson, Daniel Owen, Jay Bhatti, Anshey Bhatia

Nihal Mehta, Jan Soroenson, Daniel Owen, Jay Bhatti, Anshey Bhatia

Large Conversions Small Screens Mobile Ecommerce Panel New York City

Large Conversions Small Screens Mobile Ecommerce Panel New York City

Large Conversions Small Screens Mobile Ecommerce Panel New York City

A special thanks to TechSpace for donating the conference room space, our panelists for providing such great insight, and everyone who attended the panel. It was a wonderful evening and we look forward to our next ecommerce panel in June on Omnichannel sales. If you’re interested in attending, please sign up for our email list below.


Transcript: Large Conversions, Small Screens

Anshey: Hey you guys, appreciate you coming. So, my name is Anshey.  Thank you so much for coming today.  It’s the first ever event that Verbal+Visual has put on from an education perspective so we’re happy to have you all here. We have a tremendous group of analysts, and attendees here today, so we really appreciate you attending. So welcome to “Large Conversions, Small Screens.”  Today is all about mobile conversion and how we can take our ecommerce experiences and make them more efficient, and just a better overall user experience online.  I also want to thank, before we get into things- Techspace, the office space that we’re in right now.  They graciously let us use the space today, so thank you tech space.

So as I mentioned today, the focus is really on mobile conversion.  I want to introduce our panelists who have taken time out of their schedules to come be in attendance.  Directly to my right is Jan Sorensen.  He’s the Head of Customer Success at Nosto- an ecommerce app which delivers highly personalized ecommerce experiences for shoppers. They’ve worked with brands such as Lush Cosmetics, PuraVida Bracelets, and Fredericks of Hollywood.

{ laughter }

Anshey:  We have Nihal Mehta to his right. He’s the founder and general partner at ENIAC Ventures. He’s fully focused on the emerging adoption of mobile technologies for media partners and consumer brands. They’ve worked with brands such as AirBNB, Boxed,, and my personal favorite, MeowChat.

{ laughter }

Anshey: To his right, we have Jay Bhatti who is the Founder and CTO at Brand Project. They’re a venture fund which partners with founders and companies to create products people love. They’ve worked with brands such as Nike, Lego, Colgate and Virgin. And all the way on the right, is Daniel.  Daniel is the VP of Search Marketing at Direct Agents. They’re focused on digital marketing solutions which achieve omni-channel results. They’ve worked with brands such as Samsung, Amazon, 16 Handles, and Serena & Lily. So welcome guys, thank you so much for being here.  I appreciate it.

So what I want to start with is- what I want to start talking about today is- we’re going to start with industry trends.  What are industry trends that we’re looking at that are dictating where we are now, and where we’re going to be going.  So I’d like to start with Nihal. What are the mobile commerce trends that you’ve seen take shape over the years and where do you see things heading?

Nihal: This week, what is it, Wednesday?  I think we’ve met like  25…you can drop F bombs in here right? F***ing bot companies.  So, have you guys ever interacted with a bot- a bot anything? Using a bot interface? Raise your hands now.  Well you will, I guess.  So you’ve probably have used or heard of operator or magic, that was kind of the trend last year. Now brands are building their own bots.  Next week probably is gonna be the official launch of this kind of revolution from the consumer side. Facebook has, at FA they’re gonna announce a bot store. So basically any brand or app can actually create using low level or high level AI- a chatbot, over messenger.  So this is- kinda been all the craze in china, the past couple of years over Line and Wechat where you can interact with any brand and buy things and not only Customer Support which we’re seeing on Twitter, but actually transactions. And it’s all mostly automated. So it’s crazy. That’s one trend that’s like top of mind. Cause literally I met with like 30 companies this week.

Audience Speaker 1:  So what are some of the ways you will be able to purchase? Like you had mentioned a few different ways you can interact with the brand and make purchases.  Can you talk a little bit about that?

Nihal: I think the companies that we have now, in our portfolio like Airbnb and Uber- I think it’s obviously you have a credit card that’s stored, right? On the device and you just hit a button and boom.  I think it’ll be very similar. Facebook is gonna be asking for your creds you know.  And…and then you just hit a button.  You know, whether it’s your thumb on your iphone or some other type of verification. And then, and then off it goes.  

Anshey: That’s interesting.  Have any of you other analysts worked with a lot of touch verification on your eCommerce platforms that you’ve been working on?

{ silence}

Nihal: Just- just answer the question.

{ laughter }

Jay: Our’s is about, really- I mean, I wouldn’t say too many advertisers are using touch yet. It’s really about solidification to check out.  So we’ll time your actual checkout and a lot of timing on the actual devices.  We’ll look at average rates, long load times, short load times.  What my team really looks at is, you know, search.  Organic search as well as paid. And all these affect now, your organic results right?  So that’s what we’re looking at. Google’s trying to do the best user experience and those now all get built into all the rankings that they do.  

Daniel: One of my portfolio companies who works a lot with some of the big 500 Fortune retailer brands like Nordstrom, Target, Barney’s Department Stores- one of the bigger ones they’ve work with in the last couple years.  And they’ve all seen the trend that a lot more of the traffic is coming from mobile.  And initially they thought the right solution was to just create a mobile app that people can browse and then hopefully they’ll buy stuff. But what they’ve noticed as a trend is that, people will go to the mobile app or go to the responsive website on mobile and play with it during the day but then they’ll go on at night and buy something on their ipad or on their desktop.  So, they also know that they lose conversions through that flow because some people don’t remember to go back and say “well let me buy that $500 purse” or whatever handbag or whatever it might be. So a lot of them are really trying to think through how do we make a universal payment system that’s just one click wherever the user is because then these department stores are starting to understand that most likely that- unless the users are the loyalty member of Nordstrom or something like that- they’re not gonna go into the mobile app and put in their credentials and put in their credit card information and then click Buy and then have to do all this.  They always want like a very simple, one click type of experience.  So what we’ve seen the brands do nowadays is try to figure out what is that solution.  I’ve been looking at a lot of start ups.  One that I’m looking at this week for example that’s trying to solve that by saying “hey,” we’ll create this mechanism where- you know- the brand, all you need to do is install this one thing on their mobile device and then people if they have this app installed will be able to purchase anything on that brand’s website with one click and we handle all the security and everything behind it. So I’m seeing a lot more apps that maybe don’t go as advanced as what he’s talking about over here.  Maybe you tweet something and you get the purchase happened. It’s much more like hey, click this and done it’s purchased.

Jan: Yeah and I think on top of that, I don’t know has anyone heard of Klarna before?  It’s a payment provider where it can actually check out with just email and I think zip code.  So they just essentially just removed the need to add your credit card..all of these data points. And just to kind of follow up with your point as well, I think it’s super important to give options in the kind of the checkout, kind of continue the purchase later, wherever that is.  So I think email is gonna be a- one of the big things that’s going to be kind of becoming more important again. So it had kind of that Omnichannel tool that ties together the devices.  I think that’s one of the big ones.  And then anything that can match to the devices as well.  So anything that can support logins and match dots device ideas. But I think email is one of those- that holds together the devices.

Anshey: What kind of adoption have you seen of this email platform.  What’s the name of it again?

Jan: That’s called Klarna- it’s actually also started from the Nordics, just came here. They do all of the credit scoring for you so you can check out super easily.  

Anshey: That’s great.  How do you spell that?

Jan: K-L-A-R-N-A

Anshey: Well cool, has anyone in here ever bump into something like that? Just out of curiosity?  No? Very cool stuff though. So and, you’ve seen a lot of the adoption there? So far, or not really?

Jan: It’s actually pretty popular in Europe.  All the midsize have Klar.  It’s moving pretty quickly into the US market. They have their own credit scoring agency like in the background so..but we’re not particularly affiliated with them but it’s a cool service for mobile.  I guess one of the trends is just connect- sorry disconnect- the purchasing process from fulfillment and extra pain.

Nihal: I was just going to add to that.  You know- I think cart abandonment is a big issue and email can definitely combat that.  Two of our companies Boxed and Trumaker you mentioned, do that really well.  So Boxed- where do you guys buy your toilet paper?  If you don’t buy it from Boxed you have to buy it from Boxed after this.  I’ll give you a code but BOXED- bulk goods so paper towels, toilet paper- costco without the membership fee.  And the big issue is people go and they drop things in the cart and they don’t complete the sale.  Right? So then, I mean after that week or however frequent the algorithm is, you’ll get push emails and then just one click and boom.  Or discounts to make sure you convert and I think that’s very effective.  

Anshey: What about user journey?  I think that’s really important too. User journey is now going from mobile to desktop to Instagram know everywhere.  To in store.  Can you talk about that and what are the trends that you guys are seeing?  I know Daniel, we had talked about that a few weeks ago actually.  You know, if you want to jump in. What are the trends you are seeing in terms of user journey and checking out that way?

Daniel: So today really is about choice to the consumer am I right?  I mean, if you’re not in one device or one channel, you’re actually ignoring that user- that person.  They’re going to find you- or find whoever is a competitor through whatever is easiest to them. So the world that we live in today is really about providing choice to the consumer and being where they’re at.  When we’re checking analytics, we’re seeing multichannel traction.  It’s basically going- like he’s saying- we’ll see them from Twitter and the next thing they’re doing is they’re searching for it.  And it always ends up let’s say direct or organic. So a lot of the attributions from today are given a lot of weight to either organic or direct. But if you were to trace that back a little bit or use anything else like- how you’re getting your customers, the discovery process is usually very very upper funnel.  And if you’re only looking at that last click or anything like that, or thinking is Twitter or Facebook a good medium for me to be using since I’m not seeing direct conversions from it. Then that really becomes- it’s an important question, right?  Because if you can’t measure it correctly, you won’t really know where the users are today.  And one thing we can tell you- there’s probably an average- depending on what kind of consumer- what kind of industry you’re in, it could be anywhere from 3 minimum touch points up to 10-20. For different…especially more if you’re like automotives or something like that.

Jay: One of the things- I’ll speak for the big retailers- the big brands out there- the ones that you see in the malls and stuff like that.  They like to call those like Omnichannel marketing where it’s like hey no matter what the channel is, no matter what the platform is, even offline we want the message to be consistent, we want the experience to be consistent.  That’s like the marketer’s dream for them but they’ve had a very hard time implementing that.  And the reason is that a lot of their ecommerce systems are a little bit older or outdated or the platform they’re using- the company they’re using with they- don’t make these updates maybe a startup might be like “hey let’s innovate over here.” So that’s why you don’t see these big retailers innovating as much- as quickly as some of these startups are because they just can’t do it given the infrastructure that they have. Like one retailer that we work with, they have 1.4 million SKUs so they’re selling 1.4 million things on their website.  And when you think about the complexity of managing all those SKUs, managing all those products and then any small change you do on the site experience can have a big effect across the board…they just have a hard time managing the desktop experience so imagine the Omnichannel experience becomes a lot more challenging for them.  So I think you’ll see a lot more innovation happening in this type of cross device innovation happening with the younger companies, before you see them happening with the retailers or it might take a long time before the retailers catch up to us over here. If I were to put my bet, I would say Nordstrom might do have the best shot because they’ve been the one who’s been the most cutting edge in terms of making investments in this space and also acquiring companies that can help them in this space.

Nihal:  We have an investment we haven’t announced yet but it’s in Palo Alto- it’s actually a physical store location called B8ta.  B8ta.  And what they realized is that, the future of storefronts is that they’re just showrooms essentially.  Right?  That folks are buying elsewhere. Online mostly, and that you know, the store is great to kind of browse so that they embrace that model and what they do is that they actually charge brands a SaaS fee, a monthly fee for actually shelf space.  So it’s kind of like the weWork model, or the Techspace model for retail.  And so, um, the goal actually right now, all the brands in the store are all kind of like high tech brands.  So all IOT actually Outlet is in there. And they’ll have- which is an amazing stock that saves babies’ lives- like a baby monitor you put on a baby’s foot.  But all these like IOT brands so you’ll have Nest, you’ll have Dropcam, you’ll have Canary, and they’ll all pay this store a couple thousand bucks a month to have a shelf space and what they get in return is they get all these analytics.  So there’s beacons and there’s cameras so they can actually figure out they can change their products, product marketing instantly, and get instant response to like how long people are looking at it- where people are walking towards the store, and of course transaction analytics as well.  So they call it RasS instead of SaaS.  Retail as a Service.

Jan: Just to follow up here with Daniel as well in terms of multi channel- I think it’s easy to be in multiple channels. But then really personalizing every, every touchpoint and having a kind of consistent experience for each individual user I think that’s super difficult.  And, that’s where you’re looking at at Marketing Automation. Because you cannot handle the analytics yourselves, you can’t set this up, tracking, so on.  So I think that’s where you need to hand off the keys to some of the solutions out there- Nostro being one of them.  But yea, I think that’s one of the points.  

Anshey: What are the technologies specifically around e commerce?  What are some different technology considerations to take into account when you’re building an ecommerce site and optimizing it on mobile?  Maybe it might be multi, it might be something else, I mean what are the things that you guys have seen that have been really really important to look at technology wise?

Jay: Some of the companies that we’re looking at are actually developing mobile first.  A lot of times when you build an ecommerce site you look at desktop first as a platform.  A lot of them now are thinking mobile first and forget about the desktop.  There’s a famous story that on Facebook, most of Facebook traffic is now mobile.  And when Mark Zuckerberg realized that mobile is going to be the future he asked any project demo to be given to him in mobile and not desktop just to get the entire company, you know used to thinking in mobile.  And I think that’s also happening with a lot of new companies nowadays too is that they’re building for mobile first because that is gonna be the platform and you know when we get to look at the analytics from a lot of big retailers, a lot of the CMOs CEOs when they get to the data and they look at how much of their traffic is mobile, they just, they’re like we need to do something here we need to you know.  And that’s only going to happen when they think on a mobile first strategy versus a mobile as a by product strategy that’s complementary to tablet and desktop.  

Nihal:  I mentioned that toilet paper company Boxed, they did mobile first for many years- for the first two years when they launched and desktop is just like a- a side effect of just having a desktop site.  But 99% of- actually not that high- 90% of transactions are on mobile.  And latency is very important right?  So like um, like Google says that there’s a search that takes more than one millisecond they lose I think something like a hundred thousand dollars of revenue for every millisecond or every second of additional- yeah it’s crazy.  And e commerce is the same way.  Things have to be super fast.  

Anshey: So, what are the technologies you guys have seen that make your site faster?  We use Shopify Plus quite a bit and it’s great. The speed is fantastic and we’ve definitely seen that as the number 1 trend for ecommerce platforms or enterprises.  What about you guys?  What are the ones you guys see?

Nihal: This is like a plug of all our portfolio companies but we’ve invested in a company called Newmob and it’s like a- a mobile first akamai.  So basically, any developer can put this STK in their app and it speeds up the app tremendously.  The same way Akamai speeds up websites.  

Anshey: That’s great, how about you Jay?

Jay: I think, same thing over here.  We do a lot of cu- like a lot of the brands who we work with do custom developments so you know Shopify Plus for example might not be an option for them.  So they do like hey what’s the fastest hosting environment AWS or Google App Engine- what’s the fastest caching environment I can use over here.  How can I reduce- you know the page load time plus certain mobile experiences. So it’s really been for them, it’s really been using you know, off the shelf technologies and then making sure they’re hosted on a platform that can manage the scale or you know render things pretty quickly ummm for them.  Uhh but you know again, big brands haven’t been as innovative but they are- they will be innovative you know eventually.  But if you want to do an experiment go tonight and download apps from big retailers and then download apps that are ecommerce apps that are from smaller start ups, and see the experience and you’ll be surprised at how many big retailers have a hard loading these pages or getting the experience that you want to render fast.  

Daniel:  I mean in my perspective wouldn’t be from choosing the technology cause usually as an agency you- you know you work with what the client has.  Umm, we- we dissect it from there though right? We’re looking at- if there’s any Javascript, rendering blocking- these usual you know basically add up your latency.  Umm, we like you said, we’ll time the check out, we’ll see if umm you know if you’re entering a telephone number, is it on your mobile phone is it coded into to type up that keypad, or is it showing the entire screen with all the alphanumeric umm, I mean just all sorts of things to make sure that it is a specific mobile experience.  Responsive for sure, um responsive helps for SEO as well right because it if you have a mobile site that is dedicated to mobile- now you’re managing two sites so it’s not really help you there either. So all in the world of how it speaks to the consumer as well as Google, there’s a lot of different things to really optimize that flow.  And um, but and if it is a technology stand or play we usually will go to that last cause that really tells our advertisers to change a lot of things as well.

Jay: One last thing I would add on the technology side is that a lot of people and you probably experienced this too- you have to build for ios, then you have to build for android and then for android you might have to build for different types of android versions.  And that’s something that when I talk to big brands who you know need- they say they need to be everywhere ubiquitously same experience and you- the developers’ like you can’t get the same experience on this version of Android vs this vs ios and that’s been a big technology frustration that a lot of uh, big brands have really been trying to solve, and I think anyone who solves that type of problem in a meaningful way, will not only have a lot of business coming from not only big brands but also from startups because ios fragmentation on the mobile is a big issue that is just getting worse and the cost of maintaining and building platforms that support that is just getting higher and higher.

Anshey: Cool so uh I also wanted to ask Daniel the following.  How are you kind of attracting the right users on mobile?  The most highly targeted users on mobile using search.  Umm, what are the points you need to make sure you’re really hitting for your target audience?

Daniel:  If you’re talking search umm, so a lot of people create responsive sites right?  But no one creates mobile ads- for some reason- for those.  We see- we do all of our audits and things like that and we never see just mobile ads.  And if you create and ad- just even put the word mobile or that it’s speaking to a mobile user in there- we’ve seen conversions- CTR. So your click through rate will jump up more than 4 times just speaking to a mobile user among many non mobile ads.  I mean, people are looking for that efficient mobile experience right?  They’re looking for that quick checkout whatever it might be.  Umm, and if you’re already gonna let them know that up front, you know, I mean CTR- I was actually pretty shocked when we ran this test and that in itself speaks a lot.  

Anshey:  That’s great.  I know Jan, you’ve been working a lot with personalization.  I’d love to hear when those users are coming to the site?  What are the things that you guys are doing to really make sure that they stay and keep coming back?

Jan: Yeah so, I think it’s all about relevancy to the small screen- so you wanna use that as efficiently as possible.  And that means using as many data points as you can.  So all of the contextual data points that we can use- for example the traffic source you come in on to kind of pre-personalize the experience.  You can use geo targeting right, so knowing a little bit about context but then really just focusing on- once you’re inside the shop, once you have a couple of clicks then we can personalize the whole, the whole experience.  So that’s usually what customers also come to- to Nosto to personalize their experience.

Anshey:  Have the rest of you done a lot of personalization work in the past?  Or not too much with your last few websites? Not too much?  No?  Okay! Umm, another question I wanted to ask is, what are some of the easy ways, and this is really for all of you, analytics are so important.  What are the way that you guys analyze sites and apps- what are the technologies you use to do that, and how do you use that data going forward to improve your experiences?

Nihal: Okay on mobile there’s obviously a whole host of of different services.  Mixed panel is very popular, obviously. Flurry Localytics which is one of our companies.  People they still use Google.  Um we actually always take the logins of entrepreneurs we’re talking to and Mixed Panel for example is probably the most popular. Um and daily active users, monthly active users, the conversion funnel, so literally at every step of the flow how many users are hitting the site, how many people are going to the shopping cart, how many people are transacting- looking at that very carefully…and then retention is very important. So we look at 30 day, 60 day, 90 day retention, um, and that’s like generally the first pass and we can get all of that from Mixed Panel, or Localytics if it’s implemented well. I think that’s pretty much been the standard for mobile development.  

Jay: Besides Mixed Panel, but when we’re looking to make an investment in a mobile company, we actually, the first thing we look at is the reviews the mobile app has on the app stores.  And then kind of look at the downloads and the experiences and the we try to find out how many people uninstalled the app for example.  Or how many people with other variances.  So we actually, before we even go into the detail that he’s talking about over here, we actually try to say is this an app that people actually like.  Or how are the apps getting their users- are they using gamification, are they using third party services to try to get artificial downloads, or are they getting these downloads organically through word of mouth which is the best- you know the best type of things.  So, a lot of the analytics that we do is more investigative research.  Just in terms of figuring out is this a mobile app company that we find interesting and that we would wanna- that we as consumers would want to use over here.  

Anshey:  Great, I’d love to hear also, what are the- if you had to put together a suite of tools which obviously you’re doing constantly at work- what are the tools that you guys use just going down the list- cause I think it’s really important for everybody here as well to know like yes they’re using that yes, they’re using the best tools or they’re using the correct tools for their platforms umm, I’d love to hear from each of you cause you’re working on a lot of different platforms and in different capacities.  I think that’s what’s really interesting about the panel is there’s a lot of different areas that you guys are working in.  So I think that’d be great to just go down the row and hear what kind of tools you guys use and enjoy.

Daniel:  Ours is mostly for buying media, right, so we use a lot of training decks, for search we use Kenshoo, Brightedge- these are all enterprise tools that allow you to have mobile component as well so something like Brightedge which is an SEO tool- it has several proxies on a mobile phone you know in different areas.  So that way you can really get the feedback on how you are doing in different areas.  And I’m talking about search right, so on google.  We do a little bit of app store optimization but mostly you know, the things that we do.  Typically facing either on paid channels or on SEO.  Other ones that we use that anyone can use say pagespeed insights- I would use that pretty heavily, because you would really want to know how Google and how others see your latency which is really important today.

Jay:  From a marketing standpoint, we really like tools like Kenshoo and we use Miranda as well too from the page search side.  From the organic search side, SEO moz is a great resource.  Um, from the SEO world, and we use that quite frequently.  Kissmetrics is another one that we we look at quite closely as well too as a tool that we use internally to gauge the effectiveness of uh mobile ads.  And obviously Google Analytics because it- it even though I feel like they’ve not updated a lot in the last couple of years it’s still a standard in terms of looking at what the- we use it more to figure out what the blend is between people going to mobile versus desktop versus tablet and then what operating systems they’re using.  So for Google, like if we’re going into what platform you’re using or what device you’re using we find Google Analytics to be pretty good to just give us that high level summary over there.

Nihal: That was like the worst ringtone ever, did you guys hear that?


Nihal: Umm, I’m mostly, I’m probably on the sales side not the buy side- I, I think right?  So localytics, M Particle is actually and SDK that’s starting to be popular amongst mobile developers.  The big issue with mobile dev is right now a developer will install like up to 40 or 50 different SDKs and it’s it totally- it makes the code completely bloated- often times the SKDs are incompatible with each other so you end up with like these horrible user experiences.  And so M Particle is trying to solve that problem- it’s just one SDK that you install.  And then you can actually go to a web based dashboard and turn on and off your analytics.  Turn on and off your crash reporting and turn on and off your monetization.  Umm and so now, very large brands like Spotify, Disney, Airbnb are using M Particle to just keep it very simple and everything is in the cloud and I think everything is moving in that direction. Uh, because people just don’t want like a million different SDKs that might not you know, play nice with each other in their app.   

Jan:  So also, more on the sales, side uh but essentially I want to highlight a resource that I use instead of an app.  That’s called Baymard Institute and they come up with these usability studies also in mobile, how to build a website that converts.  Umm those are the resources we use on a daily basis almost when we talk to clients.  So that great, a great suggestion.  

Anshey: That’s great, do any of you use Optimizely or any other AB testing?  I think that’s also really important- how do you set up AB tests as well?

Jan:  If, from our perspective, some of our clients want to have kind of independent verification if Nostro works or not- so they would usually run it through Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer.  Um and then we would just run either a split test, multi varied test with different algorithms.  So um, we use it almost on a daily basis as well.

Anshey:  That’s great and so are you, is Nostro also doing email marketing as well?  

Jan:  We do email marketing.  So we do I think triggered emails, so I think that’s where we wanna be- so that’s triggered off of behavior on site.  So whether it’s an abandoned cart or you haven’t been back to the site in 30 days, we would just trigger a personalized message to you.  Um so I think that’s where the direction is going and we know there’s actually loads of bigger sites that are now moving away from pure newsletters to sending more triggered, triggered emails…

Anshey: Yeah, that’s great, how about the rest of you guys, are you doing any AB testing and I would say any intense transactional email setups because obviously that’s important to make sure you keep with customers.  

Jay:  One of the companies that we’re an investor in is called Freshly which is a food delivery company for people trying to live a healthy lifestyle that’s sort of prepared and they’re right in NYC. They raised a big round of capital last year um, and one of the big things they’re finding is more and more people are using the mobile umm, their mobile native app just to try to do stuff and so they’re working very hard to build a mobile app for that experience.  And email is a big part of it because they found that the more they engage with the current customers and prospective new customers on email, the conversions go quite up.  So if they got someone to sign up via the mobile app to just the email list, even though they didn’t sign up as a customer because they didn’t want to go through the mobile app to say what 10 meal they want this week, it makes it just a cumbersome experience on a small form factor, but they’re able to get the person’s email address, they have, and they uh email those people for 6 weeks.  One email a week for 6 weeks telling them about why Freshly might be right for them- they have a 15% conversion rate.  And a couple other of my portfolio companies they have saw that same type of conversion rate on email so, that’s a very high conversion rate and I’ve seen it across two or three different companies in my portfolio where the answer is simply mobile commerce, if you don’t think you’ll be able to get that person on a checkout, try to get their email address.  And when you get their email address, market to them for 6 weeks and you know that usually results in a very high conversion rate, over there.  And that’s one way to solve the mobile commerce issue or bypass it for now with a- you know- solution through email.


David: I mean as an agency I we do it all day pretty much.  So tools would be Optimizely, Kenshoo, Google Analytics- we set up a lot of tests for that. Umm but what we’re seeing is, I mean email is pretty much the initial goal, I would say.  If we were to look at lead gen versus ecom, lead gen we can get conversion rates equal to desktop if not higher right?  And your traffic on mobile today is higher than your traffic on desktop.  So it’s really important to cater to that mobile traffic is what we’re seeing across all our advertisers. Um, from there though, right, what we’re using these tools for um, it really is about email acquisition- getting that first touch right especially if you’re in ecom because the checkout on mobile, the the conversion rates are, tend to be a lot lower than desktop still.  Right?  They’re climbing, we’re seeing increases about 2-3 x in conversion rate over the last year so it is climbing by a good deal but it’s still under desktop by at least 50% in your conversion rate right, across the board.  So it solves the way to catch up, which really means the traffic is there so we have to expand on that opportunity but at the same time you know understand that they will bounce and you know, maybe come back later on they’re just you know discovering it at this moment.  So email does become pretty important and um we’ll test you know, different ways of capturing that right.  One will be of course, let’s say guest checkout, facebook- cueing in in terms of that login.  Or even seeing how that ties up into regular email.  If an advertisers’ let’s say against that, well at the point we’re trying to cookie them.  Right?  Set a minimum, let’s cookie them, use all the remarketing channels we have.  Google today allows you to remarket to you know, any kind of email address as well right, as long as  you can cookie them, you can get in a gmail account.  So there’s a lot of ways if you cannot capture that email to still have some kind of cookie, or whatever it might be identifier to capture that user still.  

Anshey:  Sounds great, umm

Jan: Yeah maybe one additional point also on email, I was talking about this earlier also, how it can connect the devices, um so what you can do if you let’s say abandon the cart on one device, you open that email on a different device you can actually have that customer identified in the email and so once you click on anything inside the email, it’ll essentially restore your cart on that device, restore your browser history and your shopping cart.  That’s kind of the magic.  

Anshey: Umm, when you guys are working with a new buyer, or when you get a new investment, what’s the number one thing you look for, improving upon what they’re doing on their mobile site?

Jay: Um, we recently invested, a couple- a year and a half ago we invested in a company in Toronto called Ritual, which was 5 former Google engineers wanting to do a different kind of ecommerce experience. And the thing we got attracted to them is 5 Google engineers who worked on Google mobile applications who knew what they were doing.  And the founder had a previous Exec who was at one of our portfolio companies’ previously.  So when we look at investments in the mobile space, I don’t just look at something that, hey are they gonna do something that’s traditionally ecommerce?  I’m saying are they doing something that’s going to create new types of ecommerce. So for Ritual, what they do is, they’re basically like, if you’re in you’re in your office and you wanna go downstairs to your deli and pick up a meal, but you don’t wanna go downstairs, order it, wait in line and then pay and pick it up…you could just order that on your mobile app, go downstairs in 10 minutes and it’ll be ready for you and you just pick it up and leave, and all the payment and everything is processed in the backend.  That app, when they’ve tested it in the Toronto region, has had tremendous stickiness.  Any user who downloads the app, uses it twice a week.  So that created a whole new ecommerce experience which is online to offline.  So, when I look at investments I say, can you create a new type of ecommerce experience that doesn’t exist today? That actually- but works for today’s people’s behavior to make life easier for them.  And that’s when they, we get excited about those kind of mobile applications.  

Nihal:  You know just to build on that I think, it’s important especially as an investor to stay where the puck is going to be right?  Does anybody have Amazon Alexa yet in their homes?

{Daniel raises his hand}

Nihal: Just one?  What do you use it for?

Daniel: Turning on the lights..that’s about it.  Music, my nest.  It was a present.  

Nihal: So what’s cool is you can download all these hacks and I forget what they call them actually, what’s that?  Yeah, umm, and so, now like I just like, got mine last week and I’m actually noticing, it’s it’s creating a shopping list for me mostly for, the kitchen.  And um, you know, you’re out of oranges, so Alexa, please add oranges to the shopping list and then it literally complies a whole shopping list.  And then it can go and- now it’s connected to my Boxed account, Boxed Express and it’s like now go, place the order.  And like boom, the next thing it’s there.  So I think that stuff is, is really powerful.  And that was amazon.  That was building it.  They had the foresight to do that but, I think that the one thing that you mentioned, really look for founders that have the foresight, that this thing will be something massive that the market’s gonna go to.  The fact that Alexa’s been out for a year, I mean, this could be Amazon’s next AWS and only one person in the room has it- I think it’s telling because that means it’s you know, it’s still very early.  

Anshey: Cool, umm no that sounds great, I look forward for the day when you can use virtual reality, do your shopping experience, then a drone takes it and brings it to your house- that’s gonna be  very cool.  Well, thanks guys!  Does anybody else have any-

Jay: One thing I’ll add, we’ve looked at a couple of mobile app companies that really haven’t succeeded in this space yet but the idea of almost like a virtual assistant where like you’re, everyone’s busy nowadays, life’s more busier so if you say, hey, please find me a leather jacket that will look good in the fall for example right?  And I want it to be this brand and blah blah blah but I don’t have time to shop for it and here’s my sizing and you have a mobile app that you can either type that into or speak it into and then someone comes back and says here’s four options, which one do you want and you want that third one and then Boom that’s all you have to do.  They process the payment, they ship it to your house.  I’ve seen a couple of startups doing that, they just weren’t able to make some of the things work economically on the backend or logistics side or or economics but I do think that someday, someone is going to make an app that will fix all those things where, it’ll become your assistant where you could just, basically be like hey can you please order Bounty uh paper towels for me and um have them at my house by tomorrow and it’ll order through this company that this guy is an investor in called Boxed.  But that like to me is something that I think someone’s gonna tackle and do it successfully- no one’s been able to do it yet.  

Anshey:  Instead of you going to the store, the can store comes to you.  Drone’s going to pick up a few things and then bring it over to your house.  

Nihal:  Operator’s like that.  It’s one of Garett’s company who started a new brand- it’s basically it’s it’s that.  It’s an assistant over messaging that you can ask it basically to get anything for you.  

Anshey Bhatia

Founder of Verbal+Visual. E-commerce nerd. People connector. Travel junkie. Tech lover.

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