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Sabir: The old days of that consumer funnel that we are all used to it doesn’t exist.

Announcer: The biggest names in e-commerce. Share tricks of the trade from tools and software to strategies and growth act. Learn from the best and take your business to the next level.

JD: What are the actual tactical things that you’re doing to attract people?

Announcer: Now your host JD Crouse.

JD: Hello and welcome back to e-commerce In The Trenches. This is JD Crouse and today I’m stoked to have on the show Sabir Semerkant with vayner media. Sabir, welcome to the show.

Sabir: Thank you very much JD. It’s great to be on your show.

JD: Awesome. Well, you have a very decorated resume and I’m going to brag on you a little bit man. So let me start at the top. Sabir has been in e-commerce for a while and I’m going to let him elaborate a little bit on his history. But some of the big wins in his career are … Sabir grew Ashley Stewart’s e-commerce multi-channel fashion apparel brand fly backs from six million to $30 million in two and a half years. He also grew Puritan’s Pride. They have both a catalog and e-commerce business thing, $52 million in two years from $171 to $212 million. Sabir also grew the vitamin shop catalog and e-commerce brand $40 million from $12 to $52 million in four and a half years. My friend, you are battle tested. Tell me about some of your scars.

Sabir: Actually JD The way I phrase it is it’s scars and wounds. If I take my shirt off and show you my back, there’s plenty of wound to show there my friend. And these wounds are not just marketing related wounds. There are operational wounds and supply chain and merchandising and pricing and dealing with Channel conflicts to you name it, you name it. There’s smaller scars and huge gaping wounds.

JD: So tell me when your journey into e-commerce, selling stuff online began.

Sabir: Very beginning of e-com. So the year was I think roughly between ’99 and 2000, 1999, 2000 it’s been a while. More than 15 years now. My background … Oddly enough this is a very different background. I came out of college with a computer science degree so a tech head engineer, a hacker right. Been programming in so many different languages and cranking out software left and right. And interestingly enough I came across a vitamin shop in my career where I would say that that was my pivot point where I went from being just purely an engineer to actually taking on the responsibility of PNL and taking on the responsibility of understanding the customer, understanding making revenue and making margin and so on. So I kind of … I never took a marketing course.
I did take an accounting course in college but that was part of the requirements but I never took a marketing course. I was never qualified from that perspective to do marketing or to do sales or anything like that. It’s just when I was picketing back then there was no Amazon Kindle. There was no easy way of acquiring knowledge. So I would go out. I live in New York. So I would go out to Long Island and there’s a Barnes and Noble there and a nice big one. I would go to the section which was a marketing section I would pick up books and sit there with a cup of coffee and read through and kind of self-educate. And what I was educating myself … On the weekend I would come back to work and take the raw data because I had the background to do sequel and data analysis and stuff like that.
I would turn the data into what I learned over the weekend into our FM recency frequency monetary models and LTV lifetime value models to kind of understand what the vitamin customer was doing, right for vitamin shop. And as I started digging more and more into this and just to kind of get my one on one scale. I started converting that into which customers are email able. Right. So I would take that and say these customers are my most recent customers. These customers are off their latency meaning that typically they should be buying from me these 30 tablets. They should be going out of this product in 30 days every month. The frequency of this product should be 12 for a year. So every month they should be buying from me. So I was approaching it purely from an engineering perspective. Not from a marketing perspective. Purely engineering like this is the mathematics of it. This is how it should work. These customers should be buying from me and I started changing my email program because it became almost like I inherited the e-com business. Like it became my responsibility to drive e-com sales. So I started doing that more and more and as I kept continuously with no … I mean I had no business being there to do that. Nobody gave me permission which is great.

JD: Right. Absolutely.

Sabir: Gary Vaynerchuk does says the same thing about his background. Nobody was expecting him to start up an agency and run an agency. So and he’s doing a great job of that. I’m in his leadership. So same thing with my history like I had zero business doing any of those kinds of things. And I just approached it every single day. I just wanted to make an improvement every single day. That was my continuous improvement every day. If I got 15 customers to bite on this thing tomorrow my goal was to turn 16 then 17 then 18 and you can see that. I mean if you make 1% improvement every single day if you start on January 1st, December 31st whatever you’re doing is improving 36.5 times. Let’s say you call it-

JD: Wow.

Sabir: Any inefficiency, any inefficiency like it could be supply chain things burning down your manufacture and not sending you goods. Let’s take those into account and cut that number in a third. So you should grow things by 10x. If you make that continuous improvement to your religion.

JD: That is amazing. If you didn’t hear that in your listen to this improving 1% a day, will turn into a … Did you say a 35x improvement in your business?

Sabir: Exactly. 36.5x.

JD: Thirty six point five. Leave it to the engineer mathematician.

Announcer: Not me. Well, I don’t know that I gave you I mean I don’t know that I tee it up. Sabir is the SVP of e-commerce for vainer media. So most everybody knows who Gary Vaynerchuk is. You have the scars and wounds, you’ve actually been responsible for PNL and supply chains and margin which I love as an e-commerce brand owner. Because you talk to agencies, people that want to run your Google ads, want to run Facebook, want to even run your email marketing campaigns right and manager lists and segment and all of that. But if they haven’t been in our shoes, it’s pretty easy to manage to an ROAS, Return On Ad Spend or some KPI, Key Performance Indicators. Some metric that at the end of the day if they don’t understand my cost of goods sold and they don’t understand what actually makes the whole engine run, they’re really not my partner. So I love that about you and I just had an interview with Scott deGrasse with wicked reports and I’m going to have to connect you two guys. Do you know Scott by chance?

Sabir: I don’t know. I’ve not come across him yet.

Announcer: Okay, he’s got a cool company. He helps people use big data and calculating LTV for specifically channels, different pay channels it’s a tracking tool that helps you identify high-value customers. But Scott much like you is a data geek like a data Wizard and you guys blow my mind like I’m so envious because as a marketer, I want to be able to use what you guys look at and understand to make money, to make more educated decisions. So help me get there. Sabir, help me … How do you if you’re a business owner and you’re the head chef and bottle washer, you’re spinning 13 different plates in your business and you don’t have an engineering background or a mathematical mind. How do you take action that will actually produce money like profits? What are some actionable insights that you can give us?

Sabir: So I’ll start out with … I’m especially with e-commerce, is something that you have to think about. Number one e-commerce should be an investment. Jeff Bezos said I think it was in 2004 or 2006 he said “Your margin is my opportunity.” And what he meant by that was other companies when they think about their business, they’re constantly thinking about margin. I need to deliver margin 27.5% margin. Fifty six point five margin. If my margin is off, I’m Oh my God I cannot sleep. Right. He doesn’t care about that level of margin because he is investing for the long term because if he converts that customer to become an Amazon customer, then you’ve got that customer and you can the repeat orders that you’re going to keep on getting through subscribe and save and prime membership orders and all of these other orders that you will get from that household.
You’ll make more profit from that customer. Then that first transaction that you lost some money on. Right. A lot of people when they think about … You mentioned our ROAS Return On Advertising Spend typically it’s the revenue you collected and you divided by their advertising spend you had. So usually people operate … Oh, it’s $2 or $2 50 cents right. Meaning that when I spent a dollar on media it produced $2, 50 cents in revenue. Right. But what a lot of people don’t think about and this is something that I think as an industry, we need to morph into this to understand. When you think about profitability, the definition needs to change.
We need to start getting away from ROAS being the ultimate KPI to understanding lifetime value. It’s so important. When I acquire that customer in typically in my model, how often does that customer would purchase from me over a lifetime. And if you come up with that number so does it matter you spend 15 bucks or 50 bucks to acquire that customer? That customer is giving you 1500 bucks a lifetime value in three years. You make more than enough from that so to do kind of short-circuit a lot of … Unfortunately a lot of e-com leaders they end up doing that when they don’t understand the ultimate math that they need to apply there to understand really how it should really work. I mean when did think about profitable customer, did think about profitable transaction.
They’re not thinking about customer. And I would define a customer not as the first transaction you got from that customer. It’s not like you go into a party or you go into a bar and then the first girl or guy you see and they look at you smiling, you think that you’re husband and wife. That never happens. Right. So why are you doing that in your business?. First time they gave you their e-mail address like let’s say e-mail Sign-Up. That’s just saying she’s just smiling at you and giving you her phone number. It doesn’t mean anything. And then after that when that first transaction happens to your business, they’re just giving a trial. They’re trying your business out. Maybe they’re trying or the product is just a trial. After you make that you should make that a response your responsibility to convert them to that second transaction.
And now you start to have a relationship. And that’s something that a lot of people need to understand from a model standpoint. Once you make that happen, then it’s pretty easy to get them to buy it a third time, fourth time, fifth time, sixth time then it becomes a behavior. And when you’re collecting that e-mail address, nowadays the e-mail address is not just to load it up into Mail Chimp and send an e-mail out. You can take the same e-mail database and load it up into Facebook and you can match the audience or you could do look like audiences and you could do a lot of interesting types of audience development on Facebook and other properties related to Facebook.
You can do the same thing on Google too. So there’s a lot of like multiple purposes to that email collection and that’s my second point. If when you are thinking about profitability you have to think about how do you do lead generation. A lot of e-com companies think about that transaction and they collected that email address and they miss out on the fact that all these people came through your door and you did not even collect their email address and it’s almost like a second thought to collect that email address. It should be the primary thing you should be thinking about. Let’s collect their e-mail and maybe 40% of those people that we collected email from them, from that small group those are the ones that convert it to the first transaction.
How about we reach out to the other ones 60% or 70% that did not place the first order and entice them give them some sort of an offer. But most people go and opt for let’s put a pixel here and re target them wherever they go on the web. That’s part of the equation. That shouldn’t be only the equation. Digitally speaking, the old days of that consumer funnel that we’re all used to and that starts at the top with brand awareness and at the bottom of it it turns into some kind of a purchase thing that they’re dripping off doesn’t exist. Every consumer touches like 21 different touch points before they make a buying decision. So it looks like this crazy bubbles that are linked to each other in random format. Right. It’s not that they’re going to this perfect funnel that they’re walking through this and magically a customer is out put it on the other side. So understanding that is really important.
I mean the books are written for marketing and for customer modeling and stuff like that need to be rewritten for the digital age. Because the consumers interacting with the brands, interacting and consuming content, interacting and consuming products very differently than it used to be like 70 years ago.

JD: Well or even 20 years ago, 15 years ago and it is changing rapidly right.

Sabir: Yes.

JD: I mean I don’t know that we’ll have time to get into it. I hope that we do. But one experiences is chat bots for example and it’s all the rage right now on Facebook where you can automate this follow up using when somebody engages with you on a post or however you want to set it you can do chat based advertising. And the interesting thing is a couple of my friends that have tested it and I’ve actually opted in to a few different promoters of the technology to see how they’re using it, and the experience is really horrible because you’re expecting as the end consumer, you’re expecting this oh my goodness, I’m going to get to chat with Sabir on his Facebook page if in fact, you were. And instead, oh, I get like these two or three automated messages and I’m like oh, man there’s not somebody here. So that’s one of the 21 bubbles that you’re talking about?

Sabir: Yes.

JD: And it just so happens that it might have been my 20th bubble. My touch point with a brand and that touch point I was headed to a conversion. I was headed to a relationship where I was going to begin giving money and that touch point was actually so bad and put such a bad taste in my mouth that it washed all of the other touch points down the tube and which takes us to another point that I know that you’re super passionate about. I think it’s a great time to bring it up. Sabir, which is the future of brick and mortar and how we should be thinking about multi-channel an omni channel and those 21 different touch points. Tell me about your thoughts around that.

Sabir: So I’m extremely passionate about that topic. Number one I think from every marketer’s diction, they should completely abolish words like omni channel, multi-channel, and e-commerce, retail commerce. No such thing. Right. Because it makes the brand or that brick and mortar that 2000 square foot space or a website with 2000 pages important. That’s not important. It’s absolutely not important. The world has changed where the consumer is in the center of that universe and all of the experiences they have has to revolve around them. Why? Because I carried a world in the back of my pocket and it’s called iPhone or Samsung Galaxy or Android phone or whatever. Right. I get to decide if I want to go to a physical location or I want to experience a brand virtually and in future VR and AR and those kinds of things are coming. It shouldn’t matter how I experience it. You need to be present where I need to experience it. So that’s number one, really really important. Right. And number two I’m going to also comment on the chat bot thing that you talked about earlier. The unfortunate is just a side track a little bit.

Announcer: That’s great. That’s fine.

Sabir: One unfortunate thing is that when like the web was coming about and e-com was coming about if you remember what happened was the catalog marketers and brands they took their catalog and verbatim copy and pasted it on a website. Right. They thought catalog marketing looks like a web page. It looks like a word processing document. Let’s put it up on a website people have access to it. Right. And how many catalog marketers do you know became e-commerce stars? Almost none. Very low number, very low. Do you need it to learn a new behavior? Because e-com was a different channel. It was a different experience. Not even a channel, different experience. Right. And with the chat bot, the same thing is happening right now that I see with all the implementations out there of chat bot.
What I see is one of two things right. One is let’s take our customer service after we have on our website and make it a chat bot so that when you type where’s my order? Here’s FAQ that I’m going to surface up right. So that’s one. The other one that I see is they take and I’ve seen a lot of retailers do this now. Once you connect your messenger to their app, to their website what they do is whatever they deliver through email marketing, they’re delivering it through chat bot. Right. They’re not really utilizing the platform for what is supposed to be. The level of engagement needs to be different. Right. I would almost mimic the chat bot to a better experience like take live chat and add plus one to that experience. It’s closer to that than email marketing or website content right. It needs to morph.
I don’t have the crystal ball to tell you what it’s supposed to morph to. And in every product category, it’s going to be different. And I think a chat bot could deliver a lot of great experiences. It’s been working really well in Asia. But the thing is cell phone is a computer in Asia. It’s not your desktop or laptop. Its affordability thing and also mobile is more prominent there and that’s why applications, a chat applications work for buying and selling and exchanging money and all that kind of stuff is just not here yet. If you remember the mobile revolution in the United States in a developed country we were the last ones to get into that, into kind of mobile kind of interaction. SMS was not a regular thing. Nowadays you get unlimited SMS from Verizon and T-Mobile and all these guys. Right. So that’s one. I’m going to now go back to your question that you just asked about multi-channel, omni channel. I’m sorry I had to digress a little bit.

JD: That’s good. It’s okay.

Sabir: So as far as … So what’s wrong with retail today? Right. Unfortunately retail is trying to fix retail issues within retail. That’s the big problem right. The world has changed. How the consumers are consuming is changed and it’s not just the oh, this is how millennials are doing it or the Gen-Z and the younger Gen-X generation forget about about all that. 2017 and 2018 is not about you, it’s not about your retail brand, it’s not about your fashion brand or whatever brand you have. It’s about the consumer. The consumer has the right and the ability to vote for you or not right. Whether you’re selling OA product or you’re selling a department store doesn’t matter. Understanding that is very important. And then you have to deliver experiences that extends your online experience where you’re lacking that physical contact to delivering that experience in your store. And there are rare situations where that’s happening. Why is it that when I walk into a mall the rest of the mall could be dead at any time of day. And when I walk by an Apple store is always full of people and full of people interacting with the product or experiencing the product. And the goal of that store is not necessarily buy, buy, buy, sale, discount, 30% off, black Friday sale whatever. They’re not screaming at the top of their lungs.
They kind of reconstructed what that retail experience should be because there’s kind of an online experience and a physical experience. I need to touch the Apple watch to play with it. Right. I want to go into a Warby Parker store to see how good the frames are or how it’s going to look on my face because maybe I don’t want to do the home trial through their website. Right. It’s different kind of experiences if you look at what Amazon was doing with their experiment in the Amazon Gold star. Right. When you walk in there, there were no cashiers. Right. It’s a completely different experience. Like, let’s hit the reset and rebuild it from the ground up. We don’t owe anything to anyone, we don’t have any legacy to retail experience. We’re going to build a new experience right.
So those are the kind of things that brands need to think about and not think about in this kind of siloed. This is an e-commerce channel talk to Sabir. This has to do with e-comm, talk to Bob he’s a retail head. Let’s talk to him about that. Let’s talk to brand and Brad who is a brand guy right. Let’s talk to Sarah. She handles social. People create these silos and these silos are what’s killing companies nowadays. It needs to be more collaborative where the finance guy needs to be in the room when you’re talking about margin and doing promotions right. And it’s like they’re counting the beans in the background. Why are they doing that. They need to be in the forefront as part of that collaborative team. So in my world, in my vision that team is seven people from different practices. Not just e-com guy and supply chain guy and stuff like that but they’re all working together not that they’re part of different departments. They’re one team that’s the team that’s it.

JD: Right. So what do you see because you get to touch a lot of different brands in a lot of different verticals. What are the paid traffic sources that are working great today for acquisition going after cold traffic? Sabir.

Sabir: Sure. So I kind of distinguish between like organic traffic and kind of pay traffic. Right. There are a lot of things and content is definitely king and marketing of that content is queen right. So you have to understand that really really well. So I would start with people in a lot of pages like if I go on Amazon I can pull up any page and Amazon is a great platform for you to be doing content marketing right. A lot of people don’t really get that because I come across so many products that they’re given an incredible amount of space to tell their story and they’re not doing anything. They just put up a product title, price, and I don’t even know what the product does. There’s one photo and it seems like somebody took it in a laundromat. Right. I apologize. I’m very picky on those things. Right. You can tell so much. Right. Let’s go with Amazon.
They have about more than just public information. They’re more than like 150 million based on estimates. Hundred fifty million shoppers active every single month through Amazon properties. Right. That’s a humongous number right. You have in certain categories you have so many eyeballs coming across your product and you’re not even putting an effort of building up your content correctly. And this is what I call organic efforts and organic campaigns or organic content development you need to do before you even touch paid. Right. So build up a better product title you can put seven photos up you can put up a product video to kind of to really sell them.
Everybody once in their lifetime has watched a QVC channel or HSN you know how great a job they do of selling an item and within a five minute period or 18 minute period or one hour and you can see how many units they sell within that hour is incredible. Right. You’ve seen that. How about you use that in a video on your product page on Amazon right. When I say Amazon you could use the same what I’m saying on your own site, you could take the same idea put it on If you’re selling through Walmart, you can put it on You could talk to or or whoever is a pure play out there.
You can use it strategically as your content platform across the board. It’s not just your own site and your own blog. No such thing is much broader. Right. You can put up like SEO content that can help when people are searching. Fifty-five percent of product searches on the web are done on It’s not Google. Right. And that’s fact. That’s a humongous number. Right. And if your product is not SEO optimized for onsite search, you’re losing the game on Amazon. If you’re wondering why? How come the two brothers or two sisters that came up with their own brand, low brand is kicking your butt on Amazon and you’re a humongous brand and you’re on page two. Usually, you put dead bodies on page two. Right. And that’s because nobody’s looking there.
And you’re wondering those are the kind of things that those two entrepreneurs are doing better than you are as a humongous brand. Right. And then when you page down, there’s enhanced content. Enhanced content allows you to tell a brand story, your product story about this specific raspberry flavor and how you sourced ingredient and how great it is, or how the lipstick looks on your face, you can put photos up there, you can show recipes, you can tell a great story there. Right. And then you come further down. One of the biggest currencies on Amazon or any other website is reviews and ratings. People care how many stars you have and how many people have reviewed it before I make this buying decision I want to see that at least 100 people have vouched for this product and on average it looks like three and a half four stars. Right. I want to see that whether I’m reading the reviews or not it doesn’t matter. Right. I could look in the details and see is this gluten-free or whatever. Right. Or how did I use it to make a cupcake or whatever. Or how did I use it to go to this party or that party or how does it feel on my skin.
I might read those kind of things later. But primarily I’m looking at oh, is four stars and a thousand people have reviewed this product. If you see among your competitors that they have like 2500 reviews and that’s four stars average. How about making that your baseline for your product on Amazon or using like biz rate or something like that or bizarre voice on your own site, on your branded site making that a basic rule that we have to drive X amount of reviews per product. And our goal is to collect that. And we have to deliver a great experience so that we can get all those stars like three and a half stars, four stars and so on. So yes.

JD: If you had to pull out a dollar value on a review and I know that it depends on the brand, it depends on the lifetime value of the customer, depends on a lot of things. But a genuine buyer review, a positive one that bought your product and has gone to the site and put it on the site. What is that worth today? Sabir.

Sabir: So it depends on the product category. But I can tell you is there are certain things that if I were to look at an anatomy of product detail page on any of the sites whether Amazon does a great job of conversion. Right but even on Amazon, you could deliver a horrible experience and not get the conversion you’re looking for. Right. Video plays a huge role right. Video is a high converter. Investing in video pays dividends. That’s basically one-time production that you put up on a product page and you’re going to get dividends on that. That’s an organic effort that you put in. Reviews also lends itself to that. But you cannot get tender reviews while your competition … When you look at top 20 in your category and they have 3000 reviews right. And you have 10 and you think oh, we get reviews that’s not reviews. You’re not getting any reviews. Ten is not a number. Right. Three thousand is the number for your category for this specific category for this product where it sets 3000 is the average number that in order to appear in the top 20. So make that part of your religion to deliver that. So-

JD: Let’s say … So I’m not going to let you off of this because I want a number and I don’t care what it is. I mean I do. But let’s say you’ve got 5000 positive reviews, you’ve got a Shopify store and you’re trying to put a value on those reviews are they worth 10 cents apiece? Are they worth 50 cents apiece? Or are they worth a buck apiece? Are they worth $10 apiece? Like what are those suckers worth?

Sabir: So I’ll give you some averages right. When you put an effort into organic SEO because these are all … There’s no one clear answer that’s why I’m having a hard time giving you a response-

JD: That’s okay. It’s okay.

Sabir: Because there is a whole … Going back to what I said earlier about 21 touch points right before that consumers making that purchase. If you look at just e-com channels alone, it’s seventh. On average is seven points of touch. Right. It’s organic SEO they went back to Google. They said Retail Me Not. And then your brand name right. And then they found a coupon for $5 off. Great win when you click on that Retail Me Not happens to be our online affiliate. Who gets that sale. And you had sent them an e-mail and they had clicked on the e-mail to come to your site, to begin with. They got the e-mail, they came to your site, they went back to the web to look for if you had the product on Amazon and they couldn’t find it on Amazon for whatever reason because you’re not promoting your special private label on Amazon or something like that. Then they said okay, this one doesn’t have it. Let me look for it on … Go back to Google and type in retail me not and your brand name. They came back to your site and now they just placed your order. Who gets the credit for that.

JD: They all do.

Sabir: They all do. Right. And you know that from your experience right. What happens when you pull one of those out and reduce your media span or the spending that you have on optimizing organic SEO or saying that oh, you know what? Either affiliates are doubling down. I mean they’re getting double paid for traffic I already got through my e-mail and stuff. Maybe you’re not going to get that conversion because you did not put up that $5 of free shipping special coupon to get that conversion. Would it be worth it for you to give up like I don’t know $5 50 cents on average for a five-pound box to UPS? That’s what your cost is. Would you have given that up as a cost per acquisition for that conversion over whatever commission you were paying to retail me not? I mean that’s the kind of thing, that’s the kind of math you have to kind of do.
So going back to your question I can tell you based on my experience right. Organic channels have the highest return on advertising spend or … Even though it’s not advertising spend it’s return on marketing spend. Right. You’re putting effort into SEO. You’re putting effort into reviews, you’re putting effort into email marketing right. So and affiliates I will say even know you’re paying commission I consider that an organic channel. Yes, you are paying … The paid side of advertising related to online affiliates you could consider that paid media. But the managing your sales channel and you didn’t paying out Commission to retail me not to drive sales based traffic to your site. I consider that organic also. So-

JD: Absolutely. And I mean it’s a cost of conversion. You know exactly what it is, you’re not paying for a CPM Cost Per Thousand. You’re not paying for eyeballs, you’re not paying for traffic, you’re only paying when somebody buys.

Sabir: So for the P channels like Google ad words and social channels like Facebook paid ads and stuff like that or YouTube. Right. Those tend to be anywhere depending on the maturity of the e-com marketer. Right. Your ROAS to your site not counting the retail conversion which a lot of that happens to. Right. People as I said is 21 touch point so that they’re not necessarily converting on your site. They might be consuming and building up their purchase intent but they’re standing at CVS and they want to pick this stuff up. They just don’t have enough information to make that purchase. But they ended up buying your product right. So not counting that, I’ll just purely click based to your site conversion paid search paid, all these channels they can range anywhere from 25 cents ROAS. Right. And the maximum I’ve seen is maybe six to eight dollars. Right.
Once you mature enough that’s the kind of range I’ve seen. Right. Organic channels, organic ACL you make let’s say you put in $5000 a month or $2000 a month and you’re spending down on a fixed contract with an ACL specialist every single month and they’re optimizing your SEO content. Those tend to be 25x to 50x. That’s the kind of returns you’re seeing on reviews. What they do is it’s not necessarily an ROAS or a return on marketing spend. Factor is measured off by how many factors are you improving the conversion. And I have seen anywhere from two and half to 3x conversion increase. Right.
So if somebody … If you look at a product that doesn’t have reviews and doesn’t have ratings versus a product that has a respectful amount of reviews and ratings, you’re looking at a conversion that’s in multiples, not percentages. Right. You’re getting three times more so why wouldn’t you want to double down and when somebody makes a purchase, go out to them at least they probably know the product or heard about the product and they’re purchasing it, ask them for a review to try to make that part of your kind of your email marketing reach out communications program right. When somebody makes a purchase, where’s that follow up? A lot of e-com folks they just send that order confirmation and that’s it done. What’s the next time you’re going to touch them? Oh, sale, sale, sale, $25 off, 5% off of, 10% off.
Well, how about building up that relationship and they just purchase from you. Send them something. What I would do I would do two things. One, I would ask them to review the thing that they just bought. Give them seven days and then send them a review e-mail number one. Number two while they’re waiting to receive this thing because it takes time for goods to get to people. Right. Anywhere from two to seven days and within in United States right. During that time, send them a thank you e-mail but don’t just send them an e-mail confirmation right. Send them hey, while you’re waiting, we wanted to give you this video on YouTube you should watch on how best to use this product right.
How to put it together, how to bake with this MNM’s box of MNM that you just bought right or whatever. Just give them content useful content that they’re consuming while they’re anxiously waiting for the product to arrive. So once it arrives now they have different perspectives on how to use that product, how to put it together. What other uses of it, tips and tricks. Somebody talking about how to use it on their hair on their shirt and how this shirt would look with what kind of looks. You could produce that content that doesn’t cost anything that you may already have done that already. Right. Or if you have not invest in that because when you are educating the consumer they bought it already you’re educating them how to do more to use it. They end up using it that way. Right. And then after that getting that second transaction, going back to the earlier thing I said, getting them to that second transaction, to that third transaction. Now it’s a relationship.

JD: That’s right. It’s very good. Very, very good. Man, there’s lots of layers to this business-

Sabir: I’ll Actually I’ll rand for like two seconds two minutes a little bit more, JD. Why is it like I’ll go back to kind of a timeline. Why is it during my grandfather’s time, the relationship with the shop owner, the pharmacist, the barber shop, was so damn close. They knew each other. They knew about their families and that’s how you trusted that person and that person trusted you as a customer. And then he just kept on having that relationship and they kept on delivering on that relationship and that trust level they mutually benefited each other. Right. But during my dad’s time, it seems like that kind of went away. Right. And it turned very … That relationship was industrialized. Right. And that went away. And now in our day and age and our kid’s age, because of that, we’re trying to solve what our grandparents already solved. And what we are trying to bring that relationship in a kind of a digital means that e-commerce means.
And we’re wondering like why are these things failing in retail and why isn’t this site converting? We are the niche player. If you look at the 20 … CNBC reported the 20 retail companies that went bankrupt in 2017, every one of them, every single one of them filed for bankruptcy was a specialty niche retailer. Right. Why aren’t these delivering specialty retail experience? Why are they acting like they are a department store or a big box store? None of them were big box stores. None of them were big brand. There were specialty brand.
Why not deliver a specialty experience that the consumer says Oh, I’m not going to go to a big box, I’m going to go to the specialty store because this I know Linda, I know Jim, I know Bob, and they know me. And then this is how they’re going to understand what my needs are. I’m not going to get that by after card experience that I get on a website. Or if I go to a store and say here’s my credit card, give me the product. There is no relationship there.

JD: Well I think you mentioned Warby Parker earlier in Peloton cycles, The Indoor Cycling Experience. I recently had an experience with them in Austin Texas and I think they’re doing a fantastic job. Obviously, they’re doing a lot direct to consumer on television. And it was so laid back offered me a beer, offer me a water, and just stood there while my buddy and I rode the bikes and took us on a tour with the touch screen, visual display in front of us and it was a fantastic experience. And that little shop in that outdoor shopping area, retail area was expensive. I mean I bet it was $40, $45 a square foot space but they get it. It was nice, it was clean. The staff was … She was very well educated. She was a cycling enthusiast. She was totally into the bikes. And I got to tell you I’ve got I mean I have no desire to spend $3700 on a stationary bike. But if I did or if I do in my future, I’m buying one of those bikes because it was a fantastic experience.

Announcer: Sorry about that. We just got an alarm going off I don’t know if you can hear it on the side.

JD: It’s okay. Yes. Not a big deal at all. So let me get you out of here because I know you’ve got a hard stop. Couple things. Number one how to connect with you and talk to me about something really exciting that you have coming up with Shopify.

Sabir: Sure. So how to get in touch with me. If it has to do with our e-com related services, the easiest thing to do is go to and hit the contact us and in the comments, you can put in you’re looking for e-com help and we can definitely engage just that way. If you want to reach out to me personally about a challenge you’re facing. And if it’s a quick answer then I can give you, I can be reached on LinkedIn. I have a very unique name and JD you will put up the my LinkedIn profile link and my Twitter handle. I’m very active on Twitter. So if you ask me a question there I’ll definitely answer it if you want to ask me publicly or you could private message me. That’s not a problem.

JD: Perfect.

Sabir: I can definitely do that. With a Shopify, what we are doing is we are Vayner media and Shopify Plus we are partners and we help with a lot of Shopify plus implementation. We’ve done quite a few. And what we’re doing for the holidays for all the entrepreneurs out there who are trying to make their e-commerce sales and make sure that your e-commerce experience during the holidays is a wonderful life and not a nightmare before Christmas. So we are putting together a six-part podcast mini-series and we’re actually in the middle of recording it right now and we will be posting that up. We have a working title right now so be on the look out on Twitter or LinkedIn. I’ll be posting it if you follow me on either one of those platforms. You will see us posting those podcasts and it will be focused on holidays. So we will be tackling every aspect of holidays and making sure that how you guys can win the holiday revenue and grow the sales the way it needs to be grown during that period.

JD: Nice. And your working title is E-commerce Hacking The Holidays. Is that kind of where you’re at right now.

Sabir: Yes. That’s the working title, for now, Hacking The Holidays. But we will be … Our distribution plan is to actually get it out there on Google Play and iTunes and all the podcast platforms. We’re planning on pushing out medium article on medium you should be able to find us there too.

JD: Nice.

Sabir: But be on the lookout if you follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ll definitely post as soon as those podcasts up so’s become available.

JD: Fantastic. All right. The question of the day.

Sabir: Go forward.

JD: Sabir, what would you do today if you could wave a magic wound and you had all the time and energy knowing what you know and going through all the experiences, seeing all the different businesses and all of the different things that one can do with time and energy. What would you do today?

Sabir: So the number one thing I mean besides spending time with family and such things so those are definitely obvious things that I do. As far as time and energy, I love helping people. So throughout my career whenever I had any bit of time I mentor. I have mentored over past seven years at Baruch College where they really give me an Executive MBA student to take under my wings for a semester or two to help guide them whether they’re working on their startup or they’re working on their like even career path or they just want to pick my brain and they need help. So mentorship is very big with me and participating in these kinds of podcasts extends that kind of well my personal brand from that perspective where it’s not necessarily dollars and cents or anything like that it’s more like sharing that knowledge and giving back to the community and in whatever way I can whether it’s helping out fellow entrepreneurs through this kind of podcast programs or helping out.
If you’re in college and you’re getting out and you need help if I can be of kind of assistance so if you go on Twitter and you type in, look at my kind of my Twitter history from time to time I post there hey, it’s e-com day, ask me any question you like no holds barred no strings. And it’s funny that very few people actually take me up on that opportunity and I’m giving them Grotius. And it’s funny that a friend of mine said that he actually experimented in Times Square here. He found that it was easier for him to beg for a dollar from strangers than for him to give out a dollar to strangers.

JD: Wow, isn’t that something. Isn’t that something?

Sabir: I just had breakfast with him. He’s a very talented TV producer that he is working on American Ninja Warrior right now. Orin diploid. That’s a shout out to him.

JD: Nice.

Sabir: Great guy.

JD: Nice.

Sabir: Friend of mine for awhile now. So he said that he actually experimented with that and it was funny that he could collect a dollar from strangers then offering to give out a dollar to strangers which is crazy. And I said to him on Twitter I’m doing the same thing. I say hey, I’m here. Ask me. And so far like there have been a couple of people who have actually hit me up and said Oh … One guy was trying to scale his hot sauce business and he was selling through e-commerce and I helped him. I had a very long conversation and follow-ups. And as a thank you he sent me up bottles of hot sauce and I love hot sauce. So that worked out well. That worked out. I had zero expectation and that was a nice surprise from him.

JD: That’s wonderful. Well, it’s what makes the world go round right. Paying it forward paying it … Doing for others what others have done for us. And you’re a very kind soul Sabir. I got to tell you I appreciate our time together today. Hit Sabir up on Twitter. He gave you an open invitation. He loves helping people, he would love to help you with your e-commerce questions I’m sure. And it keeps a sharp right keeps us out there in the game and also check out Sabir’s E-commerce Hacking The Holidays or a similar title that vayner media and Sabir is one of the hosts, they’re doing that it’s going to be coming out very soon on iTunes and Google Play. Do you have any final parting words or thoughts today?

Sabir: So number one advice for all the entrepreneurs and e-commerce folks out there. Data should be a religion right. Collect data as much as you can and try to understand the kind of the logic or the insights behind the data. Super important. Once you understand that you would be able to scale your business. Understand what the consumer is doing. It’s not about you, it’s about the consumer right. If you make that part of your religion and you make that part of that universe and you are participating in that universe, you will succeed big time.

JD: Fantastic. Thanks again Sabir.

Sabir: Thank you JD for having me.

JD: Thanks for joining us. Give us a review on iTunes and share this with a friend. Again thanks for being on E-commerce In The Trenches and we’ll talk you next time.

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