Joshua Chin 9:55
Yeah, yeah, head of ecommerce. And I hope I hope How does that you know, that’s a that’s that’s a lot of that’s heavy for someone who’s a couple years out of university. How do you handle that? And especially in the in a space, like back in 2005 to 2007 is where things are beginning to pick up and I believe back then was called E etail. etail. Yes.
Chloë Thomas 10:24
Yeah, we did etail for a bit. Yeah. I was very lucky that the first time I got off to the bank was working for a true multi channel retailer. So it was a catalog business in the UK that had over 100 stores and had a big impressive at the time ecommerce site. And I was brought in as a direct marketer to manage the catalog mailings, which is a great training ground for anyone who wants to do online marketing. And we you know, so a multimillion pound business very sick, actually not that successful business because it ends up going under. But I did two Christmases with them, we were selling gifts. So I learned a huge amount. And for the second of those Christmases, my boss, who was head of marketing, I think she was head of marketing, overseeing all the marketing activity, she was on maternity leave. So I single handedly got to do a whole Christmas. So I got I learned an awful lot in the My 18 months there. And then got offered what was when I when I we had the chat about it. It was an ecommerce manager position across a consult for a consultancy who worked across I think it was between six and 10 ecommerce mailorder brands which dabbled in ecommerce but didn’t really do anything. And on the day I turned up, my new boss was making me a coffee in the tiny kitchen and that and said, I decided you’re going to be my head of ecommerce. And, and it was that Job was was 50% having a lot of fun. You know, you’ve got brands that have I think one of them, we sent their first ever marketing email, and we had 60,000 people on the list. And they’d never sent an email and get them getting the owner of the business over again, right, I’m gonna hit send, and then just watching the cash come in. I really it was it was so exciting. And you know, going to the big trade fairs going Hello, I’d like to buy I’d like to build five ecommerce sites in the next year. Are you up for it? So I learned a huge amount, but it was also I was seen as a threat by a lot of the rest of the people, people in the business because they were mail order diehards. You know it was all about the catalog, the catalog was King, how do we and it’s still a problem now in the mail builder industry. How do you match the attribution online and offline? Is your email stealing my sales? So a lot of it was also kind of internal PR, and not being threatening? Cuz I knew that because I’ve been working mail order. So I knew that was going to be a conflict. Just how can we add to that? So yeah, that’s how I ended up doing it as a young age, how I managed to do that at a young age, I think just just utter, not even realizing it was a weird thing to be doing. It never occurred to me that I wasn’t going to achieve it, that I wasn’t going to do well that I was doing something impressive even I don’t think ever really occurred to me it just felt right. Which maybe is a huge amount of arrogance, or maybe it’s a huge naivete. I’m not sure.
Joshua Chin 13:33
Maybe, maybe, but I think that has brought you to where you’re at right now. And let’s, let’s bring us to the future a little bit at the present. And in the future. You’ve spoken with countless of ecommerce brands on your podcast, the ecommerce, eCommerce MasterPlanPodcast. What is the kind of if you have to extrapolate into the rest of 2022? What do you think is going to be the broad themes coming into the picture, especially with the uncertainty surrounding different variants of, of COVID? And not knowing when the world is going to open up again? What what are those? Yeah.
Chloë Thomas 14:14
it’s, it’s, it’s a really, it’s, I think, actually 2023 to 22 event, it’s harder to predict in 2020 21 as to what’s going to happen because 2021 If we hadn’t seen a lot of the macro impacts of COVID happen yet. We were kind of Whoa, we’ve we’ve got used to this pandemic thing. Next year, we’ll be a bit more of the same etc. But then we’ve had the whole shipping issue, which you know, logistics issue which is partly in the UK. It’s all caused by Brexit apparently, despite the fact that it’s happening everywhere else in the world, as quite clearly not caused by Brexit not helped cause Brexit. But that caused by impacts of COVID. And the impact of everyone, Botstein suddenly starting to buy online and consuming more, therefore, there’s less capacity fundamentally. So it’s all. So there’s gonna be, there’s lots of kind of this going on, which is the more kind of practical stuff, know your supply chain, have backup processes in place, be ready to take back orders, not like orders, etc, etc, protect your margins, then we’ve got the, the other kind of macro impact of what’s happened in the last 18 months, which is the whole focus on kind of conscious consumerism, I suppose consumers wanting to be connected with something better wanting to do better in some way, even if they’re not yet doing across their whole life to do better for society to do better for the planet. And obviously, coming off the, you know, the tail end of 2021, with cop 26, and it just seems like net zero and the environment and our impact on that is everywhere. And consumers care about it a lot more government starting to put pressure top down on businesses to comply with is going to hit even the smallest business fairly soon. And fundamentally, it’s our it’s the right thing to do. So I think with all of this going on, I think if if a retailer doesn’t have how are we going to tackle sustainability, netzero, the climate, whatever, that whatever word you want, I don’t know what the right wording is yet. But if you’re not looking at how your business can, can help on that path, help re educate the consumers help reduce carbon, and so forth, then you’re you’re going to be in a really tough spot come this time in 12 months time.
Joshua Chin 16:50
That’s really interesting to to to hear. We spoke a little bit before hitting record, and you’ve been obsessing over the topic for us six ish weeks. Yeah. I love that. And I, so one of the question that came to mind was, how do you bridge the gap between, you know, sustainable initiative and sustainable agenda? Versus the for profit agenda? And how do you bridge that gap? Or is if there’s even a gap in the first place?
Chloë Thomas 17:23
I think, I think there is a gap. But I think it’s, it’s more a matter of perception that it is one of reality, as in people think there’s a conflict between making money and doing well doing right for the planet. And yes, some businesses, some business models, just, it’s just not possible to do the two. But there is so many ways of doing it. Now, I don’t think they are a conflict. And there’s kind of like the long term view on this, if we don’t save the planet, there aren’t going to be people to buy your products. So, you know, in 510 years time, you are gonna see major changes and who is able to purchase what they’re willing to purchase. So if you want a long term success, you’ve got to join with everyone else and help the planet. You kind of got the medium term, which is, as I said, governments are starting to bring down legislation and requirements of businesses in terms of, you know, having a path to net zero and ESG policy in their business, which was the Europe in the UK, I know we’re doing it, as you said, I’ve only been been supporting up on this for about six, six weeks, I’m sure other people are as well. But you know, we’ve got a shout about this not become experts, experts, not overnight, clearly, overnight. And so that’s coming in the medium term to the smaller businesses, because, for example, Tesco are the biggest retailers in the UK, they’ve already put in a requirement for all their suppliers to have a net zero policy in place by the end of 2023, which is way too far away. But that sort of thing is going to come and keep, you know, being a pressure on us. So sooner or later, someone’s going to make you do it. And then short term. Consumers want you to do it, your staff probably want you to do it, your suppliers are probably already on this path. And then fourthly, if we are reducing the amount of carbon that we use, we are fundamentally spending less money, therefore we’re making more money and if consumers want these ethical choices, if we can explain what we’re doing and take those steps, you know, we are going to be helping them they’re gonna appreciate us for it and so forth. So it doesn’t have to be you know, you don’t have to solve this problem overnight. But if you start taking baby steps, you will very soon find that you know your business is on is on the path to you know, doing well and there’s we’ve we’ve decided I’ve decided there’s no way in this I have decided that my podcast, eCommerce MasterPlan is going to as of as of now it’s When you’re listening to this, we’re already doing this. We’ve already admitted it to our listeners. We are not just a growth podcast anymore. We are a podcast about how you create a successful ecommerce business. And go on the path net zero. So all my guests are doing something from the teeny tiny stuff to the big stuff. And something which I’ve been amazed by over the last six, six weeks is how many businesses are doing cool things. And also how many easy solutions there are out there. plugins you can install in a couple of clicks, and boom, you’re making an improvement. Like Josh, you shared with me before we were talking about this eco cart, eco cardio. Yeah, just a brilliant I didn’t come across that one yet. But you put it in there and the customer can compel you to offset the thing cost you nothing, but shows that you’re you’re caring, you’re trying etc. And there’s one that that I’m really excited about, which enables you to automatically offset things, as people take actions, which is called ecology, he co LGI, which we’re hopefully by the time you’re, you’re listening to this, we’ll have it in place on our website. So every time someone signs up to our emails, we plant a tree. Now, it’s not perfect, it doesn’t reduce the amount of carbon I’m putting out there. But it’s better than doing nothing. And we will improve what we do over time. So sorry, Josh, that turned into a quite a rant.
Joshua Chin 21:20
That was good. And guys, EcoCart. That’s spelled Ecocart.io. I actually don’t know exactly how it functions on the back end. But on a front end, how it actually works is that you have a little plugin, and a little check box that appears at the checkout page, where consumers can just take on it add an additional 1% to the order, which then covers for the carbon emissions that occur as a result of that purchase. Death for resulting in a net zero carbon purchase, if that makes sense. But I’m not entirely sure how that money is then put to use to make sure that that that balances out. I’m interested to kind of dive deeper into that. But that’s such an easy way like, Whoa, you’re just talking about it’s it’s surprisingly easy for brands and retailers to just at a click of a button, install a plugin, install an app and move in the significantly towards the right direction already. And I’m interested to think about like to hear your thoughts about how you how millennials and the next generation of shoppers would think about something because there has to be some kind of an improvement and conversions as a result of these sustainability initiatives, because it does align with the values of, you know, the people of that generation and beyond.
Chloë Thomas 22:56
Yeah, I mean, I think, especially in sales, I think all of this is a journey. And as I said earlier, offsetting isn’t the total solution, but it’s a great place to start. And you mentioned the due diligence. And like I haven’t done due diligence on ecology yet, I haven’t done your due diligence on EcoCart, because I only heard about it less than an hour ago. I’m putting this stuff in place now. And then I’m gonna do the due diligence later, and then I might amend things, but at least we’re starting. The other thing is in terms of, you know, bringing the millennials on board, one of the and actually, I don’t think it’s the millennials anymore. I think it’s an awful lot of other people too. But we need to get we have a big responsive, I’m trying to try to put multiple things into this answer, and I’m failing. So let me give you there’s two key things I want to tell you tell you about. One is we need to talk about what we’re doing because it’s a huge pool to consumers. So you’ve probably heard of greenwashing. There’s also a phrase called green hash, which is businesses which are actually doing good but not telling anyone about it. And that’s you know, one of the things I like about the EcoCart solution, it’s right there in the checkout, we want you to do good we want to do good and ecology as well because if all kinds of widgets so you can put it in places people can see you’re trying to do good so we’ve got because the more we shout about what we’re doing and the steps we’re taking the more other people will follow us the faster this whole movement will will happen. The other key thing is that she says totally forgetting what the other key thing was green hashing. It’s a journey and no god you avoiding here in the UK in the brain.
Joshua Chin 24:42
One thing I’ll say is that with you know with these these plugins and options in place, it’s it’s really easy for business to kind of take responsibility and say, Alright, I’m gonna set aside like X amount of, like of their budget, or their costs base to pursuing this cause. And his businesses might think of this as a CSR type of initiative or ESG type of initiative. But, but realistically, I think that itself is offset by the potential gains. And the potential cost savings that result from like you were talking about how taking the taking away the return labels could help with reducing the cost by a little bit. I think the next generation of tools and plugins might be some kind of measurement on the upside versus just the sustainably sustainability portion of things like you saved. A, you planted 1000 trees, and at the same time you save X amount as a result of doing this, that’s going to be really interesting. And that I think that’s where mass adoption can really take off, take off, because isn’t, it becomes a no brainer, right?
Chloë Thomas 25:59
Completely, I remember what I was gonna say, which is that we have a role in the industry of educating consumers. Because at the moment, the millennials, and everyone else is kind of going, I want to do better, I’m not quite sure how. So one of the reasons we need to shout about it is to go if you if you make this choice, this is the sustainable choice. This is better. Admittedly, we there are some who are claiming that and it isn’t. But we need to help them on the journey by educating them. And and because they’ve got this desire to do good, but they don’t yet know what it looks like, should I buy cotton? Should I buy polyester? That is a massively complicated question for anyone. So you know, you’ve got to, you’ve got to help them by explaining how you’re doing it, and so forth. So by shouting about it, you’re also attracting more of the right type of customers to you who are going to embrace you go on your journey. And I think that’s one of the most fascinating things in this space at the moment is how technology is being used to create solutions, which, like, like you mentioned, are both hugely ecologically beneficial, and are going to reduce a business’s costs and improve a business’s profits. So there’s an AI solution and database, you know, dataset being created by a very lady with a far more impressive history than mine in the fashion space called Sarah current. And she’s created a business called Truth, which has been around for about 10 years, but it’s really kind of its time is now I suppose. And what that business does is it enables consumers to upload their own measurements, their own size, and shop and match it, will this product actually fit me before they buy, which makes a happier customer just great for your profits, it reduces your returns, returns are horrible for the planet. It means you keeping your your stock at full price rather than sending it out waiting for it to come back and having sell at a discount. And because this dataset is so, so big, now, people are able to plug into this data set and analyze to then work out how they should be sizing their fashion products in future to make them fit more customers. And we I had a lady back in mid 2020 on the book was called Camilla Olson, who has been doing a study as part of part of her came out of kind of her high fashion degree. But looking at what the sizing looks like across the female population. And there’s a multi billion pound opportunity in creating products that actually fit women because 80% of the things she said I’m trying to remember the stats on the fly here, but it was about 70 80% of women. Almost nothing on the high street actually fits them because it hasn’t been made for their body shape. So there are a huge the majority women are wandering around buying clothes because they need something it doesn’t fit it ends up in the wardrobe it ends up in landfill it ends up being returned. So if we can manage to create clothes that actually fit people there’s a huge business opportunity there billions of pounds opportunity by creating clothes that actually fit people. And it reduces returns it reduces waste and in there’s so there’s such a huge business opportunity here. As well as amazing outcomes for the planet.
Joshua Chin 29:22
And True Fit. That’s truefit.com They’re actually much bigger than I than I initially thought they have 17,000 brands and 84 million active members with over 7 billion records recommendations made. And that’s that’s significant. I am interested in thinking about a lot
Chloë Thomas 29:45
of this stuff. Sorry to talk me just but a lot of the solutions are out there. They’re tried and tested. We just haven’t heard about them. They’re just not something we’re talking about all the time. So which is why it’s an awful lot easier, and an awful lot more profitable. And then people stay. Which is why, you know, I love the fact you give me the opportunity to rant and rave about it here on your show.
Joshua Chin 30:06
I love it. Yeah. And I’m still I’m still for the idea that once once you’re able to kind of quantify the impact that the profit impact, the things going to pick up so quickly, because it becomes a no brainer. And how, how often do you see changes like this being made by the little guys, because it’s, you know, a lot of these industry level changes are happening from the top down. But by that, I mean like, huge retailers like Tesco setting the example. And all the little little guys are then following that example. But I don’t see a lot of examples where the independent mom and pop shop or read the online econ brand, leads the way with an innovative business model. Beside from maybe Tom’s
Chloë Thomas 30:59
I think some of the coolest stuff is being done by the smaller companies because you know, small account, I love small companies because they can twist, they can change, they can all do things, they can put that vision out there and make it happen. So a couple of people we’ve recently had on the show, there’s Eve Kicker who’s created the most amazing startup called bundle Li, which is a business in the UK doing baby clothing rental by subscription. So when your baby’s born, you sign up, you get the naught to three month clothing package. You use that when the baby outgrows it, you send it back, you get the three to six month clothing package. It’s such you know, and then the team at Burnley, they have specialists who you know, processes etc. and send it back out to people amazingly cool way of reducing all that baby stuff that everyone seems to end up with. But also making sure those products get get used used use and they’re using suppliers who create more sustainable baby products and all the rest of it fascinating startup business, slowly getting traction, I see a lot of traction because they are you know, they are re educating the customer. You know, you don’t have to go and fill your shopping bag with more baby clothes, you can just get it by rental, just an amazing business. It’s doing cool things. Then there’s another one called Martha and Habsi, who are a small business doing, they create beautiful designs and then put them on lampshades and other products just not necessarily the most sustainable business but because their products we don’t potentially need. But they they create them with great quality so that the products really price for them correctly. There’s no 10 pound lampshades on their website. And they did the run up to Christmas because they do a lot of rapid cool wrapping paper. They made their wrapping paper fully recyclable. And they were promoting a couple of videos on YouTube to their customers one how to wrap presence without using sellotape because of course, sellotape is a problem in the recycling process, and how to reuse your wrapping paper. And they did an example and they’re wrapping paper, it can be reused up to seven times, I think it was to do it. But they’re, they’re working on re educating the customer to make more sustainable, more sensible choices. And they obviously they you know, they, they they’ve sorted out their supply chain and all the rest of it. So these are two tiny businesses doing super cool things. And that’s that’s who we’re now shining a light on the podcast to inspire other people who go, this is going to be so hard. No, it’s nowhere near as difficult as you as you think. And the consumers will really respond to it.
Joshua Chin 33:46
I love that. I love that. And so that’s Bundlee B-U-N-D-L-E-E. And what’s your brand
Chloë Thomas 33:54
Martha and Hepsie, which is M-A-R-T-H-A and H-E-P-S-I-E. And I’ve just looked up the business of Camilla Olson, who I mentioned who has worked out this amazing opportunity by actually creating products that fit and her businesses Savitude, which is S-A-V-I-T-U-D-E. They guys, hopefully I mean a pen pen and paper ready and a writing daddy today’s
Joshua Chin 34:26
as usual links will be in the description. You can check out Chronos.Agency forward slash podcast for the shownotes but this is amazing. These are ideas that really any brand can really take and go it’s not it’s not it’s not unique to just lampshades. It’s not just and I I’m I’m kind of at odds with the idea that in ecommerce today It’s all about ROI. And it’s all about, like, we talked about this before we hit record, like, where’s the ROI before I invest time, energy and effort into something that’s kind of the common mindset of, of a marketer. I like the idea of kind of merging that intention of sustainably into the marketing of the product and the brand itself. And becoming a core part of the business.
Chloë Thomas 35:28
I doubt anyone listening has ever heard that they should really be talking in their marketing about something other than just discounts, you know, and they should be storytelling, and they should be putting more content out there. Well, consumers want that emotional connection with businesses, they wanted it before the pandemic, the pandemic has accelerated their desire for it, their desire to now be ethically conscious, and so forth, has taken it to a whole other level. Paired to that we’ve also got the fact that the cookie pocalypse has come which means you need to you can’t rely on really clever targeting, you know, really nailing that audience, you can’t rely on that for your customer acquisition anymore, you’ve got to get the message right, the creative, right. So they’re going to be another big trend we see next year is is I’m anticipating there’s gonna be more hiring of copywriters, and graphic designers that really gets it. Because you’ve got to get that messaging, right. And if you put in that messaging about how you’re taking these steps, if you create a video of how to wrap a parcel without sellotape, it shows who you are, it enables the customer to connect better with you. And I guess it then if we take it to the next level, it then brings in something else, I think is going to be huge as we go into next into the into 2022. And that’s going to kind of fit with combating the cookie pocalypse as well, which is trust based marketing partnerships. You know, so So not just giving a load of influencers $100 To do a post, but building a relationship with influencers who have the same values and on the same mission, as you whose audience will respond to what you’re talking about, you know, you don’t need targeting to do this, you’re the influencer is your target audience, the same thing works these days with affiliate marketing. And PR, you can do it via digital PR, you know, you can get your, your CEO your found that out on all the podcasts where people are talking about net zero and you know, spread the word of what you’re doing. You can also use this for partnerships with other brands. And if you know there’s another brand sending a complementary product, who’s in your space, who are also doing great things in this, swap emails, you know, send an email about them, they send an email about you put ads for each other on your your order confirmation pages, these things will, you know, if you’re putting your message in front of consumers who also get a ready for that part of the journey, then you can really accelerate your new customer acquisition without having to you know, pay the, you know, the increased costs of the ad platforms, both because of the cookie pocalypse and the fact there’s just a considerably larger number of people trying to sell stuff online now, you know, the competition levels have gone up, it’s becoming more competitive. So we’re gonna have to be better marketers, which means partnerships, customer retention, better messaging, emotional messaging, you know, and perfecting those skills, and still have a huge part to play in this. But the creative that goes alongside those ads, I think is going to become he’s been on to trajectory becoming hugely important with, you know, the Facebook, the TikTok, and the Instagram platforms, but it’s going to go up a level. Now, it’s not just about chucking some emoticons in it’s about a little bit more than that now.
Joshua Chin 38:49
Yeah, the quality of work has did the bar has been raised. And I love the idea of building a strong relationship with a couple of influencers that share the same or similar values as your brand. Because what I like about that is now instead of having to broadcast your values, and what you stand for, as a brand, to 100, the hundreds and 1000s and hundreds of 1000s of people, you now build really strong relationships with a select few individuals. And through those meaningful relationships and connections, you then cascade your influence across multiple audiences that share the same value as you do. Yeah, it’s so much more powerful.
Chloë Thomas 39:37
There’s, we should still do some marketing, which kind of puts our message out to the masses. But if we can use influencer partnerships and press partnerships and partnerships are the brands to enable us to put our message in front of the audience who already get it who want to be heading in this direction who want to put their money in a more ecological option, a more sustainable option who want to learn or then we’re going to get so much more traction. And it’s, I think that’s probably quite hard. Actually, no, I was gonna say it’s pretty quite hard to do with targeting. But no, Facebook’s probably already got it down. They’ve probably worked that one out. But yeah, it’s, it’s about those different layers of the marketing where you put your word out in front of everyone, then you put it in front of the target customer. And I think partnerships is going to be the key way for doing that. In the coming year.
Joshua Chin 40:25
Perfect, Chloë Last question. If you had a billboard, just taking this, this this idea, this question from Tim Ferriss, one of my favorite podcasters if you had a billboard in the middle of busiest highway in the country, what would that billboard say?
Chloë Thomas 40:42
Oh, well see. See, prior to the last six weeks getting that zero focus, it would have just said keep optimizing, which is my personal mantra, which is fine, what’s bad, make it better find what’s good. Make it better. And you know, nothing’s ever finished. But maybe, maybe it’s keep optimizing to net zero. Ah, maybe we get oh, no, actually screw it. Screw that. Nope, we’re gonna go with net. Get on the journey to net zero. That’s what I’m that’s not muddle it up with my own mantras. Let’s go get on the journey to net zero.
Joshua Chin 41:17
Get on the journey to mentor. I love that. Chloë, thank you so much. What’s the best way to connect with you? And if people are interested in learning more about you and your podcast? Where can you go to?
Chloë Thomas 41:26
Best thing to do is if you had to eCommerceMasterPlan.com You’ll find links to everything. I’m up to the podcasts, the books, anything else? Lots of stuff on net zero, increasingly large amounts of zero. Come on the journey with me eCommerceMasterPlan.com.
Joshua Chin 41:46
Chloë, thank you so much.
Chloë Thomas 41:48
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
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