2021 Partnerships & Ecommerce: Humanizing Online Retail

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2021 Partnerships & Ecommerce: Humanizing Online Retail

SEASON 2 episode 1:
2021 Partnerships & Ecommerce: Humanizing Online Retail

Whether you are a small business or an enterprise merchant, managing your ecommerce presence for optimal success is a huge undertaking.

No matter how great your team is, you can still use specific expertise and support in times of growth and change.

So, who should merchants lean on for help?

In this episode of Gateway to E-Commerce, Faye McEachern, ClearSale’s Director of Partnerships and Monica Perez, ClearSale’s Global Partnership Manager join Denise Purtzer, ClearSale’s Vice President of Partnerships and Alliances to discuss the value of partnerships.

Together, they explore why partnerships are so important for ecommerce merchants, how ClearSale works with their partners to help merchants succeed, and how the pandemic has changed the process of forming these essential relationships.

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Gateway to E-commerce - 2021 Partnerships & Ecommerce

Who are your hosts?

  • denise-purtzer

    Denise Purtzer

    is ClearSale’s Vice President of Partnerships and Alliances, and she lives for connecting the right people to make things happen. Denise has 20 years of experience in ecommerce and knows the ecommerce landscape from every angle, for every size business, in every market.

  • Faye McEachern

    Faye McEachern

    is ClearSale’s Director of Partnerships. In her more than 11 years in the ecommerce industry, she’s discovered that businesses often skip the essential research they need to understand who they can partner with for success.

  • Monica Perez

    Monica Perez

    is ClearSale’s Global Partnership Manager. She’s spent 10 years in ecommerce and recognized early in her career that she could help merchants increase their revenue through global partnerships.

Podcast Episode Recap

HOW PARTNERSHIPS HELP ECOMMERCE MERCHANTS SUCCEED

ClearSale’s partnership team can attest to the power of partnerships in helping merchants solve all sorts of problems. Not only are they a strategic resource to build trust with merchant clients, they also help protect clients and, ultimately, create more revenue for everyone involved.
For merchants, developing partnerships is critical for a number of reasons:

• Partners offer guidance in specialties that merchants don’t have the budget or bandwidth to research.
• Partners can help fast track a merchant’s path to ROI by helping them get up and running more efficiently.
• Partners offer supplemental resources and knowledge when merchants are experiencing growth and organizational changes.

WHAT MERCHANTS SHOULD CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING A PARTNER

Merchants have a lot to consider when looking at which potential agency partners will offer the most value to them and their business. The size of the merchant – small business to enterprise operation – is one factor. So are the specific goals and speed with which they want to grow their business.
Here are some other things merchants should think about:

• Ecommerce merchants should also look at agencies that offer full suite services, especially those that help with digital marketing.
• Ecommerce merchants should partner with best-in-class agencies that offer tailored services the merchant’s in-house team can’t accommodate.
• Ecommerce merchants should look for agencies that have taken advantage of the more human communication channels emerging from the pandemic, such as podcasts, chatbots, and shared messaging platforms, like Slack.

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episode Transcript

Podcast Intro

You're listening to Gateway to E-Commerce, a podcast by ClearSale. In this series, global ecommerce leaders discuss challenges, best practices, new tech, and secrets to success. And now your host, Denise.

Denise Purtzer

Welcome back to a new season, season two of Gateway to E-Commerce Podcast. You may recognize my voice from last season. This is Denise Purtzer, and I wanted to bring in a couple of my team members to expand the knowledge base and expand the conversation topics. And so today we're going to be talking about why partnerships are integral to building online business. So it makes complete sense to bring in the best of the best on the partnerships team here at ClearSale. We've got Monica Perez and we've got Faye McEachern. Now Faye, you and I worked together in the past in other roles, but now more recently you came on board to be the director of partnerships here. Why don't you tell a little bit about what you do?

Faye McEachern

Yeah, so we are coming up on a year, which I'm really excited about. I manage the relationships with our partners to kind of ensure the success of the partnership. So from marketing to sales enablement, all of the things in between.

Denise Purtzer

Great. And you've got some experience in the ecommerce segment for sure. Tell a little bit about your background.

Faye McEachern

I worked in payments for a really long time and that's where we first met.

Denise Purtzer

Absolutely.

Faye McEachern

Yeah. Payments and content and all kinds of things ecommerce related.

Denise Purtzer

More years than we want to count, right?

Faye McEachern

Yeah.

Denise Purtzer

Great. And Monica, you've joined us more recently, but you bring a lot of experience to the table as well. You worked on the platform side in ecommerce and then you worked also in the fraud space with another brand, but came to us working more on the agency side. So tell us a little bit about what you're doing here at ClearSale and a little bit about your background.

Monica Perez

Absolutely. Thank you for the intro, Denise. So I am focused on working hand-in-hand with our digital agency partners and consultants, essentially to help merchants and these brands solve complex problems in order to succeed in today's very challenging ecommerce environments. So in my day to day, I strive to be proactive, responsive, and really a strategic resource and advocate for our partners here.

Related Reading: ClearSale Employee Spotlight: Monica Perez

Denise Purtzer

So last season we talked about a lot of different topics. Some of the things that were most listened to and thank you, by the way, for listening to us in season one. But we talked about luxury goods. We talked about traveling around the world and what you need to do in ecommerce in Mexico or specific to Australia. And then we also shared what are the other events that was well listened to was the Halloween spooky stories. We talked about how fraud can be it's so spooky. So talking about all different points in ecommerce moving to season two. One of the things that we're going to do is bring in a lot of our partners, and there will be a theme of partners and partnerships throughout the season.

I'm very excited to be bringing in some of our clients. And we'll talk a little bit more about those as we go along today, but I would like to just kind of share some information today about our partnership program and the wealth of knowledge that we have on this team. I'm so lucky to have a team in Monica and Faye that brings so much experience to the table and let's dig into it. I think, Faye, I wanted to ask a question to you first and foremost, and if you could just lay out how partnerships are key to ClearSale and how our team embraces partnerships to help merchants solve all the different aspects of ecommerce.

Faye McEachern

So how much time do I have?

Denise Purtzer

Go for it.

Faye McEachern

I could talk about a ton of things around this and how partnerships are key to our success, but I'll keep it simple. Essentially, they are an extension of our team and we're an extension of their team. And from our perspective, the ClearSale product and that partnership helps them be successful by protecting their clients and ultimately creating more trust and revenue for the partner and for us as well. And for the merchants too, we have to build the relationship with the partner. And I think that's the most important part for me anyway, in my perspective, is being able to... There's the prescribed part, where you have to learn what they do obviously and learn about their business and they have to learn about yours, but taking that time to learn about their lives, where they live, their family, their likes, their hobbies, that sort of thing. And building that kind of candid relationship ensures that loyalty and creates a long lasting, meaningful partnership. And so that's kind of the key for me is that relationship, that trust, allows us to really be successful.

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Denise Purtzer

So interestingly, you mentioned trust here and that's something that comes up quite often when I hear Monica talking to partners as well. Monica, if you could share, how do you leverage trust in relationships to get things done more quickly?

Monica Perez

Absolutely. So with my partner agencies, as an example, we at ClearSale, we go beyond just being their fraud protection vendors, essentially, we're also for us… agencies also acting as a strategic resource for us and helping us build trust with our own clients. That way goes beyond just a very one-sided relationship. And they allow us that opportunity to build this trust by us providing that guidance and guiding merchants in the right direction. And sometimes it means that we have to involve an agency. For instance, if we have a merchant using ClearSale who needs to re-platform, that's a great opportunity to bring in an agency partner that is in our network and we vet it and can assist them with that re-platform project. So there's different opportunities where agencies and our partners can bring value to our merchants as well.

Denise Purtzer

Absolutely. You mentioned agencies and you mentioned re-platforming projects. They do a myriad of different things, right? So what are some of the other things that agencies do to help their merchant clients?

Monica Perez

Absolutely. I mean, it can be anywhere from especially agencies that are offering full suite services, they can help with digital marketing. Obviously if they're merchants that have a lot of complex systems like ERP that they need to make sure are all working together, an agency can definitely come in and assist them with those more complex projects. But there hasn't been a shift in the space I feel, and this is a lot to do with the rapid growth in ecommerce, obviously also innovation, which has increased the complexity of consumer demand. And of course, the competition now in the landscape, even with marketplaces. So it's very important for these merchants to partner with best-in-class commerce, enablers who will provide, as you mentioned, these myriad of services, including tailored, ecommerce platforms that make sense and are best suited for the merchants' needs, intuitive user experiences, engaging, informative content. So they fill in so many gaps. So a lot of merchants are working with in-house teams, but bringing in an agency on board can help them fill in gaps that maybe there in-house team currently can't fill.

Related Reading: Ecommerce Platforms: Top 6 Tips for SEO Strategy Success in 2021

Denise Purtzer

Right. So when do merchants bring on an agency? Do they have to be a pretty large merchant or is it somebody that's a small business? Are they able to bring on agencies as well?

Monica Perez

It really depends on the merchant goal and that time to value. So how quickly they want to see that value and ROI. So it all depends. I say that more startups are being receptive to bringing in an agency partner early on, because as I mentioned, we talked about all the complexities that go into building an ecomm site, especially during these challenging times, but it really depends. Some agencies, excuse me, some merchants wait until they really need to fill in the gap because there in-house team may focus on a specialty, for instance, digital marketing. And then they will outsource the rest to an agency to really help them out with other key points of the business. Great.

Denise Purtzer

And Monica was talking about all the changes that have happened in this last year. Those are obviously undeniable. Faye, you and I have done a ton of trade shows together, and we haven't been able to go to any in the last year together, Monica and I did one in October snuck one in for the jewelry market and the jewelry industry, just because jewelers are having such a challenging time right now trying to go from that brick and mortar only mode to expanding into ecommerce so we did some education there. But Faye, if you would, a little bit about the impact that these times have had with the pandemic on partnerships and trying to grow partners, do you feel like it's been hindering not going to shows or what are your thoughts there?

Related Reading: Ecommerce Design Elements That Drive Conversions

Faye McEachern

Well, that's a great question because at first I was nervous like I'm sure most of us were about not being able to travel because I think that going to trade shows and meeting people in person is an integral part to partnerships so much more so like shaking. I miss shaking hands so much. I'll try and shake my daughter's hand, like would you just shake hands for a minute. It's weird. I miss it. I didn't think I would. So at first I was nervous that we couldn't go to shows. And so we can't meet people. And how are we going to do this? And I think across the board partnerships on a whole people are all maybe feeling that sort of thing. And so now we're all scrambling to be more connected and organize these meetups and see 40 people face to face and just talk about whatever. And I think people now are more eager to get in touch. So I think that there has been an influx, but that could just be my perception.

Denise Purtzer

No, I agree. And I think back to October, Monica, when you and I went on the road and personally, I felt a little awkward when we first started the show, because it's like, what are the rules of engagement? We're not supposed to shake hands. What are we supposed to do? What are some of the things that you saw at that show that you felt were different? I mean, it was just kind of a strange time, wasn't it?

Monica Perez

Absolutely. I think to Faye's point, the handshaking, it's intuition. You immediately want to extend your arm. So having to just hold back that need, and it's intuitive was a bit rough at the beginning, but you get used to it a little bit, some elbow taps and-

Denise Purtzer

The new handshake.

Monica Perez

The new handshake. And it was very new having a mask police walking around basically. Everybody had their masks on right. Which is good in hindsight that obviously has helped keep everybody safe. But to my surprise, I think it went fairly well. It definitely gave me hope that we can make conferences happen just as things start getting a little bit better. It's doable.

 

Related Reading: Jewelry E-Commerce Statistics and Insights 

Denise Purtzer

I totally agree. I totally agree. And Faye, to your point too, it's been interesting seeing people interact more, more readily because you're not saying, "Oh, well, I'll just meet you at the next show. And it gets kind of put off over time." So it's been kind of nice to have things in a little bit more urgent mode because everybody's trying to figure it all out. Have you noticed anything else Faye that's been going on in the partnerships circuit that has evolved since the pandemic, any other ways of communicating that you've used?

Faye McEachern

I have to say... Sorry, I have to cough. Another thing that I've noticed is an increase in slack, let's say. Different means of communication. That's just kind of one example, but it's so much more personal I find now for whatever reason, maybe it's because we're all at home in comfy clothes, but that ability to get in touch with somebody is so much easier because there's different methods like reaching out through slack and just having those conversations very easily.

Denise Purtzer

I agree. I think it's that more personalization. It's kind of like giving somebody your cell phone number so they can text you is different than an email. It's one degree closer to somebody. And slack kind of bridges that gap a little bit.

Faye McEachern

Absolutely. And I'm texting with my partners too.

Denise Purtzer

Well. That's been interesting too is not everybody had everybody's cell phone number in the past and think about it now, when we do go to trade shows, we're all going to be able to reach out and meet up very easily.

Faye McEachern

Yeah. Totally agree.

Denise Purtzer

Monica, any tools that you're using differently?

Monica Perez

In terms of tools, I think no specific tools, but I would say something that's changed is that now I definitely turn on my camera on every call and I look forward to my conversations and catch up with my partners, just so I can have that interaction that I feel like I'm missing these days since I'm very quarantined. So just having us turn on our cameras, which to be honest, was not something that a lot of partners and myself included, we used to do prior to the “C” word: COVID. It's a breath of fresh air and it definitely helped us that are stuck at home, working from home, kind of get that engagement going.

Related Reading: Five Ways to Master Digital Transformation in 2021

Denise Purtzer

Well, despite the crazy year that we've had, I think that it has been a year that's definitely evolved as far as our partnerships team has grown. We've definitely learned a lot in the last year. Faye, if you wouldn't mind sharing with – now that you've been here for over a year now, I think that the two year mark for partnerships team, which is where we're at is a pretty important benchmark – what do you think that you've learned over the past year or some of the changes that we've made in the past year that have made a difference to the partnerships program?

Faye McEachern

Oh, geez. Well, we've changed so much since I started. And on the personal side of things, what I've learned is kind of being more creative in understanding how partnerships fit. Because I mentioned that I came from payments mostly. So those types of partnerships that we had in the beginning when I first started, I mean, it wasn't in the fraud space, but fraud makes sense and payments and all that stuff. So for me on the personal side, learning was how to put the pieces together of partnerships and how we could work together and how we can make our joint customers more successful and learning in what they do and how we can complement each other. So that was a learning curve for me over the last year.

Denise Purtzer

Monica, you came from a different partnerships program. What do you think that we're doing differently here? And I know you've contributed some ideas as well, and we've implemented some of those things, but what are some of the things that you feel that are necessary to be a successful partnership program?

Monica Perez

Definitely education. And I think to your point, something differently that we're doing here at ClearSale is investing in different means of communication, such as podcasts, Gateway to Ecommerce for instance, what we're doing right now. I think it's amazing that our partners can listen in as well as merchants and we can see our podcast reach so many different audiences. And at the same time, how I see partnerships is we are just a piece of the complete puzzle and we are that fraud prevention piece and our partners kind of help be the other pieces and complete the puzzle. So we need to learn just as much about their services and us providing all this information. We're helping them as well be that strategic resource for their own clients. So I think our means of communication and education is the main difference.

Related Reading: Flat Rate vs. Interchange Plus – Which Credit Card Payment Processing Rate is Better For Your Online (Brick and Mortar) Business

Denise Purtzer

Great. And I agree. I think that education is so important and having that information for the merchants is, I mean, at the end of the day, we need the merchants to succeed. And we can't do everything. Although fraud touches so many aspects of the ecommerce chain. That's why it's been fun to bring in different types of partners. And originally we were working with payments partners and some agencies and those make complete sense, but we've also had some technology partners come on board, like Splitit, who does alternative payments, but they do it in a slightly different way or even some others. Faye, can you think of any technology ideas that have come to the table that has gotten you excited about sharing that with the team so that the merchants can have access to that as well?

Faye McEachern

Yes. One of the partners that we brought on recently provides a chat experience with a personal shopper, let's say, allowing merchants to have this more personal human experience. And so that's really exciting to see, because a lot of these luxury merchants that are moving to online, they can't do this in person anymore. And so giving them an option to have something like that is really exciting and really huge, and gives that human touch that they're lacking now that they're online.

Denise Purtzer

Yeah. You mentioned the luxury market. And I think another piece that's interesting with that is the fact that it ties the ecommerce in so that they can put a customer right into the cart and that purchase can be made. So at the end of the day, everybody wins. It makes it easy to check out. And I think a lot of these things are coming into play because of the fact that the brick and mortar and the online experiences becoming... Just the lines are being blurred. It's becoming more one these days. And we're seeing that with the ecommerce platforms, creating not only tools through partners, but even building things into their functionality as well, with BOPUS opportunities and stuff like that. Right?

Faye McEachern

Absolutely. We're doing everything that we can right now to give that human feel.

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Denise Purtzer

Everybody wants to have that for sure on the customer side. Monica share with me, if you would, some agencies you worked with to work through some challenges that the merchants are having in solving those problems.

Monica Perez

As I mentioned, re-platform, sometimes even when they are within a platform, they need to upgrade to the latest version, just so all the systems are up-to-date and that's where the agency can definitely assist. Sometimes also on the digital marketing side part one of the most difficult aspects of an ecommerce site is driving traffic. And that's something that a lot of agencies can help with. And so those are a few examples.

Denise Purtzer

No, I think that's great. And there's just so many changes going on. It's hard to do everything with your current team. Especially as they may be spread apart and working from home, it's nice to bring in the experts to do those sorts of things. Well, we've touched on so many interesting topics today. I think that the theme of trust has come through in building out those partnerships. I think we've discussed some points that, that it's taking time to build out partnerships and you've got to feed and nurture them, and it doesn't happen overnight, but there are some pivotal things that can happen to make that a turning point and make a successful partnership program. And I think overall, the theme has been that we don't expect anybody to be able to do this huge task of ecommerce alone, that it takes a village. And it's fun to have a village of trusted partners that we can pull from. And when we bring them all together, beautiful things happen. Wouldn't you agree?

Faye McEachern

Absolutely.

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Denise Purtzer

Great. So to end up today, I have something in store for you both that's a bit of a surprise, but I'm just going to ask you some quick questions and do this in a rapid fire drill. We'll start with Monica, and then we'll go to Faye each time, but this will help everybody to get to know you all a little bit more as we go through this season, nothing will be too surprising, but first of all, your desk preference, do you prefer to stand up or sit down?

Monica Perez

Sit down 100%.

Faye McEachern

I prefer to sit. Yeah.

Denise Purtzer

Vacation. When we get to take them again, beach or mountains?

Monica Perez

Mountain.

Faye McEachern

Beach.

Denise Purtzer

Which is funny ,Monica, considering you live on a beach, right? Starting with you, Monica. Related Reading: Employee Spotlight: Faye McEachern

Denise Purtzer

The last thing you cooked or baked and you don't have to tell if it was a success or not.

Monica Perez

Oh my goodness. Oh, what was the last thing I cooked? I don't cook. That's the answer.

Denise Purtzer

Fair enough.

Faye McEachern

I made myself a hot dog for breakfast.

Denise Purtzer

Was not expecting that. We'll end up at a little bit more serious note. What's your biggest pet peeve for online shopping?

Monica Perez

When I can't put the discount code, unless I create an account. Oh, I hate that because I want to know if it works.

Denise Purtzer

I do too.

Faye McEachern

This is kind of my ClearSale plug is I apparently have very "fraudy" shopping behaviors. So my pet peeve is when I get declined because they don't like my behavior. So when I come to the states, when I'm at a show, that's when I want to shop at a Canadian store and then my card gets declined. And that's my biggest pet peeve is getting- (declined while traveling).

Denise Purtzer

Kind of an emergency nightmare Faye.

Faye McEachern

I am most people's nightmare.

Denise Purtzer

Well, ladies, thank you for your expertise and your time here today. I'm looking forward to having more episodes with you all this season for season two, as well as pulling in some of our partners. So join us for the upcoming season two. We're going to have lots to share, and we look forward to being with you all here on this next season. Thank you.

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