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EPISODE 89

Creating Commerce At The Edge With Conversational Commerce Applications

With Kelsey Hunter, Co-Founder and CEO of Paloma

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When people scroll through Instagram these days, they can’t avoid the ads and the influencers pushing products. And that’s not a bad thing. In fact, more and more often, ecommerce is taking place in channels other than on a brand’s website, which is why so many companies are looking for ways to optimize how they execute commerce at the edge — this means meeting customers where they are. Paloma has one way to do that, by turning messenger platforms into sales channels, which creates a more personalized shopping experience for customers, and a .5-to-10x higher conversion rate for brands.

On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I was joined by Kelsey Hunter, the Co-Founder and CEO of Paloma, to give us the inside scoop on why brands should be investing in conversational commerce. In the last year, Paloma has helped partners convert $9 million in sales, and she explains how that happened by simply diverting ad traffic away from a website and into a chat instead. Plus, she discusses the future of conversational commerce and how the low barrier to entry into the ecommerce industry is forcing everyone to adjust quicker than ever before. Enjoy this episode!

Main Takeaways:

  • Website Woes: Moving forward, a brand’s website will become more of a secondary piece of collateral when it comes to driving conversions. It will still be critical to have a fast, highly-efficient website experience, but more of the interactions and conversion efforts will be focused on other channels where customers are spending more time.
  • Get To The Party: The worst thing a brand could be doing right now is not experimenting with and setting up processes in Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps. Customer service and the customer experience are two of the leading drivers of conversions, and ignoring a channel that allows you to provide a proactive and personalized experience is a huge wasted opportunity.
  • Far Out Future: The future of commerce is being written right now with shops that are opening with simple Instagram product posts and telling customers interested to go to a PayPal link. More new brands are foregoing the traditional channels and website launches, so the barrier to entry is much lower. As more competition enters the market in this way, traditional brands will have to keep up with their own easy, personalized commerce options.

For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Key Quotes:

“When it comes to online shopping people don’t shop on websites, that’s just where they transact now. But they’re making decisions by watching influencers, DMing folks, talking to friends, watching YouTube videos, TikToks. So you’re piecing together all these different parties to figure out, ‘Should I buy this? What’s the right thing for me?’ Whereas if you walk into a storefront, for example, you can get all of that figured out in a matter of minutes. You can talk to an associate, they’re going to ask questions. There’s nowhere like that online. And that’s where messaging channels open up that opportunity for the brand to be part of that purchase decision process. So instead of leaving it up to all the third parties, the brand can do it themselves and they can scale it through automated conversations.” 

“We see a website as like the catalog and it’s a transacting location. In a lot of cases that’s useful, but it’s not necessary anymore. And we see that with how new sellers are starting today….One of the really interesting trends is you’ve got new shops opening up just with Instagram pages and saying, ‘Hey, DM me for this product and I’ll send you a PayPal link.’ That’s where the market is heading.”

“Not doing anything at all is what I would say is the worst thing. Because, whether that’s Instagram DMs and you’re just not responding to the people that message you there, that’s a huge, lost opportunity. We understand that it’s really hard to scale responding to people individually, which is why platforms like ours can help. But by just not doing anything, you’re losing customers every time you don’t respond to them because they want to engage with you directly for a reason. And every time they do that, there’s an opportunity for that to become either a customer or a recurring customer.” 

“First and foremost, we can own the conversion rate. That’s the KPI that we really truly measure against because, essentially, we’re saying if you drive traffic here instead of your website, it’s more likely to convert. That’s our thesis. And so if that’s true, that’s what we’re going to start measuring against. And we’ll do that by looking at what’s your conversion rate from a standard click to site ad. So purchases you’re getting out of link clicks. And then when you run a click to Messenger ad, we’ll do the exact same thing. How many purchases are you getting out of those ad clicks? And that should be able to tell us if it’s a higher converting channel for you. Fundamentally we’ve seen anywhere from 50% increases to 10X increases in one case and anywhere in between.”

Mentions:

Bio:

Kelsey Hunter is the Founder & CEO of Paloma and founder of CallParty. Previously she created an exercise and cognitive tracking bot called Exley, designed tools and processes at Button, attended Y Combinator Summer 2015 with Vive, and designed a Digital Asset Manager at Percolate. She is based in New York and believes in solving problems and black coffee.

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

Transcript:

Stephanie:

Welcome to Up Next in Commerce. This is your host, Stephanie Postals, co-founder and CEO at mission.org. Today we have Kelsey Hunter joining us. The founder and CEO of Paloma. Kelsey, welcome to the show.

Kelsey:

Thank you, Stephanie. It’s so good to be here.

Stephanie:

We’re excited to have you on. I was just thinking I’m like, “How do I know I’m actually talking to Kelsey and not a chatbot?” She’s put up a virtual screen and it might not even be Kelsey back there. I’m not sure.

Kelsey:

I have a history of pretending to be a bot, so.

Stephanie:

I actually, I read that. I read that you spent a little bit six weeks pretending to be a chatbot to learn how they worked.

Kelsey:

True.

Stephanie:

That’s fun jumping off point. Tell me a bit about being a chatbot. What’s that life like?

Kelsey:

It is wild. Let’s see, I was working at a startup in New York that we offered mobile commerce solution for brands and publishers. So I was really deep in the mobile commerce space when the messenger API opened up. And as we’re getting side projects, of course then, decided that messenger would be a good place to try to test things out.

Kelsey:

And before even building anything, I pretended to be a bot just to see how it would work. That’s what sparked all of this. It was like, “Oh wait, if you can talk to people directly, people will talk to you about themselves.” I’m asking people questions, they’re telling me way too much information. That was really the spark for me. Then I said, “Oh, why are we making assumptions online? We can just ask people and they will very happily tell you things to help figure out what they should buy and why.”

Stephanie:

That’s cool. So you were doing this at another company. And then you’re like, this is the business in and of itself. And that’s how you went to create Paloma?

Kelsey:

Yeah. It was a totally side project outside of the company that I was working with. But all of the pieces tied together for me. That company is called Button, and when I left Button, I did a little bit of other experimentation in the channel. Actually, worked with a team to build a open-source software, to help people call Congress on Facebook Messenger, which was one of the first software tools that was like a MailChimp for the space, which is really cool. But brought it all the way back around to commerce and launched Paloma at the end of 2017.

Stephanie:

Cool. So tell me a bit more about Paloma. What is it? What does it do?

Kelsey:

Paloma helps brands turn Facebook Messenger into a sales channel. Essentially, we work with a lot of D2C and ecom brands across every product, category, audience, price point, and we help them drive traffic into messenger instead of their website where their customers get a more personalized shopping experience, that’s powered by our software. So what that might look like for a furniture brand would be, they’re running Instagram and Facebook ads and they can set them to open up a Messenger conversation instead of opening up a website landing page.

Kelsey:

And once in Messenger, our conversation, we’ll ask them questions like what room do you want to design? What are the colors in that room? Do you have cats, dogs? Any other kind of style preferences. And then we’ll dynamically route the customer to the right products based off of what they’ve shared. By helping the customer make the purchase decision, we’re effectively seeing anywhere from two to 10X increases in conversion rates. And that’s a little bit of very cap on, on how that works.

Stephanie:

That’s awesome. I feel like just thinking about, I follow all these influencers on Instagram and they’re always selling stuff, which normally I’m like, I want a lot of this. But if you respond to them, they definitely can’t keep up. If you’re like, does that size, would it fit me? Is that Off-White? Is that Real-White? It seems like there’s a lot of opportunity everywhere to have a chatbot set up that personalizes the experience and also helps it scale.

Kelsey:

Exactly. And what you just described is one of the reasons that we see so much opportunity in that space. And the reason why customers messaged in the first place is because when it comes to online shopping people don’t shop on websites. That’s just where they transact now. But they’re making decisions by what you’re talking about, watching influencers, DMing folks, talking to friends, watching YouTube videos, TikToks.

Kelsey:

So you’re basically piecing together all these different parties to figure out, should I buy this? What’s the right thing for me? Whereas if you walk into a storefront, for example, you can get all of that figured out in a matter of minutes. You can talk to an associate, they’re going to ask questions. Everything that you just described can happen there. There’s nowhere like that online. And that’s where messaging channels open up that opportunity for the brand to be part of that purchase decision process. So instead of leaving it up to all the third parties, the brand can do it themselves and they can scale it through these kinds of automated conversations.

Stephanie:

Very cool. And how do you go about setting up the responsive? Is it very custom based on the product? Like, do you work with a brand early on to be like, here’s probably what they’re going to ask you or they’re telling you. What does that look like behind the scenes?

Kelsey:

We definitely curated a lot to the brand, a lot to the product type and to their customer demographic. So for example, Facebook recently published a case study of the work that we do with Wallow, which is a brand that sells titers, strollers. Basically goods for families and their kids. So they’re really great products, but it’s actually not so much about having a lot of skews. They don’t have a ton of skews. It’s more about why should somebody buy this Wallow stroller and how is it going to fit into their family and lifestyle?

Kelsey:

So essentially what we do is we’ll work with them, look at the products that they sell and try to understand their customer type. In their case, a lot of their customers will buy for themselves, but there’s a pretty good chunk that are gifting. So for example, the first question we ask is, is this for you and your family, or is this for a gift? Who are you gifting for? And then as customers answer these questions, we can speak to how it will fit into their lifestyle. How old is your little one? Are they eating solids yet or not?

Kelsey:

We don’t actually need the customer to ask questions because by us asking questions first, we can preemptively answer how the value prop works for them. How it fits into their life. So we can say, “Well, they’re eating solids is getting very messy. This high chair is very easy to clean.” And so you’re effectively accomplishing both along the way. It’s basically just a really good sales conversation.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I mean, that’s really smart and I think it’s a different mindset where a lot of times, when you think about chatbots, the consumer has to initiate the conversation. Has to think of the questions. And it makes me even think about when I’m hiring… I’m trying to think what I was hiring. But they’re like, “Oh, do you have any more questions?” And I’m like, “Well, what do people normally ask you? Like, what’s the normal questions because I don’t know what to ask you.”

Kelsey:

What should I ask. Yeah.

Stephanie:

If I’m buying a house or whatever it is, what are the top 10 questions you get? And so that’s great being like, we’ll do all the work for you. Here’s some of the questions that we know will start a conversation. So it’s actually less work and less cognitive load. Where you can get to the end point and still leave being like, I know what I’m talking about now with this product.

Kelsey:

Exactly. That’s 100% right. And it’s actually a really classic UX design issue. Which is actually my original background. Basically, when it comes to any digital interface or any interface at all, if you don’t know where you can go, you’re not really likely to do it. You’re not going to walk up to a pitch black tunnel and be like, “Yeah, I feel confident walking into that.”

Kelsey:

That’s like an open free from bot conversation or like you get on a customer support call and it’s like, “What can we help with?” And you’re like, “Well, depending on what I answer, what’s the likelihood you’ll have any idea what I’m asking?” It’s not great. So we find that structuring and providing a really clear interface for the customers to navigate also makes a huge difference.

Stephanie:

We talked about this a lot on the show that shopping is moving to the edge. Everyone is shopping on Social, they’re shopping on Amazon, Walmart it’s everywhere and not always on the website anymore. Do you think that websites are going to become like a secondary thing, where it’s like, yeah, it’s a nice to have. But people are actually on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook. Going directly to Amazon, they’re not really going to always go right to your website.

Kelsey:

That’s exactly right. It’s going the way of retail. And that’s not to say it’s going to go away. It’s just that it’s not the primary anymore. We see a website as like the catalog and it’s a transacting location. In a lot of cases that’s useful, but it’s not necessary anymore. And we see that with how new sellers are starting today. Especially with COVID, everything accelerates so rapidly. But one of the really interesting trends is, you’ve got new shops opening up just with Instagram pages and saying, “Hey, DM me for this product and I’ll send you a PayPal link.”

Kelsey:

I think those kinds of very low tech indicators of the fact that that’s where the market is heading. And, I think you’re 100% right. The website’s really not necessary. And there are tons of great antique shops I follow in New York that are doing just well without it.

Stephanie:

Yeah. That’s cool. So what other trends are you seeing among sellers right now? Maybe anything new popping up and you’re like, pre-COVID we actually weren’t really seeing this and now there’s a big trend to just opening an Instagram page and selling through DMs. What other things like that are you seeing?

Kelsey:

I think that’s huge. I think that I’m really interested in these future QVC type of models. But that’s just because I grew up watching those. I don’t know, did you ever watched the knife show?

Stephanie:

I did not watch that, but.

Kelsey:

The show was wild.

Stephanie:

Well, there’s a [crosstalk].

Kelsey:

I think it was on a lot when I was in college. We’d always end up like late night. The knife show would end up on at very late hour and it was just like, “Hey, here’s some knives and we’re just going to cut all sorts of stuff with these knives.” Like the silliest thing. It was so funny, but-

Stephanie:

[crosstalk] the Blender show. It wasn’t called the Blender show, but where they [crosstalk] random things in the blender and I’m like, [crosstalk].

Kelsey:

Exactly. The same kind of stuff.

Stephanie:

How much time do we have on our hands apparently?

Kelsey:

It was so silly. It was like cutting shoes and weird things like that. The humor of it, I think it was really fun. And I think that online, we’re seeing a lot of that, like humor come into commerce in a way that I think it’s really fun. And that’s really what it should be. So I like things like that. But I do think that the new selling methods are probably what some of the most interesting things to me is just, what’s the version of opening a store today versus before. And like the barrier to entry is just so low now. It’s pretty phenomenal. So I’m excited for that.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Cool. And how do you advise brands to being proactive when it comes to starting conversations versus being reactive and just taking the inbound? Because if I’m thinking like, I’m a new brand, I don’t have any inbound. What’s the way to be proactive and like reach out to people with your product?

Kelsey:

What’s really nice is that these channels are often first, which I think is really important for there to be a great customer experience. If we want these channels to succeed, if we want these brands to succeed, we need to make sure that we’re being really mindful of the consumer. But what’s really, really nice about Facebook Messenger while it is tough to work on another platform, play by someone else’s rules sometimes, but there’s a ton of great benefits there.

Kelsey:

And one of them is the acquisition funnel. So brands are currently running ads from Facebook and Instagram and stories, all those normal places. And all they have to do is set up the exact same ads, but they can change the destination of the ad click to open a messenger conversation instead of a website. And so we’re able to say, “Hey, we’re basically giving you a new ad type that you can leverage. It’s going to drive to a higher converting destination.” And there’s no reason not to try that.

Kelsey:

Basically, it’s a win-win from the standpoint of, it’s really easy to test. We can guarantee traffic and make sure that we’re properly vetting it and controlling the volume. And you can compare it one-to-one to your ads that go your website. So it makes it really easy for brands to get started. And it makes it easy for the consumers because they’re doing what they don’t normally do, which is click on ads. So that’s the most common way to start.

Kelsey:

There are other ways of getting customers into the channel and you can do it with short links, with QR codes, we’ll link from an email, a pop-up on your website. There’s a lot of different methods there. And we have partners that do all of what I just described, but ads is a really common format because again, it’s just a very seamless acquisition funnel.

Stephanie:

Cool. And is there anything that brands are doing right now in messenger or Instagram DMs, where you’re like, that’s actually the wrong way to do it? Anything that you would advise brands not to do or have seen things going wrong?

Kelsey:

Yeah, that’s a great question. I think not doing anything at all is what I would say is the worst thing. Because, whether that’s Instagram DMs and you’re just not responding to the people that message you there, and that’s a huge, lost opportunity. We understand that it’s really hard to scale responding to people individually, which is why platforms like ours can help. But I’m just not doing anything, you’re losing customers every time you don’t respond to them because they want to engage with you directly for a reason.

Kelsey:

And every time they do that, there’s an opportunity for that to become either a customer or a recurring customer. So let’s say that’s probably the worst, but in terms of actually doing things that are, are wrong, I don’t like any of the spammy stuff and I don’t like any of the things where it’s not clear to the customer what’s going to happen. Those are the things that I find frustrating, but in terms of how to do that, well, there’s not as much going on with that anymore because Facebook really did crack down on some of it. So I’ll say what I didn’t like before was, there was a trend where there’s an opt-in check box that you could put on your website that basically said, “I’m opting into Facebook Messenger with a business.”

Kelsey:

And that’s still something that you can use today, but at the time you could actually put it on your website pre-checked. Oftentimes customers wouldn’t necessarily notice it or see that it was there or see that they had opted into something. But what was even worse was there were lots of sites that were putting them behind the scenes. So it wasn’t actually visible on the page at all. So a customer would add something to their cart. And by submitting that add to cart, it was opting them into messages without them knowing it.

Kelsey:

And then they would get messages later if they abandoned their purchase that were like, “Hey, here’s the 10% off. Here’s a whatever go buy that thing you were looking at.” Which inherently is not a bad workflow, but to do that without letting the customer know that’s what’s going to happen, really not great. I’d say that’s the worst thing I’ve seen in this space, but you can’t do that anymore. And I’m grateful for it.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Well, that’s good. How do you keep up with the changes that Facebook’s going through? Because it seems like they’ve been definitely on like a roller coaster where very popular. And then, I feel like they kind of went through a trough where it’s like, does anyone use it anymore? And now I feel like it’s growing again. Even among my friends, it’s like people are using the groups now and Messenger.

Kelsey:

The groups are huge.

Stephanie:

That’s the only reason I go on there for the most part, but how do you keep up with what they’re even doing behind the scenes and how the buying groups on there just changing. And then coming back and then leaving, and then there on TikTok. How do you keep up with that?

Kelsey:

I think it could be really easy to get distracted or feel like that’s very volatile. The approach that we’ve taken is actually just been to have our own point of view that is rooted in something just so fundamental that it doesn’t matter what the policy changes are really. We won’t be disturbed by them essentially. So we’ve looked at Facebook Messenger as a sales channel since day one of the business. And we’ve been around just over three years now. And of the platforms that were popping up at the time were MailChimps for Messenger, were abandoned cart notifications and things like that.

Kelsey:

And that is really easy to get disrupted by policy changes. But if you’re fundamentally saying, this is a place where you can more effectively get a conversion from a customer and have a better experience for them. There’s actually not a lot that that Facebook could do that would really interfere with that in a way. Unless they just fully said, “Hey, you can’t actually use the API at all anymore.” They just shut the API down. Then it’d be like, okay, fine. But even if that were to happen, the US market for messaging is inherently multi-channel.

Kelsey:

Messenger’s not being first or last for us. It’s going to be one of many. So, that’s the way that we approach it as yes, we keep up with the trends. We are a platform partner, so we’re pretty in tune with the roadmap and what’s going to be happening there. And that’s really important. The relationship is really important to make sure that you can prepare for your business. But at the end of the day, I think having a really just underlying fundamental platform approach to what we’re doing, enables us to avoid a lot of the mishaps that we’ve seen affect other business models.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Cool. And you just mentioned like messaging is just the first, are there other areas that you feel like there’s a lot of opportunity that brands can be selling in right now. Or maybe it’s not even ready yet, but in the future it’s coming down the pike.

Kelsey:

Yeah. I think anywhere where consumers and brands can have a direct conversation, you’re going to see things evolve for that. And it might depend on the platform, if the platform is incentivized towards it or interested in it. Facebook supports this because they believe in messaging as the future of consumer behavior. It’s something that’s been around since the beginning of the internet, we’ve been chatting. I don’t think that’s going anywhere, but Facebook is also really highly motivated to monetize on it. And so, there’s opportunity there.

Kelsey:

But would someone like discord do something like this? I’m not sure. I’m not sure if they’re like motivated towards that or if that’s part of the business that they want to be building. But I really do see that any messaging channel where you can have that kind of interaction, there’s no reason not to produce a better shopping experience there and tried to scale that. It’s kind of infinite, I think.

Stephanie:

I wonder if chatbots on websites, like native chatbots have muddied up a bit. Where it’s like, we’ve all had that bad experience with a chatbot where they’re talking and you’re like, “Get away, get away. You’re not going to be able to help me. I already know it Verizon, stop.” [crosstalk]. I wonder if that has hindered the market, with certain people being open to buying via chat bot when they’ve had experiences that are subpar on maybe certain websites.

Kelsey:

At the start of these platforms opening up and these APIs opening up, you had people making bots left and right. And they were very low quality. It tarnished it a little bit. I think tarnished it a bit for the consumer and for the brands, because, when things opened up, brands started testing things and they weren’t getting performance results. It wasn’t their fault. It’s really hard. It’s like launching your first website and then not working super well. It’s like, well, yeah, this is a totally new… It’s where the start of websites existing. It’s like, yeah, that’s tough. It’s tough to figure it out. It’s a whole new learning curve.

Kelsey:

So I think that in terms of, what can happen there. It is very easy to tarnish their reputation, but again, it’s not going anywhere. So as long as again, you have an opportunity to drive a better experience. You should keep iterating on that. And again, it’s like if you have customers that are willing to do directly, it’s always an opportunity to do better and to turn them into a better customer for you as well. There is also really huge difference between like the customer support experiences like that, and these types of sales experiences. I think there’s a pretty clear line between the two and a lot of that depends on the customer’s intent.

Kelsey:

If you’re coming from an ad to shop driver, for example, you know that’s what you’re doing and you know that that’s what you’re being helped to do. And it’s pretty straightforward. But if you’re going in with any level of support need, there’s a lot of opportunity to get that wrong. So it’s really tough.

Stephanie:

Someone’s already coming in with a heated mindset and one wrong word from chatbot. Ooh, I’m hot.

Kelsey:

Exactly.

Stephanie:

The one thing I think about too is the payment piece and how to make sure that customer journey is frictionless because even when I hear, Oh, some brands have a PayPal link, which I think is great. Or like an MVP, get something out there. And also, show there like, do I even know my PayPal login? Like, Oh, I don’t know.

Kelsey:

Exactly.

Stephanie:

How do you think about, making the checkout experience frictionless where it’s not a million different options and people know it’s very be fast and easy.

Kelsey:

Currently we actually drive to check out on the brand site and we find that works really well because it’s the trusted destination. You have all of the tooling and UI that you need to be able to have a good seamless checkout experience. And that works really well. Checkout is on our roadmap to be able to process that and manage that. And we won’t be like a payment processor. We have partners we’re talking to on end, but in terms of the checkout, there’s a lot of ways to handle that.

Kelsey:

And I think that there’s been so much best practice learned from mobile shopping as it is, that can be leveraged there. And there’s also a ton of testing opportunities, but we really do look to… We’re not trying to reinvent wheels here.

Stephanie:

That whole space is evolving so quick and just talking to the team at fast and continuing to be here and see what they’re doing with the one-click checkout. I’m like, it seems like there’s such an opportunity to have that right. In every form of like, you’ve got your cart already loaded in like your Instagram DM, and you can just hit checkout and all your payment information save and drop onto the next Instagram site.

Kelsey:

[crosstalk].

Stephanie:

There also seems like there’s a good opportunity for Amazon there. I always look at all those Q&A sections, where it seems like how much time do I spend looking at toothpaste? Is it fluoride-free? It’s for my kids, is it fluoride free? Does it not have this, that, that. All these questions, but I’m actually going through the whole product page for a thing of toothpaste so much time wasted. But it would be really nice to have a Messenger on there where you could just say, “Hey, does this have this and this?” Instead of me trying to zoom in on the ingredient list, or like, look at all the reviews for something that’s like $6 or whatever it may be.

Kelsey:

Yeah, exactly. I hope Amazon’s listening. They should come talk to us. We haven’t seen anything quite like that, but we have talked to brands that sell on Amazon and we have done experiences in Messenger that link to Amazon product. That is something that we’ve experimented with before. And I think that you have to your point, why scroll through a million questions and answers that aren’t necessarily relevant to you? And one might be, when you could just have the brand get to know you better and then tell you what you need to know.

Stephanie:

Yeah, exactly. So when you’re first starting to work with brands who are implementing chatbots, what kind of metrics do you maybe advise them to look at to see if it’s going well or not? Because a lot of people I could see being new to this, not even knowing like, well, what should I expect for conversion? Or like, what’s good. What’s bad. Like, how do you advise them around that?

Kelsey:

That’s a great question. So first and foremost, and I think this is a little bit of what might have gotten wrong in the early days of the channel. Businesses care about performance. They care about conversions and CACs and return, and all those things. So, we want to make sure we’re mapping to that because if you don’t then at the end of the day, they’re going to be worth your time if it’s not performing on those metrics? Probably not. So first and foremost, we can own conversion rate. That’s the KPI that we really truly measure against. Because essentially we’re saying if you drive traffic here, instead of your website, it’s more likely to convert. That’s our thesis. And so if that’s true, that’s what we’re going to start measuring against. And we’ll do that by looking at what’s your conversion rate from a standard click to site ad.

Kelsey:

So purchases you’re getting out of link clicks. And then when you run a click to Messenger ad, we’ll do the exact same thing. How many purchases are you getting out of those ad clicks? And that should be able to tell us if it’s a higher converting channel for you. Fundamentally we’ve seen anywhere from 50% increases to 10X increases in one case and anywhere in between. So it’s not abnormal for that to be the initial result. But then in terms of the other things like captain role, as they should benefit from that better conversion rate. It shouldn’t be approached necessarily differently than any other conversion tests that you’re running.

Kelsey:

That being said, we have a ton of insight into the full funnel that we can leverage to optimize. And so, all of our partners start with at least a three month program because we know it takes time to warm up and we want to make sure we can iterate. And we do that on a weekly basis. So you might start with X result in month one, by the end of month three, it should be much better. And so the way that we can do that is looking at everything from a customer clicks on an ad, they land into Messenger. Do they respond to the first message, which basically ops them into the channel?

Kelsey:

Are they completing like a quiz? If there’s a quiz or personal shopper? Are they clicking on products back to the website? And then are they adding to cart? And then are they purchasing? So we have a slightly different funnel. You’re going to get your ad performance from ads manager and see the link clicks and add to carts and purchases. Paloma is going to see everything in between. So we’ll be able to know exactly where people are off and why. And be able to iterate on that much more efficiently than if it were traffic going to a website, where are they clicking? How are they browsing? There’s like a ton of more opaque data from a website side. From our end we can literally just see, okay, you have too much drop-off on the first question. So let’s not ask that question. Or, Hey, everybody is answering the same way to this one question, that doesn’t need to be there.

Kelsey:

Or, people are clicking on the products. Maybe we need different product batches or whatever that may be. So we’ll be able to get a lot more of a finer detail on that. And we have benchmarks for each. We expect our partners to get at least a 30% opt-in rate, maybe percent completion on any type of quiz or personal shopper experience. And then at least 50% of traffic clicking back to the website. And then from there add to carts and purchases depends on what they would normally expect to see. It’s kind of a lengthy answer.

Stephanie:

It’s good to know metrics like that to aim for. How do you plug into a brand’s inventory system and then also make matches. That will be something that I want to look at. I can just imagine me going in there and not knowing what I ever want being like, “I want a picture.” And then someone’s showing me something and maybe like, “Oh, not that one.” How do you guys personalize it and show something I want, but also make sure that you’re not tapping into inventory, that’s like out of stock.

Kelsey:

So we basically can ingest inventory into our system, keep that up to sync, keep that availability up to sync. And so anytime that we’re building experiences, you’re able to make sure that it’s the right things getting shown. In terms of what to show customers based on their selections. We have this like start matching dynamic product matching system where basically the customer’s responses get associated with the inventory.

Kelsey:

So all of your boots are associated with like a boot selection or all of your things that come and break colors would get associated with like bright colors. If you were asking about color preference. And some of these qualities are not things that would normally be tagged onto your inventory. So we’re basically expanding on that. So we make the association between the two and as customers make the selections, we basically just filter down and display all the things that would then relate.

Kelsey:

So like Andy swimwear, for example, if you chose one pieces and some coverage and a lot of support, you’re only going to see the products that, apply to all of those qualities. And it’s really simple for us to create those. Something like that can take like 10 minutes to build, whereas a quiz to put on a website can cost thousands of dollars and take two months. And so, that’s kind of part of the magic and secret sauce of our software.

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s cool. I was just thinking about, okay, to even create that kind of filtering and navigation options and all that can take a long time. And tagging it and making sure that it’s actually can be searchable. And then if you can just have it in a DM or Messenger, that’s great game changing.

Kelsey:

Yeah. It’s really fun. It’s a very simple, we have like own drag and drop interface to just jag product on to the selection options. They’re tagged with that in the future. And then as customers answer, we just know what to show them.

Stephanie:

Cool. Where do you see the future of commerce headed or chatbots and commerce intersecting. What does that look like to you maybe three to five years down the road? Where do you hope it looks?

Kelsey:

Really, again, I like to look to what people are doing now when they’re just starting out and also at other markets. So really in terms of the future of commerce, we believe very strongly that it’s on messaging channels, that that is the next door front. And so, what does that look like? It’s customers going to DMs, it’s brands driving traffic to DMs and customers just getting much better shopping experiences there, converting there, checking out there. And new stores not having to even open up a website. Again, I don’t think website’s going to necessarily totally go away, but it’s just going to be a smaller part of the puzzle. If you look at what’s gone on in other markets like China with Weechat, they’re way ahead of the game. And that works really, really well.

Kelsey:

And it’s a huge chunk of the commerce ecosystem out there. So we’ve been a little bit slower to that, but it is happening. It’s happening a little bit more multichannel, and I think that’s really interesting and that’s a really fun challenge is that, we don’t have the monolith app that will do it all. We have a lot of [crosstalk] apps. I think it’s great because everyone likes to have their own different way. We’re always getting new social networks and apps out there and it’s fun. It’s really fun. So basically, I’m not sure how many different tools there will be in the future, but we very strongly believe that messaging is the next channel and destination for commerce to happen. And we’re effectively building the platform to power that.

Stephanie:

That’s great. It definitely begs the question about keeping things organized when you’re selling on so many different channels. And there’s probably going to be dozens of messaging platforms that people are using. I’m just imagining a brand, trying to keep up where, they go from selling on their website and then maybe dabbling in Amazon, maybe on Walmart. And then all of a sudden it’s now, you can sell on Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook and TikTok. How do you think a brand would be able to keep up or do you see anything right now? Like any innovations that are allowing brands to organize everything in one central place that they can keep track of what they’re doing?

Kelsey:

There are definitely a lot of interesting tools. I think that what comes before the tools are just the people, expertise. I think that’s what we’re seeing, services and agencies that will help with coordinating all of those things or know how to best launch on Amazon. And then once you’ve launched on Amazon and all these other places, then you go, okay, well now I have everything in too many places I need a more scalable system. And that’s when you start seeing softwares get put in place. And I don’t think any come to mind immediately, but I think there’s some really great tools that are coming up to try to glue things together and basically to piece together, all the different supply chain and logistics issues.

Kelsey:

And there’s some really great things out there for that. But we’re also seeing new commerce platforms that are inherently taking those things in mind. So we have a lot of commerce players that exist that are trying to catch up and trying to add on these different channels. But then you have new players that are from day one saying, “We know it’s not just about one place.” So you’ve got things like, headless commerce and no code tools and platforms like Paloma that will from day one say, “Hey, this isn’t just about a single source of shopping. It’s about a lot of things.”

Stephanie:

Yeah. I completely agree. All right, well, let’s shift over to the lightning round. Lightning round is brought to you by Salesforce commerce cloud. I’ll ask a question and you have a minute or less to answer. Are you ready? You look a little nervous. Wow.

Kelsey:

I don’t know, that’s scary. It’s a little daunting.

Stephanie:

No, it’ll be fun. It’ll be fun. What one thing will have the biggest impact on e-commerce in the next year. I have a feeling you’re say message shopping and Messsenger.

Kelsey:

Obviously messaging. I’ll just be repeating myself a little bit, but I think messaging is a bit. It’s already been exploding pretty quickly and it’s growing faster than ever. We drove almost 9 million in partner revenue last year. And that’s just as a small, early stage team, so there’s a lot ahead of us.

Stephanie:

Yeah. That’s cool. What, one thing do you not understand today that you wish you did?

Kelsey:

Just so many people things. I find people so fascinating. I’m constantly seeing how people chat, but I would just love to talk to people about their experiences with all of these experiences and with all these different kind of shopping channels. And, I think that it’s not something that I don’t understand. It’s just something that I’m always eager to understand people’s behaviors more. So that’d probably be it. [inaudible].

Stephanie:

What’s up next on your Netflix queue?

Kelsey:

I am so behind, I need to watch Bridgeton and literally everything else. I’ve been doing a Buffy rewatch. So I’m just like living in a very different time.

Stephanie:

What is a book that has really left a very big impression on you? You’re like, “I always think back to this book for either business or life.”

Kelsey:

Oh, that is a great question. I’d say, well, what are the ones that comes to mind, it’s Italo Calvino. [crosstalk] is the author. And basically, it’s a person telling stories about visiting a lot of different cities. And when I was younger, I found that it was just… When you’re reading, it’s all about picturing what’s going on. And as someone who, if you didn’t grow up being able to travel a lot, it stuck with me. I was like, I want to be able to do that someday, but also just being able to picture it from a book is really, really nice. I still have like the images in my head of different passages from that.

Stephanie:

Oh, that’s cool. All right. And then the last one, what’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for you?

Kelsey:

Oh my gosh. I feel like people are so nice. What is the nicest thing anyone’s ever done to me? Oh gosh, there’s too many things.

Stephanie:

Wow. You must be a very… People are sending all this nice stuff you way. [crosstalk] people around you, can I have some?

Kelsey:

When you run a business, or when you start a business, it’s all about getting help. That’s the best way to be able to succeed is knowing what you don’t know and how to get help. So I will say I’m very good at getting help, but what’s like the biggest part of that is having people be really nice and great. And so, there are just a lot of people that have helped along the way that I literally would not be where I am without that. From little things like making the introductions, not everyone has access to the networks that you need. And so, the people that believed in me more than the business or more than anything else, that’s really huge.

Kelsey:

And so, I’ve just got like some really great, great people that helped along the way. I can’t pick a single thing, but I’d say like some of our investors, some of just the people I’ve worked with in the past and they’re really just root for you. And will be there when you say, “I have no idea what I’m doing. How does this work?” Or, “I need some help.”

Stephanie:

I thought so. Good answer. All right, Kelsey. Well, it’s been a blast having you on the show. I love learning about Paloma and your story. Where can people find out more about you and Paloma?

Kelsey:

You can learn more about Paloma, getpaloma.com, G-E-T-P-A-L-O-M-A. And me I’m on Twitter, LinkedIn at Kelsey Hunter. I think it’s usually Kelsey AH. So feel free to message me, check out the site, chat with us. We’re always around.

Stephanie:

Amazing. Thanks so much.

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