A weekly podcast with the latest e-commerce news and events. Episode 296 is an interview with Matt Kubancik, CEO and Co-Founder of Guardian Baseball
Episode 296 is an interview with Matt Kubancik (@mattkubancik), CEO and Co-Founder of Guardian Baseball. Matt is a serial e-commerce entrepreneur who was the founder of Street Moda, Co-Founder of SKU Vault, and most recently Co-Founder and CEO of Guardian Baseball.
Mark is an experienced Marketplace seller, and his current business Guardian Baseball is a hybrid seller selling both wholesale and owned brands direct to consumer from a Shopify site, and via multiple marketplaces including Amazon.
Guardian Baseball is an early adaptor of Buy with Prime, and shares in the interview, that they would migrate off Shopify if necessarily to keep using Buy with Prime. He also discusses a number of the current limitations with the Buy With Prime offering.
Episode 296 of the Jason & Scot show was recorded on Friday September 23, 2022.
[0:23] Welcome to the Jason and Scot show this is episode 296 being recorded on Friday August 23rd 2022 I’m your host Jason retailgeek Goldberg and as usual I’m here with your co-host Scot Wingo.
[0:38] Hey Jason and welcome back Jason Scott showed listeners today we have a fun interview this is kind of a both a TBT a throwback for me and then also modern discussion around by with Prime
but to set it up we are very excited to welcome mat kubancik to the show welcome mat.
[1:00] Thanks Scott and Jason have my own.
[1:02] Matt what’s your what’s your current title you have you have 50 things you’re always doing so I never know what to say other than.
[1:08] Always doing but Maine.
[1:10] Entrepreneur genius.
[1:11] Yeah sometimes sometimes a genius sometimes but that’s the life of an entrepreneur I co-founder and CEO of Guardian baseball.com or multi-channel hybrid direct to consumer
and brand partner of you know some of the biggest.
Brand names and Sporting Goods retailer so predominantly in the baseball and softball market and we’re on Amazon Walmart eBay and on our Shopify site.
And we were named the fastest growing e-commerce retailer by ink magazine in the Inc 5000 and number 180 overall this year.
[1:48] Amazing that congratulations
I definitely want to jump into it but before we do you know our listeners always like to get a little bit of a gist of our guests background and so I’m imagining you you went to college and got a degree in baseball e-commerce is that how you started.
[2:05] No not at all actually spent six months in in college dropped out was one of the original I started selling on eBay 1999.
Um during think my first year of high school sold baseball cards ironically and then.
Started selling fashion and store stock Closeouts Retail Arbitrage early days of eBay and then when I was 18 years old.
I met an executive that was retired from the Footwear industry and him and I started a company called Street motor together,
and we were a early on 2000s multi-channel retailer and I met Scott through signing Channel advisor when I was 19 years old I remember signing my contract,
verbally over the phone like a grain to the contract and then I went into school and said hey I’m going to withdraw after six months of Indiana University so.
Dropped out and did 100 million over,
10 11 years mainly thanks to the a lot of connections Channel advisor helped me create you know Market places like Amazon eBay buy.com back in the day,
a lot of the shopping channels like Shopzilla and sites like that and we exited that business in 2017.
And been involved in e-commerce and various other companies and degrees.
[3:30] That’s an amazing story for a couple of reasons first of all I love everybody that that helps helps
fun they’re beginning through Retail Arbitrage have you seen the latest version of we Retail Arbitrage kind of making the rounds right now.
[3:46] What is the what is the latest version of I probably have but I’m wondering what it would lose.
[3:50] It’s dudes buying Walmart frozen pizza and then selling it as a ghost Kitchen on doordash.
[3:56] I love it yes I actually posted that somebody needs to hire that guy with the tick tock video yeah.
[4:01] Yeah that that was amazing and then one thing that’s that I found peculiar about your background is most people tell me they even back then Scott was too fancy to actually talk to customer so it’s kind of impressive that you were able to meet Scott in person back then.
[4:16] Yeah the I would think I was like 18 and I was a channel advisor conference and I had a beer in my hand and he walked up to me and I remember he was like are you are you 21 I was like I don’t think so.
[4:26] So it was mostly a liability concerns.
[4:30] Yeah yeah Matt Matt’s a brilliant marketer and he would bring these t-shirts to the shows he did he did Wingo as my homeboy and then was a twingo made Millions so those are some of the best best marketing gimmicks,
and I will show up at the show and I was wearing this this t-shirt with a picture of Miss really weird.
[4:49] I feel like it’s even it’s gotten increasingly true and more much more true in the last month that you could sell more of those t-shirts the Wingo made me Millions.
[4:59] Yeah it was a it was a lot of fun so.
[5:04] And then so then that was your primary thing so then you did you guys realize that you needed to build you look at all the software for shipping and inventory management and build your own and then you,
tell the story of that.
[5:19] Oh yeah so it was like 2012 or 2011 and kind of the only inventory platform out there other than like something on the level like sap Oracle custom build for like larger retailers or Manhattan,
a red Prairie was what was it called Scott like Stone Edge or something what was it was on Old access bit database yeah and I remember,
they actually got bought out by a former competitor of Channel advisor so and there were so many Channel advisor clients on there so we tried to launch that in our warehouse and my childhood friend
and he says who got an engineering degree and eventually became the CEO of skew vault,
tried to implement that and then him and a programmer who was programming a bunch of stuff Slava who’s the co-founder skew vault
try to implement that system and it just didn’t work properly for us so they came back to me a few months later and they were like hey we’re just going to build it and I was kind of like okay if you guys can really do that
and you know it worked we built a skew Vault version 1 out of Street Motors warehouse and then eventually I help those guys kind of get the business off the ground.
[6:25] Was original co-founder Andy just exited the business lat ironically a week before Channel advisor so,
to a company out of the UK and you know still work with Andy on a daily basis and good friends so really proud of those guys and yeah it was it was a great thing we did up having,
thousands of customers and help them with their fulfillment needs and help a lot of the big direct to Consumer and Shabba fine Amazon retailers on a SAS,
like platform manage their inventory and cycle counts and you know all that kind of stuff.
[7:00] And so was q v predominantly like a order management system or I guess I always thought of it as kind of like a almost like a dim and a CMS and a way am I thinking of it wrong.
[7:12] Predominately a warehouse management system you know we never we had a really good partnership with people like Channel advisor and,
and other channel listing tools so Andy was always very adamant on not disrupting those Partnerships I think you saw a lot of,
a lot of our competition would eventually move into the channel management and then disrupt those Partnerships so we always relied on and Scott was a huge part of that,
and driving force and then Channel advisor folks were always a huge you know big partner of skew vaulting especially in the early days of really driving that home so we never really got into the listing.
Pain management we really tried to rely on our.
Excellent capability of functioning in the warehouse so providing quality control integrating with the shipping carriers like ship work shipstation.
Companies like that and and then integrating with the channel Partners like a channel buzzer.
And providing all the quality control Pick Pack you know scan in audits inventory sinking buffers all that type of normal WMS type of functions.
[8:17] Cool so you you were a e-commerce entrepreneur so you’ve done that then you did software-as-a-service so you get the check that off the box and then I saw on LinkedIn you’ve also been working with a turbo host so that’s actually getting into my world of cars now
tell me tell me how you got into that one.
[8:34] I just really like nice cars and you know I started renting them on Taro and I was down in Florida which is like a second home for me and I had one of my best friends move down there and from Louisville,
and we just started buying cars it started with one so I didn’t have to like rent Ontario anymore and then you know the turo market got really flooded so what I started to concentrate on was more mid-tier Exotics,
so we bought cars like Porsches and Ferraris and then Terro raised there,
they used to have a lower like coverage they would do like 150,000 and it was something that I was used to you know Scott on very well versed in the marketplaces I think if somebody looks at my.
You know in between companies I’ve always consulted and I’ve always been brought in by big Brands to be on marketplaces Amazon eBay and how to really run and function those within a larger organization,
so I really adapted well to the turo marketplace because I felt it was much like an eBay or an Amazon type of,
mentality where they provide the customers you provide the inventory and then provide the service,
and then you don’t have to worry about all the legal jargon and a lot of the compliance and you know worrying about marketing spend,
and Roi so you know we had three or four cars and and still working with my partner on that.
[9:57] Cool it’s a as I got into this Mobility space myself I was poking around it’s like otter oh and then I saw the CEOs name is Andre Haddad and he’s actually an eBay guy and it rang a bell and I had met him a couple times in eBay meetings so it’s funny you’ve already kind of made that correlation there’s a lot of,
e-commerce people in the mobility world that I run across
and then so my big question is if a Ferrari is a mid exotic for you what what’s up there about already like Bugattis here like.
[10:29] Like it in your old Ferrari California so it’s something like a hundred and thirty thousand dollars and then we drop you know 20,000 into it to fix it up and it’s running.
You know we run it at like 750 to 1,000 a day where I would consider a more like.
If you look at a competition like in Miami or Vegas they’re generally running in the you know the Uris has or the Bugattis of the world so that would I would consider kind of the luxury like Newark here.
[10:57] Got it where’s and Lambo is kind of in the middle.
[11:00] I would say Leo Lambo Huracan would be kind of be in the middle mid-tier luxury.
[11:05] What’s your daily driver their ass.
[11:07] I have five kids now so it’s a Ford Expedition in Louisville Kentucky but I have to I have two choices in Suburban or yeah there’s no.
[11:15] Low exotic low exotic yeah a lot of gold fish floating around in the car there I’m a that’s our bread and butter here at spiffy is the five kids think you guys are Jim.
Give them and give them lots of food to throw around back there.
[11:33] Applesauce back and everything yeah I’m the Costco dead.
[11:37] Spiffy spiffy charges extra for apple sauce stains just so you know.
Side note I just got back from Vegas from grocery shop a grocery e-commerce show in the big news in Vegas is they just announced that formula one is coming to Las Vegas.
[11:54] Yeah yeah that’s gonna be awesome.
[11:56] They’re doing a track that’s going to be on the Strip their clothes in the strip for a week it’s going to that could be pretty cool.
[12:03] Who’s at that shop talk conference that they’re involved in.
[12:06] It’s put on by the same people that started shop talk yes but it’s more focused specifically on the like Grocery and Food Industries.
So you’ve got all this Marketplace experience you got your fashion experience through shoot Street Mota.
How’d you get there.
[12:39] So I started the business with a friend of mine he owns the largest travel baseball organization in the state of Kentucky it’s called The Wolves baseball organization he’s around my age,
Jewish kid from l.a. got recruited to play baseball in Kentucky so moved here were both only children both the same age both outside of Kentucky so we got along real well,
he started training my kids he’s really good with people really good people skills,
really good with developing children and just teamwork and a lot of stuff and so we just started Guardian as a as honestly.
It was supposed to be a lifestyle based business he was paying full retail from a local sporting goods store,
for all his equipment and uniforms and I was this is when I was Consulting for the company that had bought Street mode and I was like hey,
you know why don’t we just go direct to the brands will sell some stuff on Amazon you know we’ll have a little half a million dollar business.
[13:35] And so we started working with like the wrongs and the Wilsons of the world and the Maru cheese and when I got into this business you know coming from the fashion business and when I consulted I consulted a lot of direct-to-consumer apparel Brands and launching them on.
Amazon and helping with them their Logistics and health and beauty and those are very.
Competitive Industries in the direct-to-consumer world right and they’re very Advanced and a lot of their metrics and there’s just heavy competition and there’s a new direct-to-consumer player subscription boxes which is very competitive market and there’s always something new.
But in the Sporting Goods industry and you know Jason if you play baseball growing up is the same Brands like the same Louisville Sluggers Easton’s.
Of the world and you are having some direct-to-consumer.
Brands that are kind of infiltrating the baseball and softball world but it’s very much like an accessories like they might be a Brandon sunglasses or a bad brain and batting gloves but there’s not really a big brand kind of doing it all,
and there’s almost no direct-to-consumer penetration so it’s something that.
[14:34] As we started evolving the business we started by buying just equipment then we would go to the brands and we started making our own equipment with them so we go to them and say hey.
[14:44] You guys do black pink bags for girls that’s really cool but like a lot of the girls are sick of black pink so we’re going to make black Tiffany we’re going to make black rose gold.
How about we do these like new colorways kind of relating into the fashion business so you know I was still active in fashion and Consulting for and working with a lot of Brands like Puma,
Steve Madden and Brands like that so I know kind of the colorways that are clicking and women’s heels or Footwear and sneakers so I would and apparel and I would kind of put those over,
and say okay maybe baseball and softball is a year or two behind so we kind of started doing that and that worked really well.
And then we started producing our own cleats which are an Amazon bestseller so we’re you know we out sell some of the biggest brands on the market came from Footwear so we started making kids cleats,
our Guardian one of our Guardian kids please says over 6 700 reviews on Amazon it’s one of the top sellers,
we had inventory we have more inventory coming in so we just started started with cleats and then we started making sliding Nets bat bags.
Um and then we released a baseball bat with a huge kind of direct-to-consumer startup brand that’s taking over a lot of the market in the BB core which is high school and college is called stinger,
bad company and we did a collab with them and it was called The Guardian bat by stainer and standards whole thing is basically the traditional direct to consumer.
[16:07] Where they’re you know the normal high school and college bats are costing three to five hundred dollars and they come in around 250 price point,
260 price point it’s the same quality most of their sales are direct they do have a few retailers,
and we came in and did a brand collaboration and we we had over 120,000 views 130,000 reviews on bat Bros which is the independent bat testing and they rated as a top five bat,
and then when it came out for three or four months it was a top five bad on Amazon in terms of sales so.
You know that’s kind of what we’re doing now and kind of evolving the business into more of a direct-to-consumer and making our own equipment and then working on with brand collaborations like a supreme would in the fashion business where,
putting a guardian and going to a traditional brand and saying hey instead of just doing black and navy and red catching equipment let’s do a kid’s shark-tooth let’s do a camouflage but like blue and green camo or something so we’re kind of making it fun.
And it’s been good you know it’s been a fun ride we’re growing rapidly we,
closing investment with Matt Joyce this year he came on as an owner so my business partners Evan I own the business along with a 14-year major Leaguer who just retired,
and he was kind of a good Target for us we didn’t want somebody that was just just going to sign a check like a really really big guy that was a Hall of Famer something and wasn’t want to be active we wanted somebody that.
[17:36] Was very entrepreneurial and Matt owns a line of gyms and Florida he does a bunch of real estate Investments and he’s had kind of a blue-collar dad you know family raised him type of hard-working mentality and we wanted somebody like that.
So he came on this year and we’re really glad to have him and he’s kind of helped line out a hole.
Roster of athletes with us so we’re very early on in The Cutting Edge of Ni El marketing and yeah so we’re just kind of a cutting-edge retailer.
[18:06] Interesting so a couple of quick questions jump to mind when you first got in the the baseball business,
I would call that the sporting goods in general and I’m kind of assuming you’ll correct me if I’m wrong baseball in particular is a little bit of a digital lagger right so,
like you don’t think of like Rowling and Wilson as kind of digital first companies.
[18:31] No I would say the industry overall is is very traditional and they don’t like a lot of
change in the industry I think that’s the baseball and softball equipment baseball in all I mean you see baseballs really losing out to Big sports like football and basketball and they’re trying to figure out how do we become more engaged with the fan so I don’t just think it’s.
Just necessary the equipment Brands I think it’s overall as a sport but we definitely do see that in the baseball and softball equipment you know I think they don’t really.
They get they hand me these 500-page catalogs and there’s 498 pages that are literally dedicated to male athlete ages 14 and above.
And what they really forget and they do make equipment for him but it’s not a focal point of their business and that’s what Guardian kind of focuses on,
is the softball Market is very underserved and then the youth market and if you think about the under 8 years old that’s the most kids Everybody Plays little league right ever played buddy place,
t-ball and coach pitch and then as you kind of Rise through the ranks then maybe you get more involved in swimming or maybe you get more involved in Lacrosse and that’s your sport,
or basketball or football and then you stop playing baseball so we are our cleats actually really Market to a 12 and under,
and that’s where really really kind of honing in the market and then the softball markets been huge you know two of our biggest influencers are Bella Dayton and Jasmine Perez chica they play for Arizona and Texas.
[19:56] Their videos on Tik-Tok and Instagram we’ve done on marketing as and IL marketing have.
Gotten hundreds of thousands of views and actually get more views than Major Leaguers we work with,
and softball NCAA softball I think it was last 2021 surpassed college or viewership,
for college men’s baseball in the world series for the first time ever so college softball and softball in general is a very underserved Market by these Brands and it’s something that,
we’re working with them on to develop more items and we’re also working on ourselves of really kind of dressing that market and putting women at the Forefront.
[20:33] Yeah that’s super interesting I want to come back to the influencers but I’m just trying to make sure I understand so you started Guardian.
In a lot of categories like a bunch of the aspirational Legacy Brands it’s really hard to get a license to sell them right so you know.
You do you want to start new footwear company you’re not getting a Nike license you know it’s really hard to get get a wholesale agreement with Oakley folks like that was it easy to get like Wilson in drawing to sell to you.
[21:02] Yes it because of my business partners.
The 14 travel teams he has the largest so those companies were already knocking down the door to be his uniform.
Facility and and that sort of thing and at that time we started the business 45 years ago and like you said they’re kind of behind the times of e-commerce so they hadn’t started to clean up the marketplaces like a lot of the fashion brands or Electronics Brands had,
on the Amazon and eBay world yet now they’re starting to make a lot of those and they’ve kind of grandfathers as they in and putting those in those contracts.
Where we’ve been able to do some special stuff like a lot of Brands we have you know brand registry with are able to come and do viral videos on the Amazon Marketplace and do a lot of things like that.
[21:43] Yeah well you you anticipated my next question which is like
it’s often for those Brands controversial if they want to be on marketplaces and particularly on Amazon so with
do I was that part of the discussion where they already on Amazon was it a foregone conclusion that they were okay with their products being a marketplaces or is that something you had to kind of evolve into.
[22:03] Some of the brands are receptive to it you know I think there’s three buckets there’s you know brands that are like hey you can sew on your own.com but you can’t sell in marketplaces then we’ve had brands that are like,
hey you can be an authorized retailer but you have to kind of like follow these guidelines and fall in line you can’t change product items we’re not going to make smu’s for us,
and then we have a third brand the third option where a lot of and these are I would say these are more of your up-and-coming Brands and more of your brands that are,
maybe number two that are really trying to take the market share of number one,
you know like what’s the car rental company that always said we’re number two were working going to work harder so those type of brands are the brands that we really have the best relationships with like a stainer that’s,
kind of said hey go ahead and take not only can you be on Amazon but we’re going to give you the keys to the kingdom here’s brand registry go run with it,
and you know do video ads do all type of editorial marketing handle all that for you so we’re kind of acting like an agency in that type of a relationship,
more were handling that and following all their guidelines working when it with ownership working with the executives,
and then carrying their core merchandise and also making exclusive merchandise for the Amazon Walmart type of marketplaces.
[23:16] Gotcha so not only are you doing it but you’re helping them get better at it and is that controversial at all like are you potentially enabling them to go direct and not need you as much.
[23:27] I think yeah I think we you know that is controversial right I think you know I spent.
Six figures on an event in Florida last year hosting all the top equipment Brands and was very adamant on here’s our vision you know I think we’re going to be like a Target or a Costco where.
This industry is a little unique because you’re always going to have.
The traditional brands on the Major League field and in the college’s so this is not a.
An industry where people are just going to say okay now I’m going to wear all birds instead of Cole Haans right where so there’s always going to be elements of the industry like people are always going to want to use a Rawlings glove or you know a little Slugger bat right.
Or a Marucci bat so.
Working with those vendors and carrying that type of merchandise that the people demand kind of creates the ability for us to make our.
Merchandise that we make.
You know advertised more and have more effect in the market because we’re carrying both so and we kind of have always said that that we’re going to be like a Costco or a Target and carry our own private label but we always want the Best Brands and the best equipment in there.
[24:38] Yeah so then that brings me back to the influencers because in my mind the world is slightly changed a little bit like hey.
But influencers have become a much more effective comment marketing tactic in almost every category but but in Sporting Goods particularly like,
Sporting Goods that have a significant College element like baseball historically the influencer wasn’t the player it was the University because the players
we’re not allowed to be in for answers but the the team’s I’ll sign contract so you so if you were super rich you could go buy a bunch of colleges
they are would use your gear and then you were the de facto market leader but you know for the last couple years it’s been legal for those individual players,
to be their own brand and in some sports a lot of those players had then.
Opted out of using the team sanctioned equipment is like and I was curious is that happening in baseball at all and is that going to open the door for more brands or have they figured out how to keep it locked down pretty well.
[25:41] Yeah so not so much on the latter part of the equipment I’ll kind of get into that in a minute but the obviously we were very.
Early on as soon as that IL law came out we were one of the first,
people to start signing College athletes and we’ve kind of been at the Forefront as a retailer and especially even outpacing a lot of Brands a lot of brands are asking actually asking us for advice and how we run the program so we have it,
about 15 College athletes now between baseball and softball signed to our roster and we utilize them and.
Not so much in a sales standpoint you’re seeing a lot of traditional retailers out there big box stores are signing these college athletes and they’re having them like take a picture in a shopping cart,
like in their store and it just looks very like hey use my code at the checkout for 10% off.
And what we really try to do if you check out our Instagram or Tik-Tok as we do a little a lot of viral like videos of Just interviewing them,
we fly them in or will fly out and do a lot of photo shoots with the video team and will do videos of them using different equipment Guardian Brandon also non Guardian Brandon some of our brand partners,
which they’re really appreciative of and will leverage that content not only on social media but on our website email marketing but also on the marketplaces,
and it’s you know,
I think the new wave of Amazon you’ve had this wave of Scott seen the different cycles of e-commerce retailers out there and I think direct to Consumer brands are really going hard.
[27:06] Are really coming hard on the Amazon Marketplace so I think really the private label companies you know that are strictly just trying to create a commodity product on Amazon,
are really going to be forced out by brands that are really bringing really good content and really good marketing on the Amazon platform much like the direct to Consumer brands of the last five years did on social media.
[27:28] Got it so one way of reframing Guardian is you know there’s some percentage of your stuff that you sell that the bread and butter its existing Brands but then you’re also inside of their building a DTC brand to fill in the holes that by selling other people’s stuff you realize hey maybe there needs to be a bat that’s kind of like
you know it’s BBCOR this and we’ll all that jazz but it needs to be at a lower price point is that a is that a fair.
[27:51] That’s exactly that’s a yeah.
[27:54] Cool so you’re like a delicious d2c doughnut or a yeah with a with a good feeling so,
so one of the reasons I wanted to get you on the podcast is you’ve been out there pretty vocal talking about by with prime so maybe
explain for listeners who don’t know what that is what it is from your perspective and then then how you guys got looped in on that.
[28:18] Yeah so by with prime is a new offering from Amazon and it integrates into.
Platforms like Shopify and Bigcommerce.
And it allows a e-commerce retailer to pool their FBA inventory if they’re on Amazon or they can send in inventory into Amazon.
And there’s a button on the Shopify site or the Bigcommerce site that bypasses the normal checkout process and it’s just a one click buy now with Prime and then that item is fulfilled by Amazon,
and that can choose and what type of box or whatever and you can actually deliver it in very competitive pricing compared to UPS FedEx you know a lot of the mail consolidators in one to two business days.
[29:06] Got it and then if I.
[29:08] It’s a lot like it’s a dressed-up it’s like a gastropub version of their original like multi what was it called mer multi-channel fulfillment service.
[29:17] Yeah yeah but with a consumer front end to it.
[29:20] Yes with the consumer and actually some of the people in that department are like.
Hey we had this originally for like five or ten years but they just dress it up and gave it a good logo so and some more front-end technology but you know it’s a very compelling offer.
[29:35] Yeah so the user consumer is I go to your website and I see I’m in the checkout process and it says hey
you’re a prime user you can just you’ve already got your payment and everything with Amazon and you know you’re familiar with the prime promise which is the fast free shipping and then I just
essentially press a button in her my Amazon credentials and I’m good to go is that.
[29:56] Yeah and it’s actually before the checkout process so if you it actually supports variation so,
if you were selling red dresses and you had extra small and small and FBA but you were sold out and medium and you I’d meet him in your Warehouse then,
it would actually if you chose the extra small or small would populate that button on the checkout before you click or on the item page before you added it to check out.
[30:17] So you need you need to make it an inventory aware that it’s in a FB a kind of thing okay interesting yeah alright but then the you know so,
so this has been another reason this was topical is
you know if we kind of rewind I like five years I think there’s been this kind of started this got on my radar well first of all shopify’s Mantra is arming the rebels right and
so that folks being a Star Wars fan that invokes a Star Wars kind of thing and then you’re kind of like well who’s the Death Star and it turns out Amazon’s the Death Star and their arm the rebels so then they’ve been poking Amazon.
[30:52] Oddly Kylie Jenner is Luke Skywalker in that metaphor but yeah.
[30:56] Sure yeah and and then
and then the Shopify social media started to really poke around Amazon it made fun of Jeff Bezos was in some tabloids for some pictures that surfaced and they were making fun of that and then
his divorce and all that and then I was sitting there watching that you and I have seen other companies kind of poke the Amazon Baron it hasn’t gone
very well for him sitting there watching as like this is not gonna go well for these guys and then sure enough you know flash word to hear Shopify has hit some issues with growth rates they over-invested in the post covid world
and then famously Toby the CEO was talking about he got asked on a conference call a Wall Street conference call what he thought about
by with Prime and he’s like oh we love Innovation and we would we would love to adopt it well then they had to backtrack that so are you guys caught up in that like are you know because they basically are now telling Merchants that if you use it,
it’s pretty hard language they’re saying you’re probably going to be open to fraud and we can’t protect you and so they’re definitely heading down this path I think of,
trying to make it very hard for you to use this feature.
[32:13] In terms of like are you asking what would I do as a business or in terms of where do you think the industry will kind of go.
[32:19] We’ll have has you know I’m assuming you’re tracking this pretty closely because you’re all you always are yeah.
[32:25] Did you get the threatening letter from from Shopify.
[32:27] Yeah it’s we didn’t get a threatening letter but we’ve seen all the pop-up of the terms of service and are account that popped up.
[32:33] Yeah yeah it reminds me of the early days of eBay where they were like there’s this thing PayPal we think it’s very suspicious and we’re not really sure you should use you should use our crappy payment thing that takes 50 clicks and rarely works but it’s so super secure,
yes so that that’s interesting do you where do you think that you know as a merchant,
you are on this platform and you want the flexibility to do everything how does it make you feel as from a business perspective to.
[33:00] From a business for so personal and then where the industry is heading I mean where the industry is heading I think you have to look.
Amazon is going to rule the world of logistics you know you’ve seen FedEx come out with the reports where they’ve had one of their biggest messes ever and I think.
You’re seeing Amazon trunks more and more and it’s the more reliable you know delivery than a lot of the common carrier so.
And I’ve seen you know Scott we’ve seen what GSI and eBay and Walmart I mean Rockies Han launched of a competitor try to take out FBI I mean these are huge companies that really tried to take on Amazon and Logistics front.
And I can tell you I’ve used what is now I guess Shopify Logistics or whatever they’re going to rename it but deliver and,
it it did not really work for our business you know I can’t speak for other people but it had a lot of bugs in the integration it’s there’s a lot of flaws with the delivery process and I don’t know if that was the best egg acquisition for deliver and I don’t know if it’ll really work out.
For a merchants and so I think there’s a lot of there’s a lot of progress that Amazon has made to really out do a lot of everyone in the logistics world.
[34:14] And I just don’t know if other people are going to be able to keep up and I think Innovation is always going to you know fee if Amazon is able to deliver things in one to two days for a Shopify,
at prices than most Shopify Merchants can negotiate directly with UPS or FedEx or USPS for standard shipping then you know.
[34:35] I understand what’s good for Shopify and they want him to go through the checkout but what’s good for their merchants on their platform than somebody might actually start to.
Take that business platform because I know as as a business owner and as a CEO I would I would make the Assumption if Shopify came in and said that.
And we saw by with prime become successful as we’ve seen in some initial few weeks of launching it,
then we would probably consider re-platforming maybe to a Bigcommerce or maybe somebody that Amazon had a really good relationship with.
And maybe that’s not you know the smartest move at this point but in the future when you know we can deliver Goods because part of our selling feature to people to outdo the box stores,
is not you know because people can go to a dicks or Academy,
and they can have the much better selection they VIP programs and everything so something we instituted on Guardian baseball.com is when I set out to start the business is I wanted to offer a free 6-month extended warranty,
on all bats and equipment.
[35:35] Because the Brand’s only offer a year so we’re a year and a half and I said if we compete with these brands in a world of price monitoring and price mapping and the price is the same everywhere
if we’re going to have a pair of cleats listed on Amazon and F ba and then we’re selling them with standard shipping on our website then the only thing we really have to do is play with price and discounting,
and enduring a world of price parity that’s impossible so for a d2c Merchants that plays on the Amazon space you have to able to offer that same offering,
of that one to two day shipping like Amazon does on your own D2 seeing if you.
[36:06] Then you can’t really expand in the Amazon because you’re just going to cannibalize your own sales on on your own d2c site so I think you have to offer it both so I think Innovation will always continue to succeed,
in the market and I think Brands will start to partner with people that are going to partner with Amazon.
[36:23] Yeah often kind of war game did this Jason I’m pretty sure we’ve said this on the podcast a couple times if I was personally Amazon and I got the job of disrupting Shopify,
you know what I would do is I would leverage FBA and I would go and I get as many Shopify people using FBA and then then that would give me the hook to then say well let’s say they came out with a competing platform or or they just.
They wanted you to go to a,
friendly third party platform like let’s say it’s Bigcommerce or something then then you just kind of proved to me that that is enough hook for the merchants to to make a front-end switch because that that,
that fast relatively inexpensive shipping is so important to most companies and because customers expect.
[37:09] And I think Amazon has the war chest to say if Java does come out with that I mean.
And I go to the by with prom team and say hey look I have to lever I have to change the Bigcommerce it’s going to cost me X you know if you want me to continue using by with prime what can you guys do for me I mean you know.
[37:26] Yeah so you hinted that it’s going really well are there any stats you can share with us so like I guess there’s one thing would be
you know you can only show it so many times because there’s going to only be a surface area of inventory that’s an FBA but then when it’s shown is that got higher conversion than other things anything you can share there would be interesting.
[37:46] So it does have some cons there’s a lot of things that are on the road map with by with prime but I mean the obvious obviously the successes are,
we’re seeing a slight Improvement do the familiar with the prime badge and also the estimated shipping dates the Fulfillment costs are generally 25 to 30 percent less than we can currently negotiate and I’m with a lot of mail consolidators,
you know resellers a post office obviously you know I’ve been in this world so I know that different ways to negotiate with FedEx ups and a lot of the mail consolidators.
In the quicker delivery times are generally seen 24 to 48 hours max we’re seeing is 72 hours and the a big con of that as you can keep the customer data unlike regular FBA sales.
Um and they’re also offering you know obviously I was doubted accelerate I spoke at by with Braun conference prior to accelerated Amazon HQ,
last week and it accelerate they announced that they’re you know offering a bunch of different initiatives that are kind of new for Amazon where they’re offering.
Brands are participating by with prime the ability to actually mark it on the Amazon platform but back to their d2c site.
[38:53] So there’s a lot of compelling offers out there that they’re kind of opening up the amazon Universe to which is kind of unique and I was actually surprised about.
But one of the big issues that they’re working on is the conversion tracking so our marketing pixels don’t record purchases made from the by with prime button which is something that they’re working on.
And the akan that they’re working on other are releasing this is you can purchase you can only purchase one bearing at a time so it’s not like a checkout experience,
where you can group a bunch of different items you actually have to like physically buy one item go back to the site so we have a lot of multicart,
on our website unlike Amazon which is a lot of single item you pts and
so we’re seeing you know on a lot of those bulk they’re still going to do the traditional checkout process because I don’t think it’s like it’s hard to really explain that to the customer we’re like hey if you want to buy the single item go with by with Prime.
So we’re seeing at limited success with a lot of 10 items.
[39:53] If we don’t currently with the current integration with Shopify it doesn’t have the inventory transparency so we have to double up with an mcf integration.
So it’s something.
You know it’s kind of a unique situation with our business model because we have a separate FB a skew so there’s some you know quarks in there,
and there’s some different things that they’re really kind of coming out so with but it’s I call them cons but it’s really things that are calling the roadmap and right as they kind of said at the conference to me and a large group of you know.
Agencies and sellers is we wanted to get it out there in the marketplace and I said that’s smart and then we want to work on these as opposed to having a perfect program and releasing it a year later.
[40:38] Yeah so I actually just realized we didn’t.
We didn’t articulate a couple things for visitors to just make sure everybody is tracking Guardian baseball is running on Shopify.
And you are an early adopter by with prime so and you even you promoted on the homepage right so you’ve got like very distinctive branding by with prime which is Amazon’s program that you know if you’re already a Prime member gives you that,
that Prime service level of fulfillment and the prime wallet even when you buy it on Guardian baseball so.
A couple of things kind of jump out at me there.
You hit one that is a big problem for me is the multi skew problem but I think of the by with prime checkout flow is being very similar to the traditional shot PayPal flow.
In that the checkout button shows up on as a separate button on the pdps but PayPal also let you.
Like use PayPal as the payment method in the cart for the multi skew purchase so you Amazon doesn’t have a solution for that today but you could imagine that they would enable by with prime both on the product level and at the cart levels.
[41:54] Yes and that’s what they’re working towards.
[41:56] Yeah so so that’s always one big problem because you know side note most e-commerce sites are not very profitable if the if the,
if the average items per order is 1 so so we definitely we need to sell more stuff in most cases
to make this profitable the threatening letter I would add to is not Shopify saying hey you’re not allowed to accept by with,
it’s simply them saying in our opinion their security flaws in,
doing this kind of thing and we might not be able to indemnify you if there’s a fraud problem as a result of that right like that’s that’s the kind of passive-aggressive,
approach shopify’s taken to date on it and it is funny to me because all of those same security holes would also be true of PayPal by the way and Shopify has never really complained about PayPal before.
Um so that gets me to the other big problem I see for both Prime and I’m curious if I’m wrong or if you’re seeing it
by with prime only works for existing Prime members there’s no onboarding experience so if I’m not a Prime member and I go to Guardian baseball.com I see this huge
well go on the homes thing that says by with prime which I don’t have Prime and then when I’m looking at an individual skew I want to buy there’s a by with prime checkout button,
and I could click that button but I won’t be allowed to check out because I don’t I don’t have Prime and so if the only.
[43:21] Who doesn’t have Prime.
[43:23] I’m glad it’s got Evans.
[43:27] Nobody listening to this podcast but there’s 100 million Prime members in the world so even if we assume,
70 million of them are in North America 80 million if you want to be really aggressive are in North America there’s 240 million households in North America so two-thirds of the households in the United States of America
would be the answer like can’t click that button right
and so I guess I went like you’ve got this fragmented inventory you have some of your inventory you can you can fulfill through the the Shopify check out some you can only fulfill through by with prime but then
like you have no way to give the non-prime members access to that is that a am I making up a problem and that hasn’t been a problem for you or do you think you have,
have non-prime members that are kind of in the whole right now on that.
[44:16] I think that’s something to Amazon can better communicate we are obviously limited to what they can do on the side but a normal customer can still do the normal checkout process of adding the cart.
But I think yeah that’s obviously something Amazon can do and then also doesn’t support discounts which is a big not only the conversion tracking but discount so obviously a lot of direct to Consumer sites.
Like us are offering discounts or first-time customers or email you know pay 25% off with this code or Black Friday Cyber Monday so the currently does not support so it’s very limited,
but we really feel it’s kind of right now in its use and this is going to change in the next three to six months but right now it’s kind of like a fast lane,
you know where you’re paying like at Disney World for the fast ticket or whatever the top-of-the-line and we really feel that hey you can go through your normal checkout process.
But we also have this ability we’re going to a fast pass you know if you want it now you don’t want to Discount you know you want it quicker and you want that problem delivery.
[45:13] Yeah so it’s weird like here’s how I like I totally agree with how you’re thinking about by with prime you also take shop pay on the site
and I would argue
there’s a different set of pros and cons to shop pay for different customers in different circumstances it seems like the solution to all these that none of these companies are willing to do is you ought to be able to just expose the by with prime button to known Prime members and you ought to be able to just expose the shop pay
check out to known shop pay holders.
[45:46] I love that idea.
[45:47] Yeah trust me when you suggested to Amazon they’re not going to like you because they,
because they want that logo everywhere but yeah so that that seems like the,
the state of by with prime right now it’s super interesting and it’s super interesting you’re saying like man if Shopify ever said we it’s a it’s a hard know then that would make you reconsider the platform like that you know
like that speaks volumes that’s interesting.
[46:14] I think you know I think Amazon’s coming out with this program in there.
[46:19] I think everyone say okay is is a lot of these direct-to-consumer Shopify Brands going to adapt Amazon FBA and I think a number of them are but I think what also this is going to help.
A lot of Amazon Brands a lot of Amazon DTC brands that are really executing well like a guardian on marketing,
on creating good content in there not just these Dropship Private Label Amazon sellers,
that are out there and you know let’s go Source one or two products on Alibaba and sell them under some name and compete with the Chinese but really people that are building a brand you know the brands that are getting acquired by the aggregators and those type of brands.
And those brands that may be.
Our and expanded into Walmart expanded into other categories but are scared to kind of make that big investment into a Shopify site and hire the marketing team and really become like a full-fledged direct-to-consumer I think.
What Amazon’s doing on the marketing front.
And the Fulfillment front is going to help these Amazon d2c Brands and I think what’s going to happen is going to create a rise of the next wave of d2c or the next kind of.
Trendy type of companies that come out there so you’ve seen obviously a lot of trends like 2010’s as flash sales and then you saw direct to Consumer Brands and subscription boxes,
and the direct to Consumer Brands predominantly grew on social media Instagram Facebook when the iOS changes you know weren’t adapted and traffic was still cheap so.
[47:44] I think you’re going to see a lot of these the next wave of cool direct to Consumer Brands will come from Amazon and they will adapt on the data see sites with the help of Amazon.
[47:55] And I don’t think you’re going to see as much D to see big brands that are adapting the Amazon by with Prime at least initially and I think eventually that you’ll see a lot more adoption once a lot of these quirks are worked out.
[48:09] Yeah a lot of d2c Brands got born off Facebook but apple and the atti DFA of kind of crushed that so now Amazon used is kind of the way to go so I think what you’re saying right.
[48:20] Yeah I think so and I think that’s going to create a next wave of either the brands are going to adapt from a t2c over to Amazon or you’re going to see these kind of
Amazon native people that have kind of running this world like I have for the last two decades that really know how to master the marketplace know how to assemble the teams of marketing customer service and everything and use the right technology stocks,
for those businesses and really adopt and really grow really Innovative brands.
[48:47] I know you need to go and like four minutes so we could wrap it a fire this.
[48:50] You’re good you can tell Ron few months if you.
[48:52] About dying dying to know what do you think about all the FBA Roll-Ups they were all quite the fashion and now they seem to be hitting some hard times did you ever buy into that trend.
[49:03] I think anyone in this market I mean you look at a lot of our outspoken people on social media of those,
you know it’s tough to acquire that many Brands and I think there are some people that are successful with it that are more going in The Tortoise and the Hare that you know we all I’m hearing some successful people where there’s let you know.
By maybe they own 15 brands or they own 10 brands but obviously the big big aggregators that everyone talks about are obviously struggling you’re seeing layoffs so.
I wasn’t really you know how to directly opinion on it I thought it was there’s no way they could acquire that many Brands and with it with the market model of not keeping the entrepreneurial on because I think there’s always an art form to e-commerce you can have all the analytics you want you can have all the data scientists and,
and all the formula but you know when you hire College grads and to run these businesses that don’t have experience you it’s always a touch and feel there’s always 20-30 percent art right,
that somebody needs to know and the older I get I realize that I have that on the marketplace of how to really build the brands and how to adapt Brands to that,
and that’s why I’ve been successful and I’m realizing that’s my strength so I think some of those aggregators really didn’t have that kind of DNA of the entrepreneur and keep that intact and that might have been a downfall of some of those.
[50:21] Yeah it’s it is interesting
I can certainly see companies kind of being born direct-to-consumer on Amazon having their first customers come from Amazon and then outgrow Amazon over time where you want your own URLs or move to other things which like I mean I think,
anchor is kind of the Prototype.
[50:42] That yeah that was that’s a really good.
[50:45] But I do think I think it’s really risky whether you’re a rollup or an individual brand or whatever it’s really risky to think I’m Amazon is always going to be my exclusive,
acquisition Channel because the problem is Amazon Super efficient at getting the maximum,
fee for each customer you acquire and so yeah you can buy some of those you know customers at first to get started but you’re always going to be
paying the highest price and you know the big news that came out this month is I forget what their new name was but Pharma packs which has been a top five,
seller on Amazon for like 10 years,
and exclusively sell through Amazon they just they declared bankruptcy and they’re like one of the biggest most successful Amazon sellers of all time and to me that’s a cautionary tale for,
like at some point you need to diversify your customer acquisition you can’t solely rely on Amazon as that is that source for you.
[51:42] I think yes I think it’s a part of a Playbook and you have to adhere to other channels and grow in other channels but you know obviously.
Amazon’s one of the biggest places to acquire customers one of the most successful so I think it’s always going to be in a portfolio but it needs to be part of a whole portfolio.
[51:58] Hundred percent that’s why they robbed the money from the banks right because that’s what,
that’s where the money is but man I think that’s going to be a good place to wrap it because we have used up our lot of time as per usual if you got value out of this episode we sure would appreciate that five star review on iTunes.
[52:16] Matt we really appreciate taking time to tell your arterial story and share with us your thoughts about both Prime if lister’s want to look you up online other than going in and buying some stuff that Guardian baseball what should they do.
[52:29] I’m on LinkedIn Instagram and it’s (2) Matt Kubancik ??? | LinkedIn
[52:34] All right we will put links to that in the show notes and we appreciate your time.
[52:38] Thanks for having me guys I appreciate it.
[52:41] It was entirely our pleasure and until next time happy Commercing
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