Growth Hack: Why Platform Flexibility Is Your Secret Weapon To Increasing Revenue

Jul 26, 2022 12:00 PM1:00 PM EDT

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Key Discussion Takeaway

With so many elements factoring into a successful eCommerce business, it’s easy to let some details slip through the cracks. One common omission is site speed, which weighs down the shopping process and tints perspectives with frustration. Improving the customer experience in small steps can make large differences in the long run. One of the simplest ways to solve the problem is to implement platform flexibility. So, what is a flexible platform, and what can you expect for your business?

Platform flexibility is a tool that keeps current customers on your site and creates lifelong supporters of your brand. It is a crucial component of molding the customer experience and driving conversions. This solution allows you to customize your workflow for the type of experience you’re looking to deliver.

In this virtual event, Allison Wasz and Taylor Vallone of Swell explain why platform flexibility is the secret weapon for revenue growth. They discuss the current problems with most scaled websites and how platform flexibility can work to fix them. They also talk about the biggest causes of slow site speeds, and how to improve the customer experience.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Combatting slow site speeds as your business scales
  • The biggest culprits of slow site speeds
  • How platform flexibility can drive conversions
  • Marketing strategies for creating an amazing customer experience
  • Why platform flexibility and customer experience go hand in hand
  • How to prepare your business for the future
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Event Partners


Swell is a customizable headless ecommerce platform that supports unique business models and customer experiences. Their goal is to make ecommerce accessible for everyone with a platform suitable for both B2C and B2B models.

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Guest Speakers

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Allison Wasz

Director, Partner & Agency Marketing at Swell

Allison Wasz is the Partner and Agency Marketing Director at Swell, an eCommerce platform helping professionals build, scale, and sell their businesses. In her role, she leads marketing activities for both agencies and tech partners. As a relationship builder and marketing leader, Allison partners with businesses to target and market toward their millennial customers and build and grow their brands.

Taylor Vallone

Director of Professional Services at Swell

Taylor Vallone serves as the Director of Professional Services at Swell, focusing on engagements both before and after sales. At Swell, he takes a servant leadership model to his position and actively nurtures an inclusive culture. Previously, Taylor was the Director of Professional Services at SAP and spent five years with Gigya, where he held a variety of roles

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Allison Wasz

Director, Partner & Agency Marketing at Swell

Allison Wasz is the Partner and Agency Marketing Director at Swell, an eCommerce platform helping professionals build, scale, and sell their businesses. In her role, she leads marketing activities for both agencies and tech partners. As a relationship builder and marketing leader, Allison partners with businesses to target and market toward their millennial customers and build and grow their brands.

Taylor Vallone

Director of Professional Services at Swell

Taylor Vallone serves as the Director of Professional Services at Swell, focusing on engagements both before and after sales. At Swell, he takes a servant leadership model to his position and actively nurtures an inclusive culture. Previously, Taylor was the Director of Professional Services at SAP and spent five years with Gigya, where he held a variety of roles

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Need help with something else?

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 0:18

Welcome, everyone, I am Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson, a Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect. And for those that don't know, we are a network and knowledge sharing group, we stay on top of the latest trends, challenges, whatever it is, that is shaping the digital landscape. We're on track to do at least 500 of these virtual events this year, due to the increase in demand to better understand everything digital. And we'll also be doing at least 100 in person dinner events. So if you if you aren't a tier one city, feel free to shoot us an email and we'll send you invites. This is usually 15 to 20 people talking about a specific digital topic. And it's always a great time, we spend the majority of our time talking to brands to stay on top of the different trends. I'd love to have a conversation with you. So feel free to send me an email at Tiffany And we can get some time on the calendar. It's from these conversations, we generate topic ideas that we know people want to learn about. And it's also where we can our resident experts such as well, who's with us today, welcome. Anybody we asked it to use a collective team has come highly recommended from multiple brands within the network. So if you ever need any recommendations on anything within the digital space, we have a shortlist of the best of the best and we'd be happy to share that with you. Also, we know that there's a lot of people hiring right now. So do note that we do have a talent agency DWG talent that I'd be happy to put you in contact with as well. A few housekeeping items. We want this to be fun, educational, conversational, drop it in the chat and your questions, you have comments. If you feel more comfortable, you can always email me at And we'll be sure to get to them. And friendly reminder, this is a 30 minute session. So we'll be jumping right in. So let's rock and roll and talk about why platform flexibility is a secret weapon to increasing revenue. The teammates will have been awesome partners in the network. I will kick it off to you, Allison and Taylor, if you can give a brief introduction on yourself and we'll dive into the information

Allison Wasz 2:08

give. Awesome. Alright everybody, I'm Allison and I lead up partner Marketing here at Swell.

Taylor Vallone 2:17

Awesome. Hi, everybody. I'm Taylor, I lead our services organization.

Allison Wasz 2:23

And as Tiffany said, we've got a lot to cover. So we're gonna just jump right in. Let's do it.

Taylor Vallone 2:30

Excellent. So so today we're going to talk a little bit about how your ecommerce platform can really influence that site speed, customer experience and future proofing is at the bottom, the bottom line, you have revenue. And that's so so important. We of course welcome questions, feel free to drop them in the chat. As mentioned, we'll run through that list as we're going most likely towards the end during a q&a session. And I've been asked to promise to keep the dad jokes to a minimum. But I will say I've been thinking about what vegetables cool, but not that cool radish potential. So I like Thank you. With that said, we're really excited to talk about this with you. This is something that we encounter every single day with our customers who very much value that delightful experience. And there's some really key components to that. So I'll kick it over to Allison to do a deep dive on site speed and those pesky milliseconds.

Allison Wasz 3:25

All right, everybody. So diving, right in, got some bad news out of the gate, but I promise like ripping a band aid, we are going to get more positive as we go here. And the bad news is site speed gets worse as you scale. So in May of 2021, Google updated their search algorithm rankings to penalize slower sites. So when your site you have site performance issues, not only do you see lower conversions, lost sales, but now you're also seeing a dip in organic search. And chances are, the more successful your brand is, the harder it is to maintain site performance because the small problems can go unnoticed accumulate over time, and result in what we refer to as bloated sites that bleed sales. So we are going to walk you through the customer journey because site speed issues negatively impact every stage of your customer journey from discovery to consideration to conversion. But see, there's a buck coming, I promise. The good news is that you can do things at every stage to improve site speed. And if you're able to hone in on where the problem is in your brand, and for your business, like the biggest challenge, you can tailor that approach appropriately. And these incremental changes yield big improvements. So odds are you can make improvements relatively quickly without an exorbitant amount of resources. So we're going to walk you through these stages one by one give you some common causes solves starting with Discovery tailwinds

Taylor Vallone 4:59

Awesome. So as we all know, discovery is so critical to determining what that root cause looks like. And as you can see here, a huge, huge number of websites are found to have these issues. But really, what are these the issues involved? You know, there could be so many different aspects that impact site performance, that, you know, it can be, you know, there could be so much to look at. So, we very much suggest beginning with discovery and benchmarking, looking at your storefront, looking at your digital properties, even those where you're not selling an understanding what is that root cause you can leverage tools like Browser Stack, or Google's PageSpeed Insights, even their Lighthouse tool where you can actually get a great, and they can tell you, Hey, you have some challenges here on accessibility, which images are well optimized, there's a number of different approaches you can take. And of course, as Allison is has shared, there's so much impact to your bottom line around what is occurring, ultimately putting you behind your competition, you really must address these items. So let's, let's kind of take a look at what some of these culprits can look look like things that we see every day.

Allison Wasz 6:13

Yeah, I can pick that up. So at the discovery stage, frequently, the biggest culprits are third party apps and clunky code that come from those third party apps. And these negatively impact your site speed. This is an excellent example of where a platform that's built for the modern era of commerce, something that's API first, can make a big difference in site performance, because that flexibility of your platform allows you to bring in exactly what you need to run your business and none of the extra code that's going to slow things down. A flexible platform can allow you to create workflows, and the functionality you need, or even better, a flexible platform that offers that functionality natively. So something that we see at swell frequently is subscriptions. These are an important part of many people's businesses. And within Well, that's actually built into the platform. So you don't need that third party app integration. Taylor, talk about consideration. Fantastic.

Taylor Vallone 7:18

So a couple more stats coming your way. They're not great. But let's let's dig into them. So as you're looking at what storefront bloat can result in, we've seen that bounce rates, you know, run from that 9% to almost 38%, given the extra seconds that it can take for a page to load, we see that a huge number of shoppers more than half. But I think 57% is the specific number we dug up there. That leaves slow loading websites and purchase from a competitor, they still want that product, but maybe not just from you. And so by taking a purposeful approach to how you platform, your ecommerce experience and the architecture that you build, you can definitely combat this. There's some some really kind of low hanging fruit recommendations we can make. And maybe two ideas to share here would be one, how you render your pages, static rendering with an efficient framework is huge. You're you're cutting off seconds, and not just milliseconds here with with that process. There's other frameworks that are out there. But this can change ultimately your your site architecture. So it's not a trivial change. In some cases. Another recommendation that we see a lot of success with is around graduating your your UX. And so taking that Justin time approach with what you're providing to those consumers, those prospects, those customers is so critical, you avoid potential delays by trying to load that entire experience or that entire flow all at once. You can spread out the timing of that UX experience over a few seconds, so that you're providing just in time content, just in time information to those to those consumers. So, you know, as we look forward, these poor browsing experiences, they cost brands money, they cost your your company's money. You know, in some some cases, we've seen reports of $100,000 an hour in lost sales. These are peak stats, but they speak for themselves, the cost is just too high. And so how you manage that browsing experience is so important. I've kind of referenced BrowserStack as one of many tools out there that you can experience that you know your your property through the eyes of others. But there's also some ideas around that they're really picking up steam, there's some ideas around how you can focus and build. For mobile, for example, Progressive Web Applications are really gaining steam and optimizing, optimizing those images. Something that swell actually does with PIO and a recent acquisition through our system directly is the right investment as to what your experience looks like. You don't want to drive consumers way from your brand, you want to drive them towards your brand. So everything you can do, really, really is critical here. But let's talk a little bit about checkout and conversion here next,

Allison Wasz 10:11

taking the mic back, because I wanted to be the one bringing some good news after that train of negativity. So according to Google, a one second site speed improvement could mean up to 27 27% increase in conversions, you can do the back of the envelope math as to what that could mean for your business. I'm in marketing, so I'm not going to do it for you. But sufficient to say it's something to get excited about. And it's not just Google, a study of an athleisure apparel brand, reported some exciting numbers after optimizing for speed, including 15% revenue increase, and 17% increase in conversion rate. So you might be thinking, how can platform flexibility improved conversion and exciting one way is through a custom checkout, with a custom checkout, you're able to reduce the customer's hurdles that they need to go through and just collect the information that you need in order to run your business. And that is an efficient way of not only improving site speed, but enhancing the customer experience. And I got Taylor to talk there's little fixes,

Taylor Vallone 11:25

some. So flexibility is the name of the game, it is so critical to how you approach your architecture, how you approach your experience. So just kind of as a quick recap, and to touch on a couple of those critical items, once again, third party applications, right? That flow is something that you should very meaningfully consider when you're adding new features and functions, right, you know, your business, your technical teams are going to be thinking about what's the next best thing and we don't want to stop innovation. But it should be purposeful, what you add, and how you expose that experience is critical. Next up around mobile, and those Progressive Web Applications and achieving that omni channel approach is important. Because we're all browsing on those tiny little devices. 1015 years ago, it was a little different. But today, you know, we're on the couch in the afternoon in the evenings, check it out, what's the next best thing that maybe we could add? So very, very important to consider. But with this, I still want to make sure that there's a focus on innovation and creativity. Having the right media and I talked about just in time types of experiences is so critical. There's a lot to be gained by that just in time experience. So for example, 3d interaction, say with sunglasses, or with that new piece of decor for you know, for your office, huge, huge value add to your experience, you know, receive increases to conversion, and that 27% range at sometimes for those products and such. But it can be daunting, because there's so much out there and you don't necessarily know do I offer that upfront? Is that something that I I asked a user to opt into, and actually explore themselves? Where do I put that on page. And so as a quick plug, you know, this is something that our experts here at Swell do all the time, whether it be around design or technical, we're happy to help and dig in with you and provide that feedback based upon almost a decade of experience in this space and seeing how the space has grown. So we are really one of our favorite topics is customer experience. And so one ask Allison kind of what's what's your take? What do you think

Allison Wasz 13:33

about flexibility? Let's talk about customer experience, Taylor. bucket number two customer experience and how flexibility in platform can create a delightful customer experience. And I think the best place to start this conversation is what is customer delight. And as you can see, it is different than satisfaction, and actually more and more. Creating a delightful experience on site is tricky because it's almost regarded as table stakes. Consumers are expecting things like lightning fast sites, immediate customer service. And so our brands need to get creative with what they can do to raise the bar on delight, whether that's offering their loyal customers perks or personalized shopping experiences, or unique purchase experiences like try before you buy to create these memorable experiences with your brand. That's what's going to drive a customer delight and surpass the bar of satisfaction. And an API first platform supports this because you can create the workflow specific to the type of customer experience that you want to deliver. So whether that's a marketing experience their customer support, for example, you can if it's important to your brand that you offer near instant customer support, you can set up a workflow on the back end triggers a notification to that team when a customer takes a certain action. Again, all of this rooted in authenticity, what can your brand do with your customers to create the best experience an example of someone who does this very well, and you've probably seen this is Chewy, the pet food brand. So Chewy customers routinely cancel their subscriptions, because of the loss of their pet. And so this is the end of the customer relationship. And yet Chewy goes above and beyond to turn this moment into one of delight. So they've been reported to send flowers, handwritten cards, I saw a guy on Reddit who even said he got a custom portrait of his pet. Amazing. It's, it's so amazing. And it's this, it's this thoughtfulness at the end of that lifecycle, right, that's going to turn someone from, I'm buying pet food to, I am a loyal, Chewy brand advocate. And they do all that, in addition to donating the product to a shelter. Very cool. So it's very cool. Taylor, do you have any ideas about how you would implement something like this? today? Yeah, definitely. I'm

Taylor Vallone 16:16

a bit biased, being of the small team, but I hope that your platform out there can do the same. If not, maybe we'll We'll chat later. But nonetheless, you know, leveraging a notification engine, hopefully your your solution would provide a web hook event. These are kind of table stakes for what we offer and how we would implement something like this based in your business needs. So that you seen closer that neighborhood shop, you know, the Ace Hardware of 50 years ago that they knew your name, they knew the experience that you expected, and probably the project you were working on, you know, bringing that type of personalization. These just-in-time flows with a flexible API, like what swell offers helps you to automate these experiences. So they're still authentic and meaningful. But they're not necessarily time consuming, because time is money. So really would love to dig into the marketing experience with Allison, as we start to share kind of some of our final thoughts.

Allison Wasz 17:15

All right, guys, what is creating a delightful customer experience look like from a marketing perspective? Short answer is, it helps all of your favorite three letter acronyms, whether that's your CAC, your ao V, your LTV, all of these are supported by creating customer delight. And it's pivotal in retention. Not only that, but it supports word of mouth marketing, which as I'm sure you know, is one of the most, if not the most effective strategy for acquisition and retention, and making your marketing dollars work harder for you do double time. So creating those delightful experiences for your customers. And then giving them the tools to talk about those experiences creates an audience of loyal brand advocates. And it's a great fit for social media marketing, and influencer slash creator slash affiliate marketing kind of everything on that camp that also goes well with social. So what can you look for from a platform perspective, to kind of think about that and creating a strong customer experience, one of those things can be one click by buttons, as well, we refer to these as purchase links. But the idea that a brand could have could offer one click shopping from directly from a social platform without having to upload and maintain to product catalogs, can be very powerful, you can use that one back end to power, multiple points. Better yet, you could have a prepackaged bundle that like populates in checkout. So I'm an influencer or not. But let's pretend that I'm an influencer. And I can say you know, buy my bundle data. And then you hit that one click button, and it goes right to platform with that bundle prepackaged. Those are the kinds of ideas and innovations and creative things that you can test. As you're, as you're honing in on what is the optimal, how can I create delight in again for my brand rooted in authenticity. So clearly, I could spend all day talking about this, but our time together is not endless. So I will move on to low hanging fruit in word of mouth marketing and creating customer delight reviews. So according to a study by power reviews, 95% of customers read reviews and something like 85 upwards of 85 consider them to be an essential part of their decision making process. So not only offering customers review but showcasing those reviews whether it's on your you know PDP or we're in social media, but offering that is going to build trust, build rapport, and again, an opportunity to develop that brand awareness and word of mouth. Taylor, I am passing it back to you to talk a little bit about the other perspective on customer experience

Taylor Vallone 20:05

on service decide to happen at least. So from a CX perspective, right team is so important. I'll just take a couple of minutes here, I imagine that you all have encountered this at some point in your, in your journey. But having the right team that backs you is so critical, whether it's an external agency, or a software organization, licensing team, whatever you're whoever you're working with at that point in time, it's important that they align to the innovative experiences that you want to build. And I know that sounds silly to say, but too often we get into that kind of stream and looking for low cost, or trying to achieve a timeline that might sound reasonable, but really sacrifices what the consumer sees and experience experiences for, you know, critical business requirements. I myself talk about MVP, minimum viable product every single day. And so I think it's really important to just refocus at times, and invest in your CX roadmap. And so my recommendation to you is not only to find the right team, but spend the time spend the time away from your home office, your work office, wherever it might be to develop a roadmap and an open space that you can put together those ideas and think about how do you innovate for your brand? What are those just in time experiences that really do support what you're trying to achieve at the end of the day. So with that said, it was just a brief note, I'll pass back to Allison here for a few thoughts, and then we'll start to wrap up.

Allison Wasz 21:33

Nothing else, everybody's gonna walk away knowing Taylor and I's names because we're handing the baton back and forth. So how does platform flexibility support delightful customer experience? Two, I'll highlight the two big buckets. bucket number one platform flexibility and allowing you to optimize for convenience. So convenience is hugely important to customers. surprise to no one, what does that look like? It could look like the ability to start shopping on one device and pick up on another, it could be the ability to search for things and tag your products according to a customer search terms. A quick checkout with limited forms to fill we talked about that idea of a custom checkout, where you're storing your customers information, you're collecting only the info that you need, low barrier of entry. And then other ideas could be something creative, like a try before you buy, where you're getting your product in the hands of those consumers. And again, lowering the barrier of entry and the hurdle that they need to get through, jump through. So that's bucket number one, convenience. bucket number two, is this idea of offering a personalized shopping experience. So according to McKenzie, not only can a personalized shopping experience increase sales, but it also reduces your sales and marketing can reduce your sales and marketing costs up to 20%, which is pretty powerful. So what does that look like? It looks like product recommendations based on past purchases, cross sells and upsells. That make sense. You bought this, you might also like this, especially when they're data backed, customized communications with offers, again, based on past purchase behaviors, or better yet, browsing behaviors, quizzes that generate customized product recommendations. We've seen this work really well with subscriptions. Again, and as you're listening to these ideas, I want to hone in on that idea of authenticity, it's important to build with your brand and your customers design. So for example, a quiz that creates a personalized product recommendations, has the power to be really delightful. But if it's not a fit for your brand, that based on your astrological sign, you're gonna get this product recommendation, your customers are going to see through that. And it's not going to have the adoption you'd like and it might leave a sour taste in people's mouth. So again, always think about authenticity, and what makes sense for you. And a flexible platform that can allow you to test and try can be a really powerful tool there. So I know we are coming up on time. So last but not least, our third pillar. Talk about future proofing your business. So what is future proofing? Why does it matter to revenue growth? I'm not going to read the definition. But future proofing ultimately allows you to build a new technology as the market evolves. So the best way to future proof in, in our opinion is through an API or headless approach, which is going to allow you to take in the new technologies into your tech stack. And it's going to be a foundation for being able to layer in those new experiences new technologies. I will say the idea of re platforming is like going to the dentist people will suffer for a really long time before they make a change. And so when it does happen, you want to be competent in that decision, understandably. So, with an API first platform, you can be confident that your technology, your tech stack is going to be able to meet the needs of the market, or better yet embolden you to be a leader, because the flexibility is built in. So it's worth noting that headless does not inherently equate to hundreds of engineers on payroll. And it often can be maintained by your current developer team. We talked about that a few weeks ago. Yeah, we believe that API first is is a strong way of future proofing. And so how does platform flexibility fix for this, and that's the last effort, I'm going to force into that sentence. Flexibility and platform allows you to focus on growth and not maintenance. And that fosters creativity. So it creates a positive working environment, beneficial to culture, you can retain top talent, people are excited about building things and growing things. That fosters creativity, creativity drives growth, it allows you to test new things, get your product in people's hands, we talked about try before you buy or a subscription model. And it also allows you to go omni channel, meeting your customers where they are, as opposed to trying to force people into a specific funnel. Very powerful for growth. So we regard flexibility as best practice. In order to future proof, you need a platform that allows you to rapidly innovate, roll out those enhancements, create those operational efficiencies that can come from having a centralized back end. And so with that, I pass to Taylor to take us off.

Taylor Vallone 26:42

Definitely just answering a couple of questions in chat here, just given time. But yeah, let's let's wrap it up real quick. So today, we discussed not only how critical a platform is to your bottom line, but the impacts those kinds of scary stats. And it's no secret that the site speed that your digital properties, whether they be just a single domain or a variety of brands, really impacts the user experience and whether your customers stay your customers. And then once they're your customer, once they make that purchase, how you personalize their experience and how you innovate those interesting ways, just like Chewy does, and many other brands do out there. It's it's so important. So at the end of the day, we find more often than not something is probably broken, and could could use some TLC. And you know, whether it's around your platform, your architecture, that foundation, or if it's some of the more innovative ways you connect with your end users, your customers, we really urge you to spend time and look to what types of outcomes you're trying to drive. And at the end of the day, build delightful experiences for those customers. So on behalf of Allison, myself and the team, just want to thank you. I'm happy to stay on a bit if there's some more q&a, but I'll pass the mic back to the to the team here for probably might handle next steps. Awesome.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 28:02

Thank you so much. Taylor. Thank you, Alison. Yeah, if anybody has any final questions, feel free to drop them in the chat here. We can take another minute or two to go through them. Not a problem. Fantastic information. Oh my gosh, I love the comparison of the dentists. Like if invade. And then finally you gotta take the lead that like, deal with the reality knocking out the door. really puts it in perspective. So great content. Thank you so much for the care. So we had a couple of questions here from Julian, thank you for those questions they get answered. Thank you, Taylor, so much for that. Checking inbox here. All right. Well, I think we're good to go then. Huge things to the Swell team, you always bring break great content and discussion to our webinars. So we definitely encourage a follow up conversation with the swell team. And again, Taylor Allison, thank you so much for joining today. And thank you all for joining the webinar. Take care and we will see you on the next events. Bye bye

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BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
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