Unlocking the Revenue Potential of Mobile Site Performance and 1st-Party Data

Sep 14, 2021 3:00 pm4:00 pm EST

Summary

Brands riding the high from the ecommerce boom, are being caught off balance. Privacy updates, missing Facebook attribution data and Google prioritizing mobile site speed in SEO rankings are just a few obstacles that are being faced. Director of Ecommerce at RBX Active, Adam Hanan, opens up about facing these obstacles and how he is pivoting to a tech-first approach, with limited resources, in order to future-proof his business. How was Adam approaching technology before, what about now? What changed?

BWG Connect & Outsmartly invite you to participate in an interactive discussion with your peers.

As always, there will be no sales pitches and there is no cost to join.

Discussion Topics

  • The facts on mobile page speed and Google’s Core Web Vitals
  • Mitigating Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention with 1st-party data
  • Why so many companies failing to deliver fast headless sites
  • How do we face the 3rd-party armageddon
  • Even Klaviyo and Yotpo are getting blocked by privacy “tools” like DuckDuckGo

Event Partners

Guest Speaker

Aaron Conant

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.

Shalom Volchok

Co-Founder & CEO at Outsmartly

Shalom Volchok is the Co-founder and CEO of Outsmartly, a revenue acceleration company that uses edge-based technology to deliver quality content faster. The Outsmartly platform is the first of its kind to bring together modern web applications, full-stack A/B testing capabilities, and modern data science. Before Outsmartly, Shalom built and sold a multimillion-dollar direct-to-consumer online herbal products brand.

Adam Hanan

Director of Ecommerce at RBX Active

Adam Hanan is the Director of Retail and eCommerce for the activewear company, RBX Active. He is also a Partner at RBX Direct LLC and Avalanche Direct LLC. RBX Active has been around for a decade, but it was Adam who developed a website and strategies for direct-to-consumer sales, Amazon, and retail when he joined the business six years ago. Previously, Adam was a Partner at Designer Home Showcase, Mediamix Distribution LLC, and Entertainment Outlet.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant

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.

Shalom Volchok

Co-Founder & CEO at Outsmartly

Shalom Volchok is the Co-founder and CEO of Outsmartly, a revenue acceleration company that uses edge-based technology to deliver quality content faster. The Outsmartly platform is the first of its kind to bring together modern web applications, full-stack A/B testing capabilities, and modern data science. Before Outsmartly, Shalom built and sold a multimillion-dollar direct-to-consumer online herbal products brand.

Adam Hanan

Director of Ecommerce at RBX Active

Adam Hanan is the Director of Retail and eCommerce for the activewear company, RBX Active. He is also a Partner at RBX Direct LLC and Avalanche Direct LLC. RBX Active has been around for a decade, but it was Adam who developed a website and strategies for direct-to-consumer sales, Amazon, and retail when he joined the business six years ago. Previously, Adam was a Partner at Designer Home Showcase, Mediamix Distribution LLC, and Entertainment Outlet.

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Event Information

Sep 14, 2021 3:00 pm - 4:00 PM EST

Event format

Roundtable Layout
Featuring 20+ executives, where everyone can contribute, ask questions and learn from peers
On-Topic Discussions
Q&A format, moderated by BWG Connect with group interaction throughout
Make Connections
Opportunities to network before and after

BRINGING TOGETHER INFLUENTIAL EXECUTIVES AND SENIOR PROFESSIONALS

What is BWG Connect?

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.

Key Discussion Takeaways

We live in a world of instant gratification, where consumers don’t want to wait for anything — especially when it comes to the websites they’re visiting. If your site speed is slow, it will cost you sales, growth, expansion, you name it. Even worse, you’re not optimizing your site for mobile, you’re missing out on the bulk of your opportunities. So, what can you do to boost mobile site performance?

Many people think that they can’t move the needle on eCommerce platforms like Shopify. However, companies like Outsmartly are changing the game by decreasing blocking time and shipping out pages that contain almost no JavaScript. Businesses like RBX Active are reaping the benefits of this system implementation, as they see faster site speeds and more conversions.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with Shalom Volchok, Co-founder and CEO of Outsmartly, and Adam Hanan, Director of Retail and eCommerce at RBX Active, to discuss how they’re improving site performance and using first-party data to boost profit. Shalom and Adam talk about the differences between third-party and first-party cookies, strategies for getting the most out of every consumer who visits your website, and their steps for optimizing the consumer experience and gaining more site traffic.

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

 

  • Shalom Volchok and Adam Hanan discuss their future predictions for data tracking
  • What are the differences between first-party and third-party cookies?
  • Adam talks about the progression of lookback and attribution
  • How much will a site slowdown cost you?
  • Outsmartly’s feat of shipping a page with almost no JavaScript — and how they implemented this magic into RBX Active’s Shopify site
  • The tools Shalom recommends for tracking site speed and learning about core web vitals
  • The next phase for RBX Active: test and optimize

Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

Happy Tuesday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the Co-founder and Managing Director of BWG Connect. We're a networking and knowledge sharing group with 1000s of brands who do exactly that we network and knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it is the shape and the digital landscape as a whole, I connect with 30 to 40 brands a week to stay on top of those trends, more than happy to set aside time with anybody on the line today. Love, you know, just doing some thought leadership, you know, and networking and knowledge sharing. It's also where we get the topics for the events that we do. So I'd love to pick your brain on that front. You know, when the same topics come up over and over again, we host a bit like this. Just a couple housekeeping items. As we get started. We want this to be as educational informational as possible. At any point in time you have questions, comments, anything, you can either drop into the chat the question section, or you can email them to me Aaron, AARON at BWGConnect.com And the last thing is we're starting this at three to four minutes after the hour. And just so you know, we're going to wrap up with three to four minutes to go in the hours, well, we're gonna give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late, you know, kind of do the reverse of what a lot of the zooms and go to meetings that you might have, where they all seem to perpetually run over. We're gonna wrap this one up a little bit early. And so with that, I want to go ahead and kick it off. You know, a lot of people, you know, that I'm talking to right now, you know, if I take it back to, you know what people are looking at it yet, there's COVID, this is huge shift to digital. There's also a lot of brands that are over indexed on Amazon, there's a huge shift right now, a huge focus on direct consumer. And with that there's multiple aspects of it from performance marketing, to content to imagery, but also site performance, right? first party data, mobile site performance, these are all things that have come up enough and we got some great friends, great partners and supporters, the network over it Outsmartly. And just agreed to jump on the phone today with Adam from RBX as well, to kind of have it just do all around great conversation. So Shalom. I'll kick it over to you first, if you want to do a brief intro on yourself. And Outsmartly. That'd be great. We can kick it over to Adam, he can do a brief intro on himself and the company and then you know, kind of kick off the conversation sounded.

Shalom Volchok 2:32

Yeah, absolutely. And Aaron, thanks for having us over here and and Adam as well for for jumping on with us all today. So yeah, I'm Shalom Volchok. I'm the CEO and co founder over and Outmartly. My background been in eCommerce for for a long time, my family had a book herbs company, my parents founded in 1985. I joined that company in 2001. And we developed you know, our own line of direct to consumer, actually herbal cleansing detoxification kits, started marketing those through Google AdWords in 2003, you know, it revolutionized our business, our ad budget grew to almost a million dollars a year this was back in, you know, early 2000s, when you could spend five cents a click and get you know, a couple dollar cost per conversions. Those days are, you know, going going away now. That company, I managed it for for more than 10 years, I manage my eCommerce business. It's now owned by the the Clorox company, and then some some more work in direct to consumer eCommerce. And then finally, you know, a year and a half ago that that led to a founding Outsmartly. My co founder who's not on today comes out of Netflix, he was on the engineering team there. And you know, there's big themes we see in congress of, you know, merchants really needing to become engineering organisations to compete and survive today. But you know, there's just not the, the tech talent or sort of even the desire from a merchants point of view to do that. They want to focus on, you know, building a brand and building products. And there's a big, you know, we see a big gap in the market to be able to bring like Amazon, Netflix, Google level technology and customer experience to the merchants of all sizes. And then working with Adam for the last went since January, maybe of this year. That's about right. Oh, my kick, it over to you, Adam.

Adam Hanan 4:34

Sure, I'm Adam Hanan. And I run the direct to consumer business for RBX Active, which is an activewear company. We started this portion of the business about five or six years ago. The brand has been around for a little over a decade was primarily wholesale driven. I came in and started this sort of side company to develop a direct to consumer strategy and website and Amazon strategy and retail strategy. And we we've moved forward with all those things over the past, you know, five or six years and, you know, continuing to grow continuing to explore new options and new opportunities. And that's pretty much what brought me to the show them. Yeah.

Aaron Conant 5:22

Awesome. Love it. And just a quick reminder for those who delve in, drop any questions or comments into the chat the Questions tab or email them directly to me, Aaron aaron@bwgconnect.com. Awesome. So, you know, it seems like we have a couple slides here. If we want to jump through those, you know, kind of guide the conversation, that'd be that'd be awesome.

Shalom Volchok 5:41

Yeah, exactly. And I think he's just sort of like, like you said, like, background slides to sort of give us some talking points with with Adam as well. You know, and one of the things you know, I've seen since, you know, back in the early 2000s, like we alluded to from five cent cost per clicks, you know, things just keep getting harder and harder. And some some big themes that we see there, you know, is the ad blockers blocking as much as 30% of data, you know, we've seen even Yato and Klaviyo get blocked by third party ad blockers, where now, you know, your email capture is not loading on the site, and your reviews are not loading on the site. Right. And, you know, hard to know even how much of that happening in the wild. And then, of course, the whole the whole thing with Apple that everybody's super familiar now with that intelligent Tracking Protection. And, you know, now Safari blocks, all third party cookies, and we'll sort of get into some more on cookies, right? And users having to opt in on Facebook, only 10% of those are doing that. And then there's the whole, you know, core web vitals from Google becoming a ranking factor. And the the bar on mobile load time is really high. And mostly merchants, you know, can't even can't even get close to that.

Aaron Conant 6:57

Yeah, want to jump in just a little bit. So 2023, the Google third party cookies, you you feel pretty confident on that. I mean, they said, Hey, this year, and then they kind of backed up and they said, they wait, no, just Just kidding. Oh, wait, no, it'll be it'll be 2023. You know, we'd love to hear your thoughts on on that as a whole. And then the other one is the iOS 14.5 update. I think you nailed it, like his huge impact and how people view top of funnel new customer acquisition, you know, at our show, what do you guys see in that space.

Adam Hanan 7:36

And we're definitely seeing the effect of, you know, the iOS 14 News, I wouldn't say immediate, but within you know, 30 days, 45 days, there was there was like a definitely caught up where you saw things start to change. You know, we're seeing it with our ad spend, we're hearing it from anyone who's in that world from AD consultants, people who used to work with Facebook, and you know, run ad accounts for a living now, the Facebook is essentially lost, you know, the tracking is not there, the conversion rates are questionable. They can target as well as before, you know, a lot of things that we you know, same ads we ran last year that had certain, you know, visibility and conversion rates not getting nothing close to the same repeating them. Now with, you know, same target audiences, all that stuff. Bottom line is, it's not going to be as efficient as it used to be. And it's, it's just the New World. Figuring out if you can even trust the numbers that Facebook is showing you on the dashboard in terms of conversions. And, and true row as is now questionable, certainly a lot of its, you know, algorithmic estimations, because they can actually track who's who's finishing that transaction. And then on the flip side, if they can't track people's behaviours, or what they're clicking, or what they're liking or where they're going, the targeting is, is is not nearly as accurate or as efficient as it as it used to be. So it's, it's almost like going back to running an ad in the New York Times and, and seeing if your sales move that day or not.

Shalom Volchok 9:22

Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, we're seeing, you know, across a lot of merchants, and it puts more pressure on site conversions, because that's one thing that merchants still have control over. And you brought up the you asked about, is 2023 going to be the year that Google does this right, and, you know, we can all sort of guess at that but something that, you know, we see as a pattern across a lot of these direct to consumers, is they get skewed towards iPhones, you know, disproportionate to the actual market share where maybe it ends up being 80% of orders coming from, you know, iPhones, which is already blocking all The, you know, third party cookies on those. And sort of like at a high level, you know, I get we get asked a lot like, Well, you know, what, what what is first party and third party even mean, right and third party cookies just to run through it right our cookies that are set from like a facebook.com or or a google.com. And if you look on any any apple and Safari now those cookies just don't get set. So in the past, it used to be that if a user was logged into Facebook, and they come to to RBXactive.com, you know, Facebook could identify them, because they could call out to Facebook. Now that's getting completely blocked. And then we also see, you know, cookies can be set in the actual browser by JavaScript. But those cookies now, which people were using for a while to get around tracking, Apple is clearing those in a lot of cases after 24 hours. So that that undermines your attribution where you don't have an identifier. So if a user comes back, some point later, there's just no way to connect them, that, hey, they clicked on an ad, and they purchase. And then this last one, which is probably the hardest one to understand if all of them is, you know, a true first party cookie that was set on the server and as actually only allowed to be accessed on the server. And if you drill into, you know, Apple's intelligent Tracking Protection, documentation, they talk about this, this HTTP only flag that can be set on a cookie. And these are the cookies that are like, keep a user logged in and sort of really deal with with application functionality. So they're going to be the last ones, that that are going to get blocked by either, you know, ad blockers or Apple, because if they eliminate those that really will break the web, beyond just tracking. So those are the ones that, you know, brands really need to figure out, you know, how they can use and one of the things that, you know, Adam and I have been talking about is, what would it look like if we had, you know, first party attribution, compared to to what Facebook says the actual data is, and we've been working on a project with Adam, where we're pulling in, you know, the ad data from Facebook and the orders from Shopify, and then connecting that through a first party identifier. And we just, we just pulled this data working out, Adam actually hasn't seen it. So it's gonna be a surprise for them on doing this now. We're doing this now. Right? So we can get a real, real response from Adam, for everybody to see. So, and I hope you don't mind that I am showing sort of some out of some data from you all, Adam, but the thing

Aaron Conant 12:43

is weird. Grey lines aren't blocked out on my side, don't worry about

Shalom Volchok 12:49

Yeah, they are. Come on, you're just teasing me. Um, so these are like, these are the the orders, you know, for these campaigns that that Facebook is saying, hey, showed up. And then this is first touch last touch using a first party identifier. And we can see there's, there's a pretty big range here between what the first party identifier is able to attribute and what Facebook is, which is much as like this one campaign 55% more orders were seeing than then Facebook is saying, you know, is there? What do you think?

Adam Hanan 13:32

I'm gonna start asking my regular questions? Where are we seeing that? These, the missing attribution from Facebook potentially happened in day two? Or day three? Is it after that 24 hour? window?

Shalom Volchok 13:51

Yeah, that's a great question. I literally just pulled this data this morning to attach it to it. So this is still earlier, we haven't broken it down by day. That's another thing that that we've been talking to. with Adam, right. Maybe you want to say a little bit about that as well, Adam, how you all you have been seeing sort of the progression of of look back and attribution.

Adam Hanan 14:12

I mean, that's, that's essentially something we've been seeing in the, in the Facebook side of it, and just how, you know, their attribution will sort of they'll show for a couple of days, let's say a handful of transactions tied to a certain ad set or you know, ad and then all of a sudden, there'll be 20 that drop in his specific day or 30 or, or just an abnormal amount, which is essentially seems like they're their algorithm catching up and trying to figure out to put the pieces together to to assign certain transactions to to a given ad, because it's it's consistent, where there's these sort of numbers that look much lower than they normally were, and then all of a sudden a spike in conversions on a day where the spend may have been a fraction of what it was, you know, days before it's not correlating, you know, you know, hour to hour a day to day with with, you know spend in transactions. So it's really hard to trust their their attribution now because it's not, it's just not really matching up, you know, to the given day or the given spend in a way that's trustworthy, which is really why we started to try and do this this stuff with, with Shalom Volchok on the the first party cookie side.

Shalom Volchok 15:31

Yeah, what do you think about you know, like, if there's, if there's a 50 55%, let's say, of orders not getting tracked by Facebook?

Adam Hanan 15:38

How does that so So ultimately, what this helps us to do is say, okay, you know, what we the issue with Facebook now is we're reducing spend, because we don't know what's working, you know, so, because you, you don't know where to allocate the funds, because essentially, you're going to put the dollar, you know, spend into the ad sets for specific ad, copy or creative, that's, that's actually producing. But if you can't see what's actually producing, then you don't know where to where to allocate your funds. So in this case, with that second, you know, that second prospecting campaign, clearly it's producing, you know, it's producing better than what Facebook is, is reporting, you know, by a significant amount, then we can say, you know, what, that's someplace, we should put more more dollars, because that's going to get us more return. And just Facebook wasn't able to make that attribution. So, you know, where we're looking for ways to generate more more sales and more revenue and better row as this is a way to at least have some visibility.

Aaron Conant 16:40

It's interesting, I'm gonna go back to something you'd mentioned earlier, which is with the loss of visibility, and then now tying that in with what are we going to do with our money? I have a lot of brands focusing on the consumer experience, right? On the website. Top a funnel is a lot harder, you know, new prospect is a lot harder. That means what I get somebody, you have to get the most out of every every, every person that is absolutely unbelievable. Like, what are the best content tools? What I mean, we're getting into like, digital age direct mail, right? How you plug something in, like, how do you maximize the value of the customer on on the site? And that's, you know, and I want to maybe we'll get into this, but you know, yeah, okay. Yeah, well, you go ahead right. Now, so speed is is key, right? Like, it's a spoil me now mentality, I don't want to wait. So you brought up, you know, cawwed vitals and, you know, it, it has to happen now. So, anyways,

Shalom Volchok 17:43

yeah, yeah, exactly. And that's, that's the next slide here. Right. It's everyone has heard about the, you know, a 10th of a second float on an Amazon revenue. Right. And there's a whole bunch of those right. And I think, like, on the first sales call we had with Adam, right, Adam had been looking at some of these do is as most people have then, and then there's still a question under that I think, for all merchants have like, okay, but like, what does that actually, what does that actually mean for me? Right, like, what's, what's the impact going to be on on performance there? I think that was that was on your mind as well, Adam, when we first?

Adam Hanan 18:16

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we were, you know, we were struggling with really getting the site speed to where we wanted it to be with sort of traditional methods of cleaning up the code, removing different apps, we're running Shopify, you know, which, which has a lot of apps layered on top of it to to get the full functionality. And, you know, then deciding do we want to sacrifice certain apps with which offer a different experience to gain speed, but then you really don't want to do that either. But at the same time, you're seeing that Google is now going to prioritise site speed on on search results. And, you know, running those speed tests with a Google analysis and having it come back and say you're, you're not in good shape or not in a good place. And how do you affect that? Without a either a massive overhaul or just upgrading away from from Shopify, which is which is a, you know, a whole nother ballgame. So, you know, when, when on when I kind of got in touch with with Shalom and got their first sales pitch, which was, you know, we can help you increase your speed dramatically on a on a on a Shopify site without, you know, reinventing the wheel. It was one of the few cold emails that I've ever responded to.

Shalom Volchok 19:38

Yeah, I think this might have been a slide that we showed that in the call, right, one of these, one of our early customers that, you know, had had a huge bump in site performance, and they saw, you know, a 14% increase in conversions there. And I think, you know, we had also talked about under the hood, you know, headless and we hear a lot of people talking about you Looking at headlands are trying to understand headless? Has that been something that was on your radar before Outsmartly came along, Adam that you had been?

Adam Hanan 20:09

You know, realistically, headless wasn't on our list of potential solutions to the problem, we knew it was a problem, and we knew we wanted to solve it, we didn't get to the point of, you know, headless being the answer. Although, you know, with what we've done in the last, you know, however many months, it definitely, you see the difference, the speed differences there, you've been able to, you know, put the headless site on top of the Shopify back end, so that, you know, the functionality is still there. And, and it does what it's supposed to do, you kind of get the best of both worlds where you're still building stuff and managing things in the Shopify world that that the team is familiar with, but you still get the benefits of this, you know, superfast front end, you know, very light and customizable front end that, that gives you that that speed benefit without sacrificing, you know, building a new site from scratch.

Shalom Volchok 21:06

Yeah, and you know, what Adam is speaking to there is that, you know, Outsmartly storefront, which is essentially managed, managed headless buyout smartly. And, you know, when we first started getting into this, and this was the story with Adam was, you know, to just essentially reproduce the original site in a in a faster, headless manner, manner. And there was, you know, an effort to try to isolate the impact of performance and speed. But as you get into it, you find that there's, there's a lot of, there's a lot of things that are different, whether that's how apps integrate, or what page weight apps load, or subtleties there. And what we've seen as a company and working with Adam, is that it's better to, you know, just go in and try to say, hey, how many things can we do to, to actually drive conversions. And this was an AV test that we ran over Labor Day weekend, where we saw an almost, you know, 3035 37%, bump in conversions. And that was a combination of, you know, site speed, and also, you know, really calling out the way that the discounts were presented. And if you have anything you want to add to that, Adam, I know, you've always had questions about like, you know, how do we isolate site speed and figure out like, you know, what, really is the delta of just lightspeed by itself?

Adam Hanan 22:29

Yeah, I mean, it's, it's challenging, we did, we did some AB testing on that alone, which showed showed an uplift as well. I mean, adding the ease of customizations, you know, on page wise, and all that stuff on top of it is definitely, definitely, you know, an added benefit. And, and being able to really, you know, AB test stuff like this, and, and, you know, the proof is in the pudding, I'm very much a numbers person and like to see, you know, the, the results of the of the efforts or spend or whatever it is that we're doing, and the ability to run a test like this and compare what happens on version A versus version B and see a distinct differences is, you know, that that's pretty much what you want to see. So. Yeah, this was a good a good one.

Shalom Volchok 23:25

Yeah, absolutely. And then, you know, to drill into, and Aaron was asking about, you know, the site speed as well, to drill into it, you know, there's really, there's two, there's two big areas there. One is is his largest contentful. Paint, which is essentially when when can you see like, in this case, you know, the the hero product image. And then the other is what they call a total blocking time, which is essentially, you can see the finger there, it's when can a user actually interact with the site. And we've all had that experience of, you know, you open a site and you're clicking on the colours, or worse, you're clicking on Add to cart and right, and the thing just isn't, isn't responding or you can't scroll. And that that delay is really caused by by too much JavaScript on the page, and the browser has to download and parse and execute all that JavaScript before it can respond to user input. And almost every merchant we talked to, you know, has like four or five apps that they've shipped with the front end, and they're needed. They're needed functionality, but they come with a lot of page weight. And that's one of the things that, you know, our engineering team has been, you know, working with, how do we, you know, give that functionality but also mitigate it and the project that we're working on. Now. This is a new project with Adam on on the product page is shipping a page that has almost no JavaScript on it. And I don't know if Adam has seen has seen this data either, but this is the this is the light Have scores for this, for this product page, which, you know, in the next couple of weeks, we're going to be rolling out an A B test. But it was one of the things that our engineering team got to was like, hey, how do we, how big of a conversion Delta can we get if we just don't ship, you know, almost any JavaScript at all. And this is really hard stuff to build out, you know, our VP of engineering, I said, used to be at Netflix. And this is the kind of stuff that they look at those kind of companies where, you know, they have the benefit of being able to vertically integrate a solution versus having to pick up four or five apps. And you can see here, this total blocking time is is zero milliseconds. And typically, you know, you run this on on an eCommerce site, and sometimes it's like 25 seconds, or something of blocking time, which is just a horrible user experience.

Aaron Conant 25:54

How do other people get this? I think I'm, I, you know, I thought the brand side direct consumer side, and I'm looking at that saying, that's not what mine looks like. Is it is it a test? Like how do you overlay me? others? If you have questions, right, drop them into the chat or the question section or email them to me? Like, is this an easy test and easy rollout? You've been great show about, you know, we always say, Hey, you know, there's no sales pitches, but this has me deeply intrigued. What are you guys doing here?

Shalom Volchok 26:30

Yeah, so, you know, the spending a lot of times with merchants, you know, there's headless commerce, right, it's sort of like a way to be able to pull the front end out of Shopify and say, you know, how can we just build this better from the ground up? The problem is, you know, when we spend time with merchants is that if they try to do that on their own, they're really starting from, from zero. And, and that's really, really hard to do. And even if, you know, the front end ends up being more performant, they still need to add all of their apps, then. And then a lot of times that ends up not being any faster than it originally started with. So what Outsmartly is doing here is, you know, building, building a managed storefront, that's an alternative to liquid, but still integrates, you know, entirely with with Shopify is back end. So like Adam can still go in and, you know, manage all the products and collections and discounts, you know, all of that inside of Shopify. And there's another theme, like Adam likes to refer to it as the edge version. Right. And, you know, what, what he's speaking to there is that Outsmartly runs on the content delivery network layer or CDN layer. So that means that this storefront is running in 200 data centres all over the United States in the world. And that's where, you know, very close to the end user. This is being, you know, served from and then also, you know, as a, as a venture funded startup, you know, we can recruit engineers that want to work on platforms and solutions, and you know, we can offer them equity, and we can recruit, you know, these kind of engineers that are making half a million dollars a year or more at Amazon and Netflix. And that's really, you know, where that last mile of optimization is.

Aaron Conant 28:20

Erica writes in definitely intrigues me.

Adam Hanan 28:22

Yeah. I think I think show and we were like, I think the native Shopify site was like, 17 seconds, like on the homepage, or 17 and a half or something like that. And then then when we switched it, it was below two or something like that. I mean, it's a massive difference. I mean, ultimately, you still want to see, you know, the big question I always push the Shalom is okay, so fast, they're like, Is it is it really going to affect the numbers and the transactions and the conversions? And, and ultimately, they be testing, you know, prove that to be true? And that was that that was, you know, that's really the end of the conversation? That's

Shalom Volchok 28:58

right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And in going beyond that, you know, I think what what we've been, you know, spending a lot of time talking with Adam about is that performance is so hard to solve for, because it ties into all of the functionality and the UI UX. And even like, email capture, everybody needs email capture, right? And you throw clavey on the site, you just added two megabytes, right? So how can we still get email capture, still send the emails to clay vo but do that without having to ship an extra two megabytes of JavaScript? Right. And that's where for individual merchants to try to go get there on their own. It we just don't see it happening out there. It's really, really hard, you know, engineering problem. And that's what you know, we've been working on.

Adam Hanan 29:46

Yeah, that was something I didn't I didn't anticipate being done in the in, you know, in the beginning, that essentially, almost building a skin for the apps that's running on on this version, the lite version and just connecting to the apps and doing the other stuff, the API to just get rid of that JavaScript. And ultimately, it's, it makes everything much faster. And it's, it's the right way to go. But it definitely it's worth it. You know, every with every additional app, it's another project.

Aaron Conant 30:24

So a content account comes in around SEO rankings, and in the increase that can be seen is there. I know there's a lot of talk of, you know, Google, you know, really taking people if you're not able to hit those Cora vitals as a whole. You know, what happens with SEO rankings as a whole? Yeah, sure. Is it just not hurt?

Shalom Volchok 30:45

Yeah, you know, SEO has been one of the biggest black bark boxes in, you know, probably the entire web. And Google has to keep it that way. Because they don't want people to game what's happening. Right. So my, my philosophy with SEO has always been, you know, make sure you've got all of the best practices done, like as a foundation. And certainly performance is a huge black eye on on so much of eCommerce right now. And Google saying, Hey, you know, and if you actually, if you look back to like, why does Google care about performance, right? And at Google scale, the whole reason Google built Chrome is because Google's life depends on the web, right? And if the web goes away, Google goes away. And Google has seen from their perspective that the faster the web is, the more people engage, the more ads they click on, the more money Google makes, right? So that's like Google's entire motivation here is to make the web faster, so that they can make more money. So, you know, Google sitting there saying, hey, if we send a searcher to a slow site, they're less likely to come back and search on Google, they're less likely to engage with the web. So you know, we can we can guess that, you know, how important is that? for Google? But we know, we certainly know that it is. And we know that it's, you know, driven by monetary incentives on Google's part.

Aaron Conant 32:12

So how long is implementation take then? I mean, I've just coming up with my own I, yeah, sure. are thinking this, like, this looks too good to be true. This the, you know, the reality. But I mean, you know, Adams here and attested to it, but like, this is amazing. Like, then what? What is implementation? Is there? Is there a test and learn phase? Is it? You know, how do you guys approach that? Yeah. And I think the other part is, like what you were saying even about, like clay vo and, you know, email capture is, you know, the, the tech stacks have blown up over the past year, as there's a new solution. And then, you know, with this 14.5 update, how are we going to capitalise on everybody we have in it, and they're sticking in different stuff here and there, and this, you know, a queue a mile long for your IT department to plug it in? Or your agency to get it rolling? Yeah, and yeah, I agree. Like if you can separate that and detach it and still get the benefit without slowing the site down, but what is it? What is a implementation look like? Like?

Shalom Volchok 33:17

Yeah, so you know, we integrate from, from the CDN layer, and we don't, which sounds really technical, but essentially, it means like, for Adam, the one thing that he did is he pointed, you know, his DNS ad Outsmartly, so we can integrate there. So the fact that we run essentially, in front of Shopify is how we can serve, you know, the faster versions and still integrate with what our Shopify offers. So from a merchants perspective, you know, it's as simple as as pointing the DNS, when when you look at, you know, implementation with Adam, he was a very early customer, and a lot of this was getting built out, you know, with, with Adam, as as this went along, right. And now, as we've gotten more and more customers on our platform, you know, as a platform, there's more abstractions, that that we're able to make, but one of the big things that emerges from that, that we see is, there's a lot of self similarities between merchants, right, and the high level, sort of theming in skin is, is the least technical part. And it's everything underneath. Like, it's like the iceberg underneath, right? You just see that little peek, but actually getting performance and capturing all the conversions is all the engineering work underneath. And that's what you know, as smartly as building out and managing on behalf of merchants. So, you know, we do, we do start every, you know, with every customer with a, you know, proof of value period where we're able to randomise traffic between liquid rendered pages and these ultra fast lytx accelerated pages and measure like the data that we were just looking at, you know, measure, how does that affect bounce rate Add To Cart checkout purchases, and And really quantify, you know, what is that delta and you go back to like, when we first we first talked to Adam, that was really around, hey, speed really matters. And as we spent more time with merchants in with Adam, we've seen Hey, you know, it's not just speed that matters, right? It's, it's, it's this whole customer that evolved a lot of thought a lot. And then also, you know, we were collecting first party data from the beginning, but it was only sort of after Apple came out with these conversations where it was like Adam was like, you know, this is what I'm trying to figure it out. I'm like, wait, we've got data that can probably help help there, right, because we're in that that first party position, being integrated through the DNS.

Aaron Conant 35:43

So a question that comes in, says, in addition to implementation, what Shopify impacts are there going to be? When we make Shopify design app changes, etc? We'll all be impacted?

Shalom Volchok 35:59

When we make Shopify,

Aaron Conant 36:02

how much can you still manipulate everything on the back end? And Shopify? You know, or does it?

Adam Hanan 36:08

So most of it, you can like the structural stuff, the collection, the product, building the image loading all that stuff? Yes. On the front end there is. I mean, what what they did for us is sort of copy the base structure to contentful, which is more safe and flexible. You know, interface for graphic design. But you would end up basically updating the homepage image there, or, you know, changing those kind of the front end visuals in that world, as opposed to in on the back in the Shopify, which was the only thing we really had to kind of, you know, update. And it's not really too complicated. It's a pretty flexible thing, and even gives us the ability to make changes on the homepage, the product pages, even, in some cases more easily than and recoating stuff, you know, in the Shopify side, but aside from that front end, graphical aspect of it, everything else is really controlled, as you would from the from the Shopify side of it. Awesome.

Aaron Conant 37:26

But Erica drops into question. Doesn't Shopify have a CDN?

Shalom Volchok 37:32

Yes, Shopify has has a CDN, right. And, you know, to unpack more about like what we're talking about here, we're talking about having an alternative storefront to the liquid based one that's rendered out of this rendered out of Shopify. So right now, the user goes on their phone, right, and they go to the site, that request has to go all the way back to some centralised Shopify origin to render that page and then serve it, plus all of the apps that go around it. So that's, those are all of the pieces that that Outsmartly, is entirely shifting to the CDN layer, there's really a different architecture there.

Aaron Conant 38:14

So to add, question comes in, you know, for you, how long did the implementation take?

Adam Hanan 38:20

So for us, it was definitely wasn't overnight, it was longer, you know, we, you know, we we started, we, they kind of built out the the replica of the of the site and in, you know, in the, I'll say the edge version, or the, the contentful version. And then we did some A B testing, and then we updated some things. And then we did some more testing, and I mean, it's, it's certainly took, you know, months, but then we also went back and started to say, let's, let's change this, and let's change that also. And then trollin was like, we want to, we want to, you know, make the experience even faster. So we're gonna start rebuilding the clay vo interface and the audio interface and all those things that basically, we're, we're sitting on top still needed to be loaded, because we weren't willing to give them up. But essentially, in order to really get this the speed to where we wanted it to be needed to be sort of cleaned up or rebuilt as well. So with with each of those things, we're just sort of, kind of press pause at another thing in and then test that again, and so sort of been in an ongoing basis. But I don't know how that would be for someone. Let's say that that turned on now a lot of those things are sort of taken care of, with with our, our run Shalom you could speak Better to that. Yeah. No,

Shalom Volchok 39:46

that's, that's great. And thank you for that, Adam. Yeah, I mean, we when you look at the comp here is is to, you know, go headless, and build out like an entire front end with with react JS or next or one of these sort of modern frameworks and You know, typically that's like a 12 to eight, outside of Outsmartly, right, like a 12 to 18 month project. Right now we're looking at about two months implementation time, down from, let's say, 18 months if someone was going to go and do it on their own, and it was, you know, some some months with with Adam. But, you know, Adams been a great, great partner, and we were building out a lot of stuff for the first time with Adam.

Adam Hanan 40:25

And to this, I mean, to speak to that point, we mean, we were pitched by, you know, I'm really Salesforce a bunch of times about about moving to demandware. And that's a that's basically a one year implementation and the higher role engineering firm to build it, and then hire an engineer on staff to maintain it. And, and just, it was, it was just a massive undertaking. And we weren't willing to take the step at that at that time. So, you know, in light of that, even, you know, the six months that it took us with, you know, I will say minimal effort, on our part, a lot of effort on on Shalom's part, but, but we're we're at a much better place. And I think we would have been if we had gone in a different direction.

Aaron Conant 41:14

Yeah, awesome. Question comes in what tools? Do you recommend to get a baseline of current site speed? And what can we use as benchmarks?

Shalom Volchok 41:22

Yeah, so web dot dev is, is a great site out there. That's Google site, it runs lighthouse scores, which are core web vitals, you know, those are the those are what Google is looking at, you know, as as as the ranking factors in terms of benchmarks, you know, really those lighthouse scores are, are the benchmarks like what we have up on the screen now this slide with, with hundreds across the board? I mean, that's what Google wants to see. Right. So like, that's where that's where Google thinks that, you know, websites can get to today. And they can, I mean, we're showing that it's possible to get there. But it's really, really hard for merchants in the wild, to get there without a massive investment into engineering resources. And also, you know, really, very, very senior engineers that are making, you know, literally more than half a million dollars a year at like, Google, Amazon, Netflix, you know, because they have, they have the expertise to actually, you know, dive as deep as needed to to solve those problems.

Aaron Conant 42:36

Yeah, and there, the demand for them, you know, for those, you know, people just went through the rough that literally, you know, 16 months ago, just skyrocketed, right. And I think that's the tough part for, for brands that if you look back three or four years ago, might have been able to afford it, but just now it's, it's crazy. And I've enrolled, and I'm, like, go into theatre science

Shalom Volchok 43:02

should go into computer science. Absolutely. You know, and the pandemic, you know, made made remote work, you know, much more of a thing, and and in a lot of ways, maybe that makes it easier. But actually, it makes it harder, because now there's people who couldn't have gotten a job at a Netflix or Google because they needed to come into the office, and now they can, because they're hiring from everywhere. So yeah.

Aaron Conant 43:26

What resources can you recommend to learn more about core web vitals, basics of site speed, and the importance that site speed has when acquiring customers and keeping them?

Shalom Volchok 43:36

Yeah, absolutely. So web dev is actually a great, a great resource. There's a lot of, you know, if you go to like the Learn tab of that, you might see if I can find there, I'm gonna I'm gonna pop the link, it's actually learning what I just

Aaron Conant 43:51

dropped into the chat as well.

Shalom Volchok 43:54

Yeah, there's the there's the deep link to read vitals, right? And it gets really technical, really fast, right. But it's nice to sort of even if, you know, we only understand a small part of that to look for to look through there and be like, Okay, I get it. There's so many pieces that go into delivering a fast site. And it makes sense, right, of why you just don't hardly ever see fast sites out there. Because, you know, it's just that hard, hard to deliver. In terms of, you know, what was the other part of the question? What the impact on? Yeah,

Aaron Conant 44:31

well, it was just, you know, were there more resources? I think that's where a lot of people, you know, are just looking at, hey, what are the resources that are out there that we can draw on, you know, that, you know, essentially, you know, if you look at the content that's out there that you just sent over on that link. You know, that's, you know, 150 webinars, if you want to consume that at their own at their own pace, is that Yeah,

Shalom Volchok 44:55

yeah, yeah, absolutely. So that that's the that is the link We just pasted. You know, that's all content made by Google made written by, you know, engineers who, who really understand it. And there's a lot written on the web about performance. But you know, that, that is that should be like the canonical place to go to really understand performance impact. And, you know, speaking to like, the conversion impact, there was a study that Google that I think this was even like back in 2007, where they artificially slowed down, like I think, who was trying this, but actually, you know, artificially slowed down the response times of search results by like, a fifth of a second and a third of a second, right. And what they found was that the number of searches and the frequency of searches of users actually declined from as little as a fifth of a second delay in search results. And then, when they stopped the test, and this this part always fascinated me, is that it took a number of weeks for the users who were exposed to the slowdown to return to their prior level of searching and activity. Right, and

Adam Hanan 46:11

yeah, and that was, and that was before the instant gratification world that we

Aaron Conant 46:16

were in now. Seven, right, exactly, yeah. Yeah. That's why it is it's a it's a spoil me now. Or else, you know, I'm moving on current state, the customers, are there other things that you thought, you know, would come up today that didn't either Shalom or Adam, that you're like, hey, these are things that I tackle, or people ask me all the time or, you know, things that you thought might pop up that that didn't come

Adam Hanan 46:44

  1. And I'll say the one thing that we've also been talking about the Shalom, in terms of how to, you know, aside from speed, how to keep optimising the the consumer experience, is just just a B testing. I mean, every time we have a conversation, we talk about, oh, you know, if we get a B test this, it would be great to see what what the customer is responding better to the page layout, the way a discount is presented. You know, just every aspect of it is just much more doable, I mean, you can do it, you really can do that in native Shopify and say, I want to serve this homepage or this, you know, product page to have one set of users and this product page, a different set of users and see which performs better. I mean, that's something that basically, you know, we can do now and and every time we talk through the different things, or we tried this, we tried that there's there's really an endless possibility of things that you can test or want to test, to see what response rate is better, and just keep tweaking it and seeing what works better. And then iterating, and tweaking and seeing what works better, and iterating, whether it's the homepage, the product page, you know, the shopping cart experience, just I mean, there's there's endless ways to keep making that a better experience for the consumer that eliminates as much friction as possible. I mean, we spoke about even when does the the email capture pop up, come up, should it come up in the beginning should really come up in the middle, what happens if you take away the email capture pop up, you get more conversions, because you're not slowing people down from actually browsing and shopping. You know, those are things that we wouldn't have the guts to turn off for a week. And you can't even really compare because maybe one week has different traffic than another week, or there's something else going on in the world, that's it's not a true test, as opposed to being able to say, let's just send 50% of the traffic to the site without, without a pop up and the other 50% and show the pop up and, and see what kind of an impact that has. And again, and then remove it around, bring it up 30 seconds, instead of 10 seconds in or at the shopping cart level, instead of on the homepage, or, again, there's so many different things that once you once the door is open, that it's a possibility to test these things. All of a sudden, you kind of, you know, brain runs wild with the different things that that you can, you know, learn by doing these things that just that just, you don't even the concept doesn't exist in the Shopify world, you know, to do this type of stuff, so that I'm excited to, you know, to do that stuff now, you know, that we're up and running and it's working. And, you know, that's, that's the next phase for us is really test and optimise all those things. I'm going to keep them busy,

Aaron Conant 49:40

that freedom. Like I just have a firm belief that those companies that can test and learn and do more experiments will say faster, quicker and get better data than anybody else will be the leaders in the space. It doesn't. You know, it's just the number one thing you can do is to test and learn as quickly as possible.

Shalom Volchok 50:03

Yeah, yeah. And that's, that's the, the biggest, probably the single biggest trend that we see in the market. And that we, you know, here spending time with brands is this shift from like, the old world where you could be kind of, you know, app driven, and it was just about getting online and selling something. And the new world is really, that you've got to be an engineering first organisation, and you've got to get all of these things, right, you've got to get a B testing, right, you got to get your UI UX, right, you've got to get all this right, and the, you know, the cost to a merchant to try to go out and do that on their own, can literally get into the millions, if they could even recruit those kind of engineers, right. And that's what you know, as a company Outsmartly, is working to do is to be able to take care of all of that for the merchant. Right. And as Adam was talking about that, right, it's like, all that stuff falls on our side, to optimise not on Adam's side, right. And I think that's where merchants just don't have the bandwidth to, to be able to run tests as much as they would like to, right. And you look at, you know, even another another stat from Google who AV tests, everything is that one in 10 AP tests actually improve the metric they intend to improve, right. And that's where for merchants to go have to run 10 tests to get one win. That's a really hard pill to swallow versus, you know, we want to just completely abstract that away for merchants so that, you know, they can just get something that gets better, you know, year after year. Yeah. Awesome.

Aaron Conant 51:37

I think, you know, we're getting right here to time. So there's a couple more questions that have come in, but more than happy to connect you with people afterwards is well, you know, I just say, you know, Shalom, thanks for your time today. Thanks to everybody who is able to send in questions. This is one of those areas where it was just so intriguing what they're doing in this space that you know, I would say if you if you have the time to reach out and connect with Shalom. This is one of those things that's like, I would say almost table stakes at this point in time to address site speed so 100% worth of follow up. I mean, obviously, we can connect you with Adam as well to kind of give you the rundown of you know, that they're they're they're great friendly, wicked smart people to work with but we're putting 30 minutes on the calendar for sure. Just to hear what they're doing this space it's it's super intriguing. And I just like Dina's coming here you know, thanks so much. I've been working on site speed and trying to find partners to help with it inevitably always got the answer. It's not possible because it Shopify

Adam Hanan 52:46

that's that's what I got there. compress the images, run things, change this, change that and you just didn't need you could never move the needle in

Aaron Conant 52:55

ironic I just, I just haven't talked to enough brands we got, you know, connected with a showroom here is just awesome. And just you know, thanks for the things that you're doing in the space for brands across the network as a whole and being great friend and partner. And with that, I think we're gonna wrap it up. Again, encourage you, buddy, you know, we'll send a follow up email connect you with both Shalom and Adam here. Connect with them. And we'll continue to grow the network here as a whole. With that, I think we're going to wrap it up. hope everybody has a fantastic Tuesday. Have a great rest of the week. Everybody stay safe. Take care. I look forward to having you at a future event. And we're doing a lot in person now. So hopefully if you're in a tier one city, we'll be able to set aside some time to connect with you there as well. But again, Shalom. Thanks so much for time today and thank you.

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