Becoming An eCommerce Early Adopter With Joshua Kreitzer

 

TLEP 41 | eCommerce Early Adopter

 

“Be where today’s shopper is and tomorrow’s shopper is going to be.”

 

Special guest Joshua Kreitzer is Founder and CEO of Channel Bakers, a global agency that serves as a “one-stop shop” for eCommerce, advertising, branded storytelling, and analytics. The team drives incremental growth for brands large and small on Amazon and other online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Tesco.

Josh is a 20-year technology marketing veteran and among the pioneers transforming digital advertising. Since 2015, Josh has scaled Channel Bakers from startup to a fully independent global retail media agency with five offices around the world and more than 200 employees. In the process, Channel Bakers has garnered international awards for its agency culture, along with positioning countless CPG product brands on platforms such as Amazon.

Hear what Josh thought about Amazon Prime Day 2022 and how it was different that previous years. Find out why he’s becoming more interested in live streaming creators. Discover the magic sauce that make a product video stand out. Gain an understanding of creating an emotional attachment to potential buyers through reinventing your content. Learn how to think through what you want to say in your videos and how to stay top of mind with shoppers. Get tips on using platforms like TikTok to benefit from modern product discovery and customer decision making.

Article referenced by Nicolas: https://www.marketplacepulse.com/articles/prime-day-is-social-commerce

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Becoming An eCommerce Early Adopter With Joshua Kreitzer

Our special guest is Joshua Kreitzer. He is the Founder and CEO of Channel Bakers, which is a global agency that serves as a one-stop shop for eCommerce, advertising, branded storytelling, and analytics. His team drives incremental growth for brands large and small on Amazon and other online retailers like Walmart, Target, and Tesco. Josh, you have twenty years of background in technology marketing, which is impressive. You’ve been working with Channel Bakers since 2015.

I launched Channel Bakers in 2015. It’s been a fun journey. That makes me sound old. I started my career in the supply chain side of things at a big consumer electronics distributor and continued to move into a company called Buy.com, which eventually got acquired by Rakuten. I began to work for manufactured brands managing the internet retail channel, which is slightly different than eCommerce in the sense that we all dubbed it. There was a fun phrase back in the day. We called it eTail, which was eCommerce, but on a brick-and-mortar retailer website like Target.com, Walmart.com, or, as we’re all familiar, Amazon.com. There were other sites like NewEgg.com and TigerDirect.com. That was the landscape.

It’s been a fun journey. Leave it to Amazon to pioneer in the landscape of marrying advertising and retail where they took above-the-line awareness concepts and ad products like streaming TV and also can closely tie it down to the moment of purchase all within one ecosystem. That’s why they are the pioneer. I saw that as an opportunity when they first launched their paid search solution, which, back in the day, was for manufactured brands that were in their wholesale relationship. It was called Amazon Marketing Services. In the landscape of sellers, it was sponsored products.

I got to beta test that about a year before they launched when I was working at GoPro. In my head, it was like, “Amazon is going to go toe to toe with Google. This is going to be epic.” I want to supply the bullets in that war. The bullets are ad spend, and I happen to have a lot of relationships with consumer electronic brands.

That’s the background. The intention behind the name, I’ll give you that, and we can roll into some fun questions. If it goes to Channel Bakers, they were like, “Do you bake things? What do you do?” With every brand, as a manufacturer, we don’t necessarily want to share the shift from one retailer to the next retailer. We want to increase our market share as a brand within each of those particular retailers and the total available market.

Channel Bakers stemmed from a phrase I used to use all the time when I worked at Buy.com. I used to say all the time, “We’re going to grow the depth. We’re not going to share shifts. We’re going to create a bigger pie and pizza. Whatever your food choice is, we’re going to grow the dough.” Out of that, I was like, “Channels in the landscape of retail. There’s the brick-and-mortar channel, eCommerce channel, and club channels like Sam’s or Costco.” In the funny landscape of advertising, everything is viewed as a channel. In Channel Bakers, we’ll grow the dough across every channel and rise the tides. That’s where our brand came from.

In the funny landscape of advertising, everything's viewed as a channel as well. Click To Tweet

It’s impressive how much you’ve done over time. There are many directions we can go in this conversation. Before we get into that, we start off each episode with a quick update on what’s going on with eStreamly. I’ll hand it over to Nicolas. Nicolas, you can jump into a question. I have a follow-up question too. You let me know how eager you are to ask.

I’ll start with a quick update. For some previous episodes, if you have read most episodes that we talked about, all are coming. We launched the Be Ready For The Holidays. It is a three months program where we help and support you in launching your livestream channels on your website across social media. We are working with different partners on the ad side and the training. Some of those partners came on that show. If you’re interested, please reach out to us. It’s a free program to help you through your journey to make it successful.

I’m excited about this conversation because we have been talking about Amazon Prime Day. From the perspective of the creator, being on the other side of the camera, and talking to the audience, Josh, you are doing a lot of things around Amazon. I’d love for you to share with us what you feel about Prime Day. How were those results? When you think about the holiday, is there some data you can use to prep yourself for the holidays?

There were a lot of firsts. Amazon was adamant about leveraging influencers, social selling, and live commerce as their key differentiator from previous years. They were even hosting webinars for creators and influencers, especially those who had their own seller accounts, whether they had their own products or they were selling things. It was fun to see them put an emphasis on the power of creators and livestreaming.

I always like to talk positively about everyone, but historically, they haven’t been great at leveraging livestreaming to promote Black Friday, Cyber Week, Prime Day, or anything in general. It is cool to see them reach out to the livestreaming community. They own Twitch for crying out loud. You’d imagine there’d be more collaboration and engagement with their own Twitch user base. It’s exciting to see them do that.

The results were good. In the world of eMarketer, research firms, and the street, we are all expecting them to be about $12.5 billion. They came in at $11.9 billion, but they are still winning. Their stock price still went up by $16 a share. That’s after the split. It was $102 to $118 after Prime Day results. It started to leak out onto the internet. A big part of that win in 2023 is the fact that they leveraged livestreaming. One of the things we think could be in the future is a bigger collaboration of creators for Amazon Live.

The biggest challenge that my clients have with Amazon Live, as an example, is we’ll do a promo on whatever the product is and we’ll do a discount, but getting traffic to that segment going live or that live video going live has always been the challenge. We’ve seen them do a number of different things from homepage exposure for live. They have their own live studio. At the end of the day, how will people find Amazon Live videos when they’re going live?

I have some fun ideas. I thought we should all be thinking about influencers and creators. Why wouldn’t we, as a brand manufacturer, reach out to that community and go, “If you could tweet your audience, I’m going live right now with Amazon Live?” That’s a no-brainer. We, at Channel Bakers, are looking to do more of that engagement with the livestreaming community. That’s where we think that there could be some fun new case studies and best practices leveraged. There are plenty of dollars to go around.

TLEP 41 | eCommerce Early Adopter
eCommerce Early Adopter: We should all be thinking about influencers and creators. Why wouldn’t we as a brand manufacturer reach out to that community and say, “By the way, if you could maybe tweet your audience? I’m going live right now with Amazon Live.”

 

It’s interesting because how we had many people on this show talking about this specific problem, and how do we increase awareness and viewership through livestreaming? What we see when we have those conversations is the sales happen on the recording of the video as opposed to the live. The live is that engagement part and people are tuning in after it to check out or they didn’t have a chance to go, look, and learn more from the product.

You’ve done a lot of work around videos. I’m personally interested in those fonts. You used those videos there to communicate externally or internally. I love the video where you announced the Friday half-day off. If anyone in the audience wants to check it out, I encourage you to go to Josh‘s LinkedIn profile. He has this fun video. From your point of view, when you think about creating and having done videos throughout your career, what do you think is the magic sauce that makes a video highlight a product and stand out?

We’re adamant here about reinventing video. It has been a landscape where the video for the product was a 360 video. That was 2005. They want their video back. That was unboxing videos. Remember when unboxing videos became a thing? There are some big celebrity YouTubers centered around unboxing videos.

When we think about what’s the video’s next adventure, there are motion graphics that add some positive cool flare that makes one product stand out over the other product. We all know this from engagement steps. We’ve got five seconds to get you leaned. What we’re all trying to do with anything video is to create an instant emotional attachment to whatever our content is. There’s viewership and getting viewership up, but there’s also engagement.

Let’s take into consideration what happened with TikTok and Ocean Spray and the dude on the skateboard listening to Fleetwood Mac. That was a fun reinventive way. Granted, that was accidental. We all know that we shouldn’t create content to try to go viral, but, as a brand, data helps us identify who our audience is from purchases versus who we are as a brand, and I’m putting my brand hat on a lot through this conversation, think our beloved audience is.

TLEP 41 | eCommerce Early Adopter
eCommerce Early Adopter: We shouldn’t create content to try to go viral. But as a brand, data helps us identify our audience from purchases versus who we, as a brand, think our beloved audience is.

 

You could do this as a best practice as a brand. If you’re a social media manager, you’re a product manager developing the next widget that your brand comes out with. Look at your hashtags and see how people are using your product and brand. One of the coolest things about TikTok, as an example, is we all started to identify crazy new trends. They’re happening quickly and fast. We’ve seen some successful brands lean into TikTok and leverage TikTok to create fun videos.

What I love about the advent of TikTok, especially through the past couple of years when things weren’t the most amazing, is that we all now have a fun sense of humor. I can turn to TikTok at any point in the day and laugh. As a brand-differentiating your product and video from somebody else, it’s how are you going to put a smile on somebody’s face? When you put a smile on somebody’s face, use your data to help you identify who your real audience is versus who you think your audience is. The combination of leveraging data, humor, being genuine and authentic, and putting out a storyboard of content is where the win comes together.

That’s why I like the funny videos for my own team. I ended up posting them on LinkedIn because friends and colleagues of mine in my industry are like, “When are you going to do the next video?” I was like, “I’ll post it on LinkedIn.” Usually, my videos are made for my team internally. I’m a little goofy. I did Buddy the Elf one year to announce Christmas bonuses. I got dressed up like Buddy the Elf. I tossed over my creative team and the video editing team. We went to town with it. We have a lot of fun. The intention is that. There are moments when you need, especially with global societal incidences of types, to have a more authentic, down-to-earth conversation, but that should still be like a fireside chat.

It’s relevant to the conversation. What I take from that is there are two things. First, there’s enough software and everything where you can look at what watch target you’ve been using, how older people are using it, what content they do against it, and if your content fits with that model. That’s a powerful idea because, at the end of the day, if your hashtag is used in a certain way and you create content that delivers a similar way of emotions, you know you’re on the right track. That’s an interesting insight.

The other thing I love about the conversation that made me think about something I wanted to create is I was trying to make a video about announcing the Be Ready Baby Live Ready for the Holidays. I was trying to sketch myself into how I could do that through a video format. One of the things I thought was like, “The idea I originally had was not aligned with the brand.”

What you’re saying is that because of TikTok and the way people are creating and consuming content, now creating content that is genuine and fun is a load. You can do it. It’s not going to affect your brand image because you are having a lot of fun creating a video to pass the message. It’s important because sometimes, you get to hang out.

You are this wonderful company that creates this coffee machine a certain way, and you want that specific environment always the same way. You can think about it differently and have fun creating coffee or another product, like baking a new dough. It’s interesting to expose yourself to new ideas and engage with society because society is changing as it relates to video. I enjoyed that perspective.

The other thing I’ll tie into that is once upon a time, and I’m going to continue to wear my manufacturer brand hat, there was content you created, and you used it from the beginning of the life cycle of that product to the end of the life cycle of that product. Nowadays, that cannot be the case. It’s disengaging and not real.

The events of the last couple of years have put an emphasis on reinventing yourself and your message. You also have to show how you, as a brand, care about your audience beyond like we care about your use of our product. It’s got to be way more than that. I would even say that there’s a thin line, depending on the type of product you have and the brand you are, on how politically biased you should get or what position you take on a societal issue.

The events of the last couple of years have put an emphasis on reinventing yourself and your message. You also have to show how you, as a brand, care about your audience beyond just “we care about your use of our product.” It has to be way more than… Click To Tweet

The one thing we’re looking at within my own organization from diversity, equity, inclusion, and my favorite part of it is the belonging piece is when you, as a brand, take a stance on any one of those political or societal issues. Know that there are people on both sides of the argument that buy your product. You got to be careful.

There are mega-brands like Starbucks or Amazon, who, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the CEO’s political point of view is or what their stance is on a societal topic, whatever that might be, they’re invincible in a sense. If you’re a smaller brand and an entrepreneur, and you are starting up your startup and a direct-to-consumer brand, you got to be careful. You got to think about what doors might close. Even the folks reading this blog, who do they want to work with as a brand?

Be thinking about what you say out loud versus what does your audience want to hear from you? They want to hear that you care. They want to know that you’re concerned and you’re going to be there to support them, or you may come out with a new product design because of this. It gets risky, as a brand, for you to go jump right into, “I agree with this. I disagree with that.” When we talk about being authentic and leveraging live commerce, you got to be careful. That’s the only less-than-fun part of this show that I’m on with you that I’ll bring up, but sometimes, it’s important to remember I’m running a business here.

It’s a cool comment you’re making, and it reminds me of a conversation with Brian Fanzo. We talked about, during an episode, the idea of brands wanting to control the whole narrative around livestreaming and having those multiple reviews with the legal team about what you can say and cannot say. In some ways, it is difficult to manage through livestreaming. You can have people on the chat that may go rogue, or you can get ahead of yourself as a creator or as a host. It starts going in the direction that you feel, “I should not go that way.” How do you go back?

The reality is, and what Brian and Josh were saying, at the end of the day, you know there are a couple of topics you don’t want to go after, and you have to identify them. For the audience, what you’re talking about is relevant. If you are going to a livestream, think about the thing you don’t want to talk about and make sure you don’t derive from going that route so that you can control the narrative. Thinking that you can control the narrative through a livestream is going to be difficult and near impossible. As Brian was saying, “Control is an illusion.” I love this sentence.

The other thing I love about what you said is you used to think about video as the one thing that is the long life cycle. It sounds like from that new short video that we are living in, everyone is going after short-form content. The short-form content is on the lens of the video, but it’s also on the life of the video.

It is interesting thinking through, “My video might be up and running for several weeks.” Thinking through that lens of renewal and it gets backs to the idea that Marcus Sheridan was saying, “Every company and brand that don’t think they are media company is outside of the picture.” It’s cool to think of it that way. You reemphasize that point. In some way, that’s what the creator does. They create content every day. As a company, video is powerful, but you have to stay relevant and create that over and over. You say you have your own video studio. The whole idea is getting agile around video creation.

You’ve got to be agile and be able to jump. This is why streamers, live commerce, and video eCommerce, all of that, is the way of the future. When we look at the advent of TikTok as an example, and TikTok is not the only live platform, but I’m looking at some stats I got from one of their decks. Sixty-seven percent of TikTok users say they’ll go into the market for a brand’s product. Seventy-three percent of them say that they have a bigger brand affinity for a brand if they find that brand on TikTok.

One of the big things that happened during Prime Day was the advent of creator or content houses. I started thinking about my own kids. My kids are 13 and 15, and I have a 22-year-old. All of them are looking at social media trends in the landscape of what they want to buy next and what they want to have. My daughter wanted a pair of pink Air Jordans. I was like, “I had Jordans when I was a kid.” It is because, on TikTok, they’re popular.

In the landscape of streaming, my son is a gamer. He wanted a particular gaming chair because that’s what all the Twitch streamers were using. It’s the old model of creating a video asset for my product, and it will live for the life cycle of the product. That is dead. It’s now centered around creating constant new, fresh, and relevant content to stay top of mind with shoppers.

You should be centered around creating constant new, fresh, relevant content to stay top of mind with shoppers. Click To Tweet

Since we are in the stats, we posted this on LinkedIn and Twitter. There was this article and the person was talking about Prime deals. There are so many Prime Deals. It’s difficult, even for the regular media outlet, to identify which deal they should be talking about. There are many of that during Prime Day. They were seeing an uptick in Prime Deal 2022 on TikTok. There was this uptick of people talking on TikTok about a deal they found. People are tuning in on those videos to try to find what they should be buying on TikTok. I find it fascinating in some way. You are spending money to get into Prime Day and getting your ads, but how do you stand out in that? You have to go back to the video. That video has to be short-form content. It has to be exciting.

I’m glad you’re bringing TikTok up, Josh, because I am a massive TikTok fan. I not only use it personally, but it’s something that I think about constantly from a business standpoint. One thing I saw along the lines of what you shared, Nicolas, is people in the comment saying they’re no longer going to Google to look up something. They’re going to TikTok Search.

That’s interesting because I’m not there quite yet as a user. This may be something for the younger crowd, as we’ve touched upon, that they’re doing. Eventually, many people on TikTok are going to start using it that way. If I’m interested in a product, I might search there whereas when I’m interested in a product, I usually go to Amazon and look at the reviews that people are giving it. Maybe I cross reference a few other places before I decide to buy.

Even though I don’t search that much on TikTok, I feel swayed by the recommendations people are making there. It’s a huge impact. Going back to Amazon, as you said earlier, Josh, that big shift we saw with Amazon Prime Day of live video reviews at the forefront of that page, TikTok and livestreaming are going to be huge ways in which people make their decisions. It is making sure you’re informed.

That was something I’m also glad you touched upon, Josh, which is the change in the market over time. With your many years of experience, you’ve seen many changes. In the past several years, the impact the content creators have had has been enormous. We’re now seeing the shift from photo to video. I’m looking at what Instagram started working on in July 2022. They made that huge announcement they’re prioritizing short videos. Everyone knows they’re influenced by the impact of TikTok. Some people are upset by that.

I understand the reason that Instagram made that decision. That video is powerful and people want that experience and authenticity. That comes so much more through a video. I’m curious, before we start to wrap up, what advice do you have to somebody who might still be in the mindset that they were several years ago and haven’t quite been able to shift their mentality to the modern ways of marketing through platforms like TikTok and livestreaming? How do you guide somebody to rethink things and reinvent themselves?

I loved your comment. You haven’t gotten there yet yourself with regard to your product research behavior. You might start going to TikTok to search for your favorite products. We know that at least Gen Z is going to do that search behavior. The advice I would give is to be an early adopter of where your current shopper is and where your next shopper is going to be. If you want to not end up like brands that don’t exist anymore and whose names I can’t even think of off the top of my head now because they’re gone, be where the shopper is and where the shopper of tomorrow is going to be.

It’s a fun stat. A Forrester research document came out about search behavior in 2011 said that 33% of people go to Amazon to do product research. They leave it to Amazon. A few years later, they launched a search product for advertising. That’s an example of where Amazon saw something and immediately jumped on it.

I have this business. We’ve got 300 employees. We did about $175 million in Amazon ad spend alone. We’re early adopters of that trend that was coming. It’s a simple concept, as every surfer bra would say, “You got to see the wave early so you can catch the wave when you want to ride the wave.” Be the early adopter. Do not hesitate. Here’s what happens all the time. Here’s what it is. “I think that’s going to be a thing, but no, that’ll just be a trendy thing, and I’m not going to participate. I don’t need to do that. This over here is working now.”

I even teach my own team. If the narrative in your head is like, “I know what I know, and I’m going to stick to that,” be careful. There is like, “I heard something is cool. I don’t know a lot about it. It could be important. I’m going to fully send study that, learn about it, and test it.” That is one of my favorite pieces of advice I would give to anybody reading.

Whether you’re a brand, a streamer yourself, or a creator, if you see something cool and potentially trending, don’t be apprehensive. Be fully leaned in and full send. You may catch the next big wave before it gets big. That’s my story and journey here with Channel Bakers. I saw Amazon ads as something cool, big, and pioneering. Now we’ve got 300 employees globally. It’s been a fun journey. We did that in several years with no investors and no debt.

TLEP 41 | eCommerce Early Adopter
eCommerce Early Adopter: Whether you’re a brand, a streamer, a creator, or whomever, if you see something that is cool and potentially trending, don’t be apprehensive. Be fully leaned in. You may very well catch the next big wave before it gets big.

 

What amazing to me is now you are looking at videos as a way to be like, “I’m good with ads.” What’s the next thing is looking at short-term video content, going after TikTok, and exploring all their marketplaces. Amazon is the thing. Everyone is there, but what’s next? Is the next thing TikTok? Is the next thing using short-form video content? Is the next thing livestreaming? Exploring that now is what’s exciting.

Product discovery may be well now and not being done anymore on Amazon. We know it is less done on Google, but it may be in some other places. Livestream and Metaverse are one of those places. It’s speculation, but it’s true that exploring now will give you an edge, especially when you think about livestreaming. What I’d love to end up on that note is it requires a village to have a successful show. You have to have the production, tech, and host right. You have to make sure that the audience resonates with your content. You are okay with how it’s going to go.

It’s not plug-and-play. You can’t say, “I’m going to go livestream tomorrow, and I’m going to be a millionaire.” That’s, unfortunately, not the reality. The good thing is, as we live in an era where everything is short-form content as well as short-form time spent, something you created is now, but tomorrow, if you create something else, that’s the new thing. You can forget and be incrementally better. That’s what that learning for that livestream journey is. Early on, when you got into the Amazon ad, it was not like, “I know exactly everything. This is how it’s going to work.” No, it was a journey.

It was an evolution. Here’s what I would also recommend to anybody reading. There are two things. One, no matter what, be authentic. People can sniff through anything not quite organic and real. I was adamant throughout my career. I was somebody who didn’t have a degree in a landscape of Corporate America where degrees were highly valued. Every day, I documented my daily wins. Daily wins, for me, is not just the big wins. I closed a deal or I bought a new car.

It’s an evolution and a journey. If you’re not documenting the wins, you might miss an opportunity to pull back into frame one of your past wins that could add value to your audience. That’s what I did. I got fired from GoPro. I looked back through all of my notes in my daily wins and was able to piece together fun new strategies, tactics, and ideas. To your point, Amazon search. I didn’t come from performance digital search marketing in my background, but I looked for all my wins and built up fun tactical strategies from all those daily wins I recorded over my career. I pull them into a frame in a way that helps me add value to my audience. That would be my two cents for anybody reading.

You shared so much. Your background, Josh, is insightful for anyone new to this and trying to figure out their plan, seasoned and try and figure out how to pivot, and everywhere in between. We appreciate it because we know you’re starting to lean more into livestreaming and live shopping and identifying that. You said from the beginning before we started recording that you’re aware of what’s happening in China. That inspired Nicolas and his co-founder Smitha to start eStreamly. They jump in, see how we can support people, and be part of this evolving trend.

I feel like we’re still at the beginning of live shopping. It’s great to talk to someone like you who’s observing it based on all your experience. Thanks again for joining us. For the readers, we hope you got so much value out of this. We look forward to sharing this with you and being back again for the next episode. Thanks again to Josh and Nicolas for being here. Thanks to the readers for tuning in.

 

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