Jason Cottrell is the Founder and CEO of Myplanet, a software studio committed to reimagining what is possible in today’s commerce landscape. Headquartered in Toronto, ON, Myplanet specize in headless commerce, best-in-breed data infrastructure, and helping brands—from New Balance to Harry Rosen—tailor digital solutions that futureproof and grow their business.
Join us for a dynamic discussion about the state of commerce, and what the future holds for brands and builders embracing the MACH Alliance (microservices, API-first, cloud-native, headless) ecosystem. Find out what winning brands are doing to succeed in a post-pandemic economy that relies more than ever on an air-tight digital experience.
Jason Cottrell is the Founder and CEO of Myplanet. Jason guides the strategic decisions that have led Myplanet to become the company some of the biggest brands in the world turn to for guidance, partnership, and success in digital software implementations and smarter interfaces. Jason was a recipient of the Toronto Board of Trade Entrepreneur Under 30 Award and his commitment to responsible business practices has ensured Myplanet is a certified BCorp year after year.
Jay: Jason. Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been fun trying to get this scheduled. I know we both have busy calendars. First of all, can you give us a little bit of background? Who are you and what got you to where you are here today, your history?
Jay: Jason. Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been fun trying to get this scheduled. I know we both have busy calendars. First of all, can you give us a little bit of background? Who are you and what got you to where you are here today, your history?
Jason: Absolutely. Looking forward to the conversation today and my background. I’m a lifelong geek. I’m a dad. I’ve got a wonderful two year old, but I think you’re looking more at my role in my job in and around commerce. So I lead a software studio called my planet. So we specialize specifically in commerce and actually more specifically, we only do work in headless commerce and best of breed customer data infrastructure. So we built a nice specialty there over the last few years.
Jay: What brought you to that?
Jason: You know, it’s a good question. Cause it was a really important inflection point for us as a business, going back, I’d say back in 2018 and we’ve been running the business for about a decade. What we found was that commerce was going in one of two directions, more towards kind of simple branded experiences or things that you could run on a platform like Magento or Shopify. And honestly that doesn’t really need someone like us. Brands can do more and more of that themselves. So what we found though, is there was this very large, very substantial category of very complex commerce use cases. And there’s a number of precursors that start to say a brand fits in that bucket. And so we really chose to specialize there. Along the way, though. It’s tough when you’re just dabbling with Kennedy’s headless and best of breed architectures, it’s tough to build up the cycles to be good at it. Fast enough at it that you’ve got team members, who’ve seen it before and they’re on that project that that customer needs.
So we reached this inflection point where we said, to actually be great at this we have to stop dabbling. We’ve been dabbling for 10 years in different manifestations of this category. We’ve got to go all in on this. This is all we do now. And you know, we’ve successfully completed that transition. We’ve been seeing explosive growth. It’s worth it on the other side, but you know, it was a really defining moment at the time saying, yeah, are we willing to go all in on this? I
Jay: I feel like that’s a lot of agencies I would say are dipping their toes in the water of headless. That’s probably a common position that’s kind of, would you say, you found yourself in that position and you just jumped right in?
Jason: It was we’d see one project a year or two projects a year, or we’d be using API as a little bit to serve the app, but it just, you know, the next time around our, those team members weren’t available again, the technology had matured a little bit. It was a slightly different vendor mix. And so the odds of risk and the odds that we could actually do it and on our side actually do it profitably. We found we weren’t quite cracking over that. And I suspect a lot of other firms in our space are in the same spot. So we went all in and that included a set of productized investments and data and IP investments to really play well in this space and kind of [02:58 inaudible] add a specialist here, you don’t have to go to a Deloitte or an Accenture for some of these platforms. There are specialists who are more, a couple of hundred people, large enough to take this on entirely specialized in this used case.
Jay: Interesting. It’s refreshing to hear it, like headless is absolutely not a buzzword to my planet. It is the way you operate, it’s your entire business operates in the headless space.
Jason: Absolutely. So, you know, if you think of, from the moment that a team member is joining our team, we’ve got a whole university program that we run them through. We actually have a set of pre-written starters and IP for the most commonly integrated systems that we see. A lot of them are members of something called a mock Alliance, which you’ve actually joined recently as well. I saw that. Congratulations. So really trying to make sure that we can get to here’s defined patterns. Here’s pre-written starters, to really pull these systems together and get our customers, not just to the web channel, but to native, to shoppable conversations, to a variety of the used cases that actually really are the ultimate benefit of going down the path of headless. It’s the flexibility. It’s not one commerce endpoint, it’s 10 and that’s often why our customers are going down this path. So yeah, we do specialize in that. We have IP around that. And I think that starts to define what services firms really focused in this space have to bring to the table to be success.
Jay: Yeah. Okay. You’re touching on a few things that I know I want to for sure get to, but before we get to that, can you just give us an idea? So My Planet, roughly, how big is it, you’re located, I think you have a few different offices or people in there? Can you give us kind of a overview of that?
Jason: Absolutely. So most of our customers are in the US. We have some in Canada and we have some in Western Europe, our team members are based primarily in North America and Latin America. So we’re 150 team members and we’ve actually kind of raised funding. And our growth model is taking us to about 450 team members. So obviously we’re seeing a lot of demand, specifically for expertise in headless commerce and best of breed customer data systems. And yeah, we’ve been doing this, not just on the systems integration side, but the ability to bring together the customer data systems. And we’ve got a very strong in-house creative studio and those three combined really seem to let us operate well in this.
Jay: Awesome. Now kind of back to the tangible stuff, can you give a tangible example of what My Planet does? I was actually browsing around your website the other day, I noticed you’ve worked with a lot of different customers, a lot of different brands. Is there one that you’re very proud of that you would say really exemplifies what My Planet is about?
Jason: Absolutely. And actually, I’ll give a common customer between our two firms. So Harry Rosen, when they approached us a few years back, they are family owned and they are exceptionally oriented at doing new things, serving their customers the way they want to be served. And what they were finding is they were really reaching the limits on what they could do with their SAP Hybris implementation. They couldn’t start any conversation without the nine months it would take to do simple things. So Ian, Rosen who’d come in as the new VP digital there, recognize that for him to be successful and for the brand to be successful, they needed to rethink the underpinnings of how they did anything digital. And so what I like to say is these aren’t projects.
These are programs there, multi-year, they’re multi-system, there’s moving pieces, they’re released in stages. And that’s the norm for us. I find that’s the norm in our space. It’s not the exception, which is nice once you know that because you can actually structure your teams and your training and your model around the notion of programs, not projects, but over the period of a couple of years, having rolled out now, Endpoints in store, online, now starting to extend to multiple e-comm offers, getting into more advanced clientelling used cases and thinking about how they can deliver new services, new experiences to ever more granular customer segments. Now, I really see them actually on the far side of the transformation that they have their new systems in place. They’ve refactored onto commerce tools as their commerce platform. And now the conversation shifts, right? It goes from how hard it is to start to do something through to, I think we could.
And we’re thinking now in weeks and months, and you can have that idea and actually bring that to life. And that’s ultimately when we’ve done our job, right. That’s where we’re at now, we’re really running full steam stitching kind of commerce and branded experiences into all the different places they could be for this brand. And obviously they’re seeing the sales growth that ties to that.
Jay: Yeah, absolutely. So can you talk a little bit about what that looked like, because I know that’s definitely a plus of a mock, actually, maybe let’s take one step back and explain Mock. I know you mentioned that earlier. I know what it is where a part of the Mock Alliance, but can you explain what that is? Why it’s important that My Planet is a part of that and then how Harry Rosen leveraged that?
Jason: Absolutely. So, you know, I think what Mock was born out of, there’s this shift towards kind of microservice and API based architectures towards the notion of headless and decoupling the presentation layer and all of the underlying logic and systems and the flexibility that all of those pieces allow, the scalability all of those pieces allow. And I think where the Mock Alliance came together is there was this, someone would make an API available and say, now our product is all about APIs. And the reality was, you know, when we would go work with it, SAP Hybris has APIs. We couldn’t use them for half the things that the customer needed to do, the product in its underlying data model and architecture really wasn’t built, the APIs really aren’t consumed and used enough. It’s clear that they weren’t really fit for purpose for a lot of what our customers were trying to do.
So I think the Mock Alliance was really trying to do two things. It’s encouraging certain minimum standards in how products are architected and what you can actually, like truly do they have the flexibility that you want to do anything and everything you might want to do. And then the other part is I think bringing together that ecosystem, so that the systems, the vendors are going out of their way to make them interoperable with each other, to think about that upfront and productize that in advance for their customers, to be able to kind of connect that like-minded group and this ecosystem of vendors as this space advances. And we really have seen it going into this tipping point over the last, I’d say in particular year, where it’s gone from early adopters to the early majority. We see brands now that I don’t think would have looked at it two years ago, the ecosystem, it wasn’t as proven. And now all of a sudden it’s becoming something that’s tipping into the mainstream. And that’s exciting.
Jay: Yeah, that’s that curve of every new idea, early adopters, mainstream, I forget exact curve, but we’ve broken out of that early adopter stage for sure.
Jason: Yes. And where Mock has done a good job is they’re not just looking at SAS vendors and kind of software vendors, they are also looking at the full ecosystem. So that includes systems integrators and service providers. So for SIs, like ourselves who are in that ecosystem, they’re looking for minimum bench, a number of proven projects. They’re looking to see that you’ve got the focus that if a customer comes to you, that they’re not just getting whoever was available and who probably have never seen headless or this architecture before, but they’ve seen it before. It’s proven the company has processes around it. So they set a real minimum standard for service providers in this space, too. That’s part of what you can look at with the Mock Alliance members on the systems integrator site.
Jay: I appreciated it, that when Bold became a member of, there was a deep technical dive into our software to validate that it would fit the Mock framework. So if a company is in there, then they have to meet that certain level. So microservices, API first, composable and headless is what Mock stands for. And then back to Harry Rosen, which is kind of a cool example of a commerce brand that leverages that. Can you talk a little bit about how you approached their stack, if you want to call it that or composed it because you didn’t obviously replatform them, it was a program. What did that look like for them?
Jason: Absolutely. So, you know, part of what we do is we’re coming in and helping our customers understand what a path looks like to get to a Mock architecture. And what we find is that’s usually about stage replacement. So finding the touch points where we can start to manifest the new architecture while living alongside the existing architecture, to the point where over time, eventually the term sometimes used as a strangler pattern, but that we basically isolate and can remove the existing legacy systems. And this is a very real, like this is the norm for us, but it’s tough, these systems generally have 10, 20 or more years of entrenched inclusion in a customer’s business operations, in its teams, in all the channels it sells in, the business logic that’s been baked into that over time or built around it over time. And so one of the first things that we tend to do is actually work through what’s the feasible plan.
So, you know, the nice thing is you start to see these patterns more repeatably. It’s very common that we’re seeing customers coming off of Oracle ATG, coming off of SAP Hybris, coming off of bespoke custom systems that maybe they’ve moved beyond what a Shopify or Magento can handle for their business. There’s complexity, that’s coming into their business where they’ve outgrown that. So we see some of these patterns, we can then usually help our customers work through what that roadmap looks like. And then we start to look at, yeah, where do we start to manifest first kind of composed sets of these new systems? So in the Harry Rosen used case, it was actually an in-store clientelling application called herringbone. And there were essentially kind of lay down and clientelling features that had commerce and product elements to them that would be sent out. And we could start to use that as first manifestations of the new commerce system and product data infrastructure we put in place.
Then of course, that was fortunately done pre pandemic, but when COVID hit, when stores started to get shut down, that really accelerated the commerce tools replatform. And so we were able to bring that to market in about six and a half months, really ramping that up from what was at the time, kind of early days, early implementation, early planning, at least that was underway, but then bringing that live by October of last year, as a replacement, kind of full replacement then and knocked out their Hybris implementation. And now a lot of it starts to move into the extended use cases. So Ian and the Harry Rosen team have always had very ambitious goals around what their customer experience could eventually be and the channels that can manifest in and the new services that they could offer. And so now our timing, the nice thing is actually seeing the roadmap move there. And it’s all about entering new markets, new channels, selling in new places, selling a new ways and that’s ultimately where every brand wants to get to, is being ready for what’s next and starting to take advantage of that.
Jay: Yeah. I was on a webinar with someone else from My Planet recently, and I can’t remember exactly how it was described, but the digital experience I’m going to butcher this. So I’ll get you to explain it better than me, but you know, it’s a million touch points, different channels. Some are good, some are bad. Hopefully not many are bad, but some are bad, but that’s a big focus for My Planet, right?
Jason: Absolutely. So I think one of the things that makes us unique, it’s not just about here’s some commerce infrastructure, build it in HL com. What we’ve actually built is a pretty progressive customer data practice in thinking about all the enabling infrastructure that allows us to kind of measure, monitor and orchestrate these millions of moments that now define a modern brand. So when we start to come in and talk to a customer and you can think of our team really starting to actually piece all of these customer interactions, good, bad, you know, as planned or deviating into a data model. And then starting to think about how we begin to modify, orchestrate, change that and where necessary kind of assemble new experiences. And some of that fits to our longterm vision as a company, but the ability even just to pull those pieces together and start to enable our customers there too, is, we find a very unique skill in our category. Often you have to go to many of the large SIs to be able to do that. And for those who don’t want an army and they want a very close, very targeted very specialist team, we find that that’s very appealing.
Jay: This is probably where the biggest strength of mock framework helps when you’re dealing with touchpoints across dozens of different places, where a customer is interacting with that brand, you can align it, you can have control over it. You can keep it uniform. Do you have any good examples of recognizable brands that you would say have an extremely good digital experience and maybe some that have a bad just as examples?
Jason: Absolutely. So if I give an example of a company that I think is really at a good point in its maturity, it’s an obvious example, but I would say Starbucks. And the reason why I say it though, they put in place years ago, they were very progressive in the infrastructure they put in place to be able to sell, reward, engage with customers wherever and however that would manifest. And you see that just even enabled in things like being able to reorder via Siri and actually being able to bring that forward, support the infrastructure and the processes for that. But what I like in that use case is, they’re really focused on bringing their model to consumers as they want it. So they’re not stuck on here’s the store. They’re not stuck on, here’s what our POS system can handle. They’re really focused on like, how do different segments of consumers want to engage with us, interact, use our third place or not, online order, but pick it up and drive through.
We really don’t care. We’ve put in place the foundation to be able to respond. In fact, not only do we not care, we can’t predict what’s coming. I get my Starbucks by Uber eats now. I don’t even go to the store. And so the key is they’ve put in place the foundation to try to say, let’s understand what our different customer segments want. Let’s respond and assemble experiences against that, let’s think creatively about the role of data and loyalty and allowing us to do that. I think it really starts to bring together why they’re leading ahead of their peers in that category. And they’re years ahead of where others are in that space.
Jay: That is a great example. And I agree a thousand percent of how great that experience is when you actually think about it. It seems seamless when you’re just using it, but the architecture behind it. Do you have any that you would say are recognizable brands that really are missing the mark? It sucks throwing anyone under the bus, but just as an example of like.
Jason: It’s tough and I don’t want to single any specific brands out. I think the thing that I get challenged by and the brands that I just want to call and say, please, can I help, is where we’re clearly seeing, especially highly considered purchases, but where, you know, the brand really hasn’t been successful in demonstrating the additional ways that this product category might be considered and purchased in a digital context. So I would give an example here, you know, you get this in a variety of categories, but in trying to buy new closets here for my house and trying to do custom storage, I have LIDAR on my phone. Why can’t I start to map and pre-configure and test configurations and chat with an associate, but there’s nobody in that category who’s taking that on and doing that well and thinking of the tools that are mainstream and actually available on consumer devices today, to try to pick up market share in that category.
And instead, a lot of what we would deal with is, you know, you’re going online and dealing with 15 old downloadable CAD software, or you’re having to awkwardly take your own measurements and then kind of maybe build an assemble a cart. And then people are wondering why their online sales in that category aren’t where they want them to be, because they’re taking something that’s a complex considered purchase that really could probably be done pretty well in a digital context, except they’re forcing it into a standard commerce engine and not thinking about the customer mental model. And on the flip side, that’s the kind of thing that we find a lot of energy starting to break down and solve. And then how do we think of the supporting systems that would actually make that product content and the modeling content in the supply chain? How would we bring all that together to solve this and do something new for one of our customers?
Jay: You could even go a step further, I could see in a few years, you scanning your room with your phone and it taking in like the color palettes, lighting and using AI to actually recommend furniture that fits, the proper color that matches maybe other lines that actually AI designer.
Jason: We’ve actually done that for one of our customers. So Steelcase, and one of the things that they deal with is, you know, they’ve got thousands of finishes. And so as you start to configure one part of a product and the product has multiple points of configuration, it becomes burdensome then to filter through all the possible configurations. So using machine learning to actually select complimentary patterns and then begin to pre-configure once one is set, then beginning to actually suggest what would assemble well around that. So there’s a lot that you can do with that, both in individual object configuration, but also looking at an entire room layout, et cetera, then like these tools are increasingly available as consumable APIs. It’s thinking how to bring them together to fit that customer experience.
Jay: So that kind of leads to my next question. As in, maybe let’s extend out a few years where Mock is going to get, like you mentioned, you’ve seen a huge improvement, or I can’t remember, in the last year, what challenges are there still now and where do you see Mock architecture or what does it look like in maybe five years out?
Jason: I would say the Mock, not just the architecture, but the ecosystem behind it has really matured night and day, even in the last 12 months, especially 24 months, in terms of how well the commerce and order management and kind of authoritative data around inventory and customer data all comes together. Our customer profile for example comes together. That information pre-integrated and all the vendors focused on that really kind of playing well together seems to run quite well. Where I think you’ll see that ecosystem evolving the most it’s towards, we see actually a lot around the presentation layer and then the end customer data experimentation and personalization. And there’s a number of very innovative players coming into this space there and thinking about the role of intent and then starting to assemble on demand or on short notice tailored experiences. So you’ve got all these Lego blocks now, you’ve got these piece parts. How can we assemble experiences unique when we detect a customer’s intent? How can we do all of that anonymously?
So some very progressive firms coming in and around that presentation layer, personalization and end experience manifestation. And I think we’ll start to see, you know, if I look out five years from now, that really will have shaken out into far more defined best practices, that ecosystem really pulling together. What’s exciting for me, there is, I think that’s really where the potential of that Mock architecture and ecosystem comes together. Again you’re not doing this just to replace one website, you’re doing this because you have 42 brands, you’re doing this because you’re selling through business and now direct to consumer, and you’ve got a subscription model and a wearables coming to market. It’s all of that complexity that I think, you know, the ability to assemble and serve all of that and do it increasingly in real time is really where this gets exciting.
Host: Would you say, as you were saying this, something just dawned on me. I was reading just as we’re recording this, this episode will air in a couple of weeks, but yesterday was a modern commerce day event. And I was reading through, I think it was LinkedIn posts and one of the comments on it was something to the extent of, oh, great now I’ll have 27 microservices to manage instead of one or something, there’s that mindset towards this. And then I look at some of the case studies on your site and which I actually want to get into the new balance one. I thought that was a really cool project. But what do you say to someone that is worried about the increasing number of microservices that are in play in their stack?
Jason: I think what I find is we have to think of these, not just as individual tools or kind of changes in individual products or coding or architecture practices. It’s truly a combination of a variety of parts of an ecosystem. And so as we inevitably see as the number of microservices that are in use and consumed and maybe alternated and varied, as that starts to propagate with customer, then inevitably you see players come up and mature and raise their seed round, in series a and they come up with products to help you manage that. Inevitably you see vendors come along who start to kind of take that and wrap it up into a product and great, we’ll manage that complexity for you. You get the end package and eCommerce tools has something like 300, 400 that they take. And obviously that’s part of what you buy from them. And they handle that collectively.
I think if we just look at these as kind of individual points, it can start to seem overwhelming. We’ve got to take a step back and look at the evolution of the ecosystem and all of the companies coming into this space. And that’s where again, for the Mock Alliance, if I look at who’s joined that, the vendors that we see and can work with that we couldn’t work with two years ago, this has really come a long way. So just to start bringing that out now three and five years from now, it gets very exciting. And all of these products, this ecosystem gets even more mature. I will say, just managing it in practice it’s not that bad once you know what you’re doing. And that’s running that in a live, in practice for large volume e-com operations. It is something that you build a muscle and a routine around.
And the trick is instead of spending all of your effort and energy on all the blocks and reasons why in a legacy conference system you couldn’t do something, you’re now spending your time on how to harness your available piece parts, to be able to assemble new experiences. That shift in the dialogue becomes it’s worth it.
Host: I use this analogy sometimes, and it’s a bit of a simple analogy, but I think it works, is we all have a Mock architecture to our office work. So maybe not fully Mock, but it’s the M of mock, M in the C. So like, if you think about the way you work with, you maybe use Google for your calendar and your email. You may be used drive or a different Microsoft drive or one box. Or when I book a calendar with my Google calendar, I have it sinked with zoom. So it automatically pulls in a zoom video conferencing link. I don’t use Google’s to do lists. We use a Asana for that. So I’m using Google sheets sometimes. Anyways, I have a stack and I’m bringing in the best of breed of everything for my office work stack. I don’t do everything in Google. I don’t do everything in Microsoft, but they all work together and it’s actually the best of breed. So I know I might be oversimplifying it, but that’s how I look at
Jason: It’s a great parallel. And to take it to a different space, just think of the installed apps on a smartphone, right? If you’re bringing together those best of breed instantiations, I can pull up my browser when there’s something I only want to use occasionally. You start getting to the ecosystem fragments. Now you start getting to interapp linking, you start to get to [27:00 inaudible] sign-on, so the things I have to do across apps, I don’t have to log in on every app every time, all the time. I can use face ID. So all of these factors come together now and support what is essentially a best of breed ecosystem right there on your phone?
Host: So to the new balance case study, which I mentioned earlier, I read through that yesterday. I thought it was fascinating, new balance actually won at Chez last year. I think they were the winner in the wearables category. You’ve done a lot of work with them and they have watches. They have mobile apps, they have websites. They’ve got a lot going on. Can you talk about that? And maybe specifically how composable commerce helped enable that because they do have a commerce aspect as well, too?
Jason: Certainly. So what I like about kind of the individual who was really behind a lot of the transformation described there. Routed behind all of it, it wasn’t just, hey, we sell here, so let’s sell here. We find with a lot of our customers, it’s rethinking the nature of the relationship they have with their consumer. New balance is a great example there, where you have a product that’s generally in an infrequent purchase category. So you’re buying a pair of shoes once every year or two, you might buy apparel a few times. So the points of relevancy in the relationship with consumers, is something that in this digital age, is a point of concern, is how do we find a way to increase that where we can? That’s where I think the brain was really going through, a desire to solve for that and shift that relationship.
And at the core of it, what’s really exciting is the ultimate experience I have with New balance as a brand, is when I laced up my shoes and go for a run in the morning. And that’s not one that a marketer sitting in a room might by default think of. When you think of from a bookstore, when I pull out that book or take the reading blanket and wrap myself up in that and see the tag on it, it’s moments that might be offline in a lot of used cases, but in the new balance use case, what they recognized is the shift, the digital training and the shift to quantify itself, presents an opportunity related to loyalty, related to experience, related to training. And so going down a path then of how could they begin to compete in that category and build customer relationships in that way, all of that has to come alongside, then how do you take your products in a very fit oriented product category?
How do you make that something that you can simplify as much as possible? So it’s not just for reorder, but it can be for [29:32 inaudible] purchase and you can watch your return rate. How do you start to make that infrastructure available globally? How do you start to think of that as where you can intersect with alliances and ecosystem, like run clubs and Strava. So really thinking aggressively about all of those pieces, but at its foundation, you know, where these more modular architectures come into play, is if you’ve got those in place first, when you see the opportunity, you can seize it. And I think that’s ultimately what a lot of the infrastructure put in place on their side allowed them to do. And some of it I think started very simply we’d start to reach the limit in their commerce system of the experiences we could create and deploy, and whether they can handle traffic and volume in product purchases.
So starting to work with their team, to go down the path of launching in this case kind of using a composable content management system and certain customer offer systems, to be able to work on top of what their commerce system could do by default. And then, yeah, you start stitching that into the app. You start rethinking, well, how does the customer data model need to change when we’ve got the wearable and an AI run coach? So all of those pieces really started to take them down this path that, no, we can’t just put this on an out of the box commerce system. We need to move to something different.
Host: That’s fascinating. So in wearables and slash IOT, are you starting to see that be more of a strategy for brands in their overall commerce go to market?
Jason: The strategy there continues to evolve. I would say a good portion of our customers have tried we’ll call them the V1 of a connected device or a wearable, which was probably just the old thing they had with a sensor in it. And of course, if you look at where tech has been in the last few years, the sensor may or may not have worked, the GPS may or may not have been reliable, connectivity may or may not have been sufficient to deliver a good end customer experience. The software may have been just the control software often, is just junk. And so some of these products have succeeded. Some of them have succeeded and often with a very narrow target market. What excites me is then over the next decade, as we see all of the underlying manufacturers and cloud service providers agreeing on more common standards for these types of devices.
So you’re getting closer and closer to a world where you can take it, set it up, deploy it, and it will work on that. Bluetooth will work on that. Wifi will connect to that thing. It will get auto detected by your Alexa. So as we start getting to, I think gen two and eventually gen three of these devices, I think we’ll start to see more success, but the thing that has to come alongside it, you don’t just take the old model and put a connectivity on it. So my wife is a teacher and she’s been adapting for example, to teaching from home. So if I give a parallel there, teaching students remotely right now is very difficult and requires a couple of hours of her prep time every day, because she’s got to take her offline curriculum and put it online and then figure out how to give alternatives to students who can’t even be required to have a ruler at home because no one planned to do school from home right now, here’s your link for an online ruler, hold it up to your laptop.
But while that’s tough, it’s because we’ve taken an old model, the offline curriculum jamming in a Google meet and good luck, versus you see startups out of the US who are building digital first curriculum, meant to be modular and shared amongst many classrooms, so it offloads the burden. They’re meant to actually use real student progress to automatically tailor learning plans with teacher curation. And those portfolios of curriculum can be collectively curated. And so you start to then modify the model to be appropriate to what you can do now with this new tech. And I think that the next generations of connected devices will start to allow that, where we’ll start to build services, branded experiences of which a connected device is just one part of it. So one of our customers, who’s in the cookware category and starting to look down the examples of what does it look like if food subscriptions are tied in with the device, how do you tie that in with shopping? How do you tie that in with automatic control from an Alexa show unit? So when we see all of that come together, that’s where you really start to unlock new services, it’s not just about a device with an on and off button.
Host: It does seem a little bit like the hopes that we all had with a connected home five years ago, haven’t fully come to fruition yet, you know, the fridge that reorders for itself and the cupboards that know when you’re out of coffee and that concept. If you were dropped into a point in time to your school point, would school be what it is right now? Or is that because it’s a hundreds of year old institution that we’ve been slowly adapting, but if we came in today with the technology we have, would there even be schools or would it be completely self-learning with facilitators and completely remote there? And that’s the way I think we need to look at it.
Jason: Absolutely. Now we’re asking the big questions, Jay. Now we’re really going down, ruining the big thinking here. We’ve started with commerce. We’re reinventing education now.
Host: Yeah, there’s education, there’s real estate. There’s a lot of industries that seem very, what did Ford say? If we would have given people what they wanted, we would have made a faster buggy or a faster horse, or that’s the way the human mind thinks, it’s more iterative. And we’re actually better at editing than we are at creating. So we edit what we have and we just constantly improve it.
Jason: You raised a really interesting point there. And it’s one of the things that I think is one of the, our more progressive customers, those who are thinking very aggressively about their digital experience, understand one thing. And it’s that commerce in f5 and 10 years, isn’t going to look like commerce as we perceive it today. So same thing e-commerce in its original instantiation, you know, we think of as a buy button in a shopping cart and everything ends there. Our most progressive customers, you know, you look at a Petco, for example in the US, they already offer in-store services around grooming that brings people in. There’s obviously purchases tied to that. When you come in to get your food, you’re more likely to go for grooming. They’ve seen the intersection of this, but they’re thinking even more broadly, it’s about broader pet health and life. And so they’re now getting into, they’ve actually bought veterinary chains, entire veterinary chains.
So starting to think about the full data and service picture around a pet’s life and health, starting to think about the interactions you have with that pet day-to-day and all of that starts to unlock a combination of services and physical product commerce. And so the more progressive that our brands think there, about the true end kind of manifestation of their brand purpose and their vision as a company, I think actually that’s really where things are starting to go. It’s going to be less about kind of buying a shopping cart. It’s going to be microtransactions on an apple watch or inline chat purchase. I think it was actually one of the more interesting parts about where you’re going is Bold, is that it really starts to actually fill in some important pieces there.
Host: So where do you see? I often do this. I often just sit and I try to think like, everything is crystal clear in hindsight, you know, when we look at where we are today, versus I remember I launched my first online store in 1998. And I remember at the time a lot of stores actually looked like a real store because there would be like aisles and you would have to click on the aisle. You know, then eventually people got rid of like, no, this doesn’t have to look like an online store, but it still feels like an online store. There’s categories. There’s collections of products. There’s a home page. There’s like you come in, you’re greeted with an offer and it’s still a store, but there’s going to be in 5 or 10 years, we’re going to look back and that’s going to look very dated. How do you think we’re going to be shopping? Or is it even shopping in 10 years?
Jason: I’m going to maybe start somewhere, let’s think from the brand perspective on that one. What we’re seeing is that our customers are typically supporting three to seven different commercial go to market models. So one of the first things I would clarify too is, it’s not an A to B for most modern brands. I sold them in-store and now I sell them online. The reality is, it’s having to support multiple, often for the preferences of different subsets of your customer segment and then hybrids of them. And I think that’s an opportunity. It’s a challenge, but that seems to be the reality going forward. There are multiple commercial models, multiple ways of buying, selling, and bring your product to market, multiple channels, multiple sub-brands, all of this is the reality for many of, at least our customers, again in our space, these more complex commerce use cases. But I think that’s maybe flip it around from a consumer perspective. You start to use your imagination on how you want to buy and consume with something, should be increasingly possible and seamless and someone’s going to serve that.
And so do I want my car on a subscription? Do I want, you know, commerce tools loves to work through their Audi, add-on features, functionality. They ship the car with everything in it, and just, it has heated seats in the seat. You just can’t have it unless you’ve bought that as an add-on, but you got the car at a more affordable price point and just add what you want. So they start to you look at flexibility on how you can bring things forward, the models in which it can be sold under. I mean, Audi in the US now is, offering options, which role in insurance and a number of other points of ownership around a vehicle, and you don’t have to worry about any of that, or you go all the way to rideshare and want it on demand and I just want it for a few minutes at a time. You know, eventually you’d be able to get that with a driver or without a driver. So you can start to have a lot of fun around that, and there’s going to be more and more companies that start to serve all these varieties of models so that consumers can get what they want when they want and how they want to pay and procure it.
Host: Yeah, definitely the concept of ownership, I think is ripe for disruption. I also think the taste-makers of the world, they’re going to have a big place, I think, in how people shop or get products. So what I mean by tastemakers is like, you think about how you listen to music, you used to buy an album now you just search for something and you’re listening to a curated playlist on Spotify, or, you know, Netflix, it’s a curated feed. Your Netflix feed will look very different than my feed. You mentioned Petco, the amount of data that Petco has on you, your dog, how old your dog is, they can give probably the best experience of what products you need when you need it better than you even know your own dog. And there’s going to be this layer of curation I think that lays between and it might just be as simple as I don’t want to buy food. I want to buy what this person buys. So like, if there’s a fitness person or a healthy person or whatever vegan person, I’d rather be curated by his food or this person’s style of clothing. I think technology could play a big part in that. It might also be a combination, a mix of both, but I think the way we’re seeing it with music and we’re seeing with digital goods, I think we’re going to start seeing it across the board with physical goods too. That’s my wild prediction.
Jason: Absolutely. And you know, it’s also one of the things that, again our customers are trying to accommodate for, is then the channels and the ways you sell in ways you engage with these communities, with these marketplaces, with this content, that products can be sold and distributed and kind of merchandise alongside, they change, and they change so rapidly. And how do you ever keep up? So that’s just one more part of why some of these architectures can be favorable. One of the things that I would say too, there’s the notion of curation through kind of taste-makers. I think that when we talked about where the Mock alliances is going and just where we see customer data going, increasingly the tools are becoming available to do this curation, but doing it in a way that’s not creepy because often when I’ll go down a path of explaining this wonderful, just for me world and on some fronts, the way we think of the way customer data is collected and handled today, that’s terrifying.
You’ve got all of this information on me, my pets, my pets health. That’s terrifying if used the wrong way, but what we’re finding is really powerful, is the infrastructure and the standards and the regulation are coming together to do it entirely anonymized and to get it right, or to do it to a very high standard of how that data is collected and held. And if you think for most brands that push towards anonymized, I think is actually a good thing. There’s only a small portion for most brands of their customers who actually log in and become known, who provide an email and become known. So marketing strategies that rely heavily on that immediately are only addressing anywhere from 5 to 40% of a customer base. And everyone else gets the one size fits all. But the reality is it’s coming online now, the ability to be able to do this where you can handle them in vast majority of customer cases in an anonymized fashion. And I think that’s very exciting. I think that is ultimately better for brands and better for consumers.
Jay: Yeah, I think so, too. Okay. Before we were running at a time, I want to jump into our lightning round questions. I don’t know if you had a chance to read through them or not, but I asked the same questions to every guest and one day I’ll compile them all in a blog post of some sorts, but are you ready?
Jason: Let’s do it.
Jay: What’s the biggest mistake in e-commerce or mistake you’ve seen other people make?
Jason: You know, it’s fragmented systems, it’s these new channels, these new business models, these new systems and companies just start snapping on new systems, new workflows. And they don’t think about it as like, each one incrementally isn’t so bad, but now all of a sudden you’ve got 12 of them. And so that’s where just thinking intelligently upfront about this curated set of core services that will sustain all the different places of business will need to sell and engage over the coming years. It’s so tough to do it midway, once it’s too late. So I think just the time upfront to think about that proactively, that would be the biggest thing I could encourage. It’s not a sexy answer. I’m sorry.
Jay: It’s a good one. Do you have a pet peeve when you shop online?
Jason: Oh, why can’t my payment information be saved? Why can’t I just say, please buy that and then it’s done and delivered. So please, the more you can keep solving that with the Bold team. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Jay: We’re on it. [email protected] I know they’ve done a really good job with it, but yeah, that’s a big focus of ours. What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Jason: You know what? I get to exist at this intersection of wonder and purpose. I don’t just have to be out there thinking and pontificating about where the world’s going, and I’m also not just dealing with APIs all day. I actually get to sit at this intersection of where things are going, what could be possible, and then how do we get there? So this notion of wonder and purpose is where I get a ton of energy. I love it.
Jay: What’s your favorite online store or the last place you bought something?
Jason: So if you look at my credit card statements I’m bad at just buying shoes from Harry Rosen. And the problem is I’m stuck at home all day. I’m not going anywhere, but they look really great on my shelf, but it started to convince me that I have a problem.
Jay: You should get some type of permanent discount from Ian for architecting there.
Jason: I like to say that he pays us. So I probably shouldn’t be [44:53 inaudible] a way at a pair of shoes. I’ll support those who support us.
Jay: Absolutely. Yes, I agree. What’s the number one thing you think stores could be doing to grow sales but they aren’t?
Jason: So again, it seems self-serving maybe on your show here, but I really do mean it, checkout and payments. And I think it’s been one of the most underserved spaces, especially when we get outside of just direct web channel, yet when we actually look at the data and we’re seeing this across site, after site, after site, and it’s one of the biggest points of potential for uptick and conversion. And so thinking about that checkout experience about store customer data, about getting that as close to frictionless as possible in all channels, getting that consistent across all channels. It’s something that just really gets overlooked, but really makes a material dollar value difference. And when we tackle it well, so keep solving that.
Jay: You’re speaking my language, man. Last thing, most of our listeners, they’re business owners, there are shop owners, they’re partners. Do you have any favorite quotes or advice? I know you’ve built a successful business, anything that you live by, or that’s been important to you over the years?
Jason: We live in this world of partial automation right now. And so my advice to most business owners would be like set aside a few days, set aside a couple of weeks, build a bit of a group around you who can help you through this problem. But literally every business over the next couple decades is going to be disrupted by this notion of partial automation. It’s not just all people doing things. It’s also not just automation. So I like to give a car example, we’ve gone from cars that require entirely driver input. We’re not quite ready yet for the self-driving car with no steering wheel. The next 10 to 20 years are Tesla autopilot that are like 95% there. But with human correction and governance in their learning, from everything we do. And I think if most businesses start to rethink themselves in that context, it just starts to actually open up incredible opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners, these opportunities that you can go out and tackle. And if you’re one of the first to really think about your business that way, this makes up partial automation, you can define and really own entire categories. I think it’s an exciting time.
Jay: I like it. Jason, thank you so much. This has been a really good conversation I could go on, but we’re out of time. And where can people go to either follow you? Are you active on any social platforms are, and then do you want to give your website?
Jason: Absolutely. Please do follow me on LinkedIn. That’s the best place. So Jason Cottrell, C O T T R E L L on LinkedIn. And then our website of course is myplanet.com. MYPLANET.
Jay: I will point out you have a fantastic website. I just navigating around. I mean, you’re a digital experience company, so it better be good, but it’s done really well.
Jason: Thank you, you just made a number of people very happy right there. Thank you.
Jay: Thank you so much Jason.
Jason: Take care.