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Ep. 92 - Investing in Your Online Store’s Security and Experience with Mike Potter

Mike Potter is the co-founder and CEO of Rewind, the leading cloud data backup provider. Rewind is trusted by over 30,000 businesses to protect their data on platforms such as BigCommerce, Shopify and QuickBooks. 

A veteran entrepreneur, Mike has over 25 years of experience building solutions for the software, cloud and data analytics space, including tenures at Adobe and Mozilla. 

He earned his MBA from the University of Ottawa and his B.Eng in Mechanical Engineering from McMaster University. Mike currently resides in Ottawa, Canada. 

In This Conversation We Discuss: (50 Characters)

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:01] How Mike helps stores with BFCM
  • [04:03] Last minute changes during BFCM is not advisable
  • [05:38] Having a testing/staging environment in your store
  • [06:38] Chase’s biggest gripe with Shopify
  • [07:39] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com
  • [08:09] Invest in a 2nd store for testing things out
  • [08:42] Work with an agency that is a platform expert
  • [09:51] Rewind’s 2020 Data Protection Survey
  • [11:13] Online store security tips
  • [12:54] Running your online store unprotected
  • [14:22] Sponsor: Postscript postscript.io/install
  • [14:53] Investing in your online store
  • [16:00] Visitors will have impressions of your store
  • [17:13] Good customer experience leads to success
  • [19:14] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.link/honest
  • [20:02] This year will be the biggest yet for Ecommerce
  • [20:39] Online stores losing data
  • [22:13] Repeat customers vs new customers
  • [23:01] Competition and prices are getting high
  • [23:45] Know your numbers before scaling
  • [24:26] Rewind’s 2020 BFCM Ebook

Resources:

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 Transcript:

Mike Potter  

We're really big believers that every store should have a staging environment and a production environment.

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, where we're dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. 

I'm your host Chase Clymer, and I believe running an online business does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

If you're struggling with scaling your sales, Electric Eye is here to help. To apply to work with us visit electriceye.io/connect to learn more. Now let's get on with the show.

Alrighty. Everybody welcome back to another episode of honest ecommerce. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And today welcoming back to the show, --I think this is the first time I've had someone on twice-- I may be wrong. 

Honestly, I don't prepare for these very well. So who cares? Anyways , (laughs) let's welcome back to the show, Mike Potter the CEO of Rewind. And I'm sure you guys are very familiar with their awesome product. Mike, welcome back to the show.

Mike Potter  

Hey, Chase. Nice to see you again.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So let's... Without further ado, let's just get into it. This is going to come out probably right before one of the biggest shopping seasons of all: Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Especially with what's going on now in the world. How are you guys over there at Rewind? [Are you] helping to prepare people for that? What are you telling people to do? Let's just dive into Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

Mike Potter  

Yeah, so we're recording this? I don't know. Can we say when we're recording this? July 30th?

Chase Clymer  

Let everyone know I'm very prepared. I'll get this one done very quickly. (laughs)

Mike Potter  

(laughs) And what are we seeing these days? I think there's a couple of announcements lately that Best Buy and Walmart are shutting down Black Friday, Thanksgiving sales in-store this year. They're already preparing. So a lot of that stuff is going to be moving online. 

Chase Clymer  

Mm-hmm. 

Mike Potter  

Right? People still have Christmas gifts to buy. Who knows what the economy will look like in 4 months or so. But at the end of the day, that tends to be the busiest shopping day of the year. 

And I think that we're looking to see a real increase from an Ecommerce perspective that shopping has to get done somewhere and some of those large retailers are closing their physical stores. 

[Because of] all that stuff, we expect to be moving online. So what are we working on to help merchants? Last year, we had a Black Friday, Cyber Monday ebook that went out. We're working on a revised version of that. 

From a product perspective, we make sure that the product works and protects people's stores over the course of that period of time. That tends to be the most important time of the year. It's actually an interesting story. 

Because one of our first customers when we launched this product 5 years ago --doing backups for Shopify-- we had one of our customers who lost their store right around that time, right around Thanksgiving in the US. 

And they called us in a panic like "I just lost... Every product has been deleted from my store. Can you help me out?" And sure enough, he was able to use Rewind to bring back his entire store. 

So we tend to up our support game around that time, and make sure that if something does happen to customers, that we're able to recover their data as quickly as possible.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. I feel like with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, people are probably updating their store, changing their content, changing the messaging that's on their homepages and whatnot, probably more than they do the rest of the year combined. 

There's just so many things that they're iterating so fast during that time. So having something... This is gonna sound like an ad for Rewind, which is truly not. 

But it's like, having the ability to just click a button and revert back if you make a big whoopsie is... It's something that needs to be in place to make sure that you can essentially work smarter. It comes down to the time management of it. 

You can always recreate that effort, but we have computers these days. Why not just click a button and go back to where you started?

Mike Potter  

And you've got...There's a time crunch on that... Add that time, as well. So yeah, you can do it all manually, for sure, like you said. But the majority of those sales are happening Friday and Monday of that weekend. And so you don't have a lot of time. 

So like you said, if you're changing stuff, you're changing your prices on that Thursday night, something goes wrong, then it's going to take you a couple of hours or days to fix your prices back. You really don't have... You don't have that time. You need to be ready to go on Friday or Thursday, whenever... When it opens up or on the Monday [of the event].

Chase Clymer  

I hope everyone listening isn't doing it that Thursday, you should have your plan in place well before. 

You shouldn't be goofing around with your store around that time, making any big crazy changes. The only thing you should be changing in your store at that time is like your marketing message, I hope. 

You shouldn't have any big features launching or anything like that. You should have all that stuff tested and vetted well before.

Mike Potter  

Good point on [getting stuff] tested. And I think what we see some of our customers doing... What we end up doing is... We end up with what we call a "code freeze" going into mid-November. 

So as of, I think, it's like the 15th for us, we really don't make any more changes to the product. We freeze the code so that we're not putting out a change that's going to impact something. 

So we're testing everything heavily before it goes out on the 15th. And we say, "Okay, it's just not worth the risk right now to put any new code out into the world and have the potential of something happening." So it's super important. I think we've seen some Ecommerce businesses do that as well. 

And then your point about testing, I think, is a great one. So we're really big believers that every store should have a staging environment and a production environment. You should have 2 of them, especially if you're on Shopify Plus or on Bigcommerce from an enterprise standpoint. 

And your store that is on those platforms has the ability to create multiple stores at no charge. So if you're on Shopify Plus and you haven't got a staging site, there's really no excuse for it. 

There's absolutely no cost, it's fairly easy to set up... We've got another app called Replay that can help actually sync the data between the 2 stores. But you really should be staging your content before it goes live. 

And you practice, you go through that deployment, you look [at it] like "Okay, here are the changes that we want to make.", you do that on your staging site. 

And then when the time comes, you're like, "Hey, let's just replicate it to production. We've already tested it on your staging site, we know that what we're going to do is not going to mess things up drastically on our production site."

Chase Clymer  

I think that's my biggest pet peeve and my biggest [gripe] with Shopify. And I brought this up at Unite and some of the other conferences where we meet with the product team at Shopify and we're like, "Why don't you guys have a staging environment?" It is insane. 

WordPress is where my background was before I went to Shopify. And it was just [a] no-brainer. You build a website, you build the staging environment first, and then you push it live. 

It's like, that was what I was doing back then when I was working with WordPress. And then you jump over into Ecommerce where you're dealing with dollars and cents. Real money is on the line here and there isn't a staging environment. 

It was just such an odd thing about Shopify. Obviously, everyone essentially just has a duplicated store. That's how they deal with it. That is the status quo. But it's like why isn't there a staging environment for this monolith of Ecommerce?

 So I think that is probably one of my biggest issues with the Shopify product. Obviously I love it. But I was like, why isn'... Why doesn't this exist? This is something that needs to happen.

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Mike Potter  

Yeah. If you're on Plus, you get that 2nd store for free. I'd say, even if you're not on Shopify Plus, you might want to consider just signing up for a 2nd store to copy your existing store. 

In the October timeframe, September-October timeframe, you have to pay for a few months sure. 

But it's probably well worth the investment to pay an extra few hundred dollars to make sure that when you make that change on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, nothing's gonna go wrong.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. I think that your development team will love you for it as well just because...

Mike Potter  

Mm-hmm.

Chase Clymer  

When you're talking about features like bundling or anything... Any more like advanced upsell, cross-sell, customizations that you're gonna make to your store, you can't really test those without the data that you need from an actual store. 

And doing it live... You can obviously do it on some test pages and it won't technically be live unless someone stumbles upon it. There's so many issues with doing these things. It's goofy. 

And that's why I truly recommend working with an agency that knows what they're doing in the Shopify ecosystem. Because there's some just goofy things that you have to account for when dealing with a platform like Shopify.

But yeah, just going back to it, having  a dev environment when you're testing big features is definitely something you should do. 

When you when your business has got to the point where, if it's a true business, it's not your side hustle anymore. You need a dev environment for sure.

Mike Potter  

Yeah. I couldn't agree more.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. So I think we just beat home the point about dev environments, making sure that you have all your stuff backed up. 

Mike Potter  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

You guys released recently.... Well, this is recently... We're at the end of July here. But you guys had a 2020 Data Protection Survey

Obviously people can find that on the website, if they're curious to see the results of that. But what's the... What were the big things that you guys learned there? What was some of the cool stuff that you want to share?

Mike Potter  

Yeah. I think we went about the survey because we wanted to talk to our customers to see how prevalent data loss is. 

One of the things that we often hear with Rewind is: "The odds of that happening to me are really low.", "I'm not gonna... I haven't heard of people losing data on Shopify.", "I've been on Shopify for a long time. I've never lost data.". 

So we wanted to get a sense of how often this is happening to customers and to really try and get into their mindset before they had that backup strategy in place. 

Turns out, up to 60% of people who replied said that they were doing nothing to protect their store before they got Rewind, which was, to us, [is] absolutely crazy. You're running a real business. 

And so many are really not looking at data security as an important factor in running that business. So if you're running this online store, you really need to make sure that your data is protected, that your site's protected. 

Certainly, we recommend having a backup. But going back to just on your login for instance, making sure you're using a secure password, you shouldn't use the same password that you use for your Shopify store for any other online accounts that you have. 

You should make sure that it's a secure password, it's strong. Ideally, you can't remember it, which is why we recommend using a password manager like 1password or LastPass, or something like that. That's the first step to making sure that your account is protected. 

There's something called 2 factor authentication that you can add to your Shopify store as well or your Shopify account, I should say. So enabling what's called 2 factor authentication... That's when you log in, and they send you a text message with a six digit code that you have to enter in. 

Another great way of protecting your store: On the apps that you're installing, making sure that the apps are vetted before you install them. You talked earlier about making sure that you're working with  a reputable agency. 

That reputable agency should have a list of apps that they recommend to you, that's been vetted going in and going through the app store. And just installing apps at will is a bit of a risky proposition. 

You never know what those apps might be doing and what data they have access to. So certainly doing a bit of investigation before installing the apps [is a good idea]. 

And then obviously, as a last resort, making sure that you've got a backup of your data, just in case  something happens. 

But I think what was really most surprising to us was how many people were running their store in what we would call an "unprotected way". they had no real policies in place before getting Rewind. They had no backup strategy in place and that to us was really eye opening.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. It's wild when you're essentially attaching your livelihood to a bunch of zeros and ones. Let's call it what it is. It's just a bunch of code. If you don't have that backed up, and just having that peace of mind in place, it's... That's wild to me. 

Especially once you  approach millions of dollars, which when you put the effort in and  you have a product that works, it's not hard to hit that million dollar point. It's very doable. It's wild if you're not protecting... 

You should address an online store the same way that you would address a brick and mortar. This is your presence. This is how you're interacting with your customers. You should invest in it like it's a physical building. That's something that my project manager likes to bring up all the time. 

It's like, "Hey, don't think about this as just like a piece of doing business. This is your front facing effort. This is how you're going to win. New business like you should invest in it. It's a physical entity." 

He always likes to point out when customers are... I mean, this might sound like I'm complaining, but it's like when you're penny pinching when it comes to building out custom features or doing what needs to be done to get the user experience to the place where it needs to be. 

It's like, you have to make those investments. This is the only thing that your customer is interacting with, you got to make sure that you're on point.

Mike Potter  

Yeah. Your online store --especially these days-- your online store is it.

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Mike Potter  

Right. It's the only time that customers get to interact with you. I'm a big... I'm a huge believer in the importance of user experience. And I think --especially online-- when people have... 

It's just so easy for people to open another browser tab and go to a different website, either to compare prices or to have a bit better user experience. If there's any frustration at all, I think, in the purchase experience, it's just so easy now for people to go somewhere else and you lose that customer. And that bounce rate goes up. 

So I totally agree with you that investing in that main presence would be exactly what you do if you're investing in like your physical store. It should be more important because there's actually more likely... There's more likelihood that people are going to come to your online store than your physical store. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Mike Potter  

Right? Physical stores [have] a limitation based on how many people are around it. Your online store, anybody in the world can open it up, find it in a browser, and buy from you.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. Comparing foot traffic to like, online traffic is just like mind boggling. You're gonna get so many more people coming to that store. And it's like... 

Mike Potter  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

People like to talk about design and brand. It's like, "Yeah. Those things are so important, but it's hard to put a number behind them." Sometimes, it's the impression people get visiting your website. 

And most people browsing the internet just do it like second nature. They're not even thinking about it. They are just like, "Oh, this feels like a cheap website." Or "This feels like... This doesn't feel very trustworthy". 

And it's because when you're standing up sites that aren't designed well or people are doing the build outs, they don't really know what they're doing. Your customers can tell when it feels cheap, or when it feels quick, or... Sometimes I use terms like "fly-by-night". 

It's like these, stand-up, weird stores. Oftentimes, you can attribute them to like the dropshipping type stores where it's just thrown together real quickly, almost like an internet bodega

Those things aren't going to work moving forward. They hardly work now. If you want to build a real business, you have to invest in the experience. You have to invest in the look and feel [of your store]: the UX, the design... You have to.

Mike Potter  

Yeah. I think you got to invest the whole way through. It's such a unique time these days where there's so much business being done online. 

And like I said, the competition level, I think, is extremely high. But you've got this really unique time where you can really acquire a bunch of new customers that could stay with you for the long run or end up leaving you, depending on what the experience is like buying from your store. 

If it's a great experience, you deliver a great product at a really fair price, I think they're going to come back to you and they're going to remember that experience. 

But we've had good experiences --my wife and I-- in some of the stuff that we've bought and we've had really, really bad experiences as well. And not only from... 

The bad experiences [are] not only from the smaller brands, but some of the larger brands that you might not expect. You'd think [they] would have their stuff together. They've just completely missed the boat, I think, from this transition to Ecommerce. 

So right now, there's this real unique period of time where the amount of sales that are going on online is going through the roof. Shopify just released their financials the other day showing that exact thing [and their] year over year growth was like 100% year over year. Fastest growth they've seen in a number of years. 

And if you're not ready to provide your customers with a great experience, they may buy once from you, but that's not how you build one of those businesses that you're talking about. You need repeat customers, you need to give them a great experience, you need to make sure that when they're shipping their order. 

The customer knows when the order is going to arrive, how long it's going to take, when they get the order, what that experience looks like from an unboxing standpoint? 

I think all of that stuff is super important. And we saw a lot of this in that survey that we did of just how important the customer experience was, but also how important the structure of the store was and all the data that they've got behind it.

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Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I brought this up a few times. But it's just like... The market penetration of Ecommerce... And especially with what's going on this year in the stores, not doing in store promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it's going to be huge. 

The numbers are going to be mind boggling. It's going to just skew the charts, in terms of looking at the historical data. This is going to be one for the books for ecommerce, this holiday season. 

So you need to have everything in place, you need to be ready to go, you need to make sure that you have a plan.

Mike Potter  

Yeah. Yeah. You better make sure you've got a plan to handle the traffic, to provide that great experience, to make sure that customers are buying products that are in stock that can be shipped quickly, --like I said-- that your data is protected... 

I think the other thing we saw from that survey that was really surprising was just how many people ended up losing data. So in the survey that we had,  25% of people ended up losing data at some point. 1 in 10 customers actually couldn't recover any data at all. 

So, making sure you've got that plan in place of like, "Okay. If this happens, what are we going to do? How are we going to handle that?" And you should think about that from both a negative connotation of like, "Okay. If this disaster happened to us, what are we going to do?" 

But also in the positive connotation of like, "Okay. If we had this influx of orders, can we handle that? Can we ship them out on time? Can we get those products out to customers?" 

Because like I said, it's a really unique opportunity that's coming up where you're going to have an influx of customers. If you provide an amazing experience to them, you ship the product on time as described, under a reasonable rate, then those customers are going to come back. 

They'll come back through 2021, they'll come back for Christmas in 2021, and that's the way you build a real long-term business. 

So yeah. Think of the plan from a disaster standpoint but also think of it from like, "Wow. What if we're super successful?" standpoint. "Are we going to be able to give that customer experience that we need to like fulfilling orders on-time properly, to make sure that those customers come back next year?"

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. It's so true. It just goes back to the basics of building a business 101. It's so much easier to sell to someone that's already bought from you. So you want to make sure [that] that experience...

Mike Potter  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

...is amazing. And they want to come back and buy that next product from you and just keep it going. Because then-- especially Ecommerce-- it's just nuts, because it's getting so competitive. 

And the cost of customer acquisition these days is through the roof. Everyone's jumping into paid media

And if you don't have a good experience, people aren't going to come back to your store, and they're not gonna buy from you again. And then it's getting wild.

At some point, it's like acquiring a new customer might be a loss leader in the future. You might have to pay and just hope that people are going to be in it for the long haul. And you've got a... Your lifetime value is going to be more than your first purchase.

Mike Potter  

Right. Yeah. I totally see that happening. I think you're right. I think... What were they saying? The Ecommerce transactions that are being done now or what they expected that [would] happen in 2030... 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Mike Potter  

...it's been accelerated for 10 years.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. COVID just jumped it and it's insane.

Mike Potter  

Right. So you've got this massive increase of Ecommerce traffic, all fighting for the same ad placements. And you're right. So the cost of acquisition is going up. I don't see that changing. I don't see those costs going down. 

So you're right, you're gonna have to figure this out. How are you going to move... How are going to move that needle to make sure that the financial metrics work? I think that's a real important challenge for business owners.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. The financials behind scaling are insane. And that's essentially the hard truth in conversation that any agency or consultant that's going to have with someone. 

It's like, "Alright. You got to know your numbers before you can talk about scaling." It's like, "What is your true profit on these products?" You gotta include transaction fees from whatever service you're using, overhead, you got to include your shipping. If it's free shipping... 

You got to look at all that stuff and just be like, "What can I afford to spend to bring in a new business?" Bring in a new business, bring in a new customer. It's pretty wild. You gotta know the numbers.

Mike Potter  

Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Chase Clymer  

So to wrap things up here, you guys are working on a revised version of your Black Friday,Cyber Monday ebook and it will probably be out when this is out. So if you're listening now, go look for it. Where should I look for this book?

Mike Potter  

Yes. So it will be on the on rewind.com. So you can go to our website at rewind.com. And it should be on the front page right there to download the ebook for Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

Chase Clymer  

And what are the... What am I gonna learn with this book? What are the... What's inside of it?

Mike Potter  

Yeah. We've gotten lots of tips and tricks from a bunch of different partners on how you know how to to handle your store whether that be from a shipping perspective, whether it be from a promotions perspective, from a pricing perspective, obviously from a data protection standpoint... 

So we work with a bunch of partners to bring in all the information that we feel like merchants need to know in order to really properly execute a Black Friday, Cyber Monday campaign. 

So it's not focused on us, it's really focused on the merchants, making sure that they've got information from, like I said, a bunch of different partners across the whole store business, if you will. Across all the different parts of the business that need to be taken care of for Black Friday, Cyber Monday. 

So, totally full of great tips and tricks, whether it be from a shipping perspective, whether it be from data protection perspective, marketing perspective, pricing, etc. Yeah. So that's, that's what's included in the book this year.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Mike, thanks so much for coming back on the show. Is there anything that you want to part with?

Mike Potter  

No. I think we touched on it all. I think, like we said, the biggest thing that we were surprised with from the survey perspective was just how many people were unprepared for that disaster. 

And I think the point that you made around making sure that they're properly planning for Black Friday and Cyber Monday are super important. And people are looking for a great backup solution. We think Rewind is the best one that's out there. But even if they --for some reason-- don't choose us, make sure that you've got your store protected. 

Like we said, make sure you're using unique passwords, make sure you're vetting the apps that you're installing, make sure that you're limiting the access to the system to only the employees that need it. 

Do some basic best practices from a security perspective to make sure your business is safe.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. That's great advice. Thanks so much.

Mike Potter  

Yeah. Thanks, Chase.

Chase Clymer  

I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their journey and knowledge with us today. We've got a lot to think about and potentially add to our businesses. Links and more information will be available in the show notes as well. 

If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business, feel free to reach out and learn more at electriceye.io/connect. Also, make sure you subscribe and leave an amazing review. Thank you!