SandBox Commerce: What We Build (Product) is Driven by our Customer (Feedback)

Someone asked me recently, during a speech to a coding bootcamp, what the product vision for SandBox Commerce was. I responded with the fact that the SandBox Commerce team was driven by the desire to make a platform so ubiquitous that we became the mediator for any transaction or interaction with a retailer that a consumer has on their mobile phone. We find it astounding that a $320 billion dollar market is being driven by 2% of retailers who’ve had the wherewithal, time, money and internal resources to hurdle the barriers of entry to the market. SandBox Commerce is on a mission to democratize access to these technologies for all brands and retailers. Imagine a world where all distributors of products and content can engage with their customers the way Amazon, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, and Best Buy can. This is the world SandBox Commerce imagines and comes one step closer to building every single day.

Democratization of simple and effortless commerce does not come easy though; there’s been huge fragmentation in the eCommerce space both in technologies used to facilitate customer facing and internal operations and in terms of the personalization now required to sell effectively to consumers. That is why SandBox Commerce found it important early on to adopt a customer feedback loop and open ecosystem with its product and services landscape — the customer feedback loop helped us bridge the gap between our initial product vision and the product/company we’re building on a day to day basis.

On the product side, SandBox Commerce has built the easiest way for retailers to build, deploy, and manage engaging mobile application experiences for their customers. Retailers use their credentials for a Shopify, BigCommerce, Demandware, Magento, etc. to immediately populate a back end to begin creating a unique mobile app experience without technical know-how. Using a 10 step wizard, non technical personnel within a retail organization are able to design and integrate best in class third party API integrations and easily deploy their enterprise-grade mobile application to the iOS and Google Play stores.

Our platform enables retailers to build mobile apps with custom content-driven commerce pages, geo-notifications, push notifications, loyalty programs, and other features that are the most engaging for commerce; these features all take advantage of a phone’s native functionality. SandBox Commerce’s platform functions as a retailer’s mobile marketing and support team with: machine learning, a mobile analytics dashboard, and in-app chat functionality. The end result is an app that delights a retail brands' most important asset, their customers.

This API-driven, integration approach to platform development has let us consolidate the app creation experience into something simple and effortless for brands. We’ve complemented this with strategic services from channel partners focused on driving traffic and engagement through the app once it’s build. Our early focus on channel partnerships has been an incredible channel for learning about our customers problems and the landscape they currently navigate to achieve success in the digital space.

But, how have we known which features, integrations, and technologies to pursue first? This is where the product vision meets the market and a startup works to establish product-market fit. For us, the easiest way to go about establishing whether what we built was going to live up to the market demands was to talk to our customers and we did that, A LOT. We work with an amazing group of early retailers who give us open and honest feedback on a regular basis. Some of them we worked with one on one in their marketing, development, and sales processes; others we learned from via customer outreach campaigns in marketing/sales; even others we learned from by reviewing their own apps, produced content, and market research surveys.

And we learn from ALL of our customers by being data-driven in our product development process and looking at analytics constantly. We look at both the quantitative and qualitative results of our customer discovery process weekly during product backlog grooming meetings to determine the next weeks experiments and sprint to drive more value for our customers on a week-to-week basis.

So to recap, product vision and a passion for the problem in the industry helps startup founders build a great MVP. To take that MVP from its inception to a successful product generating significant revenue for a startup requires product/market fit. The easiest way to achieve product/market fit for SandBox Commerce has been by tightening the customer feedback loop and tying it to weekly development sprints that prioritize the features that are going to deliver the most value to our startups’ customers.

Ryan C. Smith

Head of Product — SandBox Commerce