Kosta Popov Of Cappasity On The Top 5 Ways To Market, Advertise & Promote An Ecommerce Business Today
An Interview With Eric Netsch
Your online store must be optimized for all the devices your customers use for shopping. So, if your customer shops on their smartphone, your mobile website should be as user-friendly as the desktop one. And if the brand has a large audience, it makes sense to create a mobile app that provides a more convenient shopping experience than a mobile site does.
As a part of our series called “The Top 5 Ways To Market, Advertise & Promote An Ecommerce Business Today”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kosta Popov.
Kosta Popov, CEO and founder of Cappasity — the company providing an easy and scalable platform for creation, embedding and analysis of 3D and AR content — has 20+ years of experience and a successful track record as a software company CEO. Under Kosta’s lead, Cappasity has so far successfully raised $7.4M. Kosta is an expert in 3D technologies, SaaS solutions and mobile applications. He was named one of the top innovators by Intel Software.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you’re super busy. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Well, I’ve been in the IT business since the early 2000s. Since then, I’ve founded several companies, from a design studio to a gamedev startup. Our team not only created video games for computers and consoles, but also developed our proprietary graphics engine. But in 2013 we came up with a completely new idea. That year, there were several venture deals in 3D technology, and since the team had prior experience in 3D and video gaming, we decided that the market was ready to step into the era where 3D technology would be used by regular consumers. We began with the software for the creation of 3D product visuals for e-commerce, but soon it became clear that big retailers needed a pipeline solution that would also allow them to embed these visuals into online catalogs as well as collect and analyze data on users’ engagement with the content. Enterprises just won’t use a solution that doesn’t fulfill all their needs.
That’s why we spent years on R&D which resulted in developing a whole set of products: the Easy 3D Scan software for immersive content production, the Cappasity platform for content storage and analytics, and integration tools, including frameworks, SDK, and API to enable retailers to customize our solution. Since online catalogs are continuously updated, we made every effort to allow our clients to digitize thousands of SKUs within short timeframes. In other words, we moved towards a more comprehensive approach. This is how we developed the first scalable and easy-to-adopt solution for complex e-commerce projects that only takes 3 minutes per SKU to create a 3D product visual and embed it into a store.
Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?
In my view, the most exciting stories in a company that develops its own products are connected with R&D, and most often, with the product itself. When you create something unique, you can make interesting discoveries that will improve your product with new features. For instance, we’ve been experimenting with machine learning for quite a while. Recently, we managed to apply machine learning to the AR holograms creation process, which we’re going to add to our mobile app 3DShot. It happened just by accident — we planned to add these algorithms to completely different cases, but the experiment succeeded and transformed the product that we’ve been working on for many years. At these moments you not only say “wow”, but also find new growth opportunities for your business.
What’s the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson did you learn from that?
You know, even funny mistakes can be rather painful and, in some cases, critical for a startup. They only make you smile years later. The funniest mistakes we made were related to pricing. When we were starting out, we thought that prices played a crucial role for our clients, so we deliberately reduced them. In fact, our clients were looking for a pipeline solution and a slightly different product configuration rather than discounts and enterprise packages at the price of SMB products. We realized that only after a while. Now it seems funny but, unfortunately, many startups make this mistake instead of focusing on what their customers really need.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
At the moment, we’re working on an innovative solution for creating NFT-based loyalty programs. Soon, users of our platform will get the opportunity to create NFTs on the basis of uploaded 3D visuals. What makes a Cappasity NFT different from other digital assets is that it contains additional materials that can be added even after the store’s customer receives the NFT. In this way, the NFT owner gets access to an individual VIP channel for communicating with the business. As a result, the brand’s customers will be able to receive exclusive offers, unique materials, or invitations to special events. Both brands and consumers will find this service helpful since online stores will get an absolutely new customer communication and marketing channel and customers will have the opportunity to engage with their favorite brand as never before.
You’re a successful business leader. What are three traits about yourself that you feel helped fuel your success? Can you share a story or example for each?
Firstly, set goals. Short-term, long-term, it doesn’t matter. Independency and dedication are vital for self-improvement. Teachers and mentors, on the contrary, stifle introspection and independent thinking by setting you up with a collection of off-the-shelf solutions. Secondly, do not try to please everyone — start with a niche market and then expand. And thirdly, take risks and believe they’ll pay off.
Awesome, thanks so much for sharing that. I want to shift gears and talk about eCommerce. In my work, I focus on improving shopper engagement, so I’m very passionate about this topic. As you know, mobile has taken center stage in terms of how people are engaging and transacting with eCommerce stores — leading a lot of stores to lean into mobile-first shopping experiences like mobile apps. Can you help articulate a few reasons why an eCommerce business should consider creating their own mobile app?
Compared to a mobile website, an app allows e-commerce businesses to make mobile shopping experience much more convenient for their users. It’s also much easier to integrate breakthrough technologies like 3D and AR shopping tools into an app than a mobile website, again contributing to a fantastic user experience. What’s more, an app provides more opportunities for customer communication — you can better target and engage with your audience, use notifications and other marketing tools, collect more detailed data on customer behavior, and as a result, promote your product more efficiently.
The death of the cookie is going to happen. By 2023 marketers will no longer be able to track consumers online using third-party cookies. How do you think that will impact how businesses acquire and re-target customers? What can they do to pivot?
I think that marketers should now focus on community building, reaching this community with certain digital tools, and keeping them involved with the brand. If you create a loyal community around the company, your audience will continuously get up-to-date information about your products and will buy from you. But it’s also crucial to retain these loyal customers, that’s why customer experience is one of the top priorities for e-commerce businesses today. There are plenty of tools for customer experience improvement, including the immersive technologies we’re involved in. So, businesses should invest more in customer retention and use innovative technology to create unforgettable customer experiences and stand from competition.
The cost of paid ads is at an all-time high. What are some alternative strategies to reach your target consumers that don’t involve paying a third party like Facebook and Instagram?
I think the only effective way to promote your brand without paid advertising is to build an efficient word-of-mouth marketing strategy. That’s why many brands now focus on viral projects and experiment with new ways to appeal to their audience such as NFT-based marketing and branding in the metaverse. The point is that booming digital technologies are a perfect marketing channel to reach younger generations who have grown up entirely in the Internet era. Bright and engaging digital promotions and valuable virtual content are the key to target modern consumers, so 3D visuals, Augmented Reality, virtual try-on, NFTs, and the metaverse are great tools that brands can use as an alternative to paid ads.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are your “ Top 5 Ways To Market, Advertise & Promote An Ecommerce Business Today?” Please share a story or an example for each.
First, pay special attention to customer engagement. An engaging online shopping experience has the potential to improve business reputation, build brand loyalty, increase customer satisfaction, and create more word-of-mouth buzz around your e-commerce business. One of the effective ways to enhance customers’ digital experience is to blur the line between online and in-store shopping by integrating immersive technologies like 3D and AR into customers’ journeys. To give you an idea, after embedding 3D product visuals into online catalogs, our clients see an increase in the time a consumer spends on a product page by 15–40 seconds, which indicates their higher engagement in the online shopping process.
Secondly, it’s pivotal that online retailers provide consumers with high-quality visual content. That’s because, despite all its pros, e-commerce has a significant drawback — the lack of physical contact with items. In this regard, visual content becomes the only tool for buyers to examine your products and make a purchase decision. No matter how successful your marketing strategy is, if your content is bad quality, you won’t manage to retain customers in this highly-competitive market.
Third, your online store must be optimized for all the devices your customers use for shopping. So, if your customer shops on their smartphone, your mobile website should be as user-friendly as the desktop one. And if the brand has a large audience, it makes sense to create a mobile app that provides a more convenient shopping experience than a mobile site does.
My fourth tip is: implement AR technology and virtual try-on into your e-commerce store. Augmented Reality allows online shoppers to explore desired items in a real-life environment, while virtual try-on helps them better understand how the product would fit. As practice shows, the try-before-you-buy experience is helpful for buyers of not only apparel, but also jewelry since it’s one of the most returned categories of goods. That’s why we’ve also developed solutions for virtual try-on for rings and watches. Augmented Reality and virtual try-on help consumers get all required information about your items and buy from you with confidence. What’s more, they’re a perfect marketing tool to promote your brand among younger generations who value innovative shopping experiences.
Last, but not least, use modern advertising tools like brand presence in the metaverse and NFT-based marketing to stay a step ahead of the competition. The metaverse and NFTs provide endless opportunities to e-commerce brands: you can step into the metaverse to engage with your customers in a new and memorable way, and reach a tech-savvy gen Z audience, as well as use NFTs for rewarding your brand fans. Many brands understand the value of such marketing. For instance, some of our clients are already waiting for our upcoming solution for creating NFT-based loyalty programs that will be launched this summer. More and more brands will include the metaverse and NFTs to their marketing strategies, so investing in this space today will give you a competitive advantage in the future.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I’d try to provide access to high-quality educational materials which contain both the latest immersive technologies and truly useful educational content. Since, educational institutions have a tight budget, there’s very little premium content in education and many teaching materials are often presented in a dry and uninteresting manner. I wish education could have an opportunity to use truly engaging content — in this way, perhaps, more people would be interested in learning.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I want to thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise with us. I wish you continued success!
About The Interviewer. Eric Netsch is the co-founder and CEO of Tapcart, a codeless mobile app builder that helps Shopify’s fastest-growing brands to create an owned marketing channel so that they can reach, engage, convert, and retain their audience without ever relying on another entity for access. Eric has been featured in TechCrunch, Business Insider, The Verge, etc. To launch your mobile app, visit Tapcart.com.