Talking Shop: Lightspeed founder stories from Shoptalk.

Brian Lee of The Honest Company at Shoptalk 2016.

This week, founders and CEOs from every major e-commerce brand and retailer you can think of gathered in Las Vegas to “talk shop” at Shoptalk. From more established players (think Target and Sears) to 800 pound gorillas (Amazon) to newer younger brands (think Stitch Fix and DollarShaveClub).

In attendance was an elite bunch of decision makers who influence what we buy and how we buy it (remember the cerulean blue speech from The Devil Wears Prada?). These are the tastemakers of today in a modern retail world that exists both online and offline.

Below is a quick and dirty summary of my main takeaways in the words of several of our Lightspeed founders and featured Shoptalk speakers.

But before scrolling down, check out Lightspeed partner Nikki Quinn’s excellent summary of her Shoptalk experience in this two minute Snap, which also happens to feature a magician…when in Vegas!: https://vimeo.com/167176169.

1. Creating an Authentic Brand.

Andy Dunn, Bonobos — From a spiritual point of view, we think about the evolution of mankind, starting with pants. What we discovered is by owning a brand and having a digital native approach, we could build the brand of the future.

Brian Lee, The Honest Company — We are an e-commerce company that is mission driven. We want you, our customer, to have our brand resonate so deeply with you, speak to you, that it is you.

Max Levchin, Affirm — In retail, we have to offer people ways to shop that don’t destroy their personal wellbeing — giving them choices and being transparent. Don’t be caught doing something ambiguous that is not good for the customer. It’s about beneficence — the doing of good; active kindness.

2. Navigating Your Core Customer.

Katrina Lake, Stitch Fix — Listen to your core customer. Ask them questions, listen, and then get data scientists to analyze it. For us, success is a combo of art and science. We really use our data science to have a high degree of accuracy.

Brian Lee, The Honest Company — Our core customer is any mommy who loves their baby — it’s a big market. The Honest Company speaks to today’s mom. Today’s mom is on Instagram and Snapchat. It’s the “cool” mom.

Max Levchin, Affirm — On the millennial shopper…We partnered with point of sale retailers online and now offline where we said: “Instead of a credit card or a tired old anti-beneficent payment method, we’re going to offer one that’s crystal clear, has no complexity and no gimmicks.”

3. The Challenges of Reach and Scale.

Andy Dunn, Bonobos — This is retail. This is not a software company. It takes a long time to build, and ultimately profit matters and cash flow matters. We’re focused on the balance of that. Brooks Brothers was founded in 1818. Ralph Lauren was founded in 1967. The opportunity to create a brand that is over $1billion in revenue comes up once in 100 years. We want to be that brand.

Brian Lee, The Honest Company — Bringing in the right talent at the right time is a challenge. You want to bring on smart hard working athletes at the start, and at a certain point bring in the experts and add process. But don’t add process to the point that it kills innovation. Find a way to work hard and innovate.

4. Online vs Offline.

Andy Dunn, Bonobos — Scaling growth online is hard, which is why we started our offline guide shops. We initially thought the consumer experience is not as good if the customer can’t see the product and try it on. We were telling ourselves that the Bonobos experience was better online. We were lying to ourselves. We discovered that customers didn’t care if we placed the product in their hands. Instant gratification is not always necessary.

Katrina Lake, Stitch Fix — We are in an era where we are solving for the evolution of brick and mortar and online and how they work together or compete in people’s wallets. Ironically, a lot of Stitch Fix originated with a focus on high level of service — which comes from the brick and mortar world.

Brian Lee, The Honest Company — Our ultimate goal is to be in your home regardless of how you shop. We want to get in front of our consumer and speak to our community and have a direct line to our customer — you can do that online.

Thanks to Lightspeed founders Andy Dunn, Katrina Lake, Brian Lee and Max Levchin for these nuggets of wisdom. See you next year at Shoptalk! For now, signing off and leaving Las Vegas.

*Images courtesy of Shoptalk: http://shoptalk.com/.

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