Tim Masek, founder of 1-800-D2C, wants to make life easier for ecommerce founders. Through his experience as a growth operator, Tim discovered the difficulty of making decisions about stacks for ecommerce brands. Many founders don’t have the specialized knowledge to be able to pick the optimal tools for their team. So Tim created a service to help ecommerce founders identify the best tools for their stacks. On this episode of Subscription Radio, Ben and Tim discuss how to pick the right tools for your stack, the benefits of a subscription-only business model, and how different brands are making the most of ecommerce.

Show Topics

  • Fill in the gaps
  • Help people find the right tools
  • Trust founder interviews
  • Be thoughtful about your choices
  • Consider the subscription-only model
  • Focus on one thing
  • Innovate on ecommerce
  • Take advantage of TikTok
  • Unlock non-dilutive funding

Show Links

Key Takeaways

1:42 – Fill in the gaps

Ecommerce founders are often focused on their product and building a good team first, so Tim created 1-800-D2C to help fill in the gaps for them.

“The whole reason I created that business was because as a growth operator, I had to make a lot of decisions for the ecommerce brands that I worked with on what would be their stacks. And so that includes subscription, but it was also things like reviews or what do I use for SMS, customer support, et cetera. And actually, a lot of the ecomm founders that I worked with were quite clueless on that stuff. And that's not a knock on them. It's just, when you're starting out your ecomm business, you should probably be focusing on your product and building a good team, et cetera, those key foundational elements before you start thinking about the stack. And so I was able to jump in and kickstart those conversations around what would be the right stack. So that was where I came from and my objective was always to stay on top of what these different tools were.”

5:03 – Help people find the right tools

Tim has captured and collated information on different tools ecommerce founders might want to use to make it easier for them to find the best tools for the job.

“I want to continue peeling those layers and helping more and more operators find the right tools to use for their business. So I am capturing information in a few different ways. A lot is by building relationships with tools, some is by capturing data that's available on the website. So like they're using Klaviyo for example. And then you also have brands who I engage with, who will let me know, ‘I'm using this tool. And it's really, really awesome.’ And that's super, super useful, especially for when you start learning about things in the operation stack, which I think is there's still a lot of obfuscation in terms of what tools are people using for inventory management and all the back offices. It’s fascinating.”

6:17 – Trust founder interviews

Founders can give you their perspective on which tools have and haven’t worked for their company. Interviewing founders can provide you with some great insight.

“The one thing I'm doing, it's not a hacky way to do this, to give contextual information on how these tools fit into a stack is founder interviews. And those are, I think, the blog posts that get the most traction on 1-800-D2C is when you're speaking to the founder of a supplements business that's using four or five different tools. They're then going to let me know how they're using those tools and how critical those tools are. I just spoke to one business who's in the skincare game, and it’s this business called L’Amarue, very, very cool business. And she's using Octane AI, which does custom quizzes and all that, a very, very powerful tool, but it actually becomes 10X more powerful once you're able to use those insights from the octane AI quiz to start tagging customers within Shopify in certain ways, and then passing that information also then into Klaviyo and into Gorgias. That's all powered by Alloy Automation. And so when you think about a tool like Alloy Automation, yeah, it sounds cool. I see it all over Twitter. People keep raving about it, but how is it actually being used? I want to know. And so you can potentially dig through the customer case studies on the Alloy front. But you might not trust that as much as a founder telling you, walking you through exactly how they're using it from their perspective.”

11:00 – Be thoughtful about your choices

Tim’s goal isn’t to build a bigger company, it’s to build a solid company, so he’s very particular about the brands he uses.

“We’re now well over a thousand brands, and I say well over, I’m not trying to boast a large number. That's not my intention. My intention is not to just have a ton of brands. It's actually be a little bit thoughtful about which brands are there. And so I want brands where you'd actually want to know what they're using. I'll go back to the example for Jot, which I know you're working with. Great, great, great business. You want to know what's the secret sauce behind that business. How are they doing what they're doing? What's, it's not just their stack, but what's their team composition? How did they fundraise? Who did their design? All those things you'd want to uncover. And therefore they should be on 1-800-D2C. But if it's a brand that just launched another supplement, and they're not that interesting beyond the fact that they just launched, they're probably not going to be listed on 1-800-D2C just yet unless they start making big moves.”

13:51 – Consider the subscription-only model

While a subscription-only model isn’t common, it can strengthen your marketing campaign because you only have a single audience to target.

“Subscription-only, I think, is a really, really strong position to be in, because it focuses your entire business on delivering the best subscription experience possible. And it makes the communications around your brand very, very crisp. Everything you do when it comes to ads, social posts, et cetera, it's always going to drive to subscription. And as soon as you start introducing subscription plus one-off purchases, the message gets a little bit more diluted. Now, most businesses that are using subscription have a one-off purchase option. So it's actually quite unique to only have subscription-only. And I'm not suggesting that people should go subscription -only, but I've always been fascinated by that model. I think it's a really, really strong position to be in if you’ve got a strong proposition.”

18:39 – Focus on one thing

If you decide to only focus on either subscriptions or one-time purchases, you can put more attention toward whichever avenue you choose.

“That goes back to the point about being super focused on one thing. Here, because they're subscription only, you can expect their subscription experience to modify orders, et cetera, to be perfect. Because if it isn't, then they're not going to go very far. And for a business that's got 60 percent of the orders coming off a one-off purchase, 40 percent coming off the subscription. And then actually people doing subscription only because they want the discount and then they cancel and all that, you're busy doing a million things that might not focus on creating the best possible ongoing subscription management experience. Here they've got the luxury of being hyper-focused, so we'll see. I'll give you the update in a month on what the experience is like, but I can't imagine it's going to be anything but pretty strong.”

23:50 – Innovate on ecommerce

The subscription model has opened up many new possibilities for the ecommerce space to go in the future.

“There’s something big here. We can really innovate in the world of ecommerce, and we're only just scratching the surface. So let's keep digging, and we're going to speak with the people at Off Limits doing funny things with cereal. And then we're going to speak with maybe a couple other brands who are a little bit wacky and experimental, and over time we'll figure out what works within NFTs or memberships and build the next wave of ecommerce businesses. So I still think that commerce as we know it today on Shopify and all that, pretty linear process minus maybe subscription, and this opens up new, really big, new possibilities within the world of ecommerce. So I'm actually genuinely super excited about that whole space.”

28:42 – Take advantage of TikTok

TikTok is a great place for innovation. One company is even giving cash back for products that are featured on a TikTok and gain a lot of views.

“I recently spoke with a really interesting team called Bounty. They’re doing something in the UGC space which I think has pretty big implications, so that's worth checking out. Basically what they do is they give cash back for posting TikTok videos of the products you receive. So let's say I buy my Jot coffee and I want to get cash back on it. Well, Hey, Jot is going to be like, ‘We're cool with giving you cash back. Just give us a ton of views on TikTok.’ And once I get my Jot coffee, I'm going to post a TikTok of myself drinking it. And if it somehow gets 10,000 views or whatever, based on that CPM, I'm going to be able to get cash back on Jot. Just as I think about bigger trends, et cetera, I do think that they're not just a new tool to know, they are onto something that's probably a bigger trend than that.”

30:47 – Unlock non-dilutive funding

Every company is looking for new ways to fundraise, and non-dilutive funds are a great way to bolster your business.

“I'd love to unlock more funds on 1-800-D2C in a non-dilutive way. So for instance Webflow, the website is built on Webflow. It's all no code. They've just raised a big round, and as part of that they're going to give back to the community and invest in businesses, or they have a community grant or something to invest in businesses that are powered by Webflow. And so I've been speaking to some people there. I'd love to be a part of that and unlock a bit of funding from the Webflow team. Cause I'm super bullish on Webflow. Love the tool so much. And that would help me a ton as a business, obviously just building this out, adding all the features that we've been talking about to help people find tools in a faster, more efficient way.”