Envoy B2B is a wholesale content and eCommerce platform for your entire team. Their tools and services are designed to help you create dynamic content, increase your speed of sale, and bring you closer to your retailers. The technology you need to empower your sales reps and support your retail channel.
Tell us about your background Jon?
I’m going to go a little further back than normal. It started off as a paper, boy, I have that fun part of my history. And from there to music. So there’s a lot of variety in my past that I think that has been pretty helpful in what I’m doing now. I did some advertising for a stint there for a few years then software development. This brings me to Envoy, which is what I’ve been really doing for about a decade now. I think in all of those roles, it’s been like, I’m this team guy, when I think back and look at why and how that happened?
As a paperboy I was rolling papers with my family, getting them all involved, getting my mom eventually to drive me around. And I was that team person, in music, the same thing. I was the recorder. The tour planner, the marketer on my space back in that day advertising, the same kind of thing.
I got hired at a TV station, so this was back when there was a lot of, there still are, accounts selling TV ads, and they wanted to augment their TV experience with selling digital media. So I helped them do that but had to bridge the gap between the old school and the new school together there.
So the team thing going on. That’s good for development. And CEO right now I really just consider myself our team’s champion, I help us get done what we want to get done.
Mike tell us about your background.
Probably something very similar. I got started by working for my family. My dad was a professional baseball player, came back to New Orleans after his career ended, and started a small local sporting goods store. And rather than daycare, he put his kids to work and so I spent a lot of time choosing sizes on ordering, things like that when I was a little kid. And I went away to college, got a job, and then realized I felt passionate about specialty retail and my family had pivoted from generalized sporting goods to outdoor sporting goods, forced to do that by the large chains moving into our city.
We decided to start focusing on things like Patagonia and North Face, which were emerging companies in the mid-eighties. And I left my real job and came back to work for my family. I was the third generation involved in the business. My generation was all about email and websites.
I helped the company get involved very early in e-commerce then subsequently was the very first outdoor store to sell products on Amazon. So during that process of learning a lot about e-commerce and starting up like drop shipping and all these kinds of things. I was involved in various organizations with the outdoor industry. With, people like Backcountry and focused on some of the standards that would be used to exchange POS and catalog information and stuff.
My experience with Amazon taught me one thing. It was basically where we were going to go in the next decade, which was mostly online informed shopping. People were going to do almost all their shopping online. And without any local presence, it was increasingly cutting off local stores from any type of visibility.
Locally was founded focused on that one consumer behavior. It became obvious by the late two-thousands shopper behavior was moving mostly to online discovery. Things like open table and, ticketmaster.com and, Airbnb, that was the inevitable future of retail. People would do most of their shopping online and for lucky local stores, they would be able to get some referrals from maybe their vendors or something locally.
And now we do all sorts of stuff. Since we founded the company in 2000 and launched in 2014.
What brought Envoy and Locally together?
Jon: It was through research that we were doing for product development. To make our platform a little more retailer-centric. Something that we do at Envoy as a part of our product development process has always been a research component, a really big research component. We’re not really inventing things and putting them out there and saying, Hey, do you like it? We do all the research upfront, figure out what people want. It sounds simple, but it’s hard to do a really good job of research. And part of what led us to locally was we asked retailers, “what do you want, what are you having issues with?” One of the things that came back really strong all the time was we’re having trouble replenishing easily.
Essentially there are open spots on my store shelf too often. And what can we do about that? One of the things we started looking at was how can we get their on-hand information inside of our brand B2B portals, so that the rep can be that proactive champion to say, “Hey, I can see you’re about to be out of this.“
Here’s an opportunity to get the product now before you do run out. In that search, we found Locally and they were doing it already essentially, and they’re really good at it. So it made a ton of sense to partner up. With all the progress and, like Mike has been saying just the amazing job they’ve been doing and innovating this area already. Our solutions came together really well.
Mike: same kind of thing. One of the things on our side, Is that it’s awesome to spend so much of our time trying to connect people to a local place to buy merchandise. But just like John said, if the local store isn’t aware of what they should have or has holes in their stock that’s just a big mess. So we worked with John at the very beginning to conceptualize. What if we could do a better job? Somebody like Amazon or, a big online merchant, they’re using systems that can automate, find missing products, fill them in, they’re just doing a much more sophisticated job. Our vision was: Hey, we don’t want to build a B2B order management system. How do we give what we have to help our retailers be better? Jon, tell us about Envoy
We’re a wholesale B2B commerce platform. We play primarily in the footwear, apparel, and accessory space. Most of our clients are pretty established brands. We do have a focus on the outdoor space. That’s been an interest of ours since the beginning. So brands use our platform to provide, great service to their retailers and support their reps with the tools they need.
Largely we get used for our selling tools for reps to show the line, build assortments with their accounts or let their accounts do that on their own. All the way through, pre-book ordering and replenishment. And then you’ve got to think content too.
That’s a big part of the picture now is this destination for showing the coming line, but also is sustaining that current line. So it’s not only content it’s commerce as well, a big part of it. I would say more and more though, what we’re doing is just helping brands get the right products in the right stores now. That’s kinda the big motive.
And try to do that without a solution. It’s inefficient, it’s almost impossible to do it at the pace you need to do it at to keep up with the trends and capitalize on what’s happening. That’s really our focus more and more. To get down to it, we help brands get the right products in the right stores. It’s ordering tools. It’s assortment tools, its line planning tools, its content tools, but more and more, what we’re excited about is this data-centric approach, intelligence tools that are the future for onboarding. That makes the most sense.
Mike, give us the background on Locally
Our whole mission is to basically transform online marketing tactics that are used by large e-commerce merchants for the acquisition of customers, engagements, transactions, we’ve duplicated virtually all of that on behalf of any size local retailer.
Our specialty is driving consumers to in-store pickup and curbside. Same day delivery and shipments to store. And we use all the normal tactics. We, we do a good job of winning SEO tactics. We integrate with brand sites, retailer sites, Shopify. Our mission is to drive engagement for shoppers with their local store.
Then to create a path for the shopper to, go all the way through to, buying the item in the store. It makes everything so efficient.
What the major retail spaces that you support?
Jon: I think you go a little bit wider than outdoor for us, not another industry, but more of a category that we’re specific in would be footwear in general. That’s a big segment for us. All footwear brands are more or less becoming head to toe though. So I guess it’s just apparel in general as well. And there are some outliers too, we do some business within the toy area. And like kids’ games and like that kind of thing. And then also golf is a growing category.
Mike: We’re at the epicenter in outdoor and sporting goods. We have fly fishing brands and scuba brands and a lot of snow brands. We’re like Jon we’re very prevalent in running shoes and also comfort shoes. We’ve got some foothold in electronics and baby and hardware. So it’s fairly wide. Consumer behavior is similar across almost every retail space.
It’s the synergies between Envoy and Locally that feel like where the real value is. Give us the basic value props of your integration.
Jon: The first thing is to get an understanding of what we do together, for retailers that approve, we bring their on-hand inventory into Envoy, into the brand’s B2B portal. This is the B2B portal where reps are using this to sustain their accounts. So it’s a very helpful bit of information to have. Oh, these accounts are low on stock. That’s the perfect thing for a rep. And to do that is really simple, but it hasn’t happened until now.
It’s one of those simple things that are the bedrock for some other really cool things that locally brought to the table. I mentioned we help brands get the right product in the right store. It’s this functionality that does that. With Locally, we really have what we’re calling “consumer product demand intelligence”. What we mean is we can show brands which of their products are hot in different DMA’s or market areas. And then cross-reference that with their product that the retailers are actually carrying.
Simply put, we can empower a brand to say, Hey retailer. You’re not carrying these top five products that are in demand around your store and you should carry those. And in doing so, all these cool things happen. Now there are a lot more visible to that retailer as a pickup point for same-day delivery or shop online, pickup in-store, or any of those kinds of experiences when a consumer is on that brand’s DTC site. For example now, instead of having to have it shipped to your door, there’s an opportunity because they’re on trend with what’s hot in their area to get that product that same day, or just go in and pick it up. It’s this kind of leveraging market data or consumers’ interests and saying, okay, retailers in that same area here’s an indication of what consumers around you like and what you should consider carrying these products.
It’s a really powerful data point to give to reps and a really powerful set of data to put in front of retailers when they log into the platform. Honestly, for them just being able to see an Envoy B2B and say okay, What products of this brand are hot in my area? That’s gold.
Mike: There are so many different types of retailers that as we have built this system, there’s going to be, obviously there are early adopters that are gonna, come in and go, Oh, I’m going to use any additional market intelligence I could possibly get. The standard at this point is just national market intelligence that’s 60 to 90 days old. And we don’t really think that’s tremendously relevant for somebody who’s trying to stock their shelves today.
The forward-looking vision of the way this would work is that retailers get to the point where some type of automation is occurring that keeps their shelves filled with stock. Perhaps it’s a roof rack and it keeps all the right parts in stock. The system is somehow aware of emergent trends. It’s looking at the vendors available to sell inventory in the warehouse, mashing that together with DMA-specific and business intelligence. And, the goal is a collaboration between the brand and the retailer, rather than everybody doing it for themselves.
We’ve done things where everybody does it for themselves and the cavalierness of every industry, not just the outdoor industry. The problem is that you’re not really competing in that world anymore. Consumers are online 24 seven doing product research, and you need information in order to be able to be competitive. And you give them information, from around the country, the world basically. And it allows them to be more efficient.
And the thing here is that while there’s always going to be early resistance for the truly independent retailer, the reality is that the larger format brick and mortar retailers are already using these types of technologies. They’re not sitting here scratching their head about filling in their shelves. If you go to an REI, they do a really good job of keeping the pegs filled. They do a really good job of keeping all the sizes in stock. And smaller retailers now have access to very powerful tools to optimize their inventory based on what consumers near them are doing online.
Jon: I wanted to say something quick about competition, you mentioned how you keep up with the competition.
I think there are two things that are really simple that I would say at least for brands, retailers, and suppliers . . . Community, that’s just one right now. Your community is everything and secondarily, Availability. And to that, what we’re talking about with Locally, you’ve got to share what you need from a retailer’s perspective and the tools are there.
Mike has said it’s not the time to be scared of them. It’s the time to embrace them. You’re not losing your independence by embracing technology. It’s what you need to compete right now. And specifically availability, that’s what it comes down to. Make sure that as a retailer, you are easily showing what’s available in your store.
It’s that simple, consumers are looking for it. If they can’t find you, they can’t come in and get it. And same from the perspective of a brand. Availability, share with your retailers. Really it’s just, it’s all about forging this kind of data-centric relationship moving forward. That’s the future, it’s that simple.
Look at how a ton of these communities just took it to the next level over the past, several quarters of challenge. The community will engage with the new kinds of technologies that you bring to the table. They’re ready for it. And they want it. And in fact, they understand now more than ever, why it might be valuable to them. So it’s time.
This isn’t going away. This is here and it’s a great piece of technology that represents a ton of opportunity for both the brands and the retailers. Now’s the time.
Mike: Yeah, and one of the things John, that that I think about, and I talk about all the time is, today, none of us think twice about how we’re going to go see a movie. Even though movies have been a little bit, not as popular lately. But none of us think twice about checking a movie time online, maybe buying our ticket, maybe even our seat, like figuring out what movie theater to go to. Could you imagine if somebody says, Oh, now we’re just going to go back to getting our movie times out of the newspaper.
This was a good experience, Walmart crushing it with curbside pickup, and the thing is, is it giving consumers more control over how they shop is, it has never been about that and it never goes backward.
Who was most excited about this. Was it the rep? Was it the brand? Was it the retailer?
Mike: I think that sales reps were the very first group to realize, Hey, this is literally creating foot traffic in stores that are, trying to create foot traffic. And they realized that just giving consumers addresses of locations is really not enough to get them to go down to the store. We just don’t, especially now don’t operate that way. But the reality is that we weren’t operating that way for a long time. It was already really broken.
The initial brand response typically under COVID and really even leading up to it was, Hey, this is a tremendous opportunity for us to sell direct to consumers. Who’d have figured out, that by and large brands, aren’t very good at selling to consumers without wholesale networks that generate all of the enthusiasm and Goodwill for a brand? And then they’re able to take advantage of the extended inventory assortment and, new types of logistics. If you haven’t built your brand at all, it’s very difficult to go to market with a consumer-facing brand and build all of your enthusiasm and Goodwill right out of the gate.
Even big brands that are, we think of as, ubiquitous these days, like Yeti. Really spends a lot of effort on how do we get people to go to local stores, despite the fact that they ship coolers. So what they want to do in the end is make sure the customer buys their products somewhere.
Consumer Lifetime Value, not just this one sale needs to be on my quarterly income statement in this one, vertical business unit. That makes a lot less sense these days. It’s repeat customers that are the holy grail.
Jon: brands really need to see this as the retailers out there are creating that amazing experience and helping the brand. As you said, Mike efficiently and in an exciting way, bring their product to market. It’s this part that needs to close. We need to close that loop and say, okay, thank you retailers for helping us do that. Now I’m going to help you stay replenished and I’m gonna help you stay on trend with what’s selling around you.
Because you’ve done such a great job building that excitement up and being that local pickup area or that same-day delivery area. Now we’re going to close the loop with you and help you with even more sales. Funnel some of that excitement back to you.
What’s the number one thing brands can do to support retailers?
Jon: Here’s some stuff that I’m seeing given the current conditions that we’re in and whatnot. I think brands need to acknowledge that, They did it, they made it, they’re currently making it through this. And it wasn’t a trade show package, it wasn’t a new virtual reality experience, it wasn’t a bunch of these things that get thrown at you. It was you and your retailers doubling down on your relationship and working together. I think that’s the picture of the future. A more data centric approach with your retailer or from a brand perspective your retailer, from a retailer’s perspective your brand. That’s what we’re learning out of all of this that you don’t need to look too far.
You already have it. It’s already available and you can do it with the right partners.
Mike: I would say that the best thing that a brand really could do at this point is to take a more global and holistic view of how they partner, local retail is a thing that still represents almost 90% of total retail sales. And it’s a critical part of every brand’s solution. Making sure that you’re truly partnering with local retailers and using tools that empowered them rather than creating these various silos that treat local retail as a competitor is I think a really smart tactic for every brand.
06:45 – 07:34 Research
32:16 – 32:59 How Brands can help retailers- Jon Faber
33:59 – 34:33 How Brands can help retailers- Mike Massey