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Polina Kulikova - Growave, Combining The Best Social Proof And Customer Loyalty Programs Into One Place

calendar 2021-06-22 | microphone 67minutes Listening Time | user Debutify Admin
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Polina Kulikova is a PR and content manager at Growave, an all-in-one marketing platform for Shopify stores since 2014. Growave's features include loyalty, reviews, wishlists, social login, Instagram and UGC.

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Polina Kulikova: [00:00:00] Obviously, we focus on customer retention, social proof, and also just in general improvement customer experience when they own the website. This is our strategy to have a tool that, let's say they places five different tools. So they don't have to download five different apps. I mean, it's very convenient to have everything under one dashboard.

Joseph: [00:00:32] You're listening to Ecomonics, a Debutify podcast. Your resource for one of the kind insights into the world of e-commerce and business in the modern age. This is Joseph. I'll be presenting a wealth of industry knowledge from interviews with successful business people and our own state-of-the-art research.

Your time is valuable so let's go.

My talk today with Polina Kulikova is about Growave, an all in one marketing platform for your e-commerce business. We spent the hour today touching on the key relationship between customers and sellers, while also discussing the relationship between the different products available within Growave. The advantage of several individual apps contained within one ecosystem is hard to ignore. We at Debutify, certainly don't. So have a listen and a good think afterwards. 

Polina Kulikova. It is great to have you here on Ecomonics. How you doing tonight? How you feeling? 

Polina Kulikova: [00:01:28] Hey, I'm doing great. How about you? 

Joseph: [00:01:31] Not too bad. Had a, had a decent sleep. So, you know, those are always a, something to be grateful for. I'm in an area where there was a lot of construction. So if my alarm clock doesn't get me, it will be the telltale signs of drilling. I love when we referred to it as drilling season. Um, there was a couple of episodes. There was like a week of episodes where they were like shimmying up and down our balcony and I'm like, please not now, please just come back in an hour.

So that's how I'm doing. Other than that. I'm all right. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:01:56] Yeah, for me, it's just evening. Uh, I had a long day of work and I had about an hour long walk with my dog. Um, so, um, by the way, I have a Labrador retriever, so she's good. And, um, uh, she ended up swimming in the lake out of no where. So yeah, it was a hectic evening for me.

Joseph: [00:02:22] Did you have to go in and get her? 

Polina Kulikova: [00:02:23] Yeah, so she sometimes behaves well, but it's same as any puppy, but it's fun. 

Joseph: [00:02:31] It's, it's the, it's the price we pay for unconditional love and affection. Yeah. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:02:35] Yeah. I love most, so, I mean, if she barks during this, uh, podcast, sorry. I cannot do anything about it. Sometimes she wants to join it.

Joseph: [00:02:45] No worries. Um, well, uh, where's his now maybe we'll ask to have her on camera for a second, just so that we can get a, get a good look at that cute pupper's face. But yeah, so, so, so far so good. So it's been a long day for you. So sit back, relax, and let's just have herself a fun, little chat about e-commerce and everything we can do to make other people's lives better.

First question is, tell us what you do and tell us what you're up to these days. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:03:07] So, uh, shortly about me and then at the company that I've worked at. So, uh, I work at Growave as a PR and content manager. Um, mostly what I do is blogging or webinars, or any kind of partnerships with, uh, another e-commerce, uh, businesses or, uh, Shopify apps.

Also, I've done a lot of articles for Shopify in the past, especially about app development and shortly about Growave. So it's a, an app, a Shopify app. Um, it's basically all in one app we have over, uh, let's say over five apps in one, which is pretty cool. Uh, I mean, if you compare us to other apps, they would say you have two or three features in it, or let's say there are the apps that have 40 plus features, but they're not as comprehensive.

And, uh, let's say, uh, they don't include such a lot of features in one. To have a loyalty program, reviews, wishlist, under one roof is pretty tough task to do for the development side and from actually like supporting an app, running app on a merchant store. So it's pretty cool what we do. 

Joseph: [00:04:27] And w w we'll get more into, I guess, what were the decisions behind and which apps to focus on?

Cause it sounds like a lot of the motivation is to create somewhat of an ecosystem between the different services or the different features or apps, or however we want to break it down. I would say mainly it's Growave an app, and then you have these different features which are sub apps, different it's, it's semantics.

I'm not too concerned about that, but it's about the relationship between how each of these, um, uh, work with one another and why that might influence which ones to add into it. Cause if you're going for the idea. Um, multi featured apps then that does open the doors to what other ideas are out there, what other services could become available.

So I am keen to ask about that, but I'm going to put a pin in that for now. What I want to know is about the origin of Growave and, um, you know, who started it and what problems were they identifying in the market at that time that they felt they needed to solve? 

Polina Kulikova: [00:05:23] So, yeah, that's a great question actually, uh, in, uh, 2014, uh, we have, uh, let's say three founders.

So back then Eldar, his brother and, uh, Eldar's five, uh,  manera, they saw that there  is a need of an app that combines a lot of features in a one. So let's say that back then they were working on, uh, another side project. It was related to it, but not related to e-commerce whatsoever. It was mostly related to creating separate apps or small projects for it companies or other businesses.

And I mean, uh, it was doing well and it was profitable company. Uh, they had lots of employees, uh, but, uh, they realized soon that is pretty boring. Let's see, honestly, I mean, you can expect what's going to be in three months and six months in one year. So, I mean, you are famous, let's say you're known you have a brand, but you are not growing beyond that.

So they wanted to explore a niche where there are no boundaries to grow. So there is a lip limitless amount of merchants or customers you can have or limitless amount of like, let's say revenue, you can get per year. So that's when they start study e-commerce especially Shopify, because back then, uh, Shopify started to become more and more popular, especially among smaller businesses and medium sized, small size businesses.

So they saw an opportunity that, uh, you can actually quickly scale up on Shopify. So that's when they started to develop an app and by the way, we are in, uh, located in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan. So it's a pretty, it's pretty interesting location, uh, to have an it company because everyone asks us a way from, are you from us or Australia or New Zealand?

So we're unexpressed to all these countries, but when we say, no, we are from central Asia, actually, they're like, oh, that's quite bizarre. I mean, because for them, they cannot expect that their, it companies in, in such small countries. 

Joseph: [00:07:42] This isn't going to reflect well on me at all. But this might be the first time that I had even heard of Kyrgyzstan to be, to be frank, like a couple of weeks ago we had, um, uh, Printful on and, uh, uh, right.

His parents, he was from Latvia and I had heard of Latvia. Uh, but that was just because of an episode of community where they have this underground pill, uh, blanket city. And there's a lot of independence going on. The joke is it's so intricate that there's all these things happening on the inside.

So that was like a fluke to have heard of that country. So one of the thing that I suppose I would like to ask, but we'll, we'll pin this as well as if you later down the line and you can tell us some interesting things about the nation. Cause I would love to hear, you know, I, I get to talk to a lot of people in Europe.

I get to talk to a lot of people in the states, a couple of Canadians, once in a while, as a Canadian myself, that's always nice, but I I'm just amazed at the ability of the internet to allow all of these different, not just, uh, countries and cultures, but also methodologies and different perspectives coming from different unique backgrounds and how even something, as I say, I say small, but I say it respectfully can still have a massive influence on a lot of people. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:08:50] Kyrgyzstan is a pretty small country, I mean, uh, it's, uh, I'm not, I'm not surprised that a lot of people don't know about it because it's quite small. Uh, but, but what we are mostly known for is, uh, mountain beautiful sceneries nature.

Also our country's quite, uh, cheap to travel, especially no on, for backpackers from all over the world. Uh, we have clean air and fresh water. Uh, we have mountain peaks with ice brings fresh water. I mean actually 90% of our country's just mountains. Uh, if you think about it, uh, just the capital and few other cities and regions that are flat, the rest are, um, pretty.

Pretty mountainous. I mean, some people live super high in the mountains all here around, and if you know anything else, also, we have a beautiful, uh, lake, which is, uh, one of, uh, I mean maybe second or third, highest salt lake in the world. I mean, it, it's basically way high in the mountains and huge. It has the waves.

It's like similar to the seat and it's like very popular in our country. And especially during summer, you can swim there. Uh, there are a lot of resorts and also people from neighboring countries and even from a us or Canada, the travel to see this beautiful lake. 

Joseph: [00:10:28] I wouldn't. One of the thing that I would like to ask about it as well.

Um, and this one is semi relevant to what we're talking about today as a whole is also the. Really being able to provide, um, internet access. Um, so you'll even here in Canada, we're, you know, we're, we're, we're a large country, we're one 10th of population of the USA, but, you know, we're, we're, we're, it's not our goal to compete with them.

I, and even here we do struggle with providing adequate edit and access. Toronto is pretty good because Toronto is a world-class city, but as soon as we get further up north, you know, um, internet, uh, does become, uh, quite expensive and quite resource intensive to maintain. And a lot of it actually has to do with the weather.

And once you go further up north, you get the more cold the nights end up being even during the summertime. And so there's a lot of maintenance involved in keeping these things going. So has providing, you know, um, stable and internet access up to par. Has that been a challenge for the nation as well? 

Polina Kulikova: [00:11:24] In the past few years, our internet connection really improved.

I mean, uh, I can travel to, let's say the lake I was talking about, uh, we have remote wifi routers. You can bring with you. And, uh, during, especially whenever we go working out of the office more than a month, I spent there and just working from, from that wifi, which is not, let's say connected to anything else, just like catching some signals from, uh, regular like cellar lines.

And it was working perfectly. And actually it was working better there than in the city. So, which is quite surprising. So I'm definitely, there are regions where internet connection is not great, but I would say that, uh, We improved significantly over the years and let's say major series or, uh, they all have stable internet connections and internet.

And our country's pretty cheap if you compare to us with Canada, I mean, uh, oh. 

Joseph: [00:12:34] You can compare a lot more than the internet. I can tell you that much. Phones, rent. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:12:39] Yeah. But on the average, I mean, you can spend, uh, about 20 us dollars on a internet for your home. So it's about an average monthly rate, which I know is much higher for a Western world because I lived myself and I paid for just my phone.

Let's say internet, I paid over 50 or 60 us dollars back in us monthly. 

Joseph: [00:13:07] Yeah. I, I mean not to get too far into this side of it, but I do think it's interesting to point out, which is. Uh, some of it has to do with, I guess, demand and supply where, uh, in order to maintain that high level of access to a densely populated part of the, of the city in the states or here in Canada, um, that T that's resource intensive.

So yeah, if I, if I'm, if I'm going through the mountains and there's me, and maybe like two other people nearby, you don't have as many people taxing it, but over here we have a lot into just in this apartment alone, we have maybe 50 to 60 people all doing something internet intensive, especially now because so many people are working at home.

So I mean just the whole concept of, uh, internet access and, and, and resource allocation is a, is a fascinating subject. And, um, one, one part of this too, that I also observed, and I'm wondering if you can speak to, this is also seeing how a culture can have a more significant influence depending on what are their barriers and obstacles.

And what I mean by that is over here in Canada, it's not so hard to sell to the states. Some of that is just because. You know, I, I I'm right next door. So I have had a great deal of exposure to, to American culture, uh, frankly who hasn't, but there's also logistics to being able to start up a Shopify store here.

And my guess is it was a lot more effective and efficient and more of a motivation to provide a service because the service is in something so bound by cultural norms, right? You don't have to pick like a niche to, and then figure out what part of the states, uh, takes to that niche. What you can do is allow people to get tools that make that their jobs easier.

So by providing a service, it allows a nation such as Kyrgyzstan to have a worldwide influence. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:15:01] If we compare our country to US, I mean, we are far, far, far behind, but, uh, in terms of services or, uh e-commerce or anything related to that, we're still like quite far behind, we are just seeing how all these things are just starting to grow or like, just the seeds get planted right now.

Uh, because in terms of e-commerce, uh, right now you can only buy things through Instagram, which is popular, which is, I mean, you don't buy things through Instagram, in other countries as much, let's say, I mean, you don't have, uh, a shop that you just, uh, text them via direct and say, Hey, I want this thing.

And then you, you negotiate. And then they buy, instead in us, let's say you go to the Instagram page and then you click on the website and then they make a purchase. But for us, it's not like that. We are, uh, far behind an e-commerce world. Uh, but interestingly, in the past year we have a new marketplace called Val berries.

It's actually comes from Russia and it started to grow really rapidly. We have it's similar, like let's say Amazon has a lot of pickup locations when you can get an item delivered to your home, but also you can get it from some certain pickup location, like whole foods or others. Uh, similar like that.

Let's say it's a kind of filed is our Amazon right now. Actually, when I was leaving us, I was actually almost crying. How am I going to live without Amazon prime? Seriously, I'm going to live without one day delivery. How and, uh, I mean, yeah, it's pretty tough. Uh, but, uh, what well did for our region to deliver much faster.

Actually some items get delivered within three working days, which is quite impressive for such a small country. I don't know how they do that, how they ship items that fast, but they managed to do so. 

Joseph: [00:17:15] Yeah. I mean, if they're modeling off of the Amazon model, they recognize that Amazon wasn't profitable for a while.

So the more important part is securing the resources, securing the supply lines. And then over time as demand increases and more people are attracted to the platform, the profitability expands laterally because then you have more sellers, more people willing to use it. You have somebody shipping, a couple of products.

Well, it's still one vehicle is still one road. So by the time that there was enough people adapting to it. Now there it's the same truck, same road, but now they have a hundred products. Now they have a thousand products on it. So that, I guess that's a model that I would imagine a lot of different companies are adapting and Amazon is certainly led the way in that.

Polina Kulikova: [00:17:57] Yeah. I mean, I'm as old as, I mean the world right now, it's almost everywhere and, uh, especially it's dominating in the us and, uh, in pandemic, in the COVID pandemic can in general, you can see how, how they changed the way, how they work completely. Um, because supply and demand just went to like crazy once the lockdown started, um, and they had to manage and change a lot of things, how they do business, especially with the merchant base who sell on Amazon.

It's the company that we have to look at. And, uh, it's, it's the company that influence of the things that, uh, get adapted. So, I mean, similarly, uh, Shopify grew in the pandemic. Uh, we've seen a spike of new stores since like may 20, 20. Uh, of course a lot of them had to, let's say, um, they shut down because of, I mean, the fees started to add up and also they just didn't survive the pandemic.

Let's say their business. But, uh, even Shopify, you can see how it changed over this period of time. 

Joseph: [00:19:17] It's certainly expanding and growing. And to that same question, um, have you noticed, uh, a comparable amount of growth and expansion within, uh, within growth within that same pandemic period? 

Polina Kulikova: [00:19:28] Yeah, I view, uh, in our merchant base, let's say more than double.

So, uh, let's say I cannot say exact number at the moment, but let's say, uh, 50% of our merchants right now at the moment came from that time. So we were seeing, let's say a thousand merchants adding up monthly, uh, since May, 2020. Uh, actually our team had to allocate additional resources and, um, team members, especially to cover night shifts, uh, especially for the support team.

Because we had a huge number of new customers coming in and the amount of new tickets growing significantly every day, it's something very new. It's something that we weren't prepared for. And actually most of the apps I've noticed that, that, uh, they also weren't prepared for this. Nobody were prepared that, uh, such a large number of new merchants will just pop up out of nowhere. It just it's crazy. 

Joseph: [00:20:39] And, and it's, I guess it's, uh, it's funny too, because you were saying that you have people who have to have to cover the night shifts. Cause you have to imagine like it's nine 30 where you are right now. It's 1130 where I am in, in, in Canada and in the states, you know, in like a, in Los Angeles, there are three hours behind us here in Canada.

So there, there are certainly some challenges there in having people at the right aid to deal with, uh, peak activity levels in, in a couple of the, uh, opposing side of the world. So certainly a lot of challenges.

I want to get back to what we were talking about with the different products that you have. And I got the website open up the list here. It's so loyalty and rewards, those reviews, wishlist, social login, um, Instagram, and then, well, it says your integrations. Uh, I didn't actually look into that one personally.

So, uh, that one, I apologize for not looking at earlier. So it seems to me that the ecosystem here is it's highly about customer retention and it's about making sure that the customer is a getting as good of an experience as, as you can supply, but also making sure that the customer becomes as much of a valuable asset to the seller as possible through social proof through activity.

Tell us about, I guess, what was the, um, w you know, what was this, the strategy here, and maybe there were, if possible, if there were products or services that were tried out and didn't quite fit, or if there's ones that you have in mind in the future, or, you know, where you want to go from here, but, uh, we definitely wanna get into what products are available here and how they end really how they work and the psychology behind them and all that good stuff.

Polina Kulikova: [00:22:19] So, I mean, the strategy is simple. Uh, all we want to be is a useful all in one marketing app. So obviously we're focused on customer retention, social proof and also, uh, just in general improvement customer experience when they own the website. So let's say they come to the website, they login, they create an account, and then they start adding things in the cart, or maybe to the wishlist, if they're not ready to add it to the cart yet.

But even if they leave their website with the cart of, items in the cart, thanks to social login, they come back and the items are saved for the next purchase. And, uh, there, there are a lot of things, uh, to let's say, increase sales, not in terms of, uh, say upselling or cross selling or pushing sales, but more like, uh, reminding customers about the brands throughout automated emails that they receive.

If they have items in their wishlist, let's say they will get notification if the items are back in stock or out of stock, or, uh, in that way, merchant, uh, can also track what items are in the peoples' wishlists. So they can also manage their, their inventory better. Uh, which is pretty cool. Um, but, um, most important part of Growave.

And let's say our strategies, loyalty and reviews. Uh, we believe that loyalty is, I mean, the main thing that creates engagement for, for customers drives customer retention, um, and in general improves customer lifetime value as well. Uh, we have a lot of features for that. Let's say points, uh, gift card. Uh, tears, lots of things.

And, uh, we've used, I definitely important for, uh, actually a website to show up in uh, in Google rankings higher, let's say, because reviews really improve, uh, generally the SEO of the website, because the Google will see that, uh, people actually command on that website. They leave the views. They actually, so it's not like kind of a fake or some shady, let's see a website, but actually people buy from it.

People leave reviews. So this website gets, uh, ha higher rankings. And besides people trust it more. So this our strategy, let's say to have a tool that, uh, let's say replaces five different tools, so they don't have to download five different apps. I mean, it's very convenient to have everything under one dashboard.

Personally, I've worked, uh, in e-commerce in terms of, I was a merchant myself. Uh, I helped open up a business. Um, back then it was sent 2018. So back then, uh, I wasn't in growave and I didn't know about growave, but, uh, we used to have the apps and it was quite a headache to switch, uh, between apps. Uh, especially if you have wishlist apps and reviews app, an app for loyalty, it's, it's a hustle.

I mean, and all the payments they add up and comes out a huge sum. 

Joseph: [00:25:55] So the advantage that I had said earlier is that all of the apps, because they're all part of all the products are part of one app. Um, this, the syntax, I am not happy with my syntax today. I'm doing my best. But anyways, so the, the, the products are all part of the same app.

And by being all together, that there is more of a connective tissue between them. So what would be the difference between let's just say, for instance, I install a, a review from one company. And then I install a loyalty and rewards app from another company. They're not, if maybe they'll get along, maybe they're aware of each other.

Maybe there'll actually be some, um, some tangible, um, consumer activity between the two points. Whereas what I think is effective here is that there are a particular nodes or widgets, or even a features that take advantage of the fact that all of the, um, products are part of one app. So is there a, um, uh, like a, more of a, like a direct causal relationship between somebody's activity and reviews and how that might turn into reward or how a wishlist might, um, be integrated with the Instagram?

Uh, anything along those lines? 

Polina Kulikova: [00:27:03] Yeah. Uh, basically the benefit of having everything under one app is that there is a obviously wanting to aggression between everything it's all interconnected, various you install an app, but if you add for one company loyalty app for another, let's say they're not gonna, I mean, they might integrate.

Yeah. It depends on which you install, but most likely they'll not integrate well with each other. So sometimes it will cause clashes on the website and discount codes and customers will get confused most of the times. So in our institution is that, uh, because it's all one app or the discounts are tracked.

Let's say if you, uh, leave a review, uh, if a customer leaves a review for a night, Uh, let's say t-shirt, um, after a few days they'll get an email notification. Hey, you bought this t-shirt how do, how do you like it? How will you review it? And in email, actually in box, the person can just type a message without having to be redirected to anything else and just.

Uh, and it'll get out automatically published on the reviews and there's personal automatically, like get a report, uh, you can set up what kind of reward they'll get. Let's say they will get the price discount, a coupon code or fixed amount, anything, or they'll get points for that. So actually you can give points for live in review, or you can give a discount for leaving a review, which is all very connected.

Same goes for visually. I mean, if you share your wish list with your family, let's say via WhatsApp or Facebook or any relevant social network. Uh, personal get points, uh, which is pretty cool as well. You can actually set up the way, uh, how to do things and set up things. And, uh, in terms of integration with a wishlist or Instagram, I mean, uh, there's no like director integration between these two features, but let's say a person goes on Instagram feed on a merchant website.

So let's say we have an Instagram app that provides you an Instagram feed put out of your, uh, hashtags or your account or anything around. They can click on items they can shop, or they can add them to the wishlist. Uh, so, which is pretty cool because we've seen, uh, in countries like Malaysia, uh, we have a customer called happy to you.

So it's like assure an accessories store and they say, uh, more people buy from Instagram feed over, clicking on collections of products, because people just, uh, people are visual beings. Uh, you see an image that you like it click on it. And especially if there is a button shop it or buy it or add to bag.

They'll click on it if they like it. So it's pretty cool. 

Joseph: [00:30:15] With the, uh, Instagram. Um, just one thing that I want to clarify for my own sake is if it's say, uh, just directly my own, uh, brands feed, or is it say I can identify hashtags that are like, if somebody else takes a photo of my product, for instance, and they, and they posted it and they tagged the company, um, w would I have access to, um, uh, other people's Instagram feed or is it just my own Instagram feed that I'm in control of?

Polina Kulikova: [00:30:41] Uh, yeah, that's a good question. Uh, you can actually add the images from your, let's say customers. Uh, if they add the certain hashtag, let's say if they add hashtag and your brand, or like t-shirts 2021 and the company name or something. It will get pulled out to your Instagram feed on your website. Uh, you can set up a gallery for it, actually, a separate gallery saying like what customers say about us or customer photos.

And you can actually do the same for certain products. You can have a separate gallery for a certain product. Let's say you have this particular shoes and you can bring all the pictures related to that, to despair from Instagram.

Joseph: [00:31:32] Yeah. And then one thing I would want to do too, is on the product page in particular, I would also want the Instagram for you to be there.

So then that way it counts. It's part of the social proof. Cause I can never view, but then I can have photos of people who are using their product and, and it's directly correlated with the product that I'm trying to sell. It gets to the point where the customers are doing the selling for me at a certain point, because, you know, we can take nice photos and everything, but it's just not the same, um, legitimacy as another human being, not being paid by the company who in fact is giving the company money saying, look, this is great. I love it. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:32:07] Yeah. I mean, it's, it's quite important to showcase, uh, social proof on your website. And, uh, it really helps to build a brand identity and trust and all this other things. And I mean, if we are talking about content, user generated content, it's proven to be more effective rather than advertising or other like branded images, because people like to see how things are in your life.

Same goes for reviews. Like people really like to see photo reviews, um, because they are more valuable than perhaps just a message and saying like, oh, it's nice, uh, dress and not fit well. And came on time. Now people really want to see how it looks like a new life. And so by providing such features as a customer's content, like user-generated content in your website. You really build trust and, uh, really, I mean, you gain sales, you increase your income in the end. 

Joseph: [00:33:19] And that's good news too.

And you know, one thing that I hadn't really thought about until, uh, our, our conversation today is how it's also, I would say, elevated the pressure on the sellers to promote a product that is visually what it's going to look like when they sell it. So if I can just draw a, a brief association with say, well, I mean, in, in, in Instagram, I think initially it was very popular among a food culture, uh, because people were taking photos of the, of the restaurant meals that were delivered to their tables.

And I don't know if there's like actual any tangible data to support this, but my, my guess is. Once people realize people are taking photos of what the product they had ordered it, put the onus on them to make sure that it was as presentable. So if I'm going to see this meal on a commercial, it better be the same thing that I see when I show up in person.

Because if not, I'm going to take a photo and say, ah, this is what it really looks like. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:34:12] Yeah. I mean, yeah, that's a, that's a good point because, uh, it's really shows the proof that, uh, the product they receive is exactly what they see on a photo. Let's say I'm very known advertising. So let's say by McDonald's we see a beautiful burger, but in reality comes just like, uh, I don't know who it is close to the burger.

So, I mean, it's like advertising, like what to expect versus reality, or same as let's say, if you, it's a funny joke that goes around in our country. So if you order something from AliExpress and then what you expect, and then reality, let's say your, uh, I don't know, a pet bed that is huge. And you see like a great thing laying on it.

And then it comes like a dog bed for a hamster, let's say, but, um, yeah, people better see, uh, or for merchants and supportive to the sense that the customers better see that what they get as a real product. Um, I mean, uh, to really showcase to customers that they'll get what they expect to get. Uh, I've seen, it's a common thing in Asian countries as they do livestreams in showcasing their store.

And let's say, okay, this is the dress we have, or show it on the models sometimes. So this can be effective. Let's say. Because right now live streaming is very popular. And if you want to grow your brand, uh, it's better to have this widget on your Instagram always appear in that you're active. As our marketing professor said, uh, if you're not posting something in stories for 24 hours, since you are not alive.

So, uh, it is how they say, I mean, if you want to be effective in social media marketing, you better post as many things as possible and you can, and merchants can really utilize it to showcase their, uh, uh, inventory and, uh, like what people can get 

Joseph: [00:36:25] and, and I think another thing that it's done too, is that it has opened up the, uh, the, the workforce for people who are really perfect for that role. Um, I remember a conversation that I had with a friend. Uh, this was a number of years ago now where I had said that one of the reasons why I'm not a big fan of social media is the impermanence of it, where I'll do an Instagram story and, you know, I might put some effort into it and then it's just, and then it's just gone.

And personally, I've always had a bit of an issue with that, and I've always wanted to make something that really sticks and tries to stay relevant as long as humanly possible. Whereas my friend was a complete opposite. She actually appreciated that things were impermanent and that she can do something and then it'd be gone in a day.

And it was more about it really being engaged in the moment and almost like almost Zen, like where, whatever I see on Instagram today is not going to be what I see tomorrow because that's life, life changes on a day to day basis. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:37:19] Yeah. I agree with that. Uh, uh, sometimes, uh, it's really about showing, uh, showing really different content because people really want to see different things everyday.

I mean, if this, the same video, same stories, similar things, uh, I mean, or if they don't see anything, I mean, they get sick or they get bored, uh, and I'm in life changes and, uh, businesses can really utilize the stores to show how they business changes that say, oh, how they grow and showcasing the orders.

How, uh, I mean really use it to communicate with customers or potential customers. Not about just selling on your, uh, social media. Uh, let's say, uh, I always tell. Like about telling stories or telling your story, your brand story. Uh, for example, uh, I've worked for two different, uh, social media agencies and, uh, uh, we were developing any ideas of strategies for the social media and most of the time they just focused on selling, selling, selling, selling, and something interesting then selling.

So I'm like, no, you should, uh, really do like 20% selling and the rest is engaging with your customers. I mean, even post a meme, that's kind of fun. I mean, if I go through, uh, stories and I see if there's something interesting, like a meme or a funny joke, funny media, I always like stay on it just, or sometimes reactive because it's fun.

Uh, and especially the brands that utilize this, uh, they're really. Successful. I mean, I've seen, um, uh, an example. Uh, so I buy the subscription for my dog. Uh, it's a monthly books with toys and stuff. It's, BarkBox famous in a US and Canada. Actually I read a study about it and their social media engagement and actually most of the followers, surprisingly, they're not even dog owners.

And actually why is because the content is really interesting that they post, uh, because who doesn't love puppies. I mean, everyone loves puppies. So the mountain that they post, uh, people love it, especially in TikTok they started to utilize it and grow in it. Uh, more and more. I see engagement content from them.

Joseph: [00:40:02] So I was caught a little off guard. I might've misheard. So like the, the, uh, the fans, the people engaged. That makes sense because there's a lot. Yeah. I mean, I, I can be very happy just seeing images or videos of, of puppies and kittens and snakes. Um, and whereas with, um, sorry, just w but they weren't, the customers, were, they like were other people who didn't even have a pet, they were ordering the boxes, just so that maybe they would have somebody. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:40:28] They, uh, the followers like, uh, on social media and they're not even, like, let's say customers, or they don't even own a dog, but, uh, actually it's a great opportunity for the company to even, uh, target those who don't have pets, because they obviously have friends who have pets.

So they still aim to produce content for those people who are not dog owners or I dunno, pet owners, but they can like showcase their brands to turn these people into, let's say word of mouth marketing and say, Hey, I sold this company. Maybe it's good for your dog. Let's try it out. Or, uh, let's see. Uh, we have a few friends, uh, back in us.

They're crazy about my friend's dog. And actually on Christmas, they sent more gifts for, for the dog. Then the friends, because open boxes, it's all for the dog, Christmas sweater for the dog toys and choose for the dog, everything. And they're saying like, w will you ever get something for us? Because, and most of that, it was like a BarkBox items, or I don't know something from online stores, like pet stores.

So, I mean, it's, uh, why would people buy it, uh, or know about the sweater for a dog or visit social media or, uh, presence of the company there. So that's how people find it. 

Joseph: [00:42:02] Yeah. It also just speaks to, to the individual strength of certain niches. So I mean, the pet niche for instances, whether or not somebody is actively, uh, consuming or buying product, everybody will love an animal in some way, shape or form.

So that alone, um, just like you're saying, it turns them into, um, word of mouth, customers are word of mouth so that they can, can convert their friends into it. So, yeah, it's really interesting to see the, the strategy there and it really all just comes back. I'm mean really making people happy, right?

Showing them pictures or videos of animals and making them wants to, uh, be engaged and almost say, thank you for putting this little smiles on my face without the trouble having to like pick up, you know, an animals poop or fishing out of the lake. It's like you had to.

By the way, if you're a current user of Debutify or haven't tried us out yet, Debutify version three has been released and now is a good time to upgrade or get started as any. A streamlined user interface along with an ever increasing array of conversion boosting add ons is waiting for you. So download today for free and start your journey. Who knows, maybe I'll be interviewing you before too long.

So here's something that we'll actually do a number of things I've been wondering to be, to be quite honest with you about the, uh, about the service here is there's there's two funnels, um, occurring somewhat in tandem. I would argue, uh, the first funnel is a consumer fund. And then the second is actually, I would say the merchant funnel in how they would over time adopt more of a growing cause I know that there's a different pricing plans.

There's different structure to it. And the idea is as the business grows and you know, it's, I've, I've seen a strategy before it's, it's proven effective as a business grows. It's logical to then take on higher plans to then be able to use more of the products and services, more like music more effectively.

Right. We don't want to like go, go ham right away and then end up really kind of like losing, losing money. So if it's possible to actually like, you know, speak to both at the same time though, it'd be great. But that's a, to me, I would, if I were in your position, I would, um, uh, be perplexed by that. So I'm not gonna like force that or anything, but first thing I want to know really to start this off is, um, how am I getting those first customers, those first possible.

Um, loyal customers, you know, the first hero customers, even it comes down to which product in particular, um, out of  all Growave's, the options would be effective initially. And then if you can speak to how that would funnel customers, you know, like, should you start with a loyalty program? You know, that, I mean, like when would be a good time to integrate the different products, depending on the progress of the story.

Polina Kulikova: [00:44:41] Yeah. That's a great question. Um, so you probably know that, uh, we have like three plants and counting in a free plan because our loyalty program starts from a starter plan. So, um, you know, uh, the little program and started planets, uh, I mean it's mostly points-based and in terms of a small business, I think it's a great opportunity to introduce a loyalty program to the first customers, because I mean a points program, it's very simple to understand and, uh, let's say control from a merchant side and, uh, easy to understand for customers.

And I mean, they can keep track of the points and the progress and how they can redeem it. So it's very pretty obvious. Uh, and this is something that we recommend for the stores that they're just starting. Let's say they, they, they want to have a first loyal customers, but they're not ready to commit to something higher or they are not that savvy yet to have a more, let's say.

Advanced features, but in terms of a growth plan there, you will get a good referral program, weep tears, um, to other, uh, relevant, to like a free gift or something like that. Uh, um, all these important features under this loyalty program. And it's, I mean, it's very comprehensive loyalty program already at this point.

And, uh, we'll be commanded to any store that more let's say stablish, but still growing too. Uh, and already has some kind of customer base at this loyal, but let's say customers, they already know, okay, I get points. I redeem it. So what, so at this point, uh, customers, they just want to see something more, uh, or there is a need, let's say I can see that in a bigger stores, the churn rate gets higher.

The retention rates, uh, like decrease. So to avoid that peeps here really help into engaging customers, uh, because they will, they will see the progress on the store, depending how they earn and spend points and they will see what kind of benefits they get with each tier as they progress actually, and grow.

If you can create unlimited amount of fifth years, which is pretty cool compared to say other things. Uh, I've seen some companies that, uh, to the whole trailer had or chill praisers. So the customer actually like, um, make a purchase. They get, they go on that here. And then they have like up to 10 years, which is pretty cool.

I mean, uh, for some it's, it's kind of similar to gamification. Uh, let's see, you will have levels that to go, not just years but levels and as you progress, and it's a great way to engage with the customers. Let's say, uh, see that there's no value in points anymore. That way they will see that. Uh, okay. I will get something cool.

Next time I go up the tier or I'll get this discount of the tier. So it's, it's really about retaining and engaging customers. And the referral program is obviously important for referring friends, all this word of mouth marketing. Uh, uh, it's pretty simple to integrate you. Just, uh, put, uh, let's say you just enable it and it's all live on your store.

You can actually have a dedicated separate page for referrals. Uh, they get the link and they send it to their friends and their friends can purchase via this link. I mean, this way, actually you can get a micro influencers for your store. Technically your customers are technically the best advocates, I would say.

Um, they could your influencers for your brands and with this program, that referral or affiliate program, uh, they get what they want, like discounts, or if they really love the product that they want to stick with the brand, but they just. Well, thanks for free. They can just become ambassadors and let's see, uh, promote the print.

Joseph: [00:49:21] Yeah. I mean, I I'll say too, you know, I've been using GoDaddy as my web hosting service for probably 10 years now. So, uh, we have our annual call where, you know, the ability to say, how did Joseph, how are things doing? Um, and I just like crack my knuckles and go, all right, guys, I've been here for 10 years.

What do you got for me? We do feel like we've, uh, we, we want some, uh, some, some extra love for all of the love that we've given in return. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:49:43] So yeah loyalty is the best way to reward your loyal customers also engage them on all these things, Simon. So the stick around with younger, I mean, uh, you can talk about loyalty for like, uh, customer attention for hours now it's hours because the amount of topics I've covered about loyalty in the amount of blog posts and articles I've written, it's never ending circle.

It's going to be there. It's it's been there. For over 50 years, it's going to be there. And now the it's just about how, like, let's say brands, uh, innovate around it because I mean, everyone knows points or tears, I mean, but what else you can do, how you can step up so you can create something customer centric and, uh, not, not kind of one size fits all loyalty program, but, uh, something that really, uh, something that's really personalized to, uh, each particular customer.

Joseph: [00:50:52] And you make a great point too, just about how loyalty can be one of the more nuanced subjects in e-commerce and how there's, um, there's hours and hours and hours worth of conversation there. And I think a lot of that just has to do with the heightened connection between the customer and the business, if not the person writing the business, because you have somebody who possibly even, you know, it depends on their product. Um, if they're, if they're purchasing it that much and it's really become an integrated part of their life. And so it reminds me of, you know, my own experience as a salesperson, you know, the more somebody bought from me, you know, the more compelled, but also it happened organically that I was to have more of a relationship with that person.

Who's like, you know,  back this watch number five now, like, oh man, it's so good to see you. Come on over, we'll get you a cup of coffee, coffee, a cup of coffee to everybody who came in, but still, you know, just some of the, I, I, I felt the energy just organically within myself of gratitude that this customer was so inline with, uh, with our business model.

So I think a lot of that just has to do with. You know, we call them customers because that's the agreed upon name, but they become elevated in the eyes of the seller. You know, they become ambassadors and they become friends. They even become family at a certain point. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:52:09] Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree with that.

It's all about making connections, building relationships with your customers, and then they are best leaders and et cetera. And, uh, I've worked in e-commerce or like, uh, for a merchant. Um, and actually there are plenty of customers that I used to talk almost daily because they would just call me up and say, Hey, how are you doing?

How is your business doing? Are you having a sale anytime soon, by any chance? Okay. You already have a family discount already. So yeah, it's all about, um, building connection with your most loyal to not, let's not go there, call them customers, but your most loyal people who trust your brand. 

Joseph: [00:52:59] Right. Now, so this was a different piece of information that I had, uh, that I learned prior.

It wasn't on another episode. So, um, or maybe I should have said that so audience would dig through it, but anyways, one of the issues is depending on where the store is, where the brand is at their evolution or their career trajectory. Um, the earlier it on they are, the more challenging it might be to have the loyalty programs because the brand doesn't have that same kind of recognition.

And, and what I'm seeing here is a, um, is a confrontation of that logic. I'm saying quite the opposite, which is, you know, the loyalty program is really one of the first nodes or one of the first, um, components to the evolution of using the software. So what can you say about what level a store should be at or what the brand should have in order to compel people to be a part of the loyalty program, especially early on when, you know, the gears have only just started spinning?

Polina Kulikova: [00:53:59] I mean, uh, there's uh, definitely. I mean, if you just started and, uh, you have zero orders, uh, let's say only one order. Uh, it's kind of hard to, uh, have a loyalty program. But on average, I would say a four store that has already at decent amount of order's not going to like specify amount of them because it all depends on the business.

They're doing, there's a purse, a business can have a five or six orders a month, but let's say each order costs like, uh, like, or like overall or their values over like 500 us dollars or something, because there are such cases let's say, um, I've seen a lot of, uh, people who are painters and they sell the artwork through Shopify, uh, and each, each of them cost a lot of money.

Obviously, they're not going to make so many sales in a, in a month, uh, comparable to, if you sell t-shirts or shoes online. Uh, but, uh, even at that point, if you have a little amount of orders, you still have to start building relationship with your customers. Maybe not through loyalty yet, but let's say rewarding them for, for leaving reviews because, uh, the first thing that you need to get as a business is to get reviews on your store up and running.

Because if you don't have them, you don't have any like proof or that your business is legit. Um, and then on once you see that there is a, uh, A growing number of new orders or new customers coming in. And that's a great, uh, moment to start to, uh, reporting them for like coming back, especially if you have to look at, uh, generally at repeat orders as well.

If you see a lot of repeat orders, uh, it's probably a good time to start, uh, working on your note on your loyalty program. I mean, if you are seeing just like one time buyers, I mean, I would recommend just, uh, start with reviews and like rewarding them for leaving review and let's say ow or rewarding them on some certain activities, uh, and then processing with the higher tier the loyalty program.

Joseph: [00:56:25] Okay. And with this one, this question, is that a bit more of a technical one, but one thing that I would consider doing for my own story. Um, you know, I am, I am working on my own because I can only talk to so many people and not want to do it. I would want to retroactively reward people who had made a purchase prior maybe before my rewards program was set up.

So like, if I would want to go through the previous orders and say, Hey, we've started this rewards program. Now we've seen that you've been loyal to us prior to, so we would like to give you some points just to get you started. Is that the actually there's still, I guess it's a two in one question. One, is that a good idea?

And two, is that something that I can actually deploy within, say, grow up? 

Polina Kulikova: [00:57:04] Uh, first. Yeah, I mean, not, it's probably a good idea, but depends on how many people you have or how many orders you have, uh, to go through. Uh, it's a lot of, uh, let's say work to do, but I mean, if you know, a few customers in particular, let's say you still install growave, uh, or, or do you have a growave installed there?

Uh, but not a loyalty program yet. Let's say you just on a free plan or something through social logging. They will already have an account. And once you add a loyalty program, you will have an ability to manually add points for them actually through settings. So definitely you can just email them, Hey, I've launched a loyalty program and I know that you've been a customer for a while and you made a et cetera or like X amount of orders.

Uh, and I'll just give you a like 1000 points from a start, just like that. I'll give you a thousand points and you can decide what you wanna do with it. Uh, so yeah, you can definitely do that with school, with, um, no, I mean, we also have a lot of customers who just migrated from another loyalty program and they wonder like, how is my loyalty program gonna work this group level two program.

It's fairly simple. Like you can export and import data and we'll be aligned. If there should be, if there are any mistakes, uh, you can always like switch it up. And, uh, the, the ability that we give, uh, to change the, uh, you can even change tiers of your customers if you have tier program. 

Joseph: [00:58:52] Terrific. Well, great, great answer.

I, I appreciate that. And with that, we are just on the cusp of hitting an hour. I got, gotta say, I don't know about you have this hour kind of flew by, and maybe it's you, it felt like a dry Dawn, but it's because it's been a long day for you. So I wouldn't blame you if you felt that way, but. 

Polina Kulikova: [00:59:08] Yeah, that's pretty, it just flew by it's pretty quick.

Joseph: [00:59:12] Yeah. Yeah. Um, so I, it's been great to talk, um, to, to talk to you today. And I guess if you don't mind me, give me like another five minutes. And one of the things that I would just personally like to know too is, cause you mentioned here or there, like what you were doing prior to working with it. So some of your prior experience in, uh, in running your own store, I would just like to know a little bit more about your own career path and what got you to this point and I'll let you go.

Polina Kulikova: [00:59:34] Uh, I mean, I, uh, I always like to share about myself and my journey, but, uh, starting, um, let's say my career path started from very odd things. I was a photographer and I was studying to become a journalist. Then I switched up into advertising and PR, uh, that was my, uh, basically my bachelor's degree. But then, uh, I went on a few internships and I was mostly focused on photography and I was a photographer for FNB.

And then, um, I was working for FNB and then I realized that, um, I wanted to do my master's degree about marketing around it. I was studying in Dubai and I mean, it's a very well known city for also growing it in eCommerce in general. So I got an internship at, um, subscription company called mama spokes.

And they actually on Shopify that, and that's how I got into e-commerce in general. So I was technically an assistant merchant. I was helping my boss to manage the store. Uh, then, uh, it's it's been a while for, it was lasting a while, like a few months. And then I realized that I want to continue my master's in the us.

So I moved to us and they're, my friends is like, oh, I want to open my store. Can you help me? And I'm like, okay, cool. Which platform? She's like, oh, VIX. And I'm like, oh no, you'll want to move to Shopify. You know? And then she was like, okay, fine. Let's do it together. Then, then, uh, it's when we launched this store together, uh, and I was helping to set it up, running it for a bit.

Yeah. Then I got, I switched to another store for my friend, you know, like condemn a kid and he's like, okay, I gotta move my store online. And I'm like, oh. And he didn't even know that I used to work for that. Uh, like an e-commerce in general and then, uh, basically help him out. And then I moved back to my country from us due to COVID all this issues.

And then I stumbled across Growave, um, like it company or work based on Shopify, et cetera. And I'm like, okay, I know Shopify. Now give it a try. And here I am for the past, uh, let's say seven years. I've been working at Growave. 

It's funny 

Joseph: [01:02:06] that you and I are, are similar in that way is that we both been with our companies respectively around that same amount of time, because the pandemic was such a major shift for pretty much everybody.

A lot of people ended up in a, in a different place than they were before. So, uh, it's a, it's a fun, little parallel there. And. I, uh, again, thank you for your time and for your insights. It's definitely a lot of, um, uh, a great takeaways here for myself too. You know, I do this for the audience, but I do it for myself too, because, uh, there's a lot that I am happy to learn in this regard.

So I usually like to give people a chance if say late, there's an like final words, parting wisdom, if like a quote, you like, stuff like that. You're welcome to share it and then let the audience know how they can, um, uh, you know, get in touch, maybe check out some of your content and check out the product in and of itself.

Polina Kulikova: [01:02:50] Yeah, sure. I mean, it was a pleasure to talk to you. I mean, I really enjoy doing, uh, such podcasts or little interviews because it's really great to get to know new people. So, but what I always say to let's say brands is always try new things, uh, and also always be customer centric because your customers is who you are and they define you.

And, uh, if you look at successful companies, or most of them are all around being customer centric. Um, and I mean, during pandemic, if, if you are a storage that is just starting or, I mean, we are still in pandemic and we will be there for awhile, I guess. But if you're a starting store, I would recommend just not queue up obviously.

And, uh, just try your best because I mean, it, comers is the next thing, uh, more, more and more people will shop online and this people will actually go in store because we are in a new era right now. 

Joseph: [01:04:02] Yeah. And I don't know when this is going to happen, but I do think at some point the term e-commerce altogether will drop and it'll yeah.

Become enmeshed with commerce in general and it'll just be, it'll just be a business. And so, and one of the things that I visualize about this show is that, yeah, it's an e-commerce podcast and we talked to people in the e-commerce space, but at its fundamental, it is a business podcast. And for that reason, I'm also fortunate to be able to talk to people in different parts.

Right. Get developers. Uh, people, uh, specializing in retail, actually, interestingly, in an episode that I think people should check it out, check it, all of them, but one of them that comes to my mind right now was, uh, uh, John Crestani who, uh, he, uh, actually focused on using some more classic mediums like television.

Um, we've had people talk about using postcards. So, you know, sooner or later, I think it really all will be one thing. But my prediction, if I'm right, it'll probably be later than sooner. It's still gonna take some time. 

Polina Kulikova: [01:04:56] Yeah, I agree with that. Uh, but in terms of, uh, what's going to happen in e-commerce or like the strengths, I mean, you can check out some of my works in a grief blog, uh, via occasionally poster.

I mean, there's my LinkedIn, maybe a delinquent ads attended this podcast. I mean, if you want to get in touch or talk to me, I'm always open or to give any suggestions to businesses and about growave, you can just, uh, click our homepage and just check out our, uh, our company and what we do and what we have to offer for you.

And if you have any questions regarding our, uh, or in general, you can just drop a message to, um, our live chat there, or just drop me a message on LinkedIn. I will answer. 

Joseph: [01:05:45] All right, fantastic. And with that, uh, one more, uh, thank you for the roads to yourself and one, thank you to our audience for their participation.

Um, it's great to know that the value that I have been able to give for myself is also via that I can share with all of you. So to that I say, take care and we'll check in soon. 

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Whatever the case, if you enjoy this content and want to help us thrive, please take a few moments to leave a review on apple podcasts or wherever you think. 

We also want to hear from you. So whether you think you'd be a good guest or want to weigh in on anything related to our show, you can email podcast@debutify.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok. 

Finally, this podcast is created by the passionate team at Debutify. If you're ready to take the plunge into e-commerce or are looking to up your game, head over to debutify.Com and see how it can change your life and the lives of many through what you do next.

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Debutify Admin

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