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8 Reasons to Avoid Cryptocurrencies for Ecommerce

Cryptocurrencies are hot news. Visa announced that it would test a type of cryptocurrency on its network. Elon Musk proclaimed that Tesla would accept cryptocurrency in payment for its vehicles. Bitcoin’s value is soaring.

Merchants may be wondering if cryptocurrencies are ready for mainstream ecommerce. The answer is no. Here’s why.

8 Reasons to Avoid Cryptocurrencies

Problem 1: Volatility. The value of national fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar fluctuates slightly. The buying power of the U.S. dollar, even in times of relatively high inflation, is more or less the same now as in a few months.

Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, are remarkably volatile. One year ago, bitcoin traded at roughly $10,000. Today, it trades at approximately $60,000. It’s the equivalent of 17 cents expanding to $1.

To overcome volatility, the cryptocurrency industry has created stablecoin, a type of cryptocurrency that has its value tied to a more stable asset such as the U.S. dollar or gold. However, stablecoin is not yet widely adopted, in part because crypto speculators do not like stability as it harms their earning potential.

Despite what crypto proponents claim, the possibility of a meaningful drop in the value is frightening. It’s too great of a risk for small- and medium-sized ecommerce merchants.

Problem 2: No rewards. Consumers use credit cards, in part, to earn cash-back and point-based rewards. Issuers offer these incentives to motivate consumers to pay with cards. There is no large-scale crypto equivalent to Citi’s Double Cash card or Amazon’s Prime Rewards Visa, or any of the hundreds of other popular loyalty programs. The lack of those programs is a disincentive to use crypto for routine payments.

Problem 3: No consumer protection. Chargebacks are expensive and time-consuming for merchants. Nonetheless, they are an important part of the credit card ecosystem. Knowing that they are not responsible for fraudulent credit card purchases gives consumers confidence. Crypto payments have no such protections. A customer has no recourse if the merchant does not deliver on its commitments. Merchants have no legal or contractual obligation to refund a crypto purchase, although they may choose to do it. A consumer could presumably sue a merchant, but it’s unlikely.

Problem 4: Not universal. Cash is universal. Credit and debit cards are universal. Cryptocurrency is not. There a slew of cryptocurrencies, but using crypto payments for retail purchases remains an anomaly. Only a handful of payment gateways (and even fewer point-of-sale terminals) process crypto transactions. Bottom line: Cryptocurrencies are too difficult for consumers to obtain and for merchants to accept.

Problem 5: Fragmentation. There are approximately 5,000 cryptocurrencies. Banks, payment processors, and merchants are largely unsure how to process the thousands of available options. New “coins” pop up seemingly daily. Which ones should merchants accept? What if a consumer wants to pay with the latest cryptocurrency, but the payment gateway cannot process? In contrast, consider national currencies. Most large financial institutions deal with about 150 sovereign currencies, at most. The United Nations recognizes 180.

Problem 6: Expensive. Typical rates for accepting cryptocurrencies for online purchases are about 1 percent, roughly 1 percent lower than most credit cards. However, accepting crypto becomes expensive when integrating and maintaining a separate payment gateway and adding currency-conversion fees. The latter point, converting cryptos to fiat currencies, is the real catch. Merchants should carefully consider that cost as the rates are generally high, wiping out the savings from the low transaction fees.

Problem 7: Security risks. Cryptocurrency is essentially digital cash. Stolen credit cards and bank accounts are gigantic headaches. However, unless the account holder was negligent, the issuer or bank will return the money. But not so with cryptocurrencies. Once stolen, cryptocurrencies are gone forever — with no recourse. Thus holders of cryptocurrencies must add security measures to protect their accounts.

Problem 8: Coming regulation. National and local governments worldwide are contemplating taxing, banning, limiting, or controlling cryptocurrencies. Several countries are in the early stages of creating their own national cryptocurrencies, called CBDCs (central bank digital currencies). Interested merchants and consumers should let the dust settle.

Home Gym Provider Overcomes Supply Disruptions, Thrives

Imagine selling home gym equipment online at the onset of the pandemic. Athletic clubs were closed. Consumers were stuck in their houses. According to Kaevon Khoozani, the founder of Canada-based Bells of Steel, the demand for weight-training equipment was “obscene.”

“We ran into two giant hiccups,” Khoozani told me. “Everything we sell comes from specialty suppliers. Some large players, such as the chain stores, gobbled up all the capacity and raw materials. Three of our main suppliers dropped us.”

In other words, Khoozani faced obscene demand with no inventory. What was his solution?

“I set up an entirely new infrastructure for the production of iron weight plates in Vietnam. As far as I know, I’m the first to do it for export out of that country. It took a lot of time, money, and effort.”

Khoozani’s perseverance has paid off. His company is thriving, having retooled its supply chain, logistics, and inventory planning.

He and I recently discussed those developments and more. Our entire audio conversation is embedded below. The transcript that follows is edited for clarity and length.

Eric Bandholz: Selling gym equipment during the pandemic might make you one of the richest people in ecommerce.

Kaevon Khoozani: Theoretically, yes. I could be poor soon, but it’s going good now.

Bandholz: We’re all rich in life. This show’s not about the monetary value or get rich quick. Your site is Bells of Steel. How challenging has it been to get equipment? I’m a weightlifter myself. Pretty much everywhere has been sold out.

Khoozani: For sure. And the demand hasn’t really stopped. This month will be our biggest ever.

Bandholz: When I got into ecommerce, shipping heavy items was something I avoided. You sell products designed to be heavy. How do you manage that shipping process?

Khoozani: It’s tricky. UPS has high thresholds for package size and weight. Quite a few of our products are designed specifically to fit within those UPS guidelines. A lot goes into our packaging design. As for fulfillment, I use a 3PL in Indianapolis. I also ship from my own warehouse and staff in Calgary, Canada.

Most everyone who works for us is into weight lifting. Many of our warehouse guys are big and physical.

Bandholz: You’re in Canada. It’s a small market compared to the U.S. Does your business depend on sales to U.S. consumers?

Khoozani: Canada has about the same population as California. Bells of Steel has been around since 2010. There were no competitors up here at the time. So it was an advantage. Imagine being the first company in California to sell bumper plates on the internet. We were able to capture a ton of the Canadian market and a lot of organic Google traffic.

Amazon’s not nearly as dominant here as in the U.S. It’s a lot easier in Canada and a lot less expensive than in the U.S. To this day, our split is about 70-percent Canada and 30-percent U.S., although the U.S. share is growing rapidly.

Bandholz: Whenever Beardbrand ships into Canada, it costs an arm and a leg. It’s tremendously cost-prohibitive to serve Canadian consumers. What about shipping from Canada into the U.S.?

Khoozani: It’s a lot easier and cheaper to ship from Canada to the U.S. than vice-versa. There’s a difference in the duty and tax regulations, for whatever reason. I can ship anything less than $800 in value to the U.S., and it goes right through. No duty, no nothing.

But you’ll get dinged on anything and everything shipping from the U.S. to Canada. I won’t order stuff from the States directly because I’ll end up with these crazy duty bills, or it gets stuck at customs for three weeks, or it never gets through at all.

Bandholz: Where are your products manufactured?

Khoozani: Everything’s made in China and, more recently, Vietnam. It all comes in containers directly to Calgary and Indianapolis.

Bandholz: A lot of big companies sell weight training equipment. How do you compete?

Khoozani: Our big unique is we’re the best value for the money. There are competitors with thicker and stronger steel and maybe a better fit and finish. But my barbells are the best dollar for dollar. We also offer a lot of unique designs that are typically unavailable to home users. For example, one of our best-selling products is the Belt Squat Machine for under $2,000. Only one other company sells it for that price. And everything else on the market is commercial grade, which is very expensive.

And we don’t sell on Amazon. Here in Canada, maybe 10 percent of our pre-pandemic sales came from Amazon. And then the pandemic hit. I chose then not to give up a single percentage point to an entity that does nothing for my brand when there’s just obscene demand. And I don’t know if we’re ever going back. I like keeping all those customers on my platform and giving them the best experience I can.

It’s not worth it, fighting tooth and nail on the Amazon marketplace.

Bandholz: You’re singing my notes, right up my alley. Let’s talk about the crazy demand for your products due to Covid. How do you keep customers happy?

Khoozani: We ran into two giant hiccups. The first was that everything we sell comes from specialty suppliers. We don’t use trade agents. We buy barbells from a factory that only does barbells and nothing else. For some of those factories, we are a bigger customer. For others, we’re not.

At the beginning of the pandemic, some large players, such as the chain stores, gobbled up all the capacity and raw materials. Three of our main suppliers dropped us. Just, “See you later. Go get your weight plates from somewhere else.” But we couldn’t get them anywhere else because nobody was taking on new customers.

So I set up an entirely new infrastructure for the production of iron weight plates in Vietnam. And as far as I know, I’m the first to do it for export out of that country. There is some domestic production there, but not much export. I went from the ground up and built that supply chain there. It took a lot of time, money, and effort.

The second hiccup was a severe container shortage from Asia to North America. For years we used a reliable freight forwarder who set everything up. We didn’t have to pay the freight until the product arrived. Then came Covid. It was a frantic scramble, calling forwarders every day, asking, “You got space? You got space? You got space?”

And the cost of shipping containers, if you can get them, has tripled or quadrupled since the beginning of the pandemic. Lots of dirty tricks, such as middlemen selling VIP space on the containers for an extra $4,000. Crazy stuff.

It’s been tough. We learned the hard way. Before the pandemic, we were doing a lot of pre-selling. We would tell customers they could buy it now we would ship in the same month. Then Covid hit. We got burned pretty hard. We couldn’t fulfill those orders with containers sitting in port for weeks, unable to offload.

We’re much better now at tracking containers and planning inventory. We’re working much closer with our suppliers, asking, “How can we maximize your efficiency? If we buy 100 SKUs, is that going to expedite the manufacturing and shipping?”

We’ve completely reshaped how we order and how we plan our inventory and logistics.

Bandholz: Shifting direction, what’s your ideal customer?

Khoozani: In the beginning, I was focused on top-line revenue, which we all know is a silly number. I was trying to sell wherever I could — retail stores, gyms, home gyms, whatever. Three years ago, we looked closely at our numbers. It was clear that we needed to focus on the home gym user. That’s our bread and butter. That’s who we need to cater to. The segment has the best margins and the fewest warranty issues. So, yes, our focus is the home user.

Bandholz: Your site’s built on WooCommerce. How do you like it?

Khoozani: Good and bad. I was complaining about it just a few hours ago. I started on BigCommerce and remained on that platform for maybe five years. I can’t recall why I switched to WooCommerce. I think BigCommerce had jacked their rates. Perhaps I didn’t like dealing with them any longer. And I met a developer who sold me on WooCommerce.

Since then, it’s been a double-edged sword. I love that I can do anything with it, totally in my control. The thought of Shopify or BigCommerce dictating what I sell is not good.

WooCommerce has a bunch of functionality. It’s so far ahead. It’s a little clunkier, but it has way more features, and it’s way more cost-effective. But the downside is it takes much more maintenance. There are many more bugs. And we struggle with speed, always.

But I don’t think I’ll ever switch. We’re hoping to launch a new site in the next month or two. It should be a lot faster. If I were starting over, I probably would go with Shopify. But I’m glad we’re on WooCommerce now.

The level of sophistication we can do with WooCommerce is such a competitive advantage. For example, one of my leading products is called the garage gym builder. It walks you through choosing a bench, choosing a rack, and choosing a bar. And as far as I can tell, there’s not a good comparison to it on Shopify or other platforms. That product generates most of our revenue. We use a plugin, a WooCommerce composite builder.

Also, WooCommerce’s product bundle system is very sophisticated. It works in conjunction with WooCommerce composite.

Another great feature is quoting freight prices in the checkout process. We use freight carriers to deliver products to customers. But it’s been a pain to quote freight charges because none of those companies had a system like UPS does, for example.

Then one of our freight carriers created an open API. A developer used it to build a live freight-quoting plugin for WooCommerce. Now I can offer customers freight quoting at the checkout, which is a huge benefit.

Bandholz: Where can people learn more about you and Bells of Steel?

Khoozani: Our website is BellsOfSteel.com. To get in touch with me personally, send a message on the website. Somebody will direct it my way.

Ecommerce Product Releases: April 15, 2021

Here is a list of product releases and updates for mid-April from companies that offer services to online merchants. There are updates on live-stream shopping, eBay ad campaigns, customer experience platforms, loyalty programs, and more.

Got an ecommerce product release? Email releases@practicalecommerce.com.

Ecommerce Product Releases

Bambuser launches self-serve platform for live video shopping. Bambuser announced the launch of a live video shopping “One-to-Many” starter package, a self-service option. With the starter version, businesses can quickly incorporate shoppable live-streaming into their ecommerce strategy.

Screenshot of Bambuser's "One-to-Many" live-stream shopping service.

Bambuser’s “One-to-Many” live-stream shopping service.

eBay launches automated Promoted Listings campaigns. eBay sellers can now use rule-based technologies to automate how they promote new listings and adjust their ad rates. New rule capabilities make it easier for sellers to streamline how listings are added to their Promoted Listings campaigns. By selecting the “automate suggested ad rate” option, sellers can balance performance and costs by having eBay automatically adjust ad rates according to the rules that sellers set.

Talkwalker lets brands monitor mentions in podcasts. Talkwalker has added podcasts to the list of sources it covers. With Talkwalker’s new Speech Analytics technology, brands have visibility over what is being said about them in text, image, video, and audio. By including a catalog of 35,000 podcasts from a variety of platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Talkwalker is accessing a world of conversations from which professionals can benefit.

Vimeo brings the power of video to Constant Contact. Vimeo, a video platform, and Constant Contact, an email and marketing platform, have announced a strategic partnership to bring the power of video to hundreds of thousands of global marketers. Vimeo will now power scalable video creation, hosting, and management directly within Constant Contact’s marketing platform. This integration unlocks access to Vimeo’s suite of tools to help marketers reach and convert new customers with video. Constant Contact users can create and distribute marketing videos, embed GIFs in email campaigns, capture leads with contact forms and sync them to their Constant Contact accounts, and measure video performance — all from one secure dashboard.

Home page of Constant Contact

Constant Contact

Financing providers Clearbanc and FirePower partner to expand offerings. Clearbanc offers ecommerce and SaaS start-ups an alternative to traditional financing in the form of non-dilutive growth capital. FirePower lends from $1 million to $60 million to companies with excellent visibility into their future cash flows. Combined, Clearbanc and FirePower can invest as little as $10 and up to $60 million, with terms and conditions developed by founders for founders.

CommerceIQ expands ecommerce channel optimization beyond Amazon. CommerceIQ, a player in ecommerce channel optimization, has announced it is extending support beyond Amazon for all major online retailers, including Walmart, Instacart, Target, Costco, and Home Depot. With coverage connecting sales, marketing, and supply chain operations, CommerceIQ enables advertisers to leverage its optimization platform to drive growth. Advertisers can leverage CommerceIQ’s expanded capabilities to track and optimize sales channels, activate machine-learning-based automation, and generate cross-channel reporting from a single portal.

Squarespace acquires Tock, a reservation, takeout, and event platform. Squarespace has announced it has acquired Tock, a platform serving the hospitality industry via online reservations, table management, takeout, and events. With this acquisition, Squarespace continues the evolution of its product suite, enabling millions of worldwide businesses to build a brand and transact with their customers online.

Home page of tock

Tock

Threekit introduces Shop Threekit, a 3D marketplace. Threekit, a 3D and augmented reality platform, has announced the launch of Shop Threekit, a 3D marketplace. From Shop Threekit, users can visit more than 20 ecommerce stores that have enabled 3D, augmented reality, and virtual photography. With a few clicks, shoppers can configure and view, for example, their own TaylorMade SIM2 driver or custom Crate & Barrel sofa.

WeCommerce acquires Stamped, a ratings, reviews, and loyalty-program provider. WeCommerce Holdings has announced the acquisition of Stamped.io for roughly $110 million. Stamped offers a software suite that enables Shopify merchants to collect and feature customer reviews and product ratings and create their own loyalty and rewards programs.

Acquire upgrades customer support platform. Acquire has announced the release of its newest software that streamlines customer conversations. Acquire enables businesses to better serve customers by providing multiple conversation modes, including text, chat, voice, video, co-browse (a form of on-screen collaboration), and social messaging apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp. The conversational approach enables agents to speed up interactions. Acquire’s analytics and reporting capabilities further enable businesses to measure, iterate, and improve operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

ShipBob joins Shopify Plus as Certified App Partner. ShipBob, a global cloud-based logistics platform for small and medium-sized businesses, has achieved Shopify Plus Certified App Partner status. The ShipBob platform gives Shopify Plus merchants a single view of their inventory, orders, and shipments across all sales channels and locations, in addition to advanced analytics with insights into shipping performance, inventory allocation, and fulfillment costs.

Home page of ShipBob

ShipBob

How Businesses Go Carbon Neutral

Climate change is front and center in the news. How businesses can make a positive impact is not well understood. I’ll provide an overview in this post.

First, a few definitions.

  • Carbon footprint refers to the weight, usually in metric tons, of greenhouse gases, those that warm the earth’s atmosphere. Examples include carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane generated by everyday human activities.
  • Carbon neutral footprint exists when the sum of the greenhouse gas emissions is offset by natural carbon sinks or carbon credits.
  • Carbon sink is any reservoir — natural or otherwise — that accumulates and stores a carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period, thereby lowering the concentration of CO2 from the atmosphere. Globally, the two most important carbon sinks are forests and the ocean.
  • Carbon offset is a counterbalance to emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. Offsets are measured in metric tons of CO2-equivalent. Offsets do not reduce the volume of emissions.
  • Carbon credit is a financing tool to support projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or recapture carbon from the atmosphere. A single carbon credit is equal to one metric ton of equivalent carbon dioxide gases.

Carbon Offset Providers

Businesses can make a positive contribution in several ways. An ecommerce company could minimize packaging materials, reducing its carbon footprint. Delivery companies can switch to electric vehicles.

Most businesses that have committed to reducing carbon do so by purchasing carbon offset projects — carbon sinks.

For merchants, Cloverly offers carbon-neutral shipping via an application programming interface that calculates and neutralizes carbon emissions on a per-transaction basis. It purchases carbon credits on behalf of companies or their customers. Using Cloverly, an ecommerce store can give its customers the option of making their deliveries carbon-neutral, usually for less than $1 per transaction, by adding that amount to their shopping cart. Cloverly offers a plugin for BigCommerce, Magento, and Shopify stores. Merchants on other platforms can integrate via the API.

Carbon Checkout, another company, lets online merchants integrate a customer contribution, usually less than $1, into the checkout process via an API.

Likewise, Pachama offers an API for businesses to incorporate carbon credits into the purchase of products and services. Pachama supports verified forest conservation and reforestation projects.

Screenshot of a page from Pachama.com showing how to purchase carbon offset credit

Pachama offers an API for businesses to incorporate carbon credits into the purchase of products and services.

Wren is a subscription service that offsets an individual’s carbon footprint. When customers sign up, they share their transportation, diet, services, and energy usage, which Wren uses to calculate their carbon footprint. Then, customers pay a monthly fee averaging $23 to offset what they emit. That money goes to one of three projects managed by established environmental organizations. While Wren targets individuals, not businesses, it provides a plan that allows businesses to offer Wren as an employee benefit.

Other companies that offer carbon plans to businesses and individuals include:

Direct air capture (DAC) is another method of taking carbon out of the environment. It uses chemical reactions to capture CO2. Air moves over these chemicals, which selectively react with and remove CO2, allowing the other components of air to pass through. These chemicals can take the form of liquid solvents or solid sorbents (materials that absorb gasses), which make up the two types of DAC systems in use today.

Once the carbon dioxide is captured, heat is typically applied to release it from the solvent or sorbent. This regenerates the solvent or sorbent for another cycle of capture. The collected CO2 can be injected underground for permanent storage in certain geologic formations or used in various products and applications. Permanent storage results in the biggest climate benefit. Swiss company Climeworks and Canadian firm Carbon Engineering are leaders in the DAC market.

Screenshot of Climeworks' direct air capture process

Direct air capture, such as this example from Climeworks, takes carbon out of the environment using chemical reactions to capture CO2. Air moving over these chemicals removes CO2, allowing the other components of air to pass through. Image: Climeworks.

Committed Companies

In 2019 Etsy became the first global ecommerce company to offset 100 percent of its emissions from shipping. For every customer purchase, Etsy automatically purchases a verified offset.

Luxury ecommerce merchant Farfetch intends to offset the carbon footprint of all its deliveries and returns as part of its Climate Conscious Delivery program. The company says 85 percent of its emissions are related to shipping and returns. Projects include planting and protecting forests in the U.S. and Brazil. Farfetch is also using more efficient packaging as well as shipping more products in bulk, lowering its carbon footprint.

In 2012 Microsoft implemented an internal tax on all its divisions to make them responsible for reducing carbon emissions. Microsoft recently doubled its internal carbon fee to $15 per metric ton on all carbon emissions.

Microsoft’s goal is to be carbon negative by 2030 by reducing its carbon emissions by half. This will likely require Microsoft to procure millions of metric tons of carbon removal. In July 2020 Microsoft issued an RFP to procure in 2021 1 million metric tons of nature- and technology-based carbon removal.

The company received proposals from 79 applicants for 189 projects in over 40 countries. Microsoft then purchased 1.3 million metric tons of carbon removal from 26 projects worldwide at an average price of $20 per metric ton.

What if 80,000 Brick-and-mortar Stores Closed?

A financial services firm has predicted that 80,000 or more physical store locations in the United States are likely to close in the next five years, reducing the total number of American retail outlets by approximately 10 percent.

But what does that mean?

Retail chains might be shuttering stores because of a changing market or too many shopping centers and strip malls.

There were lots of retail bankruptcies in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic played a part. But the retail industry has been evolving for years. Just because a merchant closes a particular location does not always mean that its business is failing or that there is anything wrong with the industry generally.

Again, retail might simply be changing.

“We have yet even to scratch the surface of the transformation of the retail landscape,” said UBS analyst Michael Lasser in an April 6, 2021, interview with CNBC. UBS and Lasser believe that 80,000 store closures are a baseline and that the number could be higher.

Better Stores

So how will that many store closures impact the industry? What if, for example, lots of physical stores did close in the next five years, but the ones that remained were better? What if the remaining 90 percent embodied omnichannel commerce?

Is the number of physical retail locations the best measurement of the industry’s health? Or could 10-percent fewer stores be helpful if the remaining ones were better?

Photo of a female shopping for clothing in a physical store

Could having 10-percent fewer stores be a good thing if the remaining stores were actually better? Photo: Arturo Rey.

“Post pandemic, brick-and-mortar will come back, but in a new way that is digital-first,” said Raj De Datta, CEO of Bloomreach, a digital experience platform.

Retail ecommerce “has discussed multichannel and omnichannel for the last five-plus years. The idea has been that we don’t really care how our customers shop, how they work with us, how they come to us. We just care about delivering a great experience and getting them to interact with [us]…and ultimately, [to] sell them our products. And while that has been a stated goal, it has been the furthest thing from reality,” said De Datta, who was speaking at a live event for CommerceCo by Practical Ecommerce.

Instead, retail companies have kept in-store and ecommerce revenues on separate financial statements. They have not integrated leadership teams, and they have not delivered on the potential benefits omnichannel has promised.

The pandemic forced changes. During the lockdown, ecommerce boomed, doubling as a percentage of total retail sales, according to De Datta.

There could be fewer brick-and-mortar stores in the near future, but they could offer a seamless and frictionless experience.

Fewer Stores, More Businesses

What if 80,000 retail stores closed in the next five years, but the overall number of commerce companies increased?

“Historically, retail has been about selling other people’s products,” De Datta said. The companies “that have had a business model of selling other people’s products, without a marketplace and brands of their own, have started to struggle with real estate footprints when you can buy the same product on Amazon or other online merchants.”

These businesses might represent some of the store closures UBS is predicting. But they are not the only retail model.

De Datta believes we are witnessing significant growth in direct-to-consumer brands. Similarly, retail product subscriptions could be on the rise. In each case, fewer physical stores might not mean fewer businesses. This evolution could represent a significant opportunity for ecommerce entrepreneurs.

Too Many Physical Stores

What if there are too many brick-and-mortar retail stores in America? In a particular state? Or in a given neighborhood? If that were the case, store closures would be a “right-sizing.”

Take Walmart, for example. The company had $559.2 billion in revenue for its 2021 fiscal year, which ended on January 31, 2021. That revenue represented a 6.7-percent, $35 billion increase over the prior year.

In fiscal year 2020, Walmart’s revenue and operating income grew by $10 billion and $20 billion, respectively. The company grew, despite having slightly fewer stores.

Given Walmart’s profit, the net closure of just 13 locations does not suggest retail Armageddon.

For example, in March 2021, Walmart closed its Supercenter at 71 Technology Drive in Irvine, Calif., because it was “underperforming.” That location is just five and a half miles from the Walmart Supercenter in Foothill Ranch, Calif., a little more than nine miles from another Irvine Supercenter, and within 15 miles six Walmart Supercenters.

The Walmart Supercenter at 1326 Bush River Road in Columbia, S.C., closed in February 2021 because of its relatively poor financial performance, leaving another 10 Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs in the vicinity.

Online Onion Seller Rises from Domain Auction

Most entrepreneurs start with a business idea and then secure the domain name. Peter Askew does the opposite. He purchases domain names and then builds the business. Take VidaliaOnions.com, for example.

“Around 2014 VidaliaOnions.com expired,” he told me. “Being a Georgia boy … I dropped in a bid. I won the auction. I love the pears from Harry & David. I kept thinking, ‘Who’s doing that for Vidalia onions?’”

Fast forward to 2021, and VidaliaOnions.com is a thriving farm-to-door seller of onions raised only in 13 counties in Georgia.

Askew and I spoke recently about launching the business, partnering with a farmer, and the broader market of purchasing domain names. Our entire audio conversation is embedded below. The transcript that follows is edited for length and clarity.

Eric Bandholz: How did you get into selling onions online?

Peter Askew: Back in 2006, I got exposed to the domain name market. Most domain investors attempt to buy a name and try to flip it for a higher price. I attempted that, but I was not very good at it. But once I started buying interesting generic keywords or phrases, things started working. Around 2014 VidaliaOnions.com expired. Somebody abandoned it.

Being a Georgia boy, I thought, “That’s interesting.” I back-ordered it just to follow the auction. At around $2,200, I dropped in a bid. I won the auction.

The name landed in my account. It kept nagging at me that there might be an opportunity there to build something.

I love the pears from Harry & David. That kept crawling into my head. I kept thinking, “Who’s doing that for Vidalia onions?” I assumed there were customers because it’s a big industry. A few farmers were trying to sell Vidalias online, but not well.

That’s how I tend to build some of my projects. The domain comes first. Then I try to shoehorn a business from it. Some work, some don’t.

With Vidalia, I partnered with a farm in southern Georgia.

Bandholz: How did you find that farm?

Askew: I found an organization called the Vidalia Onion Committee that represents all the farmers. It’s located in the town of Vidalia, which is southeast of Atlanta. I called them and said, “I’m passing through. I own the domain VidaliaOnions.com, and I’m wondering if there is a market for farm to door.” They were intrigued and a bit confused because I owned the domain. But I tried to comfort them, letting them know that I wanted to represent the industry.

So I drove down and met the farmers. It was cold calling. I said, “I’m not an ecommerce expert. But Shopify and others have made it simple to run an ecommerce site.” (I was on Big Cartel first and eventually moved to Shopify.) But I met them — mainly to see if there was a need to sell onions online.

Also, I needed their permission. They vigorously protect that name. For Vidalias, you can only grow them within a roughly 13 county region around Vidalia, Georgia. So they protect that name.

Once I met with them, we all were on the same page. They encouraged me to pursue what they called mail order.

So I started going farm to farm, just saying hello to farmers, saying, “I’m looking for a partner farmer. Can you fulfill and ship here directly from the farm?”

I had initially thought about bringing the onions up here to Atlanta but realized that was ridiculous. What was I going to do? Throw them in my garage and have thousands of pounds of Vidalias to pack and ship.

I realized I needed farmers that would pack and ship direct. Plus, I wanted to be able to say these are coming directly from the farm. I met a farmer named Aries Haygood during that introduction tour. He and I hit it off. He was open to the idea, very flexible. On a handshake, we started it. He said, “Let’s just try it and see what happens.”

I tried to damper his expectations, saying, “I’m not sure how many we can sell. If we sell 20 or 30 boxes this first year, maybe we’re doing something right.”

But then we launched, and we sold 600 boxes in the first year. Then it kept doubling every year. We shipped 64,000 pounds last year. We’re on track in 2021 to go over 100,000 pounds.

So I partnered with Aries. I handle all the website, ecommerce operations, ShipStation, the UPS account. I run all of that. I collect all the sales and then generate the labels and either drive them down there or, for a single order or two, forward the PDF over email.

I’ve trained the staff at the farm. We have a thermal printer there. They can print the labels directly via ShipStation and place them on each box to ship.

Bandholz: You sold out quickly last season.

Askew: Yes. We typically ship until about late July. The yield last year wasn’t as high as usual. We had some heavy rains during the harvest. It impacted our yield, and all the farmers physically ran out in June. We shipped mainly from May 1 until about June 20.

Bandholz: You work with one farmer. What percentage of his onion production goes to you?

Askew: A tiny amount. He ships millions of pounds every year. He typically sells to grocery stores. He has no contact with the end consumer. His onions are just going in the produce section in a grocery store. But Aries is smart. He understood the importance of having that one-to-one relationship with customers. He understood that when I was pitching it to him.

Bandholz: So there’s still an opportunity for growth?

Askew: Gosh yes. He ships 4 or 5 million pounds per year. I’m at 64,000 pounds a year. In the early days I asked Aries, “Am I going sell you out?” He laughed, “No, we’re fine. If we run low, I’ll plant another acre.” So we can grow as much as we need to. I love the simplicity of this model. We sell one product, Vidalia onions, in four weight packages. That’s it.

Bandholz: Let’s transition back to domain buying. Is it just GoDaddy?

Askew: There are four primary places. GoDaddy Auctions is a big one. Since GoDaddy is the largest registrar, it has a large inventory to draw from. If somebody abandons the domain, it gets pushed to GoDaddy’s auction house first. It gets re-released if no one bids on it. Back in the day, registrars would hire a third party to auction their domain names. Network Solutions, for example, auctions their names through NameJet, which later acquired SnapNames.

There’s GoDaddy Auctions, NameJet, SnapNames, and DropCatch. If somebody physically abandons a domain, NameJet, SnapNames, or DropCatch will try to catch it at the drop — the millisecond that the name is available. Then they will auction it if a backorder has been placed against it.

Bandholz: How do you price a domain?

Askew: There are two frames of mind. A domain investor wants to buy at a reasonable price. The investor applies his knowledge and intuition, as well as marketplace tools. There’s a site called NameBio that provides historical trends and other info on domain sales. It’s a very helpful resource for folks who are new to domain buying. You could use historical data to guess what a domain name might be worth. I did that in the early days. I wasn’t very good at it. But then once I started trying to shoehorn business ideas, I could justify a higher bid price.

DudeRanch.com is a good example. I bought it for $17,949. I justified that price because I knew if I could build a marketplace directory, I could charge dude ranches per month or per year for a listing. I assumed I could sign up maybe 25 dude ranches the first year, maybe 50 the next, and charge them $1,000 a year for a listing. That helped me guesstimate a price I could potentially afford for DudeRanch.com.

I thought, “I can probably afford $25,000 to $50,000.” I didn’t have the liquid funds. I’d either drop it on a credit card or pay for it out of my salary. I was a product manager at the time at a software startup here in Atlanta.

That helped me justify outbidding domain investors who wanted to buy and flip it. It’s helped me outbid others in certain instances. DudeRanch.com worked out. CallTracking.com failed. BirthdayParties.com I bought for about $5,000.

Again, there are two frames of mind. Do you want to buy to flip or buy to develop?

Bandholz: You’ve always helped entrepreneurs like me in understanding domains. Where can people find you?

Askew: My Twitter account is @Searchbound. My personal website is Askew.org. My primary projects are VidaliaOnions.com, Ranchwork.com (a job board I run for the ranching industry), and Birthdayparties.com (limited to the Southeast now, but it will expand nationwide in the coming months).

Ecommerce Product Releases: April 1, 2021

Here is a list of product releases and updates for late March from companies that offer services to online merchants. There are updates on cryptocurrency payments, contextual bidding, carbon-neutral shipping, live-stream commerce, headless commerce, and more.

Got an ecommerce product release? Email releases@practicalecommerce.com.

Ecommerce Product Releases

PayPal launches “Checkout with Crypto.” PayPal has announced the launch of Checkout with Crypto, a feature that expands the utility of cryptocurrency. PayPal customers with cryptocurrency holdings in the U.S. will be able to choose Checkout with Crypto at checkout, at millions of global online businesses. Customers using Checkout with Crypto can check out safely and easily, converting cryptocurrency holdings to fiat currency, with the certainty of value and no additional transaction fees. Checkout with Crypto will automatically appear in the PayPal wallet at checkout for customers with sufficient cryptocurrency balance to cover an eligible purchase.

Screenshot of PayPal's home page

PayPal

AWS releases Amazon Lookout for Metrics. Amazon Web Services has announced the general availability of “Amazon Lookout for Metrics,” a managed service that detects anomalies in metrics and helps determine their root cause. Amazon Lookout for Metrics helps customers monitor their business’s most important metrics such as revenue, page views, active users, transaction volume, and mobile app installations. The service also makes it easier to diagnose the root cause of anomalies. There is no up-front commitment or minimum fee, and customers pay only for the number of metrics analyzed per month.

TryNow raises $12 million for “Try Now Buy Later” service. TryNow, a platform that enables consumers to try items at home before buying, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Using TryNow, consumers check out for free, try items at home, return unwanted items, and only pay for what they keep. TryNow customers include Shopify Plus brands such as Universal Standard, Roolee, Western Rise, and Solid & Striped.

Bambuser creates “In-store Solutions” for physical retail environments. Bambuser, a live-streaming platform, has announced the creation of “In-store Solutions” for interactive experiences that connect physical and digital spaces. Serving the evolving needs of brick-and-mortar retailers, property owners, shopping centers, and department stores, the new division will focus on new and value-added customer offerings for attracting and engaging with target audiences in the ever-changing retail landscape. Since launching its live video shopping in 2019, Bambuser has created interactive, shoppable ecommerce experiences for global brands and retailers, including Moda Operandi, Farfetch, and Samsung.

Bambuser home page

Bambuser

GoDaddy streamlines posting on Instagram. GoDaddy’s Website + Marketing users can now publish directly to Instagram and monitor comments and views. The dashboard allows for the scheduling of posts as well as content suggestions to improve the quality.

Walmart Marketplace opens to foreign sellers. Nearly 100 China-based sellers have joined the previously U.S.-only Walmart Marketplace over the past few weeks as the company quietly expanded it to allow foreign sellers. Sellers must have a valid Chinese business license, more than a year of operating experience selling on North American marketplaces, and good store ratings. To solve the weeks-long delivery times, Walmart will onboard those sellers to the Walmart Fulfillment Services.

Chord raises $18 million and acquires Yaguara to build headless commerce platform. Chord, a commerce-as-a-service software company, has raised $18 million in Series A investment funding, led by Eclipse Ventures. Chord also announced its acquisition of Yaguara, a business intelligence platform. Chord offers technology and data products that give direct-to-consumer companies the ability to enhance their businesses by building on headless commerce technology and having access to meaningful first-party data. Chord combines a headless commerce stack with a data component to offer what it calls commerce-as-a-service. The recent funding will go to developing more technology and data products and to support growth.

Home page of Chord

Chord

Etsy adds contextual bidding to improve seller ad performance. In an effort to make sellers’ ads more effective, Etsy has added a feature called contextual bidding. Conversion rates differ depending on the context: hour-of-day, day-of-week, platform, and page type. The neural-network-powered platform can determine when the system should bid higher or lower on sellers’ behalf to promote their item to a buyer. The change represents a significant improvement in the flexibility and effectiveness of the automation in Etsy Ads. Sellers who participate in the Etsy Ads program only pay for a promoted listing when buyers click on their ad.

Yotpo raises $230 million to deliver its ecommerce marketing platform. Yotpo has raised $230 million in additional funding. With its largest investment round to date, Yotpo aims to deliver the foundation for its all-in-one ecommerce marketing platform. Yotpo plans to double its product personnel and its research and development teams to accelerate the rollout of its full platform experience, which includes Yotpo SMS Marketing, Yotpo Loyalty & Referrals, Yotpo Reviews, and Yotpo Visual UGC.

DHL launches 100-percent carbon-neutral U.S. domestic shipping. DHL eCommerce Solutions has launched its existing Expedited Max U.S. domestic shipping as 100-percent carbon-neutral. All Expedited Max CO2 emissions will be offset and included as a standard product feature. Expedited Max domestic parcel tracking will also include a new carbon-neutral GoGreen program message and logo. Additionally, all U.S. outbound flats and parcel customers will have access to a personalized carbon emissions report on the customer web portal. The report will provide customers with visibility of the carbon emissions from their shipments weekly and monthly.

Image of a DHL delivery van

DHL eCommerce Solutions

March 2021 Top 10: Our Most Popular Posts

Since 2005, we’ve published thousands of articles, podcasts, and webinars to help ecommerce merchants. What follows are the 10 most popular articles that we published in March 2021. Articles from early in the month are more likely to make the list than later ones.

Will Social Commerce Disrupt Retail in U.S., Europe?

Social commerce in China combines content, chat, live streaming, and sharing with in-app retail purchases, obliterating the distinctions between social media networks and online stores. China’s style of ecommerce is so successful it has the potential to disrupt retail in the U.S. and Europe. Read more…

Changes to Google Ads Impact Campaign Setup

Google has recently announced three changes that will force advertisers to rethink how they set up campaigns. The changes are: broad match modifier moving to phrase match, responsive search ads becoming the default ad type, the decision to not create alternative tracking identifiers. Read more…

5 Content Marketing Ideas for April 2021

Content marketing is the act of creating content to attract and retain prospects. Opportunities abound in April 2021, with topics as diverse as the Pony Express, National Beer Day, Arbor Day, and TikTok. Read more…

Sustainable Packaging Drives Customer Loyalty

How merchants pack online orders makes a difference. One needn’t look any further than Apple’s product packaging to understand the cherished tradition of unboxing. But packing materials are as important as the overall appearance. More than half of U.S. consumers are concerned about the environmental impact. Read more…

15 Easy-to-use Logo Makers

A logo represents your store, your company, and your mission. A good logo stands out and builds trust. Here is a list of logo makers and design tools. All of these are inexpensive and easy-to-use. Read more…

11 New Ecommerce Books for Spring 2021

Here’s a batch of new ecommerce books for your spring reading list. There are titles on branding, social media marketing, cross-border selling, podcasting, customer experience, transacting on Amazon and Shopify, and selling your business. Read more…

Ecommerce Product Releases: March 1, 2021

Here is a list of product releases and updates for late February from companies that offer services to online merchants. There are updates on live stream shopping, email marketing, managed hosting, and artificial intelligence-powered voice assistance. Read more…

Walmart Expands Marketplace, Challenging Amazon

Walmart’s U.S. ecommerce sales in the last quarter of 2020 increased by 69 percent year-over-year while its total sales grew only 7.3 percent. The message is clear: future growth will depend on ecommerce. Read more…

Will AI for Ecommerce Go Mainstream in 2021?

Buzzwords such as “personalization” and “artificial intelligence” have been around ecommerce for years. But could 2021 be the year these technologies go mainstream? Some industry participants believe so. Read more…

You Can’t Solve Accessibility with 1 Line of Code

Accessibility overlays are third-party web scripts that alter the user experience. Providers of overlays sometimes claim that installing their script will prevent lawsuits in the U.S. under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Let me be blunt: these products will not protect you from lawsuits or necessarily help visitors with accessibility needs. Read more…

Lessons from Vine Influencers Elevate Feat Clothing

Having co-founded Feat Socks in 2015, Taylor Offer hired Aly Raisman, the gymnast, to design and promote a custom sock. It generated $500,000 in revenue. Influencer marketing was clearly effective, and Offer wanted more.

“I started looking at the kids that got famous from Vine, the short-video app,” he told me.

It turned out that many of those “kids” lived in the same apartment complex on, amazingly, Vine Street in Los Angeles.

“So I flew out to L.A., snuck into that building, and I saw every single Viner that lived there. There were probably 30 kids in the building with over a million followers each. I called my co-founder in Boston. I said, ‘We’re moving to L.A. into the building on Vine Street.’ That’s how I started understanding social media and influencers.”

Fast forward to 2021, and Feat Socks is now Feat Clothing, a wildly successful brand of joggers, shorts, hoodies, and crewnecks — all made from BlanketBlend, the company’s custom fabric.

I recently spoke with Offer about the journey. Our entire audio conversation is embedded below. The transcript that follows is edited for length and clarity.

Eric Bandholz: Tell us about Feat.

Taylor Offer: We started in 2015 as a sock company. “Feat” is our spelling of “feet.” We had a heat press. We would then press a design on white Nike or Adidas socks and sell them around our college campus. So, that’s how Feat started.

From 2015 to 2018, we were only making socks. We were scaling as a sock company from influencer collaborations. We were early in the influencer world, doing deals with The Chainsmokers, Logan Paul, Aly Raisman.

In 2018 we decided to expand, to make clothes that were soft and comfortable but also looked good. We wanted to combine comfort and style. And that’s how we developed our first product, called the BlanketBlend. It’s a special fabric we made. Now we have BlanketBlend joggers, shorts, hoodies, and crewnecks. It’s a soft fabric that looks and feels good.

Bandholz: I can’t imagine a better business come March 2020.

Offer: It’s was great, but we didn’t plan for the crazy spike. April was a massive month. We sold out of products in April and May. It was a huge influx of sales. It was difficult to keep up with the demand. We have manufacturers in downtown Los Angeles (for quick-turn stuff), South America, and Asia.

Bandholz: You created a fabric. How does that work?

Offer: It’s a long process. My co-founder, Parker, was much more involved in that process than I. We started with a base fabric and then made it softer. You tweak the materials a bit — a little more this material or that material. It could be polyester, cotton, or rayon. You’re experimenting with the materials. We put them through different washes. The process took a year and a half to perfect the BlanketBlend fabric.

We now own the process of making BlanketBlend and the name. Other people can try to make soft clothing. But they can’t make BlanketBlend.

Bandholz: You mentioned influencers. Can you elaborate?

Offer: We were living in Boston because we went to school there. We did this deal with Aly Raisman, the Olympic gymnastics gold medalist, in 2016. We made her own custom sock. We sold around $500,000 of that sock. We thought, “This is crazy. Through Instagram, and an influencer, or an athlete, we could sell so much.”

So I started direct messaging every single person on Instagram with over one million followers. And, again, that was in 2016, before the rise of influencer marketing. A lot of those DM people respond.

Then I started looking at the kids that got famous from Vine, the short-video app, since discontinued. All their videos had the same door handle in their apartments, and the same pool, the same gym. I thought, “Either I’m crazy, or they all live in the same building.”

Finally, one of the Viners responded, “Send some socks to 1600 Vine Street, in Hollywood.” I told myself, “That’s funny. He’s a Viner, and he lives on Vine Street. Either he’s messing with me, or this is the Mecca where all these kids live.”

So I flew out to L.A., snuck into that building, and I saw every single Viner that lived there — from Logan Paul, Jake Paul, Amanda Cerny, King Bach, Lele Pons, and Rudy Mancuso. Justin Bieber was there for a while. There were probably 30 kids in the building with over a million followers each.

So I called my co-founder. We had a 2,500 square foot office and warehouse in Boston. I said, “Get out of that lease. We’re moving to L.A. into the building on Vine Street. We’re going to work with these kids and understand social media.”

And we moved into the building. That’s how I started understanding social media and influencers.

Bandholz: That’s amazing. So you would bump into them on the premises?

Offer: Exactly. It was an interesting finesse. I didn’t want to be too aggressive. I couldn’t say, “I moved across the country to be in the same apartment building as you.”

Those kids would hang out at the gym all the time. I had never gone to the gym or worked out. But I decided, “I have to be in the gym because I just have to meet those kids, get those head nods.”

So I went to the gym all day. Eventually, we crossed paths.

Then we flew Aly Raisman to L.A. for a photo shoot. It was right when she won her gold medal. We did the photo shoot in the gym when I knew all of them would be there. They were all obsessed with Aly because she just won this gold medal. She was like America’s sweetheart, gymnastics, an awesome person.

They said, like, “What’s this photo-shoot?” I said to Aly, “Go tell Logan you’re selling a bunch of socks, and he can’t sell as many socks as you.” So that’s how the conversation started. I said, “Logan, dude, let’s sell some socks.”

Bandholz: Did he kill it?

Offer: Yes. It was wild. He drove over 1.5 million new visitors to our site over two weeks. That generated 20,000 new customers. We had no ads, no email capture, no email flow. We had no retargeting. There are many things I should have done better. But, yes, he crushed it.

Bandholz: You’ve transitioned away from socks.

Offer: Yes. We sell barely any socks now. Feat Socks was a lot of college humor-type stuff. We took a break from influencers for a while. We were focused on the product and experience and building an elevated brand. But we’re back, doing collaborations again. We did a great collab with Helen Owen in December. She’s a fashion influencer with 1.6 million Instagram followers. It did well. We have three or four collabs lined up for 2021.

Bandholz: How do you build the right influencer deal so it’s a win-win?

Offer: I’ve done tons of collabs. Some were extremely successful, and others were extremely unsuccessful. I’ve learned a lot. First, the person and the brand have to align. When there’s no alignment between person and brand, both sides are confused. The influencer’s followers are confused. It doesn’t convert. There has to be genuine alignment, and the influencer has to genuinely care. So that’s the first thing and the most important.

Bandholz: How do you find influencers?

Offer: We’ll gift products to them, or they’ll organically buy our product. We’ll stroll through our Shopify orders and see a prominent buyer. We’re like, “Let’s hit her up.” And she’s like, “I love your stuff.” We respond, “Let’s collab.” When it’s genuine and organic, people can tell.

Where a lot of brands go wrong is by thinking, “I’ll pay them five grand for a post. They’ll do one post, and that’s it.” It’s so far from that. It has to be a full campaign.

There are different types of collabs. You could do very small sponsor posts. You could co-brand products, which typically perform the best. A lot of these influencers want to create their own product. So I can be an enabler to create their own product and help my business, too.

You want them to feel as if it’s their product. Give them a revenue or profit share — with their own brand. Make content for them and with them. Have them play around with your product, and test it, and talk through it, saying, “Here’s why I’m choosing number one. It smells more like shaving cream versus pine trees. I like this smell.” Make it much bigger than, “Go buy this.”

We’ve worked with influencers with 100,000 followers that sold more than influencers with 5 million. So it depends on who they are and why people follow them.

As for paying influencers, it depends on the person. We’ve done deals from 10 percent of revenue up to 80 percent. We stay away from a fixed number of posts on any deal. When you place a dollar amount on a number of posts, you’re only going to get that many posts.

It’s better to say, “We’re in this together. It’s a partnership, a collaboration. You’re going to make X percent of revenue from this.”

Bandholz: Switching direction, have you experienced setbacks?

Offer: For sure. At age 24 I made the Forbes “30 under 30” list. We had our best year in business. I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk saying, “Hustle, grind, no friends, no going out, no talking to girls, no partying, just work, work, work.”

And I did that for a year. I became very depressed, sad, and unstable. This was in 2017 or 2018. I was in a bad mental state.

I booked a one-way flight to Thailand. I left my phone and computer behind. I stayed for a week. While there, I began watching these kids play in the street. Their clothes were scraps. They were playing soccer with a Coke can. And they were laughing so hard with the biggest smiles on their faces. I thought, “I live in the U.S. I have all these things. I’ve received awards. But I’m miserable all the time. These kids, all they need is a Coke can to be happy. So who’s winning in life?”

That trip taught me a lot. Yes, business is important, but so is life.

Bandholz: Where can people follow you.

Offer: Start with LinkedIn (@tayloroffer). I’m also on Instagram (@tayloroffer) and Twitter (@tayloroffer). Our site is FeatClothing.com. On Instagram it’s @feat. We’re popping on TikTok: @feat?.

16 Podcasts for Entrepreneurs and Innovators

Podcasts can provide entrepreneurs with expert advice and practical strategies to launch, manage, and grow a brand.

Here is a list of podcasts for entrepreneurs and innovators. There are shows that provide skills, such as growing an audience and managing a team. There are also shows that profile established businesses, detailing their journeys and breakthroughs. All of these podcasts are free. And don’t forget our own podcast, “Ecommerce Conversations,” with host Eric Bandholz, the founder of Beardbrand.

How I Built This

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How I Built This

How I Built This” is an NPR podcast hosted by Guy Raze that explores the stories behind some of the world’s best-known companies. Meet the entrepreneurs and innovators, and follow their life-changing moments and personal journeys. Recent episodes include “Boxed: Chieh Huang” and “Simple Mills: Katlin Smith.”

Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

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Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Entrepreneurial Thought Leader‪s” is a podcast from Stanford University’s eCorner during the fall, winter, and spring quarters. Each week, experienced entrepreneurs and innovators candidly share lessons they’ve learned while developing, launching, and scaling disruptive ideas. Recent episodes include “Katrina Lake [Stitch Fix] – Making Entrepreneurship More Inclusive” and “Vlad Tenev [Robinhood] – Weathering a Storm.“

The a16z Podcast

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The a16z Podcast

The a16z Podcast” is hosted by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, co-founders of Andreessen Horowitz (known as “a16z”), a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley that backs entrepreneurs building the future through technology. “The a16z Podcast” produces discussions about technology, innovation, and change, covering everything from tech trends and culture to company-building. Recent episodes include “Companies & Culture: What You Do Is Who You Are” and “All About Ransomware.“

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast

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The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast” is a daily show from John Jantsch, one of America’s leading do-it-yourself marketing experts. He interviews authors, practitioners, and thought leaders, sharing business marketing tips, tactics, and resources. Recent episodes include “A Roadmap To Financial Success And Fulfillment‬” and “Reshaping The Online Experience For Virtual Event‪s‬.”

HBR IdeaCast

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HBR IdeaCast

HBR IdeaCast” is a weekly podcast from the Harvard Business Review featuring leading thinkers in business and management. It’s hosted by HBR senior editors Alison Beard and Curt Nickisch. Recent episodes include “Workplace Design, Post-Pandemic” and “New Recruiting Strategies for a Post-Covid World.“

The Tropical MBA Podcast

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The Tropical MBA Podcast

The Tropical MBA Podcast” covers the inside stories of the people who are building “micro-multinational” businesses while they travel the world. It focuses on entrepreneurship, travel, and personal freedom. A new show is published every Thursday at 8 a.m. Eastern Time. Recent episodes include “Creating a Software Business Without Technical Expertise‬” and “The Real Problem With Fake Review‪s‬.

The $100 MBA

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The $100 MBA

The $100 MBA” is a podcast that focuses on practical business training. Omar Zenhom explores lessons, concepts, examples, and insights. He also speaks with industry experts for real-world advice. Recent episodes include “Slack vs. Facebook Group‪s‬” and “Q&A Wednesday: Do I Need To Offer a Free Trial‪?‬

From Scratch

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From Scratch

From Scratch” is a weekly radio show about the entrepreneurial life, personalizing founders’ lives by providing listeners with a candid, first-hand view of the launching process. Guests speak openly about their sources of inspiration, setbacks, helpful allies, and breakthrough moments. Recent episodes include “John Zimme‪r‬” (Lyft founder) and “Jason Ackerma‪n‬“ (Fresh Direct founder).

The Digital Entrepreneur

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The Digital Entrepreneur

The Digital Entrepreneur” is a weekly podcast hosted by Sean Jackson, Katy Katz, and guest experts exploring the strategies and insights to build your digital business. Recent episodes include “Stop Being Afraid and Start Building Your Business‬” and “Crazy Creative Ideas for Content Repurposing‬.“

Mixergy

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Mixergy

Mixergy” is a platform to learn from experienced mentors through interviews and courses. The podcasts are interviews with experts, providing practical advice on running a business. Recent topics include “Connecting with customers through personalized video” and “Buying and resuscitating a dying business.“

Shopify Masters

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Shopify Masters

Shopify Masters” is the official Shopify podcast where host Felix Thea invites successful owners to share their experience and practical advice for growing an online business on Shopify. Recent episodes include “How This Entrepreneur Brought Consistent Sales to a Seasonal Business‬” and “How SUGAR Cosmetics Raised $21 Million and Became an Industry Disruptor‬.“

Smart Passive Income

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Smart Passive Income

Smart Passive Income” is a weekly podcast hosted by Pat Flynn featuring interviews and strategies for building your online business. Discover how to create multiple passive income streams. Learn about authority-building, email marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, and more. Recent episodes include “When I’ve Failed at Work & Life Balance‬” and “The Moment I Took the Entrepreneurial Leap‬.“

Entrepreneurs on Fir‪e‬

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Entrepreneurs on Fire

Entrepreneurs on Fire“‬ is a podcast hosted by John Lee Dumas that interviews entrepreneurs to guide listeners to financial, location, and lifestyle freedom. Advice from over 2,600 episodes has been compiled in a book called “The Common Path to Uncommon Success.” Recent episodes include “Jill and Josh Stanton on Creating and Managing Affiliate Partnership‪s‬” and “Billy Gene on Increasing Your Traffic‬.“

Youpreneur

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Youpreneur

Youpreneur,” hosted by British entrepreneur and author Chris Ducker, explores what it means to be a personal brand in the 21st century. Learn to build your brand, market yourself as an industry leader, create and launch online products and services, and more. Recent episodes include “Building Up Your Cumulative Advantage with Mark Schaefe‪r‬” and “How to Create Content Your Community Will Love‪!‬

Startups for the Rest of Us

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Startups for the Rest of Us

Startups for the Rest of Us” is a podcast hosted by serial SaaS entrepreneur Rob Walling to help developers, designers, and entrepreneurs excel at launching software products. Recent episodes include “On Launching, Funding, and Growth with Serial SaaS Founder Rand Fishkin” and “A $4M Exit with Josh Pigford of Baremetrics.“

Ambitious Entrepreneur

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Ambitious Entrepreneur

Ambitious Entrepreneur,” hosted by Annemarie Cross, helps listeners build businesses with money, marketing, and mindset strategies to get noticed. Recent episodes include “Finding the Right Investor for Your Business” and “How to franchise your business‬.“