In today’s Shopify eCommerce podcast, my guest is Sina Mobasser, the Co-founder and COO of Tapcart.
Tapcart is a mobile solution that helps Shopify-powered ecommerce brands to launch a mobile app with zero coding required. Their technology creates a powerful new sales and marketing channel for Shopify brands and a seamless mobile experience that shoppers love. We cover many issues that Shopify brands face today like:
- Rising advertising and acquisition costs.
- Dependency on the always-changing algorithms.
- Tactical action steps to stay ahead in the ecommerce ecosystem.
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This episode is brought to you by Recharge, the leading subscription management solution helping eCommerce merchants of all sizes launch and scale subscription offerings. The subscription market is predicted to grow to nearly $500 billion by 2025. As the fastest growing area in commerce, subscription holds tremendous opportunities to build a community of customers who share your values. Recharge powers the growth of thousands of subscription merchants and their communities, turning one-time transactions into long-term customer relationships.
With subscriptions, merchants are able to experience predictable revenue, increased customer loyalty, and higher average order values. Whether you’re a direct consumer business or an omnichannel brand, subscriptions strengthen your brand’s relationships with your customers and make it easy for consumers to make repeat purchases. Turn transactions into relationships and experience seamless subscription commerce with Recharge. Get started with a subscription payment solution trusted by over 45 million subscribers worldwide. You can check them out RechargePayments.com/Fastlane.
What You Will Learn Today
- The unique advantages of a mobile app as an owned marketing and sales channel.
- How to make the most of every single customer you have by offering them the best experience.
- The importance of push notifications in improving customer retention and loyalty.
- The under-appreciated benefits of Klaviyo integration.
Links And Resources Mentioned
- Cuts Clothing
- App Clips
Connect With Sina Mobasser
- Email: [email protected]
- Facebook: facebook.com/mobass
- Instagram: instagram.com/mobass
- Twitter: twitter.com/mobass
- LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/mobass
About Our Ecommerce Podcast Guest: Sina Mobasser
Co-Founder at Tapcart, the market leader in mobile ecommerce. Previously Co-Founder & COO of TestMax, the market leader in mobile test prep software. Created Pop Quiz, a Top-10 iPhone app used by millions.
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This episode is brought to you by Recharge, the leading subscription payment solution for Shopify brands.
Thousands of merchants use subscriptions powered by Recharge to grow their business and their communities by increasing average order value, reducing churn and providing predictable recurring revenue. Turn transactions into relationships and experience seamless subscription commerce with Recharge. You can check them out RechargePayments.com/Fastlane.
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In this episode, my guest is Sina Mobasser, who’s the Cofounder and COO of a company called Tapcart. You may or may not have heard of them, but I’ll tell you something. They’re a plus technology partner. If you don’t know who they are, what they do is they have a mobile solution. They’re helping Shopify-powered eCommerce brands to launch a mobile app with zero coding for technology and create a pretty powerful new sales and marketing channel, an owned channel for your brand. It’s a completely seamless experience that shoppers massively love.
This is guaranteed to be a great conversation. I have a lot of brands that ask me a lot about, “Should I have a mobile app? How hard is it to have one? Is there a significant cost? Do I need someone dedicated to managing it?” We’re going to talk about all these things because there are a lot of challenges right now. Think about rising advertising costs, acquisition costs are rising, and these dependencies on the ever-changing algorithms. This is interesting to be able to jump in and learn more about mobile and how this can help you. Sina, welcome to the show.
Steve, thank you so much for having me. That was an amazing intro of Tapcart. Meanwhile, I’m on our careers page on our website, looking for a role that we can hire you for. It could be growth, sales, copywriting, or branding. There’s quite a bit there. Thank you for that great intro. I’m Sina, one of the founders of Tapcart based here in Los Angeles. Our office is in Santa Monica, and I’m based in Marina del Rey.
I’m in Vancouver, British Columbia. One thing about Tapcart that is unique is you’re solving a challenge. There are a lot of these rising costs, cost per acquisition, lifetime value, and things like that. It’s hard for a lot of brands to differentiate. There are lots of branding plays you can do, but let’s talk a little bit on a high-level first to intro like what Tapcart is doing and what problems they’re solving for brands.
It’s interesting that you mentioned it’s been a few years for you at Shopify. That’s an amazing accomplishment. What’s interesting for us also is that April 1st, 2022 was the anniversary of the launch of Tapcart. Back then, it was Eric and me. We didn’t even have a product we were selling. We had some screenshots and some cool stuff. We’re out there selling stuff for $99 a month, printing out the sheets of paper on the wall, typical startup stuff that you always see in the movies, or on Silicon Valley or your favorite shows. It’s been amazing. It’s right in time with when you joined Shopify as well.
Back then, there were only 125,000 merchants on Shopify. We started working on this because I’ve always been in the mobile app space. I launched one of the first iPhone apps back in 2008 in March on day one of the launches of the iPhone App Store. Not a lot of people know, even longtime iPhone users, that the very first iPhone did not come with any third-party apps. Every app on the iPhone was an Apple app. There were no Maps at the time. There was a compass and calculator, but most importantly, there were no social media apps. There were no push notifications, no ad networks, no Apple Pay, no in-app purchases, and no subscriptions. A lot of the things that we take for granted are different.
I launched the pop culture trivia game. I saw the Steve Jobs announcement of the iPhone in 2007. I was mesmerized by the presentation. In my opinion, it is the best product presentation or pitch ever done. There were all Apple apps due to a lot of demand. They opened up the App Store. I launched one of the first apps. It was called Pop Quiz, a pop culture trivia game. It was a top ten app for quite a while. It was getting more downloads than the Google app and Facebook app. It tells you more that people love pop culture and trivia games. It’s a testament to that more so than anything that I had built.
Owned marketing is the single best, most consistent, and reliable way to scale a brand starting from 2022 and beyond. Click To Tweet
I was using Elance to have an engineer in Ukraine, somebody writing questions in Canada, and somebody designing stuff in Thailand. It was a fun opportunity, and it led me to start my previous company TestMax, which was the first test prep course for the iPhone and iPad that was in 2009. We launched before the iPad was announced. The week we launched, Steve Jobs went on stage and announced the iPad. We’re like, “We should quit our jobs and pursue this.” I’m sharing that because, since the whole inception of the App Store or the whole evolution, I’ve had a chance to be a part of it. It’s been an amazing journey so far.
The reason I bring that up is that nobody at that time knew how impactful and how world-changing the creation of the App Store initially would be. Even Steve Jobs himself would tell you that they had no idea because if so, it would have been something that was in the first iPhone, but they tend to wait a little bit longer and do things the right way.
What was interesting about mobile apps for me is that it’s a whole new way to interact with a computer. It’s a very different way than we had previously interacted with computers, which was entirely on a desktop, maybe a laptop, but you’re talking about a keyboard. You’re not touching a screen. It’s a different experience. It’s a far more intimate experience when using your phone and virtually touching the screen.
There are a lot of things at play around consumer psychology and certain expectations that we have when we’re shopping. There’s a huge gap that people haven’t thought about when they go to make their online store or website. They want to make it mobile responsive. They want to make it the best it can be before 85% to 90% of their audience visit their website on a mobile device. What they often don’t think about is the actual shopping experience.
One of my favorite brands is Cuts Clothing. I had purchased far too many. I’m buying way too much of your stuff, and I have to do it through the website. It’s not that I don’t like it, but I can be a little bit on the frugal side sometimes, especially around clothes for some reason. The shirts are worth every dollar that cuts charges for them, but I happen to buy them when they’re on sale. I don’t think it’s anything new or revolutionary, but there’s something about time-sensitive messaging and promotions that works.
I’m a Cuts power shopper, top 1% of the 1%, but because they don’t have an app, there’s no way for me to be notified in a time-sensitive fashion about their promotions. I am on their SMS list, which is great, but the issue with SMS is that it’s not exactly on-brand. A lot of merchants, especially Shopify Plus merchants, want to be omnichannel, but they want to be on-brand across omnichannel.
In the first place, it’s a six-digit code coming from a brand. It’s like coming from 742936, and it says, “This is Legends. You can ignore the six-digit code, but it’s Legends or Cuts Clothing. I promise you.” It’s not exactly on-brand. It’s an SMS, which iPhone users don’t love a whole lot. There’s a very interesting story of Apple and how they changed the colors of the SMS bubbles once they siphoned off iMessage and the regular SMS messages, but it’s not an on-brand experience.
The difficulty with it is that it doesn’t scale as well as email does. Email doesn’t cost you money to send, even if you pay your monthly fee to Klaviyo or your email provider, but you don’t pay extra if you send 15,000 messages versus 12,500. You pretty much pay your monthly fee and might be charged more based on your contacts or some other things, including messages, but more of a tiered fashion as opposed to a per-message fashion.
SMS is around $0.1, maybe as low as $0.05, but typically you have carriers, a lot of infrastructures, legacy, and contracts to deal with. You can spam and a whole lot more. As a result, you’re looking to pay at least $0.05, but it’s going to be something that is great because it has a lot of benefits that email does not. Email scales well, but it doesn’t have the best engagement compared with SMS, but you can send an essentially unlimited number, which is great. When you think about scalability, email wins on the scalability side.
Going back to Cuts Clothing, I would love to be notified of new products and promotions. I do get their SMS. A lot of people do use RoboKiller and other SMS spam blocking services and apps like that. I do know that a lot of people don’t get those, or they do have a filter where it lands in a separate folder of their messages, but email is going to land in my promotions tab. If I get notified of a new sale or an upcoming drop via email, I might go to the promotions tab that day. The promotions tab of my Gmail is this amorphous blob of promotional messages. Every time I click over there, there are ten new ones every hour.
I’m on a lot of email lists. It’s not tough to find my email, [email protected]. I’ll be waiting for a lot of new cold email sequences from some budding SDRs. It’s going to land there. Your message is getting diluted. It is something that if and when people do venture over there, they’ve got their guards up. They know that all of these messages that I’m about to see, all these bold unread messages, are going to be promotional. As a result, they’re not as receptive, and messages do get diluted.
What’s great about SMS is that you have a new channel. That’s an owned marketing channel, which I am a huge fan of. Owned marketing is the single best, most consistent, and most reliable way to scale a brand starting from 2022 and beyond. That goes back to the algorithms that we were talking about. To put a bow on the whole story with Cuts and Steve, when I get the promotion, they land in my inbox, or when I go to browse the website, I might start browsing it.
What happens is I might get a phone call while browsing it on my phone, so I’m distracted. I answer the phone call and hang up the phone. When you’re shopping on your laptop, and that happens, as soon as you’re done, you have a quick reminder of what you were doing prior to that. That is the tab that’s in your browser on your laptop.
Phones essentially have one tab, which is whatever you’re looking at. If you’re browsing on your phone and you get a WhatsApp message or an Instagram, and you leave the app you’re in, which is Safari or Chrome, and go into that app. When you close that app out, you’ll have no visual cue or reminder as to what you were doing. As a result, there continues to be a huge drop-off, not just because of the mobile responsiveness of websites, but the nature of how you’re shopping.
It’s very different when you’re shopping on a laptop, which is a dedicated device at that point to shopping, versus your phone, which is doing so many different things. What’s great about SMS is you do have the real-time component, but it doesn’t scale as great, and it does cost $0.1 per SMS. In addition, now you have push notifications, which is why Tapcart is here.
Push notifications are their own marketing channels like email and SMS. Every brand is on email. A lot of brands are experimenting with SMS, and understandably so. What happens is you start to grow your channels where you have subscribers and not necessarily followers. Instagram, you’ve got followers. That means Facebook monetizes the audience, and they control who sees what and when they see it. Where you have subscribers, this is somebody who has provided you their email and phone number, downloaded your app, opted-in into push, and said, “I want to hear from this brand.”
People aren’t buying what’s inside the box. They’re buying your story. They’re buying your brand.Click To Tweet
There’s no better way to grow your brand and not have to worry about algorithms changing and the cost of paid acquisition doubling and all kinds of crazy things. It’s a Wild West out there. When you’re relying on these huge tech giants that are publicly traded for-profit companies, they have a duty to their shareholders to maximize their profits. Anytime you’re dependent on one, whether for customers, Amazon, drive traffic to your website, paid social, Google Ads, etc. These are all giants making tons of money. They’re cash machines, and they’re going to continue to be.
Maybe it’s a better idea to scale your brand in a different way than other brands are doing it. It’s a little bit harder than throwing a bunch of money at the problem, but if you can launch an app and it syncs with your store and is very easy to manage, you don’t have to worry about learning a new platform. We have a lot of amazing plans that will guide you through the whole process, help you manage your app and update it, etc.
If every brand has an email list and most brands are understanding the need for SMS and growing that channel, here’s a channel that you should also use in addition to SMS. We love owned marketing channels, but this one does scale because it doesn’t cost you money to send push notifications. It’s something that integrates with Klaviyo and is a lot more on-brand. It’s a push notification with a video, a much more intimate experience. It’s a great way to build a community and a great way to sustainably and reliably grow a brand long-term.
I love this. One of the brands that I manage is called MUD\WTR™. I’ve been working with them for quite a few years now. I’ve been nudging them in the right direction, but it’s probably the right time to get involved in a mobile app. They’re in the subscription business. One thing’s interesting about them is they want to build their lifetime value out of getting people on the subscription and offering it. It’s that repeatable and dependable revenue comes in monthly. They do have a store where they do sell one-offs. There’s a big benefit for subscription companies to want to have a mobile app.
As a side note, I’ve never seen it. This is my first time I’ve downloaded it, or this is a new iteration. Its UI and how it flies out the hamburger icon in the corner are gorgeous. It’s well-executed, so I want to give kudos to whoever helped them with this app together. It’s a standard theme or some modifications to what’s available out of the box, but it’s quite slick.
I wonder if you can help us understand a little bit. I manage the MUD\WTR account and set them in the right direction to get involved with you folks. Here they are now executing well. Maybe you can help us understand what they’re doing, their subscriptions, and do you need a mobile app for a subscription company?
The answer is yes. I’m not telling you that because I’m selling you a mobile app. I’ll tell you that in a very clear and succinct way. The answer to your question is to look at what Your Super and MUD\WTR™ have done. Your Super is one of my favorite brands. They are an incredible couple, Michael and Kristel. I would highly recommend you check out their story. It’s a heartfelt story about how they grew their brand, why they decided to launch this in the first place, and what the need was there. They built this amazing brand and a lot of their revenue. They’re using Recharge for subscriptions, which we do integrate with.
A lot of Shopify Plus merchants do use Recharge, and we’re huge fans of them. We also grew up right alongside them here in Santa Monica. It’s been an amazing experience watching a sheen on a team. We grew it astronomically and have known each other from our humble beginnings. Looking at Your Super, if most of my revenue is coming in from a Recharge subscription, they’ll send you a monthly subscription box. There are a lot of amazing products in there, but you pay a set number of dollars per month, and you get a box in the mail.
Why would I want to launch a mobile app if most of my revenue is coming in from a one-time opt-in subscription and I’m sending them a box? We sell other products. If you go to YourSuper.com and look at all of their additional products outside of the monthly subscriptions, there’s a lot there. What’s first and foremost for Your Super and a lot of other brands, in that nature, is the story and the brand. It is that connection that you have with your audience and vice versa. That’s something that’s irreplaceable, and that’s what people are buying.
They’re not necessarily buying this powder that’s inside of this box. They’re buying your story and brand. They’re supporters of your brand. I see all of these merchants who are going out trying to do new customer acquisition and trying to throw more money at the problem, sending a bunch of money to Facebook to get me some new customers. It’s seven times more expensive to find a new customer than to retain an existing one. You have a strong customer base, your 5% to 10% of your best customers who they’re going to do whatever you ask them to do or announce. You’re like, “We launched an app.” They’ll say, “I’ll be there.” You’ll say, “We’re launching a new retail location.” They’ll say, “I’ll be there.”
I’m the same way with Cuts. This is coming out like a Cuts ad, but I’m a huge fan of their brand. We’re in conversations with them too. Hopefully, they’ll have finally launched their app. You might think I’ve got you guys, and there’s no need for an app. What Your Super has done with their app is they’ve turned it into a mobile app-based community and a content hub. Maybe 10% of the app are products and things like that, but a lot of it is all their content that appears on the website or, more importantly, doesn’t appear on the website or Instagram.
They have a lot of mobile app-exclusive content. They have a lot of content that they show only in the app first. The view we have in the app now is like a web view approach, but we’re building out in native page-building functionality. It’s going to take story-building and other things like that to the next level. You can imagine what that’s going to be like. A lot of what shopping is storytelling and window shopping as well.
Going back to this brand, what they realized is in order to keep our churn low and have happy customers, people who love our box, brand, and products, it often takes more than the product that I’m sending you every single month. It takes the story, touchpoints, and being top of mind. When you can do all those things and provide value on a consistent and recurring basis to your customer base and subscribers of the monthly box, every customer is valuable.
Recurring customers, I’ll tell you, as a SaaS business owner, there are no better customers than that. There are no better types because there are so many opportunities that can arise from that. As a result, you should make the most of every single customer you have and see if you’re offering them the best experience. A lot of merchants get so obsessed with finding new customers and expanding that they don’t take the time and attention to their best customers and listen to what they’re saying and extract value from them, etc.
In the case of Your Super, what they’re doing is they’re making content available in the app first. It’s a great way to incentivize people to download the app in the first place. It’s also a great way to get people coming back into the app on a regular basis because now, I’m drawing you into my store, and it’s led by value. It’s not being led by I’m drawing you in because I’m having one of my fifteen sales a year. It’s something that when you create that atmosphere or vibe, you create customers of yours for a couple of months or weeks to customers of yours for a lifetime. That’s what having a mobile app is about.
It’s about being able to connect with your customers in a whole new way. It’s about having this new sales channel and new property that doesn’t have to emulate your website. It doesn’t have to have every single one of the widgets you have on your website. You don’t have to have an inventory tracker countdown thing. I don’t have any issues with those apps and whatnot, and they do increase conversions, but every merchant should look, analyze, and assess their mobile shopping experience.
Tapcart is going to change the game when it comes to eCommerce and streaming mobile apps. Click To Tweet
It’s safe to say that when you have 85% to 90% of your customers coming in through a particular sales channel or platform, in this case, iPhone and Android on a mobile device, that’s vastly different than a laptop. Maybe everything you have on your website for laptops is free, which is probably in terms of volume five times bigger than your laptop. Maybe you don’t need every single one of those things because maybe it’s distracting and going to lead to things going below the fold. Maybe it doesn’t convert best on a mobile device.
It could be a curated experience which I highly recommend. We have some Shopify merchants. I love you guys, but you have parent collections and sub-collections, and then your sub-collections have sub-collections. That might work on a desktop, especially if you have a lot of skews, but that’s not going to work at all in terms of a browsing experience on a mobile device. Instead, maybe launch a mobile app, get your best customers to download it, and you can see a huge lift from boosting your average order value or boosting the retention of your 5% of your best customers.
You don’t have to do anything else on a new acquisition play. You don’t have to do a whole lot else in terms of offering something crazy in the app. You can always offer certain products or collections available in the app or any other sales channel, and it’s easy to do. The beauty of it is that this should be one of many sales channels. When you have 85% to 90% of your traffic coming from the mobile app, you should be able to offer them the best experience possible.
The mobile app is that when it comes to conversions, but the most important part is the push notifications. Being able to send push notifications, connect with Klaviyo, and send an unlimited number of push through Klaviyo right alongside your email and SMS is powerful. It fits right in your marketing engine.
I downloaded and went to the app. It is quite interesting how they have a dedicated section from the content side and an exclusives button at the top. They talk about some of the benefits of the community that they’re building. This is their own channel. It’s so interesting. With push, I agree with you versus the cost of SMS. Once again, it’s another channel that everybody needs to dabble in. Owned marketing through push and a dedicated curated selection of both content and products is a very interesting angle. A lot of people should consider that.
There’s one objection I have. How do I maximize the download rate? Are there any strategies or tactics that you’ve seen that are working well? If people are sold on the owned channel, it’s an affordable channel to own because it is no code, and you can pretty much implement this thing in a week. It gets launched out in the wild, but how do we motivate people? Is it through exit intent, popups, ads, or VIP? I don’t know what great is when you have a great mobile experience, which is very clearly what Tapcart has for brands if they choose to implement it. How do I get the download numbers and start building that community around that app?
What you’re essentially saying is you can have the nicest story in the world, but if no one’s coming to it, what’s the point? You’re paying a bunch of rent. That is what you’re saying, and it makes perfect sense. What you’re going to see over the next couple of years is a change in the way that we think about apps. That is the primary change that you’ll see is this shift from, “How do I get people to get on this experience?” which is the best shopping experience, converts the best, and it’s faster. Amazon will tell you how important page load speed is.
Everyone knows that a shopping experience that’s faster, seamless, and has all the animations and transitions that you’re used to when using your phones are going to lead to a more flow-light state of shopping and more conversions. There’s always been the issue of, “How do I get people to download my app?” I hate downloading apps. It takes up a lot of space on my phone. It is a big commitment for people. People are often shocked by my answer to that. Downloading apps does suck. It sucked for a few years since we launched Tapcart. It was only several years ago that if you wanted to watch a movie via Netflix, they had to ship you a physical DVD in the mail.
It’s been several years since the App Store has been around. Look at what’s happened in the last several years for Netflix. The equivalent of what we’ve had up until now with mobile apps, the best analogy that I can give is if you want to browse the web on your computer, there is no address bar. The only way that you can visit a website is if you’ve previously bookmarked it. The only way to access that is to click on your bookmarks tab, find the folder, and do all that.
That’s a pretty good analogy because that is what happens every time you want to use an app or get a new app on your phone. You have to go to the App Store or the Google Play Store. You have to log into your Apple ID or your Google Email ID. You have to tap install and tap it open. With all of this huge amount of friction to using an app once, there’s no trial period for apps.
We’ve always thought, “What if that were to change?” What is that going to change? Is there any reason for that to change? It’s like looking several years ago and thinking, “We’re going to be on DVDs forever.” Things do change, and something we’ve hoped and championed is streaming mobile apps. What a lot of people don’t know is streaming mobile apps. Imagine being able to use a native app, not a PWA or a Progressive Web App that nobody ops into for push notifications, which is the biggest benefit of having an app.
Imagine being able to use it without having to go to the App Store, log into your Apple ID, tap install, and maybe sign a new end-user agreement. There’s a lot there. You might forget your password. It’s a lot of friction. Instead, imagine if you can tap your phone on an NFC tag or a product package that has an NFC tag embedded in it, or you can visit a website that has an app clip, or you can get a text message from a friend and hit play or run. It instantly will play the app without anything else. It’s a fully streaming app.
The technology is here. It’s called App Clips. We’re about to change the game when it comes to eCommerce in streaming mobile apps. I’m excited to let you know that it’s going to be coming soon. In this case, we’re coming along quite nicely, and we’re going to open up some beta testing at the least. There are so many possibilities that arise if I can scan a QR code and start using an app instantly.
If you sell ground coffee, at the bottom of the package, you can see a little transparent thing. You could see the coffee, and it says, “Are you running low on coffee? Tap your iPhone here.” You tap your iPhone on it, and it pops up a cart that says, “Do you want to repurchase this item?” You tap it and purchase with Apple Pay. In seconds, it’s been purchased through a mobile app that you’re already automatically opted into push notifications, and you have to opt-out of.
It’s an amazing way to get people to use an app triggered by an NFC tag, so you can tap your phone on something, a QR code from SMS or the website, so we can pop something up when you’re shopping on your laptop that says, “Scan here to save 25% on your first order,” or it’s on a product detail page and says, “Do you want to save 20% on this? Do you want to get this exclusive item only available in our app? Tap your phone here. Scan this QR code to get access to exclusive content.”
Once you start utilizing that and App Clips and do simple things that work for email, SMS, and subscriptions, download our app and save 20% on your first order. It’s simple but effective. It’s mobile app exclusive products and collections. You can make any product and collection available on any sales channel. You can show or hide it from the collection or product page straight within Shopify.
The whole industry of advertising is going in the direction of privacy. That's very in sync with what a mobile app is about. Click To Tweet
We had a customer that sells sustainable swimwear out of Australia. They were launching a new collection of swimwear. Their mobile app happened to land in the same week. What they decided to do is they wanted to make it available only in the app for the first three days or the first week, something along those lines. They made it available only in the app, iPhone and Android, and told all their shoppers, “Download our app and get exclusive access to this new drop. That’s going to go out next week.”
It created this frenzy of people to download the app because now you have this feeling of exclusivity. There’s so much consumer psychology at play here. It’s beautiful, but all credit goes to this brand. We can’t take credit for it, but the app allows you to unlock these possibilities, which is a great part. It created this frenzy of downloads. They ended up selling out of the entire collection of swimwear in the first three days before the promotion was even over. There’s so much there.
I love telling that story because it makes somebody jump through a small hoop and downloads a free app. These are still pre-streaming apps. We’ll see what happens once App Clips take off. You might have to reset your Apple ID password. You should be using a password manager, but that’s a whole other story for another show. What you should do is get the app, download it, and use it. Once you’ve done that, you have a new owned marketing subscriber, but you have the most valuable owned marketing subscriber.
The most common types of owned marketing channels are email, SMS, and push. Push is by far the most valuable. It’s the most friction to even become a push subscriber. It’s a two-part thing where you have to download the app, open it up, and say, “I want to hear from this brand.” Over 50% of shoppers who download our customer apps opt for push notifications.
When you talk about ROAS, ad spends, algorithms, and all of these things that are an ever-evolving landscape and are run by these huge companies that can shift on a whim, a way better way to consistently and reliably grow your brand is to have an end-to-end sales and marketing channel that you own. It’s a mobile app. Tapcart doesn’t own anything. It’s a white-label app. We own the code that powers the app, but you launched your own developer account. It’s totally on-brand and white-labeled. You own the app listing.
If you decide to build a custom app in the future, go with a different provider, whatever that is, and submit an app update. It’s your channel. That’s the most important thing to know. Owned marketing, when you compare this sales and marketing channel to Instagram, which is another marketing channel, Facebook owns that channel. They’re going to monetize that channel because you and I are the subscribers and all of your shoppers are followers.
That’s the message we champion. We love Klaviyo. I love the rebrand they did, and they seemingly have doubled-down on owned marketing. We’re all about it. They’re one of our favorite partners for obvious reasons. I want to increase education and awareness around the ability to send an unlimited number of push notifications from your Klaviyo flows. Not enough people know about that. It’s such an amazing thing because there isn’t a fixed cost. We pay to send push notifications, but it’s not insanely expensive, like $0.1 per message.
By comparison, it’s inexpensive for us to send. We didn’t want to create a $0.1 per message environment when it didn’t need to be there because there are no carriers and other things. It’s a great channel. It’s one that you own. It’s something that should be top of mind for all merchants when it comes to growing their brand and becoming less reliant on all of these changes around mail privacy protection, app tracking transparency, and internet relay.
The whole industry of advertising is going in the direction of privacy. That’s very in sync with what a mobile app is about. It’s a whole new real-time channel. What it allows you to do is create this entirely new communications channel that is a lot more intimate and on-brand. It comes through in a much higher and faster rate of engagement.
Going back to Steve at Cuts Clothing, if I get an email of a flash sale or an abandoned cart, and it says, “You’ve abandoned this cart. It’s back in stock. Supplies are limited,” but if I get that message five days later because this is in my promotions tab in an email, you lose that strike while the iron’s hot approach is effective because the more time that passes, the less that person wants it and the less effective the message is going to be.
If your shoppers can see your messages and engage with them faster and say, “I want to be notified when this size of this shirt is back in stock,” instead of getting an email, it’s hard to create that sense of urgency and scarcity because you don’t know when the person’s going to see it and you can’t pretend to know. When you’re sending a push or an SMS, there’s a certain expectation that it’s going to be read a lot faster and at a much higher rate than an email.
When you have a back in stock notification or an abandoned cart and say, “Supplies are limited. We got this product back in stock in this size that you wanted, but supplies are limited. Tap here to complete your order,” you tap on that. It takes you straight into the app. You tap buy at the shop, pay with Apple Pay, and it’s purchased. It is a whole new way to transact. It is a whole new way to market and connects with customers. We want to unlock a ton of opportunities with this platform for Shopify merchants.
I’m scrambling a ton of notes because these are the talking points that I need to make sure that I’m educating the brands that I manage and widening the Shopify ecosystem. That’s why this show is here because I believe that there is merit. There’s merit because I have brands now that are very successful using Tapcart.
You’re preaching to the choir about the owned marketing channels. I’m all in on that. I love the idea of the exclusivity, drops, and things that can happen about getting these downloads to be exclusive on in-app first. I’m excited about App Clips that I have not heard of. That’s very interesting to be able to have a small task done instantly available through a quick stream and then have the opportunity to download the remaining app or the full-blown app to have the full mobile experience. That’s super cool.
One question I want to hit home before we wrap up is about the intentionality around playing nicely with others in the Shopify ecosystem. You talked about Klaviyo. They’re the elephant in the room. They’re widely used in marketing automation. Omnisend is there, Dotdigital is doing their thing, and there are a few others.
That’s one objection or some pushback I always get when I recommend something new-ish to someone or an owned marketing channel saying, “We’re running loyalty things. We’re running some personalization tools that are giving us our desktop and our responsive experience.” How do you play nicely with existing things? Is it a reduced view? Do you turn some of those features off? I want to make sure that we’re playing nicely with others.
Launching your own app is a little bit tougher, but much more reliable and consistent way to scale a brand than just throwing a bunch of money at the problem. Click To Tweet
One thing to note about mobile apps that makes us the mobile app builders and providers of the world is it makes it a little bit different for us versus other platforms such as the web. You have over 8,000 apps on the Shopify App Store and thousands of Shopify partners around the world. We’re one of them. A lot of these apps are intended to modify, adjust, or alter your website in some way because that’s the most popular sales channel. It comes with every Shopify store, and it comes by default.
For obvious reasons, every merchant has a website. Not every merchant has a mobile app yet, but that is changing soon. What it comes down to is when you install Tapcart out of the box. It is an app, but it is also a sales channel. Other examples of sales channels are Facebook, Amazon, the online store, which is the website as a sales channel, retail/point of sale, wholesale, etc.
Because we’re a different sales channel, you have all these apps that were written to affect the website, but sales channels don’t talk to each other. The mobile app isn’t affected by the website in any way. A lot of people ask if my branding and everything will come over, and the answer is yes, but you have to upload your logo, a few assets and things that you have to include, choose your colors, etc. As you’re modifying the theme in our dashboard, it’s not pulling anything from your website. Both of these sales channels sync with your Shopify dashboard, which is the ultimate source of truth in real-time.
What that leads back to is a lot of our enterprise customers are on Klaviyo. Klaviyo is that marketing engine that we’ve talked about for a lot of brands. We do have a Klaviyo integration. Up until now, there have been some events that could be added to it. There has been a lot more information that we can send. Because of that, we have a lot of merchants who are sending their standard email and SMS flows, but then they have a separate set of flows for push because there’s more data that we need to get from the app.
Now that we’re doing that, we have a new version of our Insights product that’s going to be coming out soon and a whole lot more that I can’t disclose yet, but it’s very exciting. It’s going to be better integrating with Klaviyo and probably 10X the amount of data, events, and information sent over. It does sync with your Klaviyo profiles in real-time, which is amazing.
If somebody has a user account and a Klaviyo account created on the website, they can download the app and log into that existing account. Everything works seamlessly. It will show their order history and all those things. It’s making that part of the process and a better part of the engine. When you look at somebody’s Klaviyo profile, there’s all of their email activity, order history, every product they’ve viewed, and all these different things. We’re going to soon be able to have a lot of that information from Tapcart as well.
Much better integration with Klaviyo is coming soon. We’re going to be adding integrations with Gorgias. We launched one with Okendo. There are a few dozen that we have now. A few dozen does not 8,000, but the difference for us is that we have to custom-build each of these integrations. We’re going with the most popular ones. You can see them on our website. Algolia, Klaviyo, Yotpo, Nosto, Okendo, Gorgias, shout out to guys. We’re going to be adding a whole lot more. Gorgias is not there yet, but it’s being worked on.
The thing that’s going to change and take this to the next level is some developer experience functionality that we’re going to offer, which is going to allow third-party developers to develop for our platform. Once we are able to unlock that, it’s a logical next step for us to enable it. At the moment, we are integrating with more and more third-party apps every day. We integrate with pretty much all of the most popular apps and some of the smaller ones.
I always use the story of the widget of the inventory tracker or the countdown timer on the PDP page. That stuff is great, but maybe you re-examine if you need all those distractions on a mobile device a lot smaller than a desktop. Oftentimes, people can live without it. They start to realize like, “Would Apple do this?” It’s a good starting point to make sure that a lot of your widgets and other apps are on-brand. They do work, and through our developer experience, we’re going to be finally able to allow developers to build for our platform and build them themselves in a more scalable way.
It’s a nice tight connection. I like the idea of the retention side, the loyalty, and the referral marketing side. That’s fantastic that there’s a connection.
We have loyalty integrations and all of that, but Klaviyo is my favorite and the one I love and always go back to because that is the marketing engine. Not everyone knows or really understands. Sometimes, when you give away something for free, people tend to not understand its value or see its value. That’s understandable, but in this case, a ton of value is being sent and an unlimited number of push through Klaviyo flows. It’s only for iOS users at the moment, but Android should be coming soon.
There’s a ton of value in that. Best of all, when you install the integration, it opens up a new button that says, “Push notification on your Klaviyo flows,” alongside email and SMS, being able to drag and drop a push notification to supplement the other ones. It works with everything you’re used to having in Klaviyo, like smart scheduling.
It’s another tool in your arsenal. Another marketing channel to have. Another way for you and other merchants to be less reliant on huge brands is to drive them traffic. They become the guardians of the internet. Our whole thing is to launch your own app. It’s a little bit tougher but a much more reliable and consistent way to scale a brand than throwing a bunch of money at the problem.
This is great information. For those reading, go to Tapcart.com. That’s where you can check it out and also in Shopify App Store, type in Tapcart and look them up and easily that download that app. You can learn more there. For those wanting to kick the tires off a bit and want to see what their mobile experience could be like, I know your team is very open to chatting and understanding what their business outcomes are and if there is an opportunity here. That’s the first step, a quick little business chat. The other part is that you’re offering some an incentive for those that want to see the power of a mobile app for their store. Can you share the offer with our readers?
I’m more than happy to offer our mobile app accelerator, which is typically a Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotion. It’s available year-round to anyone who’s reading this episode. Just mention that you’re referred to us by eCommerce Fastlane. We’re going to provide you with a landing page, which you can drop in there too.
Anyone visiting from there will get our mobile app accelerator, which for qualified merchants on Shopify is two months of Tapcart for free. You also get a free mobile app design with multiple iterations done by our design team. You get unlimited push notifications with Tapcart and Klaviyo. It’s a great package. That’s available for qualified merchants who mentioned eCommerce Fastlane and Steve Hutt.
There's no reason for any eCommerce brand to not have an app. Just get an app and get your push notifications subscriber base up and make sure you really capture that audienceClick To Tweet
It will be eCommerceFastlane.com/Tapcart that will redirect to your landing page, and then you’ll have the offer details of how you can take Sina up on this offer. Once again, I appreciate you coming to the show. It’s been a long time coming. It’s so timely. It’s a blue ocean out there of opportunity. There are two million brands on Shopify, and there is so much opportunity. I wish you continued awesome success in the Shopify world.
Congrats on being a Shopify Plus Certified App Partner. There are only 80 apps, and you’re 1 of 80 and of 8,000 apps. That means something, reliability, scalability, data handling, and things like that. Kudos to you and the team. There are so many benefits of being a plus certified app. You can manage the biggest and the baddest brands but also mid-market to early-stage companies. You have the opportunity and the price points to fit based on owning the channel. That’s one of the takeaways I got in this. Owned marketing is key. Push notifications are key. The connection to Klaviyo is key, and go to Cuts Clothing and buy a shirt from Steve.
From one Steve to another, the beauty of it is it’s never too small to have an email list. If it’s never too small to have an email list with plans starting at $250 a month, which could be more or less than you’re paying for email, you can launch a mobile app. If it’s never too early to have an email list and start growing that, the same should be true for SMS and push. It’s one of those things where the earlier you start, it’s like a compound interest thing. The more valuable, the larger it’s going to grow over time, but it’s important to start soon.
Even when you’re thinking about it on a more micro-level at the time of the year, if you want a new channel that you can send push notifications to in real-time and do flash sales, there’s no better channel for BFCM and the holidays than push because it scales, it’s real-time, and it’s on-brand. You should launch an app for no other reason than getting your push subscriber base up for all the same reasons you get your email list up.
Regardless of your industry or whatever, apps are more likely to be downloaded if you’re in fashion and apparel, beauty and cosmetics, or food and beverage. Those are the top three. Consumer electronics, home furnishings, and home goods are huge right now. What we’ve seen is a trend that a lot of other types of industries. We have Shopify brands that are selling mattresses. A few years ago, I personally would have never purchased a mattress before sitting on it, but now we have this entirely new segment of B2C brands like Casper, Nest Bedding, and others. People are purchasing mattresses through apps and their websites. They get delivered in a box, and you’re like, “How has a mattress fit in this box?”
The world is changing, and we want to empower merchants with these tools to help them succeed. It’s an indisputable fact that now, there are more distractions than ever before for consumers and shoppers, with more brands and companies vying for their attention. The biggest pain point for merchants has to be, “How do I get the attention of my customers consistently? How do I edit reliably without spending a ton of money?”
This is a great way to do so. I’m always thinking about a mobile app from a marketing perspective. It converts better. It’s bringing brand value. It does a lot of great things, but the one huge advantage we have that cannot ever be caught up to is the push notification subscription audience and the value that it has over time.
Sina, I thank you so much. It’s very clear that you’re all in. You’re giving back to the ecosystem. I appreciate it. I wish you continued success with what’s coming up with App Clips. Hopefully, those reading this, please take Sina up on his offer to at least have a look to see what your mobile experience could be like. If you don’t have one, you need one. It’s affordable. Tapcart can help you. Once again, thanks for coming to the show.
Thanks so much, Steve. It’s been such a pleasure having a chance to speak with you and connect with Shopify merchants and eCommerce brands around the world. I love what you said about being a Shopify Certified App. We were one of the first 30 or so certified apps in that first class. If you think it’s hard to become a certified app, which there are now, 80 out of 8,000, imagine how tough it is to get Shopify to invest in your company, which, fortunately, they did in Tapcart as well.
It’s a lot of diligence going around. I’ve gotten used to it at this point. Eric got used to it, but it’s so much fun. We could not have picked a better eCommerce platform. I can say that as a fact. There is no reason for us to go with another eCommerce platform. I love our partnership. I love having a chance to speak with you, Steve. There’s no reason for any eCommerce brand not to have an app, not even one powered by Tapcart. Get an app, get your push notifications subscriber base up, and make sure you start to capture that audience because it is a valuable property that will continue to grow in value over time.
That’s for this episode. I’d like to thank you, a loyal reader of this show. It’s my hope that this show is offering you a ton of value through growth strategies, tactics, and exclusive insider tips on the best Shopify apps and marketing platforms. All with my personal goal to help you build, launch, grow, and scale with Shopify.
Thanks for investing some time in reading. I’m so proud and excited that you have a growth mindset and are a constant learner. I truly appreciate you and your entrepreneurial journey.
Keep thriving with Shopify.