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The Future of Ecommerce: Building a Digitally Native Vertical Brand

Building a digitally native vertical brand is about building a real relationship with your customers
Derric Haynie
Dec 22
Aug 26, 2021
August 27, 2021 6:52

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We enjoyed a ton of jam-packed sessions over the course of this two-day event, and if you didn’t get the chance to join live, then you’re in for a treat. Each one of our speakers filled their talks with actionable, fantastic insights to teach you the best practices for building up a successful Digitally Native Vertical Brand.

So what are you waiting for?

Keep reading!

$0 to $17,000 in Email Revenue in 30 Days

A talk by Kasey Luck, CEO and Founder, Luck & Co Agency

Overview: Did you know there’s a way to make revenue from email on autopilot? In fact, 10-15% of your store revenue SHOULD be automated. Kasey Luck explains how to make that happen and how to master email for eCommerce FAST in this exciting session.

Summary: There are two secrets to turning email and SMS into your highest revenue-generating channels, and they aren’t what you may think. The first is simply to activate 5 to 10 email flows as soon as possible, while the second is to send email campaigns one to two times per week. Some of the emails you can send include:

  • Welcome flow
  • Abandoned checkout flow
  • Post purchase flow
  • Reorder flow
  • Educational email

A Successful Omnichannel Customer Experience

A talk by Rohan Kapoor, Partnerships Manager, Gorgias

Overview: The most successful omnichannel customer experience begins when you meet your clients where they are, developing new revenue streams on different channels. This session with Gorgias’ Rohan Kapoor will teach you how to do this effectively.

Summary: Buyers are frustrated. Typical resolution times have extended past 17 hours and first contact from customer service teams to more than 12 hours. The result is a distinct lack of personalization, and customers notice. So how do you, as a brand, combat those lengthy resolutions, slow response times, and poor customer service experiences? Increase efficiency and automate your responses by turning:

  • A cost center into a profit center
  • Support agents into salespeople
  • Conversations into conversions

Doing this can help increase efficiency by 30% or more and enable agents to spend their time focusing on non-repetitive tasks, not tickets that can be easily automated.

Merchant Interview: Bumpin Blends

A talk by Lisa Mastela, MPH, RD, Bumpin Blends and Paul Rosenwald, SeaMonster Studios

Overview: Check out this session to hear Lisa from Bumpin Blends’ tips on how to be scrappy when starting an eCommerce subscription business, as well as what it takes to find the right tech stack to help grow your business.

Summary: If you haven’t heard of Bumpin Blends, you’re in for a treat. This frozen, pre-blended smoothie cube business was started in 2019 after CEO Lisa Mastela realized she was having a smoothie nearly every day of her pregnancy to mitigate her symptoms. After figuring out the company’s niche, setting a bankroll of $18k, and outlining a unique problem she wanted to solve, Lisa was ready to pick a name and get started.

Since then, Lisa’s learned a lot about what it means to be a business owner in the Ecommerce space, and she had a few tips to share with you.

  • Shipping frozen products is a logistical nightmare. Don’t start with it if you’re wanting to do everything yourself.
  • If you DO decide to start shipping frozen products, always be prepared for any potential problem that could arise
  • Don’t make the mistake of paying PR companies. Nobody is going to sell your company or product as well as you can
  • When it comes to connecting with big-name “celebrity” influencers, use IMDB pro (it works almost like a linkedin for everybody’s managers, agents, pr people, etc.)

Protect Your Online Store, Protect Your Business

A talk by Farrah Boehm, Partner Marketing Manager, Rewind

Overview: Do you know why there is no “undo button” in SaaS platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce? There are a number of common causes of data loss that can cost your business, but there’s a way to avoid it from happening entirely. Tune into this session to learn how you can protect your data, online store, and bottom line.

Summary: There’s a reason why there is no “undo button” in SaaS platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. It’s because platforms can recover lost data in the event of unlikely, wide-spread data loss, but NOT in the event of data loss specifically for your business. Luckily, there are still methods for you to protect data specifically for your business. They are:

  • Back up your store. Backups should be automatically triggered and consistent
  • Password management. Remembering all of your passwords can be nearly impossible without a password management tool like OnePassword or LastPass
  • Embrace multi-factor authentication
  • Adopt the principle of least privilege
  • Manage app access: Carefully read the terms and conditions of every app before you add it to your site
  • Watch out for phishing attacks. Ignore and delete unsolicited messages. Don’t open or click suspicious links or messages

2020 - the Year Airbnb Entered the CPG and DTC Marketing Funnel

A talk by Edward Hu, Co-founder, Showplace

Overview: Effectiveness of driving trial via Airbnb. What brands have performed the strongest in this ecosystem. How to calculate ROI of sampling/trial.

Summary: The rise of the digitally native vertical brand in Ecommerce has raised some pretty big questions for business owners. Namely, how to stand out in a noisy world, how to reach customers by providing valuable experiences, and how to time online interactions to make a customer’s experiences with your business as memorable as possible.

AirBnB is now offering a NEW way to answer those questions effectively. With their solution, brands are able to offer product trials and brand experiences inside airbnb vacation rentals. It’s a perfect trifecta of:

  • The Right Customers - People staying at airbnbs are expecting the experience to be different from their homes. In fact, they’re counting on it. 
  • The Halo Effect - In the same vein, people who are on vacation tend to have more open, positive mindsets. Potential customers with more open mindsets tend to be more open to purchase.
  • The Memorable Experience - By going through airbnb, brands are able to bypass the reticence customers typically have to try something outside of their traditional product lineup and allow those individuals to believe they’re ALREADY customers.

Building Creative Campaigns of the Future

A talk by Audrey Burgess, Creative Researcher, Marketing Science Research, Facebook


The creative climate has always been shaped by culture, but 2020 greatly changed our responses, relationships, and expectations from creativity and business for the future. Consumers are now pushing for their brands to become more culturally aware, more personal, and more participatory. Audrey Burgess, Creative Researcher, Marketing Science Research at Facebook will discuss the work that was done to identify how big culture shifts highlighted five behaviors for what and how we build creativity for the future, and how these themes were incorporated into successful creative campaigns.


2020 was unique, but it changed our response, relationships, and expectations from creativity and businesses for the future. In fact, people are pushing for their brands to become more culturally aware, more personal, and more participatory. These cultural shifts have served to highlight 5 behaviors for what and how we build creativity for the future.

  • Build inclusively: How can you authentically and truthfully represent your whole potential audience?
  • Create edutainment: Create content that’s both educational AND entertaining
  • Sell with ideas: Don’t just open conversations with ideas; build them to convert
  • Speak platform language: How can the natural language of different platforms be an integral storytelling tool for you to connect with people on their terms?
  • Reward self discovery: How can creating ideas that drive participation and discovery elevate your connection with your audiences?

How to Deliver Customer Experiences That Won’t Kill Your Budget

A talk by Ty Givens, CEO, The Workforce Pro

Overview: Join the one and only Ty Givens as she chats with you about the best ways to deliver top-tier customer experiences for DNVBs WITHOUT killing your budget.

Summary: When you’re a digitally native vertical brand, you have complete, end-to-end control of your customer experience. That can be really good for your brand if you do it the right way because:

  • You know what’s happening with your customer along the way
  • You are the ultimate creator of your customer experience
  • You can get super personal
  • You can react much faster...but more importantly
  • You can be proactive

Done the WRONG way, however, the results may not be as positive. The ROI you’re looking for may not be there, and you may even be wrong about what you think your customers are wanting.

How DTC Brands Grow in 2021 and Beyond

A talk by Kunle Campbell, 2x eCommerce and Derric Haynie, Chief Ecommerce Technologist, EcommerceTech

Overview: Kunle is an eCommerce advisor, international speaker, and host of the 2X eCommerce Podcast. He coaches eCommerce and retail teams with 'growth roadmap plans' that focus on unlocking growth through acquisition, retention, and experience delivery. Kunle has interviewed over 250 DTC Ecommerce leaders.

Summary: eCommerce advisor and growth expert Kunle Campbell shares some must-know tips for growing your D2C brand, including:

  • Always seek to build equity and a reputation with whatever you’re doing with your business
  • If you look at every customer like they’re your first, you can’t get the relationship wrong
  • It’s always about what’s new -- pay attention to that and be adaptable
  • In this age, it’s important to establish real relationships with your customers and potential customers

Tech Showcase: Preflect

A talk by Brecker Brees, Founder, Preflect

Overview: Facebook ads have gotten tough. Check out this session to learn how Preflect makes it easy for everyone and anyone to run profitable ads in five minutes or less.

Summary: Facebook ads are hard, but Preflect makes them easy. There are plenty of myths flying around the Ecommerce space about Facebook Advertising, but Preflect sheds light on the inconsistencies. Including the ideas that most of your attention as a founder should be on Facebook ads and that you need to spend at least $5k/month on FB to see any good results. Instead, they encourage you to:

  • Shift Focus: Instead of ads, focus on Product, Brand, Creative, and Building community
  • Break up with Ad Agencies: Ad buying agencies are only economical when you’re spending $25k+/month. The cost-effective solution? Preflect.
  • Invest in your business, not in ads: Use Preflect to keep marketing costs lost and ROAS high so you can invest as much as possible into growing your brand

The Next-Gen Mobile Shopping Experience

A talk by Nirit Ayal, CMO and Co-Founder, Poloriz

Overview: The next-gen mobile shopping experience has arrived and it’s here to stay. Some of the key elements include Conversion-focused Digital strategy, Mobile-first UX, and On-site personalization. Nirit Ayal from Poloriz shares how to effectively use each of these strategies in your marketing strategy in this session.

Summary: Mobile shoppers now have higher conversion rates than those on desktop, right? Wrong. Even now, in 2021, desktop converts better than mobile. But that only happens if your brand’s website is optimized to create a real-time personalized user experience on ALL channels, not just desktop or mobile. Poloriz helps you do that in a few different ways:

  • creating a real-time personalized mobile experience that’s done automatically
  • Automatically transform products into stories
  • Smart dashboard analysis

Working with Influencers

A talk by Sarah Boyd, Socialyte and Derric Haynie, Chief Ecommerce Technologist, EcommerceTech

Overview: Do you know when the best time is to think about influencer marketing? What about the best and worst ways to approach influencers you want to work with? Check out this session with Sarah Boyd and Derric Haynie to learn all of that and more.

Summary: Working with influencers isn’t impossible. At its basest level, working with influencers is about working with people. Unfortunately, many brands tend to forget that and make some big mistakes when reaching out to influencers they want to work with. Some of the biggest faux pas include:

  • Not being up-front about your budget, needs, offer, etc. and putting it in your outreach message.
  • Going around the influencer’s manager and team
  • Not doing your research before reaching out. If you put in time to research before sending your email, you’re more likely to get time back

How to Become a Retail Ready Brand

A talk by Talor Ofer, Creator, Retail Empire

Overview: Do you know what it takes to become a retail-ready brand? Join Retail Empire’s Talor Ofer as he outlines what you need for selling to retailers, how to find retailers, how to approach key contacts with the highest conversion rate texts, and much more.

Summary: The majority of eCommerce sellers aren’t retail ready, but few are aware of what they’re doing wrong. In most cases, however, if you bring your products to market as they are now, chances are high that buyers and investors will see those products and understand that there’s an issue within seconds. So what does a retail-ready brand look like?

  • You present yourself as an independent business, not an Amazon seller
  • You have a professional-looking catalog
  • You’ve looked at your product from the buyer’s perspective, not yours
  • You’ve done your research on pricing, imagery, etc. before going live with your retail store

5 Essential Tactics to Increase Product Detail Page Conversion Rate

A talk by Gina Nguyen, User Research Lead, CRO Expert, PageFly

Overview: Nailing your product page is critical for increasing your Ecommerce conversion rate. It can be easy to overlook, but you’ve got to make an effort at optimizing it if you want people shopping on your site to also convert. Join Gina Nguyen from PageFly as she goes over the 5 essential tactics for optimizing your product page conversion rate. 

Key Takeaways include: 

  • Fundamentals of a product detail page 
  • Ways to improve your product detail page conversion 
  • Examples of effective tactic implementations
  • Tool to design your product detail page effectively

Summary: Having solid product pages for your customers to shop from is essential if you want your conversions to match the number of clicks coming to your website. So what tactics can you use to make those conversions a reality? Here are PageFly’s top tips:

  • Always have at least 3-5 product images for all of your products
  • Use both “bullet lists” and “blocks of text” for product descriptions
  • Style the product price and primary “add to cart” button to be unique and prominent
  • Provide a list of recently viewed items
  • Create a sense of urgency

Navigate Sustainability & Positive Impact in Your Ecommerce Business

A talk by Krissie Leyland, Co-Founder, MindfulCommerce

Overview: The future is conscious commerce. It has to be. Check out this session to learn why and how you can harness the power of technology to create a sustainable and positively impactful Ecommerce brand.

Summary: It doesn’t take extreme effort to reduce your website impact and digital carbon footprint. In fact, the steps for doing so are much easier than you may think. They include:

  • Use illustrations instead of big, heavy graphics
  • Switch to a renewable energy host
  • Compress everything
  • Reduce the number of fonts

What others can you come up with?

3 Advanced Email Marketing Tactics to Boost Your AOV

A talk by Jimmy Kim, CEO & Co-Founder, Sendlane

Overview: Want to know how to bring onsite personalization to the inbox through segmentation? Join us as we learn 3 advanced email marketing tactics for leveraging customer data to send personalized product recommendations, optimizing your messages by experimenting with multiple variables, and tapping into your buyer’s journey to pinpoint how and why they shop.

Summary: There are 3 advanced email marketing tactics that can help you bring onsite personalization to your customers’ inboxes through segmentation. Do you know what they are? Here are the first two. Can you guess the third?

  • Product Personalization
  • Behavior Personalization

Advertising in a Post-Cookie World: How You Can Still Target and Acquire New Customers

A talk by Daren Limas, Director of Accounts, Klickly

Overview: Acquiring new customers isn’t a pipe dream. In fact, it's still more than possible in a post-cookie world. Join Daren Limas in this jam-packed session as he explains how you can still target and acquire new customers despite the ever-changing online ads space.

Summary: Advertising in a post-Covid world isn’t impossible. You can still target and acquire new customers if you follow these simple tips:

  • Diversify your channels and expand your reach
  • Leverage partners with strong 1st party data to build your own
  • Seek true performance-based channels (little to no risk)

Klickly enables you to do that in just 4 steps:

Step 1: Connect

  • Brands seamlessly integrate to create a Klickly account in less than 5 minutes

Step 2: Choose products to promote

  • no need for creatives, no upfront spend

Step 3: Prioritize

  • Set specific marketing goals using Klickly’s custom commission settings

Step 4: Launch

  • Klickly shows the right product to the right audience at the right time, all within their network

How to Choose the Right Tech Tools to Grow Your Store

A talk by Derric Haynie, Chief Ecommerce Technologist, EcommerceTech

Overview: Nowadays, tools have become omnichannel. They don’t just specialize in one thing.

As a result, we’ve seen the rise of digitally native vertical brands (hence this event), and choosing the right tech stack for your business has become more important than ever. Enter EcommerceTech’s Derric Haynie. In this session, he’ll teach you the 6-step process for vetting and onboarding a new technology tool into your stack the right way.

Summary: There’s a 6-step process for vetting and onboarding new technology that many brands forgo -- to their detriment. That’s why EcommerceTech’s own Derric Haynie has shared his knowledge of what those steps entail and how to make them work for your brand. Here’s a teaser:

  • Needs analysis: What problem is this new tool solving? What key metrics do you want to move the needle on?
  • Integrations: What tools in your existing stack does this new tool need to integrate with? 
  • Budget: What’s your budget for this new tool?

Check out our list of vetted apps that are available to you:

Website Teardowns LIVE with Kurt Elster

A talk by Kurt Elster, Senior Ecommerce Consultant, Ethercycle

Overview: Optimizing your website for conversions can be difficult, but Kurt Elster’s got your back. Join him as he tears down merchant websites just like yours and gives his expert feedback on how to make your website the best it can be.

Summary: 5 amazing brands received the tear-down of a lifetime from Ethercycle’s Kurt Elster. Among the most actionable tips were some golden nuggets you don’t want to miss. Among them were these tips:

  • Add social proof in your cart slide out section
  • If your drop-down menu defaults to “sort by average rating”, make sure potential customers can actually see the ratings for each product they’re seeing
  • Don’t show your sticky reviews widget on mobile
  • Pay attention to your button size -- make sure they aren’t too small to click on mobile
  • If you don’t have reviews, hide your reviews widget

What Makes Your Digitally Native Brand Venture Backable?

A talk by Michael Gelb, Founder, The Consumer VC

Overview: Ever wondered how investors make the decision to invest in digitally native brands, the difference between venture-backed and lifestyle businesses, and when it makes sense to expand to retail? Join the panel of Anna Whiteman, Kiva Dickinson, and Sumeet Shah to hear their thoughts on what it takes to get investors.

Summary: Do you know what makes one digitally native vertical brand more backable than another? Our panelists share their take on the strongest indicators of success when deciding to invest in a brand, including:

  • Strongest brands that have leveraged interesting owned media assets and communities have done so with the expectation that they aren’t going to sell consumers anything
  • Brands that are able to get off traditional acquisition channels have better, stronger relationships with customers
  • If a venture capitalist company wants to invest in you, it’s likely a good time
  • Think of $100M in value in under 10 years as an absolute minimum in value and absolutely maximum in time that a venture capitalist can become comfortable with investing in you

The Ultimate Month-to-Month BFCM SMS Strategy Guide

A talk by Adam Schaechter, Director of Sales, Postscript

Overview: There’s a certain timeline you need to follow if you want to maximize your SMS strategy for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and Adam Schaechter has the answer. Check out this session to find out what it looks like.

Summary: Focusing on retention after Black Friday/Cyber Monday is the key to maximizing your future customer engagement, but before you can do that, you’ll need to start preparing your SMS and email strategies for the BFCM influx. Some techniques for doing that include:

  • Think outside the marketing box.
  • Use the SMS golden rule - if you were a subscriber, would you want to receive this text?
  • Always send compliant text messages
  • Run through a test for each of your promo messages
  • Run someone ELSE through your promo messages to make sure you’re hitting the mark
  • Outline your expected benchmarks for each BFCM message so it will be easy to know if it worked well or not

Which of these steps have you checked off your list?

Do Good and Do Well: How to Integrate Successful Social Impact

A talk by Savanah White, Head of Partnerships, ShoppingGives

Overview: Authenticity Wins. Engagement Counts. Measurement Matters. Savanah White explains why in this impactful session.

Summary: The new generation of consumers is buying with their values and voting with their wallets. As a result, retailers are currently spending over $20B in digital advertising to acquire and retain Generational Impact. Some must-haves for incorporating generational impact into your business include:

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About the author

Derric Haynie was the founder and Chief Ecommerce Technologist at – Where Ecommerce stores go to research, discover, and buy the right tools to grow their store. Half of his day is spent reviewing tech tools, and the other half is talking with merchants to help them discover which solutions are right for them.