CEO Chats: Filling the Gap in e-Commerce
Today we are excited to share a sit-down conversation between Mike Hodges, Macarta’s Co-Founder and CEO and Brian Hennessy, Co-Founder and CEO at Talkoot. The two discuss their companies, their business relationship and the future of e-Commerce.
Macarta was first introduced to Talkoot in the spring of 2019. We were actively on the hunt for a copywriting software solution that could help our growing team stay organized with new brand partners, all of whom have large catalogs with thousands of SKUs. Finding a platform that was specifically built for product storytellers, not content marketers, not advertisers, proved difficult. However, after first previewing Talkoot, we at Macarta knew we had found our long sought-after solution:
Q: Brian, tell us about Talkoot and how you started.
A: Back in 2015 my agency was writing product copy for adidas just as they went global with e-Commerce. We went from about 3,000 to 35,000 SKUs. We also grew our team from just a couple of people to a team of over 20 with freelancers and contractors. In the early days of e-Commerce, people were shopping online more but brands had yet to figure out content and what that means exactly.
When we first started we had missing information, wrong information, even copyrighted lyrics. Just basic mistakes. As a result, we were facing returns and even lawsuits. But the biggest gap of all was that we weren’t connecting with the inspiration behind the product in the copy. We weren’t able to tell the stories that we knew lead people to actually click “buy.”’
When we were creating Talkoot, we realized that there are a lot of information systems, but there isn’t a place to create product stories at scale and fast. When you’re a large company, it’s hard to tell a great story about a ton of products, so Talkoot helps companies do that.
Q: Mike, where did Macarta fit in the e-Commerce space when you and Stephen founded the company?
A: At first, our brand partners understood the opportunity behind Amazon, but it was very transactional. Content wasn’t as big a priority when you look back four to six years ago, but now there’s the ability to tell the brand story.
In some cases, you are now seeing brands who have Brand Stores that are even more built out than their own e-Commerce websites. We really work to authentically represent these brands on Amazon so it feels like a seamless extension of their business.
We came in at a time where brands were just starting to see Amazon as a viable sales channel, although shoppers were not quite trusting of the products that they were seeing on the platform. That’s where we come in – we enhance the branded experience on Amazon so customers can build that trust.
Q: Brian, you mentioned how important correct product information is earlier, how does Talkoot specifically help?
A: Consumers need to trust and they will search online until they find a point of purchase that they trust, and buy from there. They will keep going until they find a place that they trust, and at your foundation, you need to have the correct information.
We’re excited to roll out BrandCenter(™) in the next few months. This will give users the ability to see their voice, tone and pinpoint particular collections. At Talkoot we really try to listen to our customers using the platform and we heard that our users wanted even more guardrails on their language. BrandCenter(™) will now allow you to program Talkoot to use specific brand language, so it’s like a live style guide.
As a content creator, you live in two different worlds; the technical, which while important, isn’t as valuable, and the creative. The less time you can spend on the technical, the more you can focus on storytelling.
Q: Mike, can you speak to that blend of technicality and creativity? How does an agency play a role in that balance?
A: We have really strong relationships with our brand partners. We obviously need their assets, brand guidelines and messaging, but really what we do is part art and science. We implement our Amazon best practices and integrate our business experience, keyword intelligence and design expertise to produce content that is fit for Amazon and still reflects our brand partners.
Q: Macarta has been using the Talkoot platform for a few months now and we just started using the software with our team in Mexico as their team grows and we take on larger clients. How have the two of you felt the partnership has been so far?
Mike: Talkoot has been extremely beneficial for our team. It’s allowed us to get better organized and more efficient as we’ve brought on larger and larger brands that have huge catalogs. Talkoot has really helped us scale the creative side of our business in a larger way, which is exciting as we bring on more brands.
Brian: For us, it’s really exciting that Macarta is leading the charge in digital marketing. You’re one of the few agencies that has a keen sense of where the future is headed. You’re kind of our eyes and ears and we’re excited that Macarta is growing and seeing things into the future in a really refreshing way.
Macarta would like to offer a big ‘Thank You’ to the entire Talkoot team. We expressed our gratitude at the end of our interview and in response Brian humbly replied, “Software is about relationships.”
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