Hacking the Holidays with Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia & Shopify Plus

Hacking the Holidays with Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia & Shopify Plus

The binge season is upon us. And for ecommerce, feast or famine lies right around the corner.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday is poised to be the biggest and most-profitable two days of the entire year. With one caveat … only if you’re ready.

And that’s where jolly, old saint Gary Vee comes in.

In preparation for the coming rush, VaynerMedia and Shopify Plus have cooked up something truly special.

A binge-worthy podcast miniseries with one goal: to help brands and entrepreneurs nail down and level up their holiday ecommerce strategy, just in time.

Join hosts Mac King, a growth-hacking Partner Manager at Shopify Plus, and Sabir Semerkant, the data-obsessed SVP of ecommerce at VaynerMedia, as they welcome a host of guests from industries like advertising, fashion, traffic, and operations to discuss online shopping as well as innovative ways to hack platforms and practices.

Behind the scenes on Hacking the Holidays with Gary Vaynerchuk

And you can have them all, right now. No waiting. No list to sign up for. Just an enormous helping of holiday-hacking ecommerce tactics.

Below the links, you’ll find practical summaries of each episode along with key takeaways from all the guests. Let’s dig in …

1. Hacking the Holidays: Tips to Solidify Your Ecommerce Strategy For Black Friday

In episode one, Sabir and Mac discuss the importance of building a calendar of key dates in November and beyond, as well as having a plan to track and maximize sales.

They also walk through the tools and services that come with an ecommerce partner like Shopify Plus, the value of email and data management for targeting, and a look at the brands doing ecommerce right.

Sabir and Mac wrap up with thoughts on Alibaba’s record-breaking Single’s Day, what that could mean for the U.S. in 2018, and two essential hacks to help you stay competitive.

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

“You can manage [pre-holiday and post-holiday] lull days if you’re in a business where inventory is scarce and the consumers know that if they don’t buy it now, at this price, they’re not gonna find it on discount later.”

“Think of special holiday exclusive fashion lines and average sizes. That kind of stuff you can leverage to your benefit and launch it before or after Black Friday.”

Sabir Semerkant, SVP of ecommerce at VaynerMedia

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

“In the context of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season, Shopify Plus starts to really differentiate itself through some of the tools that are used on Plus only. The first and most relevant is Launchpad.”

Launchpad is a tool to schedule flash sales. It allows merchants to monitor and track in real time, choose which products are going on sale, and then know how many have sold, what’s out of stock, and gives them a dashboard to look through as the sale happens.”

Mac King, Partner Manager at Shopify Plus

2. Crushing It: Gary Vaynerchuk on Captivating an Audience With Underpriced Attention

What do cool kicks, cricket protein, and ecommerce have in common?

In this special episode (recorded on Gary’s birthday), you’ll learn how the launch of Gary Vee’s KSwiss Signature Shoes broke the internet:

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

“KSwiss crumbled under the pressure, and they should use Shopify. I actually mean that not because I’m with you guys.”

“Literally, if you read my phone right now, that’s what I was texting the team.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia

Speaking from the heart, Gary covers his love for win-win situations — i.e. success through failure — hacking emerging trends, and trading in excuses for action.

To help fellow entrepreneurs and brands up their ecommerce game, he also shares tips to break through the noise with little to no budget. Rounding out the episode, Gary drills into the competitive advantage of Instagram and Snapchat for underpriced attention, and reiterates the power of leveraging influencers, rankings, and hashtags to sell, sell, sell.

How do you go from a million to one hundred million? By being right.

“What’s underpriced and what’s overpriced? What’s the right partnership? Who’re the right endorsers? What’s the right platform to spend your money on? What’s the right product? What are the cultural trends that you can leverage?”

“Did you know pomegranate juice was going to happen ten years ago? Do you understand why Vans worked? Why LaCroix worked? Why Champion is working right now?”

“Everything I just mentioned is buying underpriced attention, mainly on Instagram and Snapchat.”

Are you ready for the big day?

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

It’s not too late to be sure.

Grab the Black Friday, Cyber Monday Health Check for diagnostics on site speed, reliability, scalability, and key holiday customizations. You don’t even have to be on Shopify Plus to unwrap the magic.

Download the health check

3. Driving Traffic: Combining Organic and Paid Strategies to Test, Learn, and Optimize

To pay, or not to pay? That’s the “driving” question in this episode about generating traffic in your media ecosystem with Director of Revenue Acceleration at Shopify Plus, Marc Weisinger.

Starting with the value of sweat equity in SEO and email marketing, Marc, Sabir, and Mac dig into the benefits of optimizing your mobile experience and leveraging the power of video … all for the sake of more, high-quality visitors.

On the paid side, they cover the practice of testing, learning, and optimizing, and explain how small budgets across a range of platforms can empower brands and entrepreneurs to make smart changes quickly.

Additional topics include tips to cultivate your brand, ways to stand out against the competition, and of course, hacks in analytics that can help you win both Google Shopping and even next year’s Black Friday.

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

“You can’t forget about SEO. There’s no question about it. SEO is the foundation of any business or website. Google and Instagram and Facebook, essentially they’re making a lot of the audience reach pay-to-play. But there’s still great organic reach [through search].”

“Having a cohesive message — whether it’s organic or paid — means knowing, ‘What’s the call to action for the brand? Who are you engaging with?’ Content is not so much about keywords anymore, but more about your audience. Are you writing engaging content for that audience? And if you’re doing that, that’s a step in the right direction.”

Marc Weisinger, Director of Revenue Acceleration at Shopify Plus

4. All About Amazon: Extending Your Brand Presence to Boost Credibility and Reach

It’s no surprise that Amazon has become an ecommerce powerhouse, and in this episode, you’ll hear proof points from co-founder of Thursday Boots Company, Nolan Walsh, and Vice President of Digital Media at VaynerMedia, Lee Elliott.

Nolan explains how selling Thursday Boots direct to consumers (D2C) initially helped cut out the middleman … but fell short on building faith in a new brand.

This episode dives deep into Amazon’s competitive edge, including Nolan’s strategic decision to place his product beside bigger brand names to gain credibility. From another perspective, Lee highlights Amazon’s three media channels with insights from Sabir on the platform as a leading product search engine, not just a shopping experience.

As always, the group closes with innovative hacks to help you stand out and sell out.

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

“We launched our Shopify store and knew we wanted to go direct-to-consumer. But we realized it is hard for people to have faith in a new brand, especially for something as sensitive as footwear. We really liked the idea of Amazon being able to list our products side by side the bigger legacy brands. That helped validate our product.”

“There’s a symbiotic relationship where Amazon advertising works great — more the manual stuff than the automatic. We don’t put all of our products up on Amazon. It’s really more the best sellers where we’re not strapped for scarcity.”

Nolan Walsh, Co-founder of Thursday Boots Company

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

“We see a direct correlation between the ability to offer exclusivity or a different, more core-branded experience onsite with people’s success with that highly symbiotic ‘and’ relationship with Amazon.”

“Site exclusives and exciting release cycles onsite are tremendous [alongside Amazon].”

Lee Elliott, Vice President of Digital Media at VaynerMedia

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

As an example of this symbiotic relationship with Amazon, Thursday Boot Company features new releases — like their Wingtip Brandy boot — onsite alone and lists bestselling past products on Amazon.

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

5. Viral (Holiday) Marketing: How to Catch a Break on Social Media and Keep Up Your Momentum

As viral marketing has proven, building your brand around a trending topic can propel you into the spotlight.

Episode five follows Matt Fiano’s journey as co-founder and CDO of the clothing and fashion company, Ivory Ella; namely, how he was able to monetize a social-media meme account after gaining nearly seven million followers.

Before flipping the switch, Matt recounts his many challenges and breakthroughs, from identifying a worthwhile cause to fulfilling orders with little manufacturing, packaging, and shipping experience.

Rich with insights — including the value of collecting email addresses, launching products with friends and family, and increasing demand through pre-orders — Matt offers a long list of holiday hacks.

And you don’t want to miss his take on celebrating and growing repeat customers.

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

“One of the big KPIs we’re paying attention to during this time of year is average order value, which you can check out right there in Shopify’s dashboard. We’ve probably raised AOV up 80% since we started because [originally] all we had were long sleeve t-shirts. As we started to put water bottles, hats, keychains, phone cases, hoodies — all those products that round out your brand — the average order value changed.”

“Another KPI is repeat-purchase rate. Your second and third purchases are critical. For us, our customer is 70% more likely to purchase the third time if we can get them to purchase a second time.”

“Retention speaks not just to the product, but [the customer’s] satisfaction, your mission, your message, and the whole customer-service experience they had.”

Matt Fiano, Co-founder and CDO of Ivory Ella

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

At every turn, Ivory Ella prioritizes customer experience: ratings, multiple communication channels (including Facebook Messenger), live chat for questions, free shipping offers, clear return policies, and a “Safe & Secure Checkout”

6. Merchandising Operations: Maintaining Customer Satisfaction with Strategic Communication

Online shoppers have high expectations when they place an order, especially during the holiday season.

For your final binge installment, Nicole Gardner — Chief Operating Officer of Dormify — and JD Woods — CXO of third-party logistics provider, Dotcom Distribution — share their insights on improving checkout and delivery.

The discussion covers a range of topics about operations, over-communication with customers, and the strategic relationship between brand and 3PL (third-party logistics).

While coordinating early is key, they also highlight plans of action for unforeseen events, such as last-minute changes to an order profile, turbulent weather, and shipping delays. Wrapping up, Nicole and JD focus on hacks for peak sale seasons, from boxing products to putting yourself in the shoes of your audience.

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

“Early in the season, customers are a lot more concerned about free shipping and return policies. But then once you get later in the season, the time to ship is really, really critical. For us, it’s about framing and setting expectations up front as much as possible through the shopping experience.

“Most of our products ship within 24 to 48 hours. But we had a disconnect where people didn’t realize they could get it that quickly. That’s a good conversion tool when we layer that message through the site experience.”

“We recently implemented a split cart functionality. So in our cart, if products are eligible to ship within that quick timeframe, it clearly says that and anything else says it ships separately.”

Nicole Gardner, Chief Operating Officer of Dormify

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

Still Hungry for Holiday Hacking?

If you are, we’ve also built the …

Black Friday, Cyber Monday Health Check

Hacking The Holidays With Gary Vaynerchuk Vaynermedia & Shopify Plus

Inside you’ll find diagnostics tools and optimization hacks for site speed, reliability, and holiday customizations. You don’t even have to be on Shopify Plus to unwrap the magic.

Get prepared before the big day


About the Author

Aaron Orendorff is the Editor in Chief of Shopify Plus as well as a regular contributor to sites like Mashable, Lifehacker, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fast Company, The Huffington Post and more. You can connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.