Digital-First Retail – Your Ecommerce Roadmap

Digital-First Retail – Your Ecommerce Roadmap

Matthew Bertulli

We’re living in a time that some have referred to as the “retail apocalypse,” but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for retailers. It just means retailers need to change their business model to keep up. The question is: how?

Today’s guest, Matthew Bertulli, brings us the answer. The Co-Founder & CEO of Demac Media, an award-winning eCommerce Agency that has helped process more than $500 million in online sales to date, Matthew has had a direct hand in the creation and growth of more than 100 eCommerce businesses over the last decade. A self-taught software developer, he has a strong foundation for his retail upbringing into the eCommerce space.

In this episode, he shares insights from his book, Anything, Anywhere: The Future of Retail and How to Build a Digital-First Roadmap to Growth, and explains how retailers can stay competitive in the changing commerce atmosphere. He also shares strategies for developing digital road maps, advice for getting into retail, and more. Tune in to hear it all!

If you enjoy the show, please drop by iTunes and leave a review while you are feeling the love! Reviews help others discover this podcast and I greatly appreciate them!

Listen in:

On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:

  • What retailers need to do to keep up with the shifting market.
  • The real issue that’s affecting the world of commerce.
  • Which kinds of retailers can thrive in today’s eCommerce environment.
  • The core difference between the physical retailers of the past and physical retailers that will thrive in the future.
  • Matthew’s advice for someone who wants to get into retail in these changing times.
  • How Matthew’s road map concept works for retailers.
  • Why retailers need to start acting like software companies—and how to do that.

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Full Episode Transcript:

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Welcome to the Brainfluence podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker and educator on neuro-marketing, the psychology of persuasion. Every week we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.

Matthew Bertulli:    Thanks a lot, Roger. It’s great to be here.

Roger:       Great. Matthew, you’re originally from Sudbury, Ontario. For trivia buffs, it’s the home of the tallest chimney in the western hemisphere. I took the long drive up to Sudbury a few times in the early ’70s and it was really a strange place then. The closer you got to Sudbury, which is a huge center for nickel production, it got grayer and grayer until all the vegetation was gone. It was like driving across the moon around there.

Matthew Bertulli:    In fact, I think they did that. They shot a lot of movies and television shows that had to do with the moon. They went up north to shoot them.

Roger:       I gather it’s a lot greener now.

Matthew Bertulli:    It is, yeah, since they built the trivia thing, right? Since they built what we call the Superstack or the smokestack, that was what pushed all of the I guess the pollution out of Sudbury and into other communities. What happened was by doing that, by building the Superstack, the vegetation started to come back and they regreened the entire area. Now it’s an incredibly green place, but funny enough, if you do go back, you’ll see there’s not a tree there that’s over 30 years old.

Roger:       Yeah. I believe it. I hear even the famous smokestack might go away now, that they’re going to remove it perhaps. That will be a shame. Perhaps it could be turned into some kind of giant tourist attraction, the world’s tallest rollercoaster or something.

Matthew Bertulli:    That’s why it’s great that you know about. That’s awesome. Nobody’s brought that one up yet.

Roger:       I’m a master of trivia. I have not been every place in the world, but I have been to Sudbury. Matthew, just to set the stage, this is a tough time for retail in the US in particular. Store traffic is down. Malls are threatened by lower traffic and the anchor stores departing. Big retailers are closing stores and the small retailers that may have been reasonably successful can’t rely on the foot traffic the big stores used to bring in. People talk about 2017 as being the year of the retail apocalypse, but online isn’t a friendly place either. I mean the competition is fierce. You’ve got Amazon in the lead of course, but then you’ve got people who are trying to compete with Amazon like Walmart and Macy’s and a bunch of other big players.

If somebody came to me today and said that they wanted to start a retail venture, I’d probably tell them they were crazy and to run as far away from retail as they could. I suppose you’d have different advice for them. I hope you would.

Matthew Bertulli:    It’s funny. I agree with everything you said. I had somebody liken retail to kind of being in a restaurant business, right? Restaurants at least up here is such a horrible and competitive space that it’s really difficult to succeed in them. Yeah, 2017 is definitely being labeled the year of the retail apocalypse. I think it’s just about bloody time, right? It’s been coming for a while. Most of these companies have been on life support for a while. I think it’s not retail that’s the issue. It’s the supply chain, right? In North America, what the average consumer and the average non retail entrepreneur doesn’t know is that that thing that you buy in a store has touched a lot of hands to get to that store and a lot of companies and it’s coming from different countries.

That supply chain is very bloated and extremely inefficient and extremely cost heavy. Guys like Amazon, all they’re doing is just attacking the supply chains. Everything we’ve seen to date has been a modernization of that and just picking it apart and squeezing more margin out of something that was born a hundred plus years ago. China does not have the idea of a wholesale distributor. That’s not even a thing there, right? It’s a uniquely American thing. There they’re efficient enough. The product goes from manufacturer to retailer, to consumer and it just bypasses all the middle people, right? That’s the root of all of this carnage.

Roger:       It’s interesting. I know for years, although some time back I had a mail order business in the computer space. It was just pre-internet, so it would morphed into an internet business or an eCommerce business. We relied very heavily on distribution and often we were forced to rely on distribution. We wanted to deal with the manufacturer. We had the volume to deal with the manufacturer, but they have this entrenched wholesaler in the middle who is taking …

Matthew Bertulli:    They still do. They still do. I’m encountering that right now. To answer your question, I would definitely advise differently. I think there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity in retail and commerce just not using the old playbook, right? Just to follow up on your comment though, I own another company called Pela Case, which is a compostable iPhone case company. It does extremely well. This is a very fast growing direct to consumer brand, but we’re starting to try and sell into retailers. We constantly run into this roadblock, which is big retailer that’s got 2,000 stores tells us, “We love your product. We love the story. We don’t have anything like it. We need you to work with one of our approved distributors,” and I want to smash my head against the screen.

Roger:       Right.

Matthew Bertulli:    Really guys? That’s going to slow us down here. You realize that, right?

Roger:       Right. There was an evolution somewhat in that direction because even like in the automotive industry, for years the big automotive companies had just thousands of suppliers. It was getting to the point where managing it all and managing their inventory and their workflow and everything else was really difficult. They began aggressively reducing that. There’s some logic there. Today I think the electronic systems that we have do let us fulfill stuff pretty efficiently. Amazon has tens of millions of customers or hundreds of millions of customers and they manage to ship out those one-off orders pretty efficiently.

Matthew Bertulli:    They do, yes. What we’re seeing in the world of retail, I think this affects everybody because like retail or commerce or trade or whatever you want to call it is one of the largest, if not the largest industries in the world, right? When you back out of everything that comes out of physical stuff, physical goods, you’re talking like advertising and every other industry is bolted on to physical stuff, right? That’s consumerism. What’s happening though in this world of commerce is a tremendous amount of change caused by brands being able to go direct to customer easily because of technology and aging and antiquated supply chain is being torn down. Consumer behavior at the store changing dramatically and that’s been happening for a while.

Then you have not just Amazon on top squishing and putting pressure, downward pressure on all retailers, you have a half a million or a million or however many small startup brands taking advantage of all of these things and coming up out of nowhere and scooping up their customer, their little niche of the world and doing an effective job at it. While the news and the media, you and I, all we hear about is Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. Amazon and Walmart are fighting. There’s a great story. The other half of the real problem is all the big retailers and all the big brands, they can’t fight half a million competitors or a million competitors. They can’t see them. They don’t know them. They focus on Amazon because at least they can see them.

Roger:       Right. Trying to play Amazon’s game against Amazon is going to be pretty difficult.

Matthew Bertulli:    Oh yeah. It’s a losing battle. I think the only guy out there is Marc Lore at Walmart. He came there through acquisition. I think they’ve got a shot. Their store infrastructure is pretty impressive and it’s a massive point to leverage, but I don’t know about anybody else.

Roger:       Early on in eCommerce, that’s what I said about Barnes & Noble. I thought, “This Amazon’s pretty cool,” but once Barnes & Noble kicks into gear, they’ve got this tremendous inventory distributed around the country. They’ve got physical locations and people want to go there and hang out. As soon as they get their footing in eCommerce, they’re going to come roaring back. That didn’t exactly work out.

Matthew Bertulli:    Nope. Yeah. I made a comment, I always make this comment or I often make it, which is retailers need to throw the old operating system. They need to throw that playbook away. I don’t think the majority of them can do that, right? Barnes & Noble is a good example. Very few companies are truly capable, a very few entrepreneurs and CEOs are truly capable of being okay burning the house down to change, right? Steve Jobs was one of them. When he came back to Apple, he was willing to nuke the place to make it better. Very few entrepreneurs can do that and even fewer CEOs, professional CEOs. I think what you’re seeing is that retail is an old business with a lot of experienced people that have been doing things a certain way for a long time.

We’re now in a world where everything retail is digital-first. Like put it this way, if nothing changes, 25% of all retail in the United States is going to be eCommerce in the next six years. You think you’ve seen carnage now. We’re at 12%. It’s about to double in five, six years. That’s just the US. It’s even more in the UK. If these retailers don’t dramatically change their business models, they’re in trouble. If you’re in the business of selling other people’s stuff and that’s the only way you make money, you have a problem. That’s Amazon’s game.

Roger:       Right. Matthew, what kind of retailer can thrive in today’s environment?

Matthew Bertulli:    Man, there’s so many that are actually doing well. I mean TJ Maxx, like Marshalls, like that group of companies, they’re expanding. They’re doing extremely well. They sell other people’s stuff. It’s not just the Zara’s of the world who are vertical and they make their own product and their own brand. They’ve got a lot of margin to fall back on right now, but then there are retailer like … I don’t know if you’ve seen Pirch, P-I-R-C-H?

Roger:       Yeah. Yeah. I mentioned them in a blog post a while back, but why don’t you explain about them?

Matthew Bertulli:    What a cool concept. I mean talk about an age old category too, right? Home. They’ve got appliances, showers, stoves, kitchens, barbecues, all that stuff. What they did was rather than be your typical Best Buy, Home Depot type, here’s a handful of product that you can look at. The Pirch stores, and there’s a bunch of them around the country now, are incredibly well designed and everything in the store is functional. You can literally show up and take a shower in their store.

Roger:       That might drive some traffic.

Matthew Bertulli:    That will definitely drive if they get the right people in there. It will totally drive some traffic. I think they’ve taken retail and they’ve turned it into an experience and a story. That is where physical retailing is … I think it’s ultimately just going to go there. The really good ones are starting to see their stores as places to have their service centers, their education points, their experiences, they’re entertainment. They’re not places that people go to buy product and that’s the difference. That’s the core difference between the physical retailer of the future, the location is going to be a place where you go to learn and have fun. Not a place you go to pick something up.

That sounds simple when I say it, but when you think about the plumbing and the guts and the gore of retail, it all goes away if people don’t go to stores to buy things.

Roger:       Right. It probably goes without saying that just about every retail company needs to have … At least if they have a physical channel, they need an eCommerce channel. Actually I think you kind of make the point that eCommerce firms might be able to survive without a physical store presence, but that can actually be a big plus for them too, right?

Matthew Bertulli:    Yeah. Seeing the digital born guys all open stores, Warby Parker, Bonobos being the first ones I think to kind of make some noise. Andy Dunn does not get enough credit with what he pioneered with Bonobos where he took a digital born vertical commerce brand and selling men’s pants and started opening guide shops inside of Nordstrom’s, then ultimately standalone guide shops where you didn’t walk out with the product. You went in. You tried it on. You experienced it. You looked at things and then they ship you what you wanted home. He definitely does not get enough credit for really flipping the model on its head. I believe they also sold to Walmart. I think that is one type of new generation of physical experience that is driven by digital.

That was one of the core ideas when I sat down to write this book was like everything is going digital-first or should be digital-first, digital enabled. That’s why I don’t think retail is a terrible place to be. I think it’s a great industry to be getting into right now because there’s so much carnage. What was Warren Buffett famous for? When there’s blood in the streets, that’s when he jumps. There’s no other industry where the blood is more present than in retail and there’s huge opportunity.

Roger:       Right. Matthew, sort of the underlying theme of your book is that there needs to be a roadmap for your retail business, your digital and physical retail business. Folks are probably familiar with product roadmaps for anything from the iPhone to some software product they use where the plans are mapped out months and often years in advance. Sometimes different steps, “Okay. This is what’s going to go into the model seven and we can save the rest of that stuff for eight.” Explain how your roadmap concept works for a retailer.

Matthew Bertulli:    Yeah. It’s something that we’ve been practicing at Demac just with the way that we look at our own eCommerce clients and our own brands that we have, which is what we sell isn’t our product. It’s actually the business itself that’s the product. Since I’m a software engineer, I just naturally did things this way. I always looked at things like I plan six weeks and 12 weeks out all the time. I’ve got about a 12 to 24 month roadmap going all the time. I look at the business as something that I’m iterating and evolving just the same way that Apple does with an iPhone or Tesla does with their car or Shopify does with their software.

I think retailers and brands need to look at their businesses as the product, not the physical thing. By that I mean customers are sort of immune to product and brand loyalty now. Everything is going to the best experience for that customer for that niche. That means a bunch of different things depending on the product and the space that you’re in. If that’s true and everything is experience-first and digital-first because that’s where most people start everything these days, then retailers need to start acting like software companies and start planing away ahead in the features and the things that they offer where historically retailers, the only thing they think about is sales per linear square foot and expanding locations and being in the right spot, right?

Now they need to think about having the right experience at the right time and how to do that and work backwards. That’s why I think roadmaps need to be adopted broadly at all cost.

Roger:       Right. Matthew, I want you to give us a simple example of what a roadmap might look like.

Matthew Bertulli:    Yeah. I talk about this in the book. There’s been one site, one brand that we’ve been working with for a long time. It’s a good friend of mine. Ben Burmaster runs a company called Snuggle Bugz. They’re a 10 store retailer of baby gear and baby ware. Basically they serve a customer that is either newly pregnant all the way up to a two year old. It’s a very short window of time. I bring that up because the roadmap for this business, everything that we do in this business for the last decade is built entirely around this customer, down to the point where we are ruthless in choosing what we attack as a company. The example I use in the book is baby registry, which is a big driver for the business. It’s a good healthy portion of revenue comes out of the registry.

Anybody who’s had a kid that’s listening, you know what I’m talking about. When you find out your pregnant, you register for a bunch of stuff and people buy it for you. Registry early on drove a lot of the business, but as the company grew, registry became less and less of the overall business, but it was still an important part. There was a lot of stuff that we just needed to rebuild after about four or five years. We waited that long to do it because our roadmap always told us that it was not the lowest hanging impact area that we needed to go after. If I had unlimited funds and time, for sure. We would have done everything. As any entrepreneur knows, you always have a handful of constraints that you’re working within and in this industry, it’s just time and money.

It’s like anything else. We put registry off even though that thing was on fire for a few years. It really needed a rebuild and a redesign and a complete rethink about how people use registry. Because there was maybe a dozen or so other initiatives that would have an even bigger impact on the business and would set up and create a leverage point for registry to be even more successful when we rebuilt it. At one point we were looking at our roadmap where we’re saying like, “Man, customers really don’t like this registry. We need to rebuild it. We clearly have feedback from customers that this thing can be so much better.” We’re looking at a roadmap and Ben and I were like, “But we are atrocious on the email side of the business as well.”

We send out like a monthly newsletter. This was seven, eight years ago, right? We did nothing else with communicating with customers. What’s the point in rebuilding a registry if we don’t even have a really slick and automated and great experience for our customers to just received information from us. That would be pointless, right? They both needed to be done, but one was more important than the other.

Roger:       Right. I think a lot of particularly smaller businesses really don’t have much of a formal planning process. It’s like you fight fires as they come up. Sometimes that’s important. If you’ve got an actual fire, you’ve got to put it out. At the same time, your example is good because that more robust email system would not only have an immediate impact on current customers, but ultimately by the time you improve the registry, those new customers are going to be far more valuable to the company.

Matthew Bertulli:    Yeah. Yeah. I have a thousand examples where it’s never what needs to be done. There’s so much information out there of how to actually build a retail business or an eCommerce business. What nobody talks about is that it’s never the things that you do. It’s the order in which you do them, right? That’s why a roadmap is important because it forces you into a planning process where you think about the sequence of what you’re doing, right? Anybody who’s built a business and scaled it, when they look back, they’ll never turn around and say, “You know what the key to the whole thing was? Instagram.” Nobody says that, right? If you dig into it, they show you. It’s like, “Oh yeah. I did this, then I did this, then I did this,” and they walk you through the sequence.

It was never the components. It was always the order. You can do the same things in different order and get a very different result.

Roger:       Well, you talk about channels and channel proliferation. For starters, why don’t you explain what you mean by that, Matthew.

Matthew Bertulli:    Yeah. Yeah. It’s great. I mean in retial it’s been multichannel, omnichannel and there’s different definitions for everything, but really what it comes down to is customers are everywhere. That’s why the book is called Anything, Anywhere because the average … Your customer now can get anything they want anywhere they are. It’s not just a smartphone thing, right? It’s that the entire world around us, the physical world, is going to be lit up and allow us to purchase. If you’re in a restaurant and you want to buy the light fixture above the table that you’re sitting at, you will soon be able to do that, right? That’s where we’re going. That means that that restaurant was a channel for some other brand that sells that light fixture, right?

Where we are now is most of our channels are digital, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Instagram, that kind of stuff, and their stores.

Roger:       Back in Indiana we had a restaurant where the light fixtures actually were for sale and had price tags on them. They were clearly way ahead of the time.

Matthew Bertulli:    Yeah, they’re way ahead of it, but like hotel rooms even. Some hotels light by the beds and the pillows and the robes. I think it’s going to go much deeper than that. I think like everywhere you are, you’re going to have some kind of consumer experience because technology is allowing brands to be in a lot of different places all at once. Now we’re not doing it well yet. Most brands are just taking the same message and the same product and just blasting it out to all channels because we’re not quite there yet, but we’re definitely moving in that direction. Channels are currently a bit of a problem and that’s why the roadmap is really important because if you don’t sit down as a brand, as a merchant, and I am one so I know this, it’s easy to get distracted.

There’s a lot of places that I could sell my product. What I want to figure out and what I want is I want at least a bit of an idea, some kind of plan, that says that if I go into say Facebook, Facebook is going to tee me up as a channel to allow me very quickly to enter Instagram. Then secondly, Facebook’s going to give me an acquisition platform so that I can build a bigger email channel. Then my email channel is going to let me … Once I get really good in my email as a channel for sales and service, I can then go and then maybe enter Amazon marketplace because now I can do an even bigger volume and I had better automation for email.

Most companies right now if you talk to them, like most startups that are entering the physical world, physical goods, they’ll tell you right away the first thing they’re doing is going on Amazon. Why? Because there’s lots of customers and sales. They have no infrastructure in their business to support that. They’ve burned that flame out really quickly. I think channels are a fantastic to go in a roadmap purely because they create so much leverage if you do them in the right order.

Roger:       Kind of reminds me, sometime back we had Gabe Weinberg on the show. He wrote the book Traction, which was very focused … It’s a great book. Its key insight is that when you’re doing a startup, there are probably 20 different ways you can market your business, but you really need to figure out which one is going to give you the biggest, fastest payback and start there and only then branch out to the others. Instead of what many businesses do is like immediately say, “Okay. Well, we’re going to put a little bit of money into 10 different channels,” where some are obviously going to have better ROI than the others. You focus on the one that’s going to do the most for you right out of the gate and then expand from there.

Then I think you build on that too in saying that there is a particular order that will make sense for some channels, where doing one before the other will have sort of a multiplier impact.

Matthew Bertulli:    It’s not just like which one is going to give you the most marketing impact. There’s so many entrepreneurs now because that was … There was a forced entrepreneurship wave out of the last financial crisis, right? Companies like Shopify make it really easy to be an entrepreneur, like to start. What I think is missing is not just like yes, you can get a lot of return out of something like a Facebook, but look at yourself and look at your team and ask like, “Is that actually the right channel for us? Do we have the expertise and the people and the tools, the systems to even be there? Could it be the highest return channel? Maybe, but is it the right first one for us? Maybe not.” Right? I look at Amazon as that perfect example.

Amazon as a marketplace is an incredible channel for sales, but anybody that sold there will tell you that of all the things that Amazon is great at, providing tools to its sellers is not one of them.

Roger:       Well, it’s kind of a dangerous thing too because they of course have all your data. If you seem to be too successful, they can then perhaps knock off your product.

Matthew Bertulli:    Well, they do that. They actively do that. That’s the Amazon Basics brand of product is their own … There’s like 26 or 2,700 SKUs in there now. If you look at the products, they’re clearly their just own version of something that already exists.

Roger:       How important are people in this process? I referenced being back in Indiana, we had a couple of big retailers there, mostly a mail order, but also a physical presence. One was the Woodwind & Brasswind who I think became the biggest musical instrument sales company in the country. They ran into some problems along the way with that growth, but then there’s also the Tire Rack, which is still very successful and I think is probably the biggest online or mail order tire seller in the country. Two huge operations. They were both a lot smaller then, but they both had retail stores in the area. One thing that really surprised me was they had one thing in common.

Obviously very different businesses, but the folks who worked in the music retail store, all of them were professional musicians. If you went in and your kid is interested in taking up the drums, hopefully some other instrument like the flute, but if you have a question about drums, they actually had somebody there who could answer it with great authority. What Tire Rack did was, particular even for their phone reps, they had this contest. They wanted their phone reps not just to be tire experts, but car experts. When someone called in and say, “Hey, I’ve got a particular model of Porsche,” the rep would know, “Oh yeah. There’s just an article in Road & Track about that. Yeah. Cool car.” Be very knowledgeable.

They ended up both growing like crazy. It seems to me that that’s something that whether you’re digital or physical retail, that is one way you can differentiate yourself from the bigger players who were never going to have that level of expertise.

Matthew Bertulli:    Yeah. You just nailed a really, really important point that I think when you look at the retailers, this retail apocalypse, and you think like why are these guys failing, they’re so big, I mean just ask have you been into one of their stores lately and talked to one of their employees? Most department stores and most big box retailers, their staff is far from knowledgeable. Most of them are just employed, very transient, very temporary workers that stock shelves and man cash registers. The retail experience, at least in my opinion, has gone way downhill in a store from when I was a kid. I remember going into some of these stores with my father or going into a local hardware store and my dad would ask anybody in that store any question and got answers, right?

What do I need? Where do I get it? Do I need this type of light bulb or this one? Is it this hammer or this thing? They could tell you. You go in there now and it’s a 15 year old kid who just got the job and doesn’t have a damn clue about anything in there, right? There’s a whole bunch of reasons why this has happened. If you’re a retailer right now and you want to compete with the big guys, you can do that. You can compete on inspiration. You can compete on discovery, right? People go to Amazon when they know what they want. People go to a store for the experience and often people who are in stores, they don’t really know what they want. That is an opportunity to teach and to sell, right?

In your examples, it sounds like they are doing that, right? Is that they put a lot of effort into creating really great people.

Roger:       Yeah. I’m not sure if either is still doing it. Both brands still exist. Sometimes with growth you lose that razor focus. Hopefully they are.

Matthew Bertulli:    Cosmo Music up here is. That’s one of the examples in the book is they’re a big 55,000 square foot music store in Toronto. Their staff is incredibly knowledgeable. If you’re a musician, this place is Disney. They teach you and they show you and you can demo stuff. It’s like the Pirch for music supply and they do well because of that.

Roger:       It’s probably a great industry to try and hire knowledgeable people because most of them are either marginally employed, working at night. Wow. A day job that pays money and I can get to play around with all these instruments. Perfect. To wrap up, Matthew, I’m sure at least a few of our listeners have heard about Bulletproof Coffee and that’s one of the stories in your book. Why don’t you explain that story?

Matthew Bertulli:    I met Dave Asprey at an event called Mastermind Talks three years ago. It’s an interesting product because when you look at Bulletproof Coffee, most people they know the blog and they know the podcast and they know that there’s like this whole … This Bulletproof, like this blended coffee thing, right? When you look at what Dave has done with this company, he has moved brilliantly. That company and obviously Dave doesn’t do it all. It’s a pretty big company now. They’ve moved brilliantly and they even have stores now, right? They moved brilliantly between channels and created leverage. It started with his blog that gets a tremendous amount of traffic and then they started to sell the product and then they went into Amazon.

They’ve been everywhere. It’s got great PR. They’re influencers. They sell in so many channels. They expanded the product line. They opened up a physical store in Santa Monica that was all experience focused and even to the point now where like depending on the events you go to, Bulletproof Coffee is often at entrepreneur focused events.

Roger:       That’s right. I’ve experienced it.

Matthew Bertulli:    That’s a channel, man. How brilliant is that? Their target customer is somebody who is really interested in peak performance and high performance and is always looking and wanting to learn and just personal improvement. Where better place to get those customers, right? I think as a company, I look at them as a non obvious retail brand. They monetize through product. They monetize a bunch of different ways, but the products they sell just is not their business. Their business is Bulletproof, right? That’s the brand. They put out a lot of information and one way they monetize that is through the physical stuff in lots of channels. It’s a great example of modern day commerce brand that I think in the entrepreneur world get some attention.

I wish that more of the retail and commerce world would pay attention to what Bulletproof has done because it’s a good template.

Roger:       Great. Well, that’s probably a good way to wrap the show. Let me remind our listeners that we’re speaking with Matthew Bertulli, author of Anything, Anywhere: The Future of Retail and How to Build a Digital-First Roadmap to Growth. Matthew, how can people find you online?

Matthew Bertulli:    I’ll keep it really simple. I have a personal domain. Matt, M-A-T-T, Bertulli, B-E-R-T-U-L-L-I, dot com. It links out to all the internet stuff, so Twitter, Instagram, Demac Media, Pela Case, the book. Anything that is me digitally goes there.

Roger:       Great. Okay. Just jumping back to the Pela Case for a minute, did you say compostable iPhone case?

Matthew Bertulli:    Yeah.

Roger:       Okay. I dint know that was a thing. Spend a couple seconds and explain why somebody would want to one of those. Does it dissolve in your pocket or no?

Matthew Bertulli:    No. Actually that’s probably the most popular question we get. It’s made out of bioplastic and flax shive, which we have a lot of in Saskatchewan, Canada. The average person replaces their phone every year to two years. Plastic waste we know is a problem. The founder of this business, Jeremy, was on vacation in I think Hawaii and he noticed a lot of plastic on the beach and the reason is that plastic just doesn’t go anywhere. It stays in the planet for like thousands of years. He’s in an environment engineer. He came up with this material and his first product that he used the material to make was an iPhone case and I thought it was cool. I met him at Mastermind Talks. I acquired half the company two years ago to help build this brand.

What it is, yes, it’s an iPhone case. It is entirely compostable, which means that if you’re done with it in two years, rather than throw it out, you can throw it in your backyard and compost and it will literally just decompose, which means zero waste. The people who are buying it right now … What I love about the brand and I’m trying to build it, eating my own dog food, which is like we’ve built it for a very vocal and extreme group of people who want to protect and do better for the planet, which happens to be a very large group of people and a growing group of the world. The brand has taken off. It’s gone from zero to seven figure brand in 12 months. It’s unreal.

Roger:       Great. Well, there’s another good story for people to follow and emulate. We will link to all those places including the case business and to any other resources we mentioned during our conversation on the show notes page at I have a text version of our conversion there too. Matthew, thanks for being on the show.

Matthew Bertulli:    Thanks for having me. It’s been tons of fun.

Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Brainfluence Podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at


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