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Thought Leaders in E-Commerce: Jimmy Duvall, Chief Product Officer of BigCommerce (Part 5)

Posted on Saturday, Jul 27th 2019

Sramana Mitra: What about logistics? That must be another area where Amazon is a player that you have to interface with.

Jimmy Duvall: Absolutely. They help our retailers handle logistics and fulfillment. It is part of what is this integration that we have with Amazon around the marketplace. It’s a value-add for our customers in many ways.

Amazon is pretty restrictive, in many ways, about who they allow to do what. Obviously for the larger customers that have volume, those logistics and fulfillment capabilities are really core.

Sramana Mitra: Amazon, itself, seems to be launching an e-commerce platform for the low end of e-commerce merchants. How does that play? Is that in direct competition with Shopify?

Jimmy Duvall: This is an interesting thing. It’s really not an e-commerce platform. It’s a way to help the smaller businesses have some real estate that’s within Amazon’s domain. Amazon is looked at as the big gorilla that’s killing small businesses.

How does Amazon give those brands a bit more of a branded experience? It’s really just Amazon’s marketplace. It’s trying to create a bit more of a smaller retailer home within the Amazon marketplace.

What Amazon is not doing is providing a commerce platform for small businesses to run on their own off of Amazon business. That’s the core of BigCommerce. It can seem as if it’s in direct competition but it really is very much Amazon just trying to create a marketplace destination for some of these smaller brands where they don’t get lost.

Sramana Mitra: I see. What you’re saying is this strategy from Amazon is not necessarily a competitive threat to Shopify; it’s complementary?

Jimmy Duvall: I think it is. Some people would argue that you don’t even need your own website. That’s just hype speak. The reality is, if you are a retailer of products, you probably exist because you have a story to tell, you have a value that you add to the consumer that’s purchasing.

If you become transparent in that equation, then Amazon is the only answer. That’s now how consumers want to shop. Content is a great example where you may get your customer first on Amazon. How are you going to get them in a repeated way?

I’m certainly not a small business owner myself. I got this new smoke detector replacement in my house. It came from Amazon, but it was from a small retailer. You know what that retailer did in the box? They created an incredible experience for me with a card saying, “Thank you for purchasing from us. We are a small business. We are headquartered in Milwaukee. We would love to continue to do business with you.”

I now know who that company is and the service level I know I can get from them is such that I will go back to them. A lot of the trend in commerce, from a consumer standpoint, is trying to create and find those vendors that you can relate with. It’s harder and harder to do that within a giant marketplace by Amazon.

Of course, I’m going to buy my commodity products there, but the moment you think, “Do I really need to research this?” You’re not going to do that very well on Amazon. Amazon does need to create a bit more of that experiential component. That’s what they’re trying to do with some of the smaller retailers.

Sramana Mitra: The point of view that you presented is that there is Amazon, there is a role for Shopify, BigCommerce in the middle. Beyond that, the very large retailers are using one of the enterprise systems from Oracle or Salesforce. That’s the ecosystem map that you have spoken of.

What is the floor for your mid-market definition? You said it’s in the sub-$200 million revenue level. What is the starting revenue level for your customer base?

Jimmy Duvall: Our sweet spot is in the $1 million to $50 million range. It’s where we believe there is a tremendous amount of market need for our platform. That being said, we have a substantive business in the, “I’m doing a thousand dollars to under a million.”

We realized that Shopify has done a really good job marketing a mass market e-commerce platform to that base. We believe when those customers are growing, they need added flexibility. Shopify has got a great ecosystem but it’s also closed. You get penalized if you don’t use Shopify payments and other sorts of things.

For us, we believe that openness and that ecosystem is a better answer. We’re seeing so much of that in the mid-market space. Yet not to be confused, we have a phenomenal business in the more fledgling businesses.

They’ve got real business problems that they want to solve. They need a platform that’s going to be there with them. We service that customer base in a very open and transparent way.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in E-Commerce: Jimmy Duvall, Chief Product Officer of BigCommerce
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