Get to Know an Ecommerce Insider: John Lawson of ColderICE

Today we’re kicking off a new segment on the Ecommerce Outtakes blog. We’ll be interviewing ecommerce industry insiders, and giving you the scoop.

For the first interview in this series, I spoke with John Lawson, an ecommerce consultant, speaker, and manager of the ColderICE blog. He told me all about what ecommerce topics are hot right now, why he’s excited about mobile, and which online retailers are doing things right. Here’s our conversation (edited for length).

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Sasha: As a fellow blogger, I’m curious to know more about your blog and what your strategy has been.

John: When I first started the blog, it was very cathartic for me. It was really just to get out there, and if I wanted to say something, then just say it, you know? So ColderICE started off as a personality, John Lawson, and now it’s become more of a landing page. And it’s really captured a lot of imagination I guess, because the amount of traffic we have seen since I made that change, has tripled. I was prepared to have half as many people watch, and I ended up having three times as much, so I think that’s pretty cool.

Another thing too is that curated content has made such a blast in the last, I’d say 18 months. I mean, if you’d talked to me two years ago about the curation of content, I would have been like, “Nah that’s not a good idea; Google wouldn’t like it, people wouldn’t like it.” But now, especially with the interest that Pinterest ended up having–which is nothing but curated crap, nobody creates a Pinterest page, but they all think they have one!–I think the bad feeling people might have about curated content has dissipated. Now it’s kind of like the cool thing to do.

S: What are the big, hot topics that you’ve been coming across in your curation lately?

J: You know, it’s kind of weird, but after all this time, it’s still the same topic. It’s always SEO. Always! And also it’s often the lower-level, beginner topics. People are still attracted to the how-to’s and the “5 keys to doing X.” But SEO… You can start a topic on how to get yourself found on Google and people will listen.

“What they’re trying to do with a thumb is totally different than what we were trying to do with a keyboard. It requires a different strategy and different mindset.”

S: These may not necessarily be the big topics, but what are the things that you’re most excited about?

J: I think I’m most excited about mobile. It is one of the big topics, but it’s not being pieced apart yet. It’s almost like totally new territory. I’m not really seeing people who are driving the conversation to “How do we really capture the viewers and the buyers from the ecommerce perspective with some new and fresh viewpoints?”

I think all we’re really doing is assuming that the same people we talk to on the desktop are the same people we’re trying to capture on mobile, and I really don’t know if that’s the exact same crowd. One thing I do know is that people that might be mostly mobile might not even have a desktop. So a lot of the strategies that we used during the days of desktop I think need to be reevaluated for our new mobile audience. What they’re trying to do with a thumb is totally different than what we were trying to do with a keyboard. It requires a different strategy and different mindset. I’m not seeing as much of that as I would  like to see in the blogger space.

S: On the flip side of that, what would you say is your ecommerce pet peeve? What’s on your hit list?

J: You know I just get so sick of people complaining about their customers. We all hate our customers, I get that. You love them, but you hate them, because they bring you the cash, and they also bring you the problems and issues. This is pretty key to a lot of the eBay and marketplace kind of sellers, because they feel a little disconnected from their customers. I think it’s because Ebay or Amazon is in the middle. Some of the time, you get throwback from a customer based on an experience that they’ve had with either another seller of a similar product, or even the platform itself in the case of Amazon. You have to learn to love those customers… Sort of like your children. They kind of poop on themselves, but you still love ’em!

“I know just setting up shop and expecting people to come is no longer enough.”

S: On the blog, we talk about sites we love, and sites we don’t love, so I’m just curious to know who’s on your radar. Who’s doing things right at the moment?

J: I mean, Amazon is constantly one to watch, because they change that page probably every day. I don’t think people recognize the nuances of how they’re pushing things forward. Facebook is doing some amazing things with its tool as they probably are eyeing ways to sell more. I can see they’re ready to sell stuff, and really are ready turn that into more of a marketplace. So those kind of things are exciting for me right now.

The social discovery field of shopping is very exciting. I got to speak with some of the people that are leading things, like Wanelo and shops like that. Fab, even though they’ve gotten hit with some of the changes on the social side, just the thought of how they are selling basically in email. It’s really fascinating, and I think that is part of the new wave of commerce, it really is.

S: I will admit, the Fab emails definitely got me hooked, but I’m not opening as many of them anymore. They changed the format, and it lost a little bit for me personally.

J: This is another thing we’re dealing with, is that our methods seem to have a shelf life. If you look just before the Fab thing, you go back to the Groupon thing. And that just fell apart! So I don’t know if that’s part of the new cycle of technology, if everybody is just gravitating towards the new, or… I don’t know. It’s kind of interesting. But I know just setting up shop and expecting people to come is no longer enough.

You can catch  up with John every Wednesday at his Hump Day Hangouts! Click below to reserve your spot:

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  1. Posted September 3, 2013 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    Great interview John! On topic, not to mention the cutting edge, as always!

  2. Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Great point by John about the difference in behavior & mindset from the mobile user versus the desktop/laptop user. Adding mobile-specific value, with proper linking to ecommerce platforms, is going to be a big differentiation in the 2nd half of the year!

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