Secrets to Success in B2B Ecommerce with Sana Commerce

Join us for our latest podcast episode with special guest Mike Brenneman, VP of Sales & Business Development at Sana Commerce. In this episode, Mike shares valuable insights on revolutionizing your B2B e-commerce strategies by prioritizing relationships over transactions, creating hyper-personalized stores, and leveraging the latest technology like 3D imagery and AR integrations.

Are you ready to learn how to revolutionize your B2B e-commerce strategies and achieve success in today's competitive market? In this episode of our podcast, we have a special guest, Mike Brenneman, VP of Sales & Business Development at Sana Commerce, who shares his insights on the power of prioritizing relationships over transactions, creating hyper-personalized stores tailored to buyers and vendors, and leveraging the latest developments in technology like 3D imagery and AR integrations.

Some of our favorite key takeaways from the show:

Sana Commerce is a leading e-commerce platform that empowers manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers to build lasting relationships with their customers. By making your SAP or Microsoft Dynamics ERP and e-commerce work seamlessly together, Sana Commerce eliminates system silos and unnecessary complexities that are often caused by mainstream e-commerce solutions. To learn more visit Sana Commerce.


Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Now they've got my email address. Now I'm on their mail list and I've been buying from them for years. And so it goes back to the tag line that we have, right? It's not about the, the transaction, it's about the relationship. So how do you use all of these different marketplaces or different strategies to, you know, to drive the relationship? And that to me is omnichannel.
Ryzeo: Welcome to the Heroes of Ecommerce Podcast, hosted by Russell Miller of Ryzeo. On this show, we speak to ecommerce business owners and leaders, the unsung heroes, taking their industry by storm. Tune in as we share success stories and discuss ecommerce ideas to take your business to the next level. So let's dive in.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: Hey everybody. This is Russell Miller, General Manager of Ryzeo. I am super excited to have Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce with us today. Mike, it is great to have you on the show.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Great to be here. Thank you, Russell.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: For those of you who don't know about it yet, Sana is one of the biggest names in B2B e-commerce, and we're very lucky to have Mike with us on the show. Before we get into Sana, I thought it'd be great to have, uh, introduce Mike. And Mike. Could you tell us a little bit more about, your story and, and, how you came to be at Sana?

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yeah. yeah, so I, it's funny, I, when I, when I graduated college, I sold new homes for a little while and then, I got my insurance licenses and I did financial planning and, and, and also had my securities licenses.
And then, You know, I, it's, interesting. when the real estate market crashed and I was selling new homes, lost my job, you know, we bottomed out. I decided I need to get into something that's kind of recession proof. And I knew nothing about technology whatsoever. Like I, there's a printer, there's a firewall.
I had a laptop. I had no clue like what went into software development and. You know, it just, but, but I, I, my father had told me it's very recession proof. And so I thought, cool, I'll try that out. So I got a job working for a professional services company, and just started off in insight sales, banging phones, 80 to a hundred phone calls a day.
started learning about ERP and CRM and virtualization and, you know, everything that goes on behind the scenes from a technology standpoint at a business. And it just fascinated me. Nice. So, Got into the Microsoft Dynamics side of the business, in 2012. And, that was kind of my, my first, first time really working closely with, for an I S V, in, you know, yep.
integrated software vendor integrated into, Microsoft E R P and then, ended up. Later on co-founding my own SAS startup company, a company called Four iq Professional Services Automation Software. Mm-hmm. Then sold e r P and then ended up at Sana. which, yeah. So I've been here for about four and a half years now and, and head of sales for, north America.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: That is an impressive story. All the way from nothing to founding your own. You know, company then joining one of the, one of the...

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: It failed. It failed quickly. So this not too exciting, but I learned a lot and it failed.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: No, it always is. yeah. What, so, so getting into, into Sana, what is it, you know, for our customers and we have a lot of like B2B customers, tell us about Sana. Like, you know, let's assume like no one's heard of it before. Who it's for and kind of what it does and who your kind of customers are.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Sure. So I think, I think it helps to paint a little bit of the company history. Yeah. And you know, we're a, we're a Dutch company. We're based out of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
And, Europe is, widely known for its huge adoption of Microsoft dynamics. n a V or no vision. which now today is called Business Central, but for, you know, for years was bus, was Nivision. And we were actually born out of, another company called the I S M E Group. And the I S M E group, had an organization that was, specializing in magenta.
Implementations. Got it. And so we were building all of these custom bespoke magenta implementations and then our, and then our customers at the time started asking, can you integrate into dynamic nav? Mm-hmm. so we messed around with building some connectors and, you know, passing some data back and forth and quickly realized, we're missing the mark.
And, and there's a unique opportunity and, and a niche there. So we, we, we built Sana back in 2007, and when we built Sana, we built Sana with the intention of flipping the,traditionally commerce in the architecture of it completely on its head. and I'm, I'm going. Do you have a question?
No, no. That sounds interesting. Yeah, I like that. Yes. I'll, I'll use a silly analogy. you know, there's a hundreds of shopping cart solutions out there and companies that have been doing really well on the B2C side, you know, for decades now. But,I'll call, I'll refer to those now and probably throughout the course of the, the session today as mainstream commerce solutions.
Yeah. and it's almost like if you're gonna go build a house, going the route of, of most of those more mainstream solutions is like trying to build the roof of the house first. so I've got 10,000 skews or products. I go build out all of my product pages, I build out the website, but then I'm stuck trying to figure out how the heck do I frame this back down to the foundation.
Right? And the foundation that runs your business is your e R P software. So, When we build Sana, we flip the architecture completely on its head. We're gonna, we say we're gonna build it from the foundation up. and so, as a result, you know, we get all of the, the and, and B2B companies, specifically have very complex logic, right?
If you and I want to buy the same. Bathing suit, I'm gonna pay the same price that you are unless you have a coupon code that I don't know about. when it comes to b2b, you've got, blanket orders, you've got trade agreements, you've got quotes, you've got orders. You've gotta convert those quotes to orders.
You've got discount tiers, discount percentages, right? There's a lot of complex data, you know, and how. Yeah. So, you know, our, our tagline is prioritize relat, relationships, not just the transaction. And what we mean by that is, you know, the companies that we work with on average have been in business for 20 plus years, some over a hundred.
that's a long time to build and foster relationships, right? Mm-hmm. and the last thing that. You want to do is decide, Hey, we're gonna move on this e-commerce train that all of the customers are starting to ask for. And, take what has worked so well, you know, in, in, offline. yeah. And now all of a sudden you go online, but you're giving them a worse experience because, It's not capable of handing, handling the ways you know that they've been buying from you.
and, so we see a lot of failed implementations, for that reason. And so, you know, that's, that's really the, you heard the tagline and now you know the part, you know, the market. It's really focused heavily on, on b2b, due to the complex nature of those companies.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: I think that is so interesting because, you know, you do think about it, b2b.
Interaction. There are so many more moving parts. They probably have a longer, more established relationship. And like if you just try to jam that into a normal, direct to consumer e-commerce site, they're like, Hey, where do I, you know, this doesn't match what I've done for years and years. Maybe they get angry.
it, it seems like you could lead, to a lot of, like, a lot of issues. and especially it seems like it might be difficult if like you've gone through the trouble and expense of implementing, you know, really complex c r p, like, you know, Microsoft's and, now it doesn't hook up. To your front end, like you could run into like inventory matches, mismatches, and Yeah.
Probably a bunch of other big problems.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yes, sir. Absolutely. yeah. Outselling your inventory. yeah, yeah. Or, or lost orders. Where'd to go? You know, that's, yeah. It what customers want. Is transparency, right? And as we take a look at the shift, you know, three years ago, it's all about availability. How much, how much can I buy?
How much is right? With supply chain issues? Now we've seen a shift towards attp available to promise, right? Even if I can't. If I can't get the goods today, you know? Yeah, I understand. Because it's a supply chain thing, it's not the vendor. Right. it's, but, you know, I want transparency. I want to know if I go to three different competitor sites, you know, what's the soonest, you know, available to promise date, when can they get the goods?
And then as that fluctuates, if it does, you know, that they're being transparent, that they're being proactive, you know, so that, you know, I don't have any surprises that are gonna, cause any hiccups in my business to. My customers that I'm delivering to.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: Yeah. I think,probably for a lot of our listeners, COVID has exposed a lot of like supply chain issues and it's probably super important, especially among B2B to make sure they are transparent with their buyers about what's realistic.
Yeah. to that end, you know, it'll be super interesting if you could maybe just tell us about, you know, some recent customers you've talked with, you know, kind of what's going on since they're kind of the. You know, the, the, the eyes and ears of the, of the company.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Sure. So, like trends or some of the,

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: you know, just like a story of a customer you've been working with or something recently.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Sure. well, well, I've got a couple in mind. One, On the, coattails of talking about that level of transparency. I've got an interesting one. Mm-hmm. and, and this is actually a couple of years old, even before Covid, but, there's one time in the four and a half years that I've been with Sana that, I closed the deal without even doing a demo or the customer overseeing the product.
Mm-hmm. and it was about a one week sales cycle and it was a, there was a, there's a. Structural engineering and manufacturing company, that was German based, but had of US operations and, their largest customer. They sold workplace solutions for manufacturing floors like Tesla, Google, Lockheed Martin, big customers.
And they came to us and, There was quite a bit of pain there. Tesla had left them, and Tesla had actually gone to one of their distributors, so they were still buying the same product, but the distributor was actually charging twofold. For it. And Tesla was happy to pay for, you know, the additional expense because of the experience and because of the transparency really, where the manufacturer didn't have a way of, of, of, you know, selling online, the distributor did.
and you know, the time that it took to process the orders was faster. They were more transparent. They could go online, they could see the shipping dates, they could. You know, they, they could sleep at night knowing that when they ordered something, when it was gonna be arriving, and, so much better experience.
Interestingly enough, yeah. So they bought Sana without ever seeing a demo.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: They're just like, we need, we're, we don't wanna be. We don't wanna lose that direct relationship.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yeah. and so we took them live, they did end up getting Tesla back. they ended up seeing, quarter over quarter quarter revenue increases for at least six quarters in a row.
And then I think we stopped keeping track a little bit for a while there cuz they were kind of off the ground and running with us. But, one of the most interesting things that I heard in an interview with their c e O and our c e o not long after was a. You guys were the reason that we could sleep at night because of the tight integration to the e R P system.
We could trust the process, right? And our customers aren't to trust the process. And the other thing that was really cool, and with b2b it's all about, it's all about hyper-personalization, right? Not every customer is treated the same as we already talked about with contracts and pricing. Not every customer buys the same.
Products, you know, so in some cases you need to tailor the web store so that when they log in, you know, they see what's pertinent to them. one of the, the things that, that this organization was doing is, When they, when they manufactured a new, you know, workbench or, solution for Tesla in, Northern California, they would, create a customer segment within their web store so that. Whenever somebody else from Tesla in upstate New York or another manufacturing, location logged in, yeah, they saw that solution. It was promoted on the first page, and every single time they'd log in, they'd go, I need that. That's exactly what I need. It's like they read my mind. and so they're upsell, cross-sell, just absolutely skyrocketed.
and so for them it wasn't necessarily about growing the customer base, it was about creating retention, and it was about creating. upsell, cross-sell, and really, you know, generating more revenue out of the customers that they had. but interest, I don't know. Interesting story for those that haven't doven into e-commerce yet, or made that leap, you know, our, our buyers, our buyers are getting younger and younger and, they're expecting that online experience there.
There's a lot of.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: Yeah, I wanna hold on that for a minute cuz there's, I think, a lot of interesting pieces to tease out. So it sounds like Tesla had maybe multiple buyers. There wasn't just one correct purchaser, but that, this, this company was unable to create essentially, a custom storefront for Tesla with like the.
The kind of products that they thought thought would be best.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yeah, they had nothing. I mean, they published an annual catalog, you know, yeah. Print, email,

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: one of those giant, like two inch thick ones that comes every quarter.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yeah. Yep. And you know, Tess would pick up the phone or they'd send an email and they'd.
You know, they'd say, I need this. and, you know, then it was a manual process to enter the order into the e r P system. And, in the meantime, you know, unless communication is a hundred percent, you know, if somebody's outta the office sick, what if they're, what if they're out? What if they're, you know, is no availability.
you know, the order. Get stuck in the process for three, four, or five days. They don't know if it's been processed, if it's, you know, shipping yet. so really, yeah, the, the lack of having an online portal, an online presence and, and that level of transparency is what led Tesla to go to their distributor and pay two times as much money for the same product.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: And yet, when this company then implemented this, this sort of, this, you know, sun as e-commerce solution, I thought it was, so I impressive they were able to kind of like ramp their e-commerce sales so much.
were they, did they do a lot of active promotion or was it just the, their customers just finding it much easier to kind of, You know, work with them?

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Well, I, I, that's a good question. I, I don't know the answer to that because after they went live, they got turned over to a customer success manager. And I didn't follow the, the entire story after that and, and where it went. But, you know, one of the things that we guide our customers to is, and, and we created something that we call Sana Success Track.
Every company's different. Uhhuh, they come to e-commerce for different reasons. right. But there's about 12 or so main themes that we see with every customer, ranging from what we just mentioned with this organization, where I want to, you know, retain my customers and I want to generate more upsell, cross-sell opportunities or more revenue from them, versus a company who's been selling B2B and is now going direct to consumer and wants to work on SEO and brand awareness and, and, you know, convert more customers online.
Right? we take. You know that,we, we show 'em the 12 or so paths, ask 'em which one resonates the most, which one is their, you know, their top priorities. It's better to choose about two at a time and really focus on those and then move on to more. and, and then, you know, start working with them on best practices.
One of the things that we always say, mm-hmm. and it's interesting, I always tell our customers, you know, this is a project that happens with you, not to you. Yeah. but then after I've said that at some point later on, I have to. Ask 'em to remember back to that, like, when you deliver this to your customer, it's not something that should happen to them, it should happen with them.
Right? Right. So it's, you know, if you are just shooting out a mass email notification that says, you know, Hey, good news, we have a web store. Here's your temporary credentials. Log in, have at it. Right? You're probably missing the mark. how many people are reading their emails? What I would do is I would have a salesperson follow up with a phone call, and we've got the analytics on, you know, who's, who's. validated their store account, changed their credentials, who's been poking around in the web store or place an order. So leverage those analytics. Look at what you know, who's not coming to the store. Pick up the phone, call them. heck create a template, of the or, or a list of the items that you know that they buy on a particular frequency.
And walk 'em through it and show them the list that you've created so that it's it. With b2b it's about ease of use, right? They want, right. Two or three. Two or three clicks, reorder, get in, get out, move on. Right. and so, you know, it's really about, you know, adaption, you can't just expect it. You have to work towards it in some cases.
And, my guess is that the company I was referring to, you know, probably did a, a good job of that. But they also had customers that were yearning for it, that were asking for.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: It wanted really that experience and probably, you know, maybe the, maybe the, the people doing the, the ordering where on the younger side definitely wanted something. It was more hassle-free. You didn't want to have to talk to anybody, just, you know, a real nice interface. They can log in and like reorder the same things. But going to what you said, it seems like there, there's also. People want sort of high touch when they want it, you know?

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yeah.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: They can, they can reach. okay, cool. Let's move on to another one. Is there another like sort of, I don't know. Any customers you talked in the last couple years really stuck out as like, you really liked working with them or they had an interesting story?

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: One of my favorite stories to tell. you guys have heard of,tiger King, Joe, exotic?
Probably. Yeah. I assume. and I think I'm safe to tell this story because the gentleman that I'm gonna talk about is, is not very prone to technology. but there's, there used to be a company called. Cold steel. Cold steel was acquired, by,a company, a holding company that had 35 different, like outdoor and sporting brands.
Mm-hmm. and so they don't use Sana anymore. but when cold steel came to us and, and, The owner of the company, Lynn Thompson, at the time, lived out on a ranch in Oxnard, California, and kind of a wild man. He's got millions of YouTube followers if you look,on YouTube. he's a master marksman.
He's a famous hunter. He's a martial arts expert, and they, they make exotic weapons. They make blow guns, they make,katana blades, samurai swords, like, whoa, crazy, crazy stuff. And fascinating. If you go to their, if you go to their warehouse, In, in Oxnard, there is a line that will wrap around the building on the weekends.
and people wait in line to take their turn with these weapons to just like annihilate old vans and stuff that are beat up and not in use. We're kind of like those anger rooms that you've seen people go in, like bash stuff. so, you know, they, they build, they build some energy around it, but, And it's kind of interesting too, cause I'll, I'll never forget when he was getting ready to sign, he had all the heads of the animals, you know, that he's hunted in, in, in the background on his wall.
And he told me if we messed up the project, I'd be the next one on the, on his wall. But, they had a really interesting use case. they were on magenta, and magenta one. Yeah. magenta one had sunset. And, there was a end of support about 30 days from when they came into the picture with us. And when that, when that support ended, they were gonna lose p c I compliance.
So there was a, an epic and dire need there to get live with something fast. they were moving off of Microsoft Dynamics GP to Business Central and they had some interesting use cases though. They, they sold to. they sold to, direct to consumer, they sold through distributors, and they also sold to the police in the military.
and they had a bunch of different web stores that tailored, you know, were tailored to the different audiences and the channels that they sold to. and one of the, the problems in having to move everything in 30 days was we've got all of these different web stores tied to all these different channels and the amount of content in the, and so, Because of our, our deep integration into the E R P, and the ability to create customer assortments and customer segments.
Mm-hmm. obviously the military or a particular department has a completely different set of skews, that are available to them than the public does. Right. We were actually able to get 'em live in 30 to 40 days, and we were able to consolidate it down into one web store. that, that way when somebody logs in, they've got.
Their skews, their catalog, their, you know, and so all these different channels consolidated down to one. but I just like telling that story because Lynn Thompson is a, is a, it seems like an interesting character. Yeah. Yeah. And blow guns by the way Wow. Are illegal in California. so much so that you can't even store them.
And they have a warehouse here in Arizona where I am. Mm-hmm. that they have to ship the blow guns out of. So it's funny, I always love learning these little, like little interstate. Yeah. I.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: When I was, I was working with a company, a couple years back and we had an issue with Google Shopping and it led to learning that like every, you know, not only every state, but like different cities could have different sales tax.
Mm-hmm. Somehow that all had to come together.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: And the level

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: of stuff that's under the hood that you don't necessarily think about when you're buying something. You know what that, that thing you order with Clex, like how that has to get to you and what has to happen is just Yeah.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Well let's, let's drive that into the ground a little bit cuz that's a good point.
And this is where B2C and b2b, and the types of solutions that have been built are diff, are, are way different. So this is one of the reasons why when a company that is heavily B2B goes try to try to stand up, you know, A Shopify or a Magenta, or a BigCommerce or a WooCommerce and mainstream solution, you know, they run into challenges because you end up having to rebuild.
All of the complex logic that drives those rules that you're just talking about Yeah. That are already native in the e r p that you've invested money into implementing, you have to rebuild all of that out on the web. and so, you know, that's one of the things that's a little bit unique about, so mm-hmm.
When I, if, if I'm, if I'm. In a Sana web store and I go to checkout, I've, I've hit the shopping cart, I go to, you know, hit order or checkout. We already have created a temporary sales order in the e r p behind the scenes in order to trigger the order lines, just as if it were being hand keyed into the e R P system.
So, Tax, special shipping and handling costs, hazardous material costs, whatever might be, you know, pertinent to your business. Yeah. that's already set up in the e R P is real time calculated in the basket, in the shopping cart, in the checkout procedure, right online. So you're never dealing with estimates, you're always dealing with actuals.
and, and then we delete. The temporary sales order behind the scenes just as quick as we create it. And then when the order's actually placed, we create the open order in real time in the e r P system. But everything that you just mentioned there, there's a lot going on behind the scenes. And so having that realtime calculation is, is super important.
and it, that costs a lot of money to customize, you know, or rebuild that logic in, in the more mainstream e-commerce solutions. Yeah.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: What I've seen is, There's often not even an integration. There's like, a clerk or, or multiple clerks. Mm-hmm. And you know, what looks like fancy software on the front end.
And then really like, it's a person with like two screens, like manually retyping everything from one and to the other. Yeah. You know? And,I don't know, but I've seen some awful things come from that process, where someone just, you know, fating or something air.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yeah, it's air prone. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
and, and, and don't let the, you know, integrated as a, It's a buzzword that everybody throws around loosely. Mm-hmm. if I had to send one message out to the listeners, it's, don't be fooled by the difference between integrated and interfaced. there's a big difference, you know, and, and well, everybody says, oh yeah, we're integrated, or we could integrate into that.
Mm-hmm. what they're referring to usually is we can pass data back and forth. Right. Well, but, but a, that data's. Never, usually in real time. And b passing data back and forth is the reason why we decided that we were missing the mark when we were doing that, you know, back with magenta in, in 2006. Yeah.
you know, it's, it's,a very different level, you know, or a very, there's a huge difference between being interfaced and integrated. and, and if you're not repurposing all of the. It's the business logic and you're not doing a lot of that in real time. I, I, I think it's hard to call yourself truly integrated into the e r p.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: That's a good point. You know, like there could be like an, an interface thing where all it means it's like, it, you know, it automatically emails an Excel file or something and, you know, good luck to what do you, for our listeners that are, B2B business owners that have been running on.
You know, something that's been kind of hacked together, you know, for a number of years, and they're now like, man, I need to like modernize, get with the times. how would you like guide them through the process? What are some things they should be? You know, thinking about like, questions to ask you and other vendors, like as they think about, okay, let me get something that's B2B specific.
Yeah. What, like, what are the questions you ask them?

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Well, the, the first thing is, is yeah. Get away from it used to be okay to build your own software. Yeah. Right? Yeah. as we. Something really interesting happened at the beginning of 2022. if you read all the industry reports when it comes to e-commerce and b2b, all the industry reports called.
called, called the buyers B2B Buyers. Yeah, right. the needs of the B2B buyer, the changes within the B2B buyer. Yeah. In early 2022, all of a sudden, the nomenclature changed and, it became the business consumer, the rise of the business consumer. Mm-hmm. and I think that's, I. It's not, it's more than just a word, right?
Yeah. It's a, it's a movement, right? It's a, we want this Amazon-like experience that we're used to as consumers, for purchasing within our businesses, right? And, and, but, but I think if you dig further into that, Whether you call it a B2B buyer, business consumer or whatever, who knows what they're called in 2024.
The point is, is that the needs are so rapidly changing. Mm-hmm. That you need something that is, is futureproof. You need something that is SaaS. You need something that gets new version upgrades every two weeks or two months or whatever. Right. Where you know, as. More r and d is getting put into the solution.
You know, you are benefactor from that, you know, from that purchase that you made two years ago. So that way when the next supply chain issue or the covid thing happens, you can pivot, you can move, you can open, you know, take your business from, you know, B2B to B2C or, advance into another country that you didn't used to be able to sell into.
Right? so, that's,I think that's flexibility. Yeah, it's very important. but I, I think, you know, and, and, and look, I mean, of course, you know, I'm gonna pitch Sana all day long, but I'm also not gonna fit a, a round peg into a square hole. You know, there's a lot of good solutions out there.
and, you know, we're not the best fit from everybody if. You do, you know, a hybrid, a b2c, and b2b, you can kill two birds with one stone, with Sana very well. But if you're truly retail, truly b2c, there are other good solutions out there that are gonna do things that we don't do, because we didn't grow up in the same way that a Shopify or Magenta did.
I think one of the things that, you know, we, we really, I try to explain, Is that, it's the notion of omnichannel, right? Yeah. it, it's, you know, it's not just one, it's not one solution. It's not one channel, it's not one tactic. You really have to look at, you know, all of the different channels that are now at our, you know, at our,in front of us and, you know, do I want to go into marketplaces? Yeah, but do I wanna put all of my eggs in that basket? Of course not. The margins are low. Yeah. You can't get the data about who's buying your solution. You can just see approximately where they are. but, you know, how do I use that marketplace in order to create, you know, that's a, a bigger part of an omnichannel strategy.
And as an example, let's see if I have it around here. I used to have one of these, little, reed, oil, diffusers. there's a company called PF Candle Company and mm-hmm um, I love one of the scents, Tew and tobacco. And if you've never smelled the blend, I, would urge you to go out to their website and, in order some, but it's, it's unbelievable.
the first time I, I ordered it, I ordered it on Amazon, and when it showed up, there was a little personalized card in there that said, you know, Hey, Mike, thank you for your purchase. Mm-hmm. just so you know, we're a small family owned company and, you know, we'd like to, you know, we appreciate you and by the way, if you come back to our website, you know, www do pf candle, here's a 20% discount for your next order.
And wow. Like, okay. Now I do that because I like supporting small businesses, and there's, there's a 20% coupon that's attached to it. Wow. And so the second time I buy from them, now they've got my email address. Now I'm on their mailing list and I've been buying from them for years. and so it goes back to the tagline that we have, right?
It's not about the, the transaction, it's about the relationship. So how do you use all of these different marketplaces or different strategies to, you know, to drive the relationship? and that, that to me is omnichannel.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: so I, I think that is, Super relevant, to all of our listeners. and it, it's something that I've been thinking a lot about recently.
I was just on a podcast with, guys who were Amazon super sellers and you know, the Amazon is getting more and more competitive in the marketplaces in general. What I encourage them is to do exactly what you described as that PF candle company is view the marketplace as really just another customer acquisition channel.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yeah,

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: just like, like Facebook ads and what you're doing afterwards, like, When you send 'em that handwritten card, which I think is fantastic, it's like, Hey, here's a reason to come to our website. You get a coupon, you'd like to have a direct relationship with you. That is the whole game. That is the whole game is like you're taking this low margin, very competitive Amazon customer and you know, then you're p plugging them into your system and then you can, you know, keep marketing to them, in indefinitely and, and like you're saying it, What Sana was kind of, emphasizing was like build that sort of long-term relationship.
Yeah. That, that's gonna make be much more profitable than trying to win the, the battle on the marketplaces. And I, I think that is, I think something retailers should really think about, you know, in, in the coming year.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yeah, the the other thing I would tell them is don't let the perfect get in the way of the good.
Mm-hmm. everybody, everybody thinks their business is super unique. yeah. And you know, when you actually like, look under the hood, most businesses actually are pretty similar. Of course. They, you know, there, there's, there are certain things that are unique to different businesses. I don't want to downplay that, but everybody thinks like, I gotta customize this and I gotta correct.
You know, I have to do every, you know, it 80 20 rule, right? Right. You do not need to, you know, build it out to where you can handle every single little use case. You know, if that's only 5% of your orders, leave it out. Right. you know, or figure out a different strategy around it. If those 5% make up 95% of your, your, you know, your revenue, obviously that's different.
That's important. but I would beg the, yeah, I would say probably. I need to choose a different strategy for that. but, but yeah, you know, build it, you know, build it for, you know, for the masses and build it for, you know, something that's gonna hit on at least 80%. You know, and, and by the way, you're never gonna get a hundred percent conversion from offline to online.
Mm-hmm. even the company, Vera Bradley. that, I think everybody's heard of. I know every time, new shoes arrive, they end up in a vera bra, a Bradley bag from, that my wife's ordered online for her, my daughter. but, Vera Bradley has won our B2B e-commerce. customer of the Year award for two years in a row now since they've gone live with Sana.
And I was looking at their pitch deck, because every year we gather these pitch decks from all of our customers that want to get recognized for having the most progressive website and mm-hmm. and that was one thing that was really interesting to me is that they have now, it's taken two years, but they've ramped up to where they've gotten 75% to 80% adoption of the distributors buying now through their web store. Mm-hmm. And interestingly enough, their 2023 goals for that were just to maintain that. I think they recognize, you know, certain distributors like the high-touch like you were talking about. Yeah. They like the salesperson that they've been working with for 15 years. and, You know, and so, you know, build it for the majority, you're not gonna win 'em all.
You're not gonna be able to handle every single use case. But if you can move the needle mm-hmm. and provide a better customer experience for most, you're also gonna become more efficient back office if it's an integrated solution. and that's a huge win in and of itself.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: And is that what Vera is that, is that why you think sort of Vera Bradley kind of won, like what they, what they were doing particularly well?

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: they, oh, I'd have to go back into their pitch deck. They, they have just done, if you saw their pitch deck and compared it to the others, it's in a league of its own, like the way they're. There's a maturity level there. You know, what they're measuring, what they're looking at, what they're striving for, the analytics that they're diving into, the strategy, the rollout, you know, going back to this is a project that happens with you, not to you.
Mm-hmm. They embrace that and, and they've, you know, and they, they constantly, you know, they, similar to our success track mm-hmm. They kind of, that was before we even had the success track. They kind of created their own, you know, they try to really get good at two, two more things. you know, and, and, not a hundred percent perfect, but 75, 80, you know, 80%, and then they move on to the next couple. I think that's what's really made them, they, them successful.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: Well, that's awesome. So let's, let's, wrap, let's, let's bring it to a close here. Is there any,are there any other, you know, up and coming things or anything else we should know, you know, kind of on the horizon for, for Sana?

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Yeah. yeah, there's a, there's a lot that we're gonna be launching. There's a lot we have launched recently. you know, we, available to promise we were talking about earlier. You know, that's more, that's not huge. But, one thing that we're starting to dive into is 3D imagery, and augmented reality.
and, You know, being able to spin images and say B2B companies, some of 'em have really complex products. You know, when you talk about, you know, we, we do a lot in the heavy equipment, machinery and automotive industry. and, you know, being able to, you know, have a spare parts exploder diagram right.
To where like, I don't need to. Come up with a magnifying glass and look at Aku, but I, I know what it looks like. I can point and click at it and I can spin the image to, to get to it. you know, things like that. so there's a lot more of that, that's gonna be coming. one of the other things that we're working on right now, and again, as we talk about, The shift from the B2B buyer to the business consumer, subscription, auto, you know, a recurring billing, subscription that's on the roadmap for, for this year as well.
We're starting to see a big shift in B2B companies that are starting to try to take, take that concept and run with it. so those are, those are a couple of the, couple of the bigger things that are, that are on the roadmap that we're working on right now. Nice. Excellent.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: Well, I want to thank you so much for your time today.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Thank you.

Russell Miller, Ryzeo: My guest has been Mike Brenneman talking about Sana Commerce. If you are a B2B commerce or if that is a big part of your business, you should definitely check them out. It will integrate with your E R P a lot better and give you a lot more flexibility than maybe you're getting your current platform.

Mike Brenneman, Sana Commerce: Thanks for having me, Russell. I appreciate you.
Ryzeo: Thanks for tuning in. This has been the Heroes of Ecommerce Podcast, brought to you by Ryzeo, a proven email system that's made millions for e-commerce sites. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you don't miss an episode. For even more insights, visit our website at where we share resources on email marketing that grows sales. Until next time, happy marketing.