This week on the Digital Velocity Podcast, Kevin Weitzel of OutHouse joins Erik and Tim to discuss the importance of embracing technology that enhances client engagement.
Kevin describes the benefits technology can bring to retailers and their customers. He says, “the more engaging the process, the atmosphere that digital content is on a website, the longer people will engage with it. The more people engage with it, the more likely they are to close, and if they close, then what you do is you've just now converted that into money, and that allows you to fund more products, more processes.”
The question Kevin constantly gets when businesses are considering the implementation of digital assets is what does it cost? Kevin answers back with a rhetorical question, “What does it cost you not to do it?”
Kevin continues, “How do we get past that to where people are willing to invest in themselves to make the process easier, more consumer-friendly, more educational, easy to use, and to where the data can be shared across multiple platforms?”
Listen to this week’s episode to learn how technology can improve not only client engagement but also sales.
About the Guest:
Kevin Weitzel admittedly calls himself unconventional. When you meet him, you don’t forget him. In short, he’s a lot of fun. He also possesses outstanding sales intuition with experience in several industries.
On top of his successful career in sales, he’s a former professional cyclist and Olympic Alternate as well as a highly decorated former United States Marine.
His many productive years in the cycling industry landed him a prosperous career in the Motorcycle/Automobile industry. His belief in and practice of relationship selling catapulted him from floor sales to GM of the largest Motorcycle Dealer network in the United States in less than 5 years.
Disenchanted with the auto industry due to unscrupulous business practices, he then joined the team at Outhouse and lead the team to the largest sales growth in company history since the downturn. He's an expert in Interactive Builder Web and Marketing Content, 3D Rendering, Animation, Drafting, Matterport, and Print Marketing Collateral.
Erik Martinez: [00:00:00] Welcome to today's episode of the Digital Velocity Podcast. I'm Erik Martinez with Blue Tangerine.
Tim Curtis: And I'm Tim Curtis with CohereOne.
Erik Martinez: Today, we have a very special guest from OutHouse.net. Kevin Weitzel is VP, Director of Sales, something like that? No, just kidding. Kevin is a longtime friend of Blue Tangerine's and has spent the last few years selling digital products into the home builder space. Kevin, welcome to the show today.
Kevin Weitzel: Glad to be here.
Erik Martinez: So, this is kind of a [00:01:00] continuing theme on talking about cross-industry expertise and what we can learn from other industries, and there's a lot of things that the home builder industry can learn from our retail customers. Today we're going to flip the coin and let Kevin kind of explain some of the things that the home builders are doing much better than our retail clients are. So Kevin, before we get started, can you just give us the 30-second, you know, susont of who you are.
Kevin Weitzel: I can. So, I am a former professional cyclist, way back in the eighties. We're talking way back, like a hundred pounds ago. Former United States Marine, and I spent the majority of my life in the bicycle retail industry, motorcycles, and car industry. One of my strengths coming to the home building industry is that coming from the auto side, I was actually kind of a step ahead of a lot of the tech the home building industry was putting into place. So, it made it very easy just to move into this position as the VP of Business Development at OutHouse.
Erik Martinez: That's very cool, Kevin.[00:02:00] I need to ask the one thing, cause this is your thing on your podcast. What's the one thing nobody knows about you.
Kevin Weitzel: So, a couple of things. One is I have a record collection of well over 3000 records and that's not even including the hundreds and hundreds of CDs and I'm an ordained minister.
Erik Martinez: He is an ordained minister. I actually saw a video of you ministering a wedding fairly recently, right?
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. I just, a married couple just recently. Yes.
Erik Martinez: That's kind of crazy, man. How'd you get into that?
Tim Curtis: I am marrying somebody in two weeks. So, I too.
Kevin Weitzel: Nice.
Erik Martinez: You too?
Tim Curtis: Yeah, yeah.
Erik Martinez: How do you get on this bandwagon?
Kevin Weitzel: Well, there's a couple of websites, literally, where you can just go and click some boxes and you're ordained, and then there's a few others where you actually have to take some tests and prove that you know something about the various indoctrinations that are out there. I specialize in secular communions, but there are several out there that go into more of the kind of offshoot religious ceremony. So, that's not my cup of tea.
Erik Martinez: That's [00:03:00] kinda interesting.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.
Erik Martinez: So Kevin, you and I have known each other for a few years. You're a real strong partner of Blue Tangerine's when it comes to working with our home builder clients. You know, I have this belief that our retail clients are not spending near enough time and energy developing their digital assets. People listening to this are going to go what are you talking about, man? We spend millions in Google. We spend hundreds of thousands on creative and we spend a lot of money creating digital content.
What I'm talking about is really leveraging digital assets. I think our definition of digital assets is really too small, which is what you guys do. You guys have kind of that expanded definition. We want to talk a little bit about some of the things that you guys are doing.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah, absolutely. So, one of the things about OutHouse, and I'll just preload this with the fact that my whole job is to sell digital assets to home builders. [00:04:00] Whether they're kicking and screaming or embracing technology. My job is literally making the pathway to digital assets, affordable, doable, and seamless. Okay. What it really comes down to is that it's about the adoption of the technology and the understanding of how it further adds to the engagement process of your client.
Not just the sales, but the actual engagement because when you can tie people in emotionally, and when I say emotionally, a lot of people think that, you know, you can shoot a video and a video is all you need to do, and it's done, but there's so much more to engaging platforms than just shooting video.
You know, one that I find is really interesting is in the home building industry, every home builder has what? They've got a model home and in that model home, they have to stage it. They put furniture in it. Only recently, did I even see a home builder that monetized that by putting little tags on all the little furniture pieces that you could buy any of that furniture, and a lot of them go away from that because it's a pain in the butt to move in and out furniture, and when furniture becomes obsolete [00:05:00] or it's no longer available, they've got to move that piece out or take the price tag off? Their whole sales team has to keep up with that.
Digitally you can do that all day long. You know, there's a product called Modsy out there right now, and Modsy, they supply the digital asset of a virtual tour. This is where you can use goggles, or you can just use it on a PC and walk through virtually a home. Okay. We sell those at OutHouse too, but the differentiating factor there is that they've monetized that to where now, not only can you stage the furniture you want in there, but they have 28 catalogs of furniture.
We're talking like Copenhagen and Restoration Hardware that they've partnered with to say, hey, we just want to commission every time we put these into a home virtually and somebody buys it. So, now when you're walking through your home, whether you're shopping for the home or not, or you're just looking to see how they have a decorated, you can go in there and see the decorations and literally be inspired to buy right there on that home builder's website.
Erik Martinez: That's pretty cool. I think that's kind of like the holy grail for shopping. People really like to see things in context and [00:06:00] environments the products that they use. Even the everyday products, right? You could put glassware and chandeliers and mirrors and all that cool stuff in these virtual animations of the home and sell them all. I thought, man, we need to talk to Kevin because I think, there could be a lot of opportunities for retailers to sell their products digitally in some of these virtual environments.
Tim Curtis: I would agree. I think the difference here is whether you're a home builder or you're in retail, I think one of the things that is oftentimes not capitalized on is people fail to realize what they can monetize. You know, those pieces, Kevin, like you mentioned, you know, pieces in that virtual reality. Whether or not it's the chandelier over the tub in the master bath, or it's furniture there in the main living room. There are opportunities and it's surprising how you can monetize those, but you gotta think differently. Whether you're a home builder, whether you're in retail, you just [00:07:00] have to start to think differently. You have to look for opportunities and you've gotta be proactive and looking for those opportunities. They do exist and people will buy.
Kevin Weitzel: And you don't have to be the brainchild behind the concept. You can steal it from something else. Movie theaters have been selling movie tickets the same way for decades. We're talking a century and they stole from the actual movie themselves. So, when you watch a movie and you see somebody drinking a Coke, they're holding the can in a way that you can actually see the label. They do that intentionally. Did I just give a plug to Coke? They're holding a can of RC Cola. How about that? Royal crown. Let's plug the little guy.
Erik Martinez: RC Cola will be like, man, we just saw this amazing spike in sales. Where did that come from?
Kevin Weitzel: It's all due to this fat guy in Arizona. No, but they have this product placement. So movies, as part of their developing budget, they would have product placement that allow advertisers to put products in the film that develop that initial startup revenue. Well, movie theaters were selling tickets, you know, $2, $3. Seriously, in my lifetime, you could buy a movie ticket for a buck 50, you know, all [00:08:00] day long. I'm not going to disclose my age, but that means I'm a little older, but a buck 50 to go see movie.
I mean, I think Star Wars tickets were only $2 to go see a movie, and now what? They're 15, 18, $20 to go see a movie anymore, but why is that? Well, because you're not going in and just buying a ticket and finding whatever random seat is left. You can now go online, use their digital tool. I'm using finger quotes here, and you can pick your ticket. You can prepay for your ticket all from the comfort of your home and just mosey on in right before curtains. It's pretty cool.
Erik Martinez: It's pretty simple in concept, but how hard is this to do? You guys do these animations all the time for home builders. How difficult is it and how expensive is it to do these types of things?
Kevin Weitzel: So, there's everything from super affordable, like any monkey can pay for it. All the way up to, wow, that's crazy expensive, but the crazy expensive is usually an overarching giant product. You know, is usually overarching entire processes. So, [00:09:00] instead of looking at doing a virtual tour of one home, it's doing a virtual tour of an entire community with all the retail and a fly-by. I mean, those do cost a little bit more money, but to do a virtual tour of a home.
So, you haven't even broken ground yet. You can literally take the blueprints, turn it into either an animation where it's a guided pathway tour or a virtual tour where you can actually put on goggles or look at it on your computer screen and walk around the place however you want to. Again, virtually, before it's ever even built.
These can range anywhere from 1500 bucks to $7,000, $8,000. You know, they can get up there, but with the video game engines that are in place, it is bringing the price and the speedway, way down. What used to take you 6, 7, 8 weeks to get, you can get them turned around in a couple of weeks. Done.
Erik Martinez: Wow. I would suppose that some of the home builders would supplement the cost or offset the cost of production of some of these because they might have hundreds of models to do. They may want to supplement the cost with that with some in-kind [00:10:00] advertising or, you know, retailers coming in or getting some kind of commission on a sale of a product.
Kevin Weitzel: Absolutely. There are ways to monetize it. We've seen a few case studies where people have monetized it. Modsy's a good example. That's more of somebody seeing the bigger picture and monetizing the entire process. So, offering a very affordable virtual tour that's still professionally done, but then you getting to select what furniture is in it, and then monetizing it from there.
They can send out those links to their friends. Hey, I just decorated this home and I know that you're wanting to redo your living room, check out this setup that I just set, and they can even sell from that home builder site that they sold to the home builder.
Erik Martinez: So, does that work, Kevin? Do they go to the home builder site and place the order for these items? Or do they go to the retailer site or is it a combination? It could be either/or.
Kevin Weitzel: For their particular product. It's a hybrid. It's either way. It can be set up to where it's a monetization where it's pulled from the link, and then it actually redirects you to another site, to the Modsy portal, or it can be directly through [00:11:00] the purchase of the home or when you purchase the home, I also want that dining room set. I want this master bedroom layout to the T, mirrors, plants. Everything. The whole thing.
Erik Martinez: That's pretty cool. Do you think that the adoption of this technology is slower on the retail side because it seems too expensive or there's just easier things to do? Because I think with the cost of advertising media going up. Just look like Google's doing right now on search results pages. Have you noticed the amount of imagery and video content that's coming up, both on your phone and on a desktop search? It's crazy. I think it's hugely important that we find these alternative mediums. Going back to my question, do you think that the main reason, is it cost, or is it just education?
Kevin Weitzel: Actually, I think it's multifaceted. I think retailers have a bad case of either/or itis. We [00:12:00] are either brick and mortar or we're online, and when we're online, are we just a simple catalog? Are we just going to be this list of items, you know, a commoditized sheet of products that you can choose to buy or not buy? So, I think that's the one thing is that they have to understand that it's not either/or. It's an entire smorgasbord of various pathways to get to your product. The more you can engage that buyer, whether it be through video content or interactive content.
Look at the auto industry. Look at motorcycles, even bicycles for that matter. You can go to practically any major manufacturer out there on the auto side and pre-build your car. Not just what color you want it, but what wheels, what motor upgrades, what trim package. All that stuff can be done, and it shows you virtually what it looks like right there in screen.
That used to be the kicker and then you used to say, I'd see this, and then the next thing you'd do is you'd get a call from some smarmy, you know, leisure suit car salesman. It's like, hey, I see you want to buy a car. Then they just try to close the deal or they try to get you into the dealership to never let you leave because they had either/or [00:13:00] itis. But then somebody said, let's just put a button on there. Let's let them finance this thing right now. So, then they can finance right there from the page and get at least an approval online.
Then it morphed into, all right, let's get them financed. Let's send them through DocuSign. Let's get them to sign for the car and then let's deliver it to their house. You don't even have to come into the dealership anymore. It's crazy that in such a short period of time, all those simple mini-steps took place to allow for that technology to basically change the way the entire auto industry game is played.
Erik Martinez: What do you say when you got a retailer that's okay, well that's fine and good, but you know what? I sell janitorial supplies. How can I use this technology to sell my product?
Kevin Weitzel: Well, I like that example because that's a challenge. How do you romanticize, how do you make janitorial products sexy or engaging? Well, you can do demos. I don't know if you've ever looked up the world's greatest salesman. It's an old video of this door [00:14:00] to door salesman. This kid that goes around and he's selling this cleaner. He's got so many one-liners. I mean, there's back-to-back-to-back one-liners and he literally just wows this guy. I don't know if he ever sold this particular video where they were capturing this, but this kid is just so incredible, and all he's talking about is a single product, a single cleaner.
So, yes, you could incorporate janitorial supplies with videos. You could do package deals where you showcase packages, and not just a single image of a package, but to where when you're putting in the cart, say, hey, I see that you're interested in scrubbers. Have you thought about any Ajax powder? Is Ajax still around? I think they are. I see you're interested in this. You might want to try that. That's just the add-on, but a lot of websites don't have those ad-ons. Especially with janitorial supplies. Janitorial supplies are do you want to buy a box of these or not?
And then they have follow-up email campaigns, but how do you incorporate that on the website to make it more interesting and more engaging to a client? Demo videos? I'd throw the question back at you. What would you do? You [00:15:00] literally stopped me in my tracks. I'd like to pride myself in I can sell anything if I'm passionate about it. How do you get passionate about cleaning supplies?
Erik Martinez: I think this last couple of years have made us all a little more passionate about some types of cleaning supplies.
Kevin Weitzel: Yes.
Erik Martinez: A mops a mop, right? I mean, how do you sell a mop?
Kevin Weitzel: But is it? What about that spin mop that they had on QVC where you put it in the bucket, spins the whole thing. It spins the water out of it. Just the right amount of dampness to mop your floor. That thing was amazing. I think it was a piece of junk, but that's not the point.
Erik Martinez: I've been doing a lot of study on this and listening to podcasts, and I was listening to Marketing School with Neil Patel and Eric Siu, and they're pretty well-known agency guys in the digital world and they were talking about, how do we use content to sell more effectively, right?
You see this on all the marketplaces. Amazon does this. You know, Walmart does this. A product detail page used to be an image of a product, maybe a couple of images of a product, a [00:16:00] zoom feature, a description, and an add to cart button. Then we like, oh man, we can put related products on there. So, you started putting related products on there, and then, oh man, we need to get reviews, right?
So, we started putting reviews on there, and now you look at these pages and some of these Amazon pages are amazing. The amount of content and information, videos, testimonials, alternative shots, alternative uses of the product. Amazon has done enough studying, and if you're a retailer, you know this. Landing somebody on a category page from anything does better than landing somebody on a product detail page.
Amazon's taking, hey, you know what? We're going to make the product detail page so in-depth that we're going to be able to sell more product, but here's the crazy thing about it. The ancillary benefit is actually in search engine marketing. There's a lot more content to index. There's a lot more [00:17:00] content to consume and you're going to gain a lot more relevancy. Now, Amazon's always going to gain more relevancy than Joe's Ajax Supplies because they're Amazon, but Joe's Ajax Supply can carve out a pretty nice little niche doing some of these things.
We were looking at a potential client this morning that has 17 products. How do we do SEO for a client that has 17 products, and I'm sitting there going, man, that is going to be all about the product detail page and additional content. Showing people how to use the product. So, back to your question of like, how do I make janitorial supplies? Well, I don't know if we'll ever make them sexy, but we can put that product in an environment where it makes sense, right?
Where people are like, oh, that's how I use that product. I struggle with like the Swiffer WetJet. Should be like the easiest thing. It seems like every time I go back to where we have our Swiffer, we never have the right size pads, so you're like trying to jerry [00:18:00] rig it. All I do is clean the floor and I'm supposed to be able to do it in five minutes. It takes me 20 minutes to put the dang thing on.
Kevin Weitzel: So, you don't have the OCD problem that I have where I have to make sure that it's perfectly aligned on the rectangle?
Erik Martinez: I do the same thing.
Kevin Weitzel: You do the same thing too?
Tim Curtis: I do. Everything has to be OCD. I have, yeah, I think that's probably my Scandinavian background. Everything's has to be clean and in its place.
Kevin Weitzel: Yes.
Tim Curtis: You know? Let's take a step back though. I want to drill down just a little bit deeper on the retail side. I think one of the challenges that we ought to speak to, specifically when we're talking about retail, I think, there's two issues. Number one, I think there's a lack of an imagination in retail in how to deploy something like this.
If you're talking about retail in the context of home furnishings or home decor, I think there's some obvious benefits to being able to visually deploy that and I think people get that. When you get into these examples, JanSan, you know, the example you just gave, or even some apparel. I think it becomes much more difficult to understand because part of what's so interesting in retail is the inspirational aspect. So, you may not be as size 2, but there are [00:19:00] studies that show that people react better to seeing clothing in size 2 than in their actual sizing. So, it's one of those deals where that's a challenge.
The flip side of that also is the challenge of the incumbency. You oftentimes find more of an incumbency in retail in the sense that their marketing ecosystem and digital ecosystem is much more complex. It's been much more Frankensteined together with various different types of POS systems, OMS systems, ERP’s. All of that sort of Frankensteined together, and so they don't have the simplicity of deploying some of these tools without really taking a major undertaking in order to get to the function.
Talk about that a little bit. How do you begin to overcome something like that? You know, I talked to retail executives all the time and those are the real-world challenges. They feel like they have a sense of accomplishment if they can fire emails without having issues.
Kevin Weitzel: I'm going to answer that, but I have to answer that after I make sure the listening audience knows something. That Tim Curtis just looked at Erik [00:20:00] and myself, when he said you're not a size 2.
Tim Curtis: I did not look at you.
Kevin Weitzel: As if we didn't know we're not size 2.
Erik Martinez: He really did.
Kevin Weitzel: He did. He looked right at me, like right at me. Like, right into my soul, into the core of my soul, and he was just like, you're not a size two buddy.
Tim Curtis: Let me put the sweet roll down while we're doing this. Yeah. That's my problem.
Erik Martinez: We are size two 2 a giant, Tim.
Kevin Weitzel: I think he meant the 2X is what he meant. You're not a size 2X. It was a compliment. He's like, you look more like just a standard XL, not a 2XL.
All right. So, I'm going to talk about this machinists that did nothing more than make trumpet mouthpieces. Trumpet mouthpieces. That's all he did, and he struggled for years because how interesting can you make a trumpet mouthpiece, and how many people are in that market? Not that many. He had one of his friends. Can I talk about marijuana?
Erik Martinez: Yes.
Kevin Weitzel: Is that okay?
Tim Curtis: Yeah. You can.
Kevin Weitzel: All right. He had a friend that happened to partake in the devil's lettuce if you will, and he said, man, you know, you could make a pipe [00:21:00] out of your trumpet mouthpieces, and he goes really? And he jokingly said, check this out, and he takes an apple and he shoves the trumpet mouthpiece in and he says, there's your bowl, and he goes, now all you have to do is machine another mouthpiece that's skinnier that is something you can intake with.
From that, they birthed, not just doing a holiday special. So, not just, hey everybody Happy St. Patrick's Day, hey everybody Happy Easter. Their social media post was check out the latest edition, our Easter edition, and what they did was they took this mouthpiece, this machine brass mouthpiece, and shoved it into a hollow bunny, a chocolate bunny to show that for their Easter edition, they had this, and they shoot a video for this for every single holiday.
So, what they've done is they've created a Be-Back. You know, you've got to create a Be-Back, so people are coming back to your website. You know, for somebody just to come and look for a Swiffer. Okay. They go to Amazon or wherever they go to for their Swiffer. They [00:22:00] buy the Swiffer. They click the button. The project's done, but how often do you get people coming back to see what that next holiday special is going to be? The next release of this new pot pipe made out of a trumpet mouthpiece.
You asked the question earlier, you know, how do we get retailers, why don't they do things like this? Or why don't they adopt any new tech or any new processes? I think it's out of fear and complacency. I think it comes down to they're fearful of spending the money because they don't know is it going to cost a lot, is going to cost a little. Am I going to see an ROI on this? But what does it cost you not to do it? What does it cost you not to have an AB study just to see what works and what doesn't work?
You know, do you think Bezos literally thought, wow, maybe people might want to order their books online and then poof, everybody started ordering their books online, or did he, go, I'm going to try this. I think it's going to work, and I think not just that they're going to buy their books online, but they're gonna be able to buy everything online. It was nothing new. I mean, people were doing catalogs way before Bezos became a gogllionaire.
I think that we have complacency. We have fear. [00:23:00] We have budgetary restrictions of what they think things are gonna cost. Honestly, reach out. Find out what it's going to cost you to add SEO to your website. Find out what it's going to cost to shoot a simple video with a product featurette, a best practices video.
One thing that I'm really addicted to are these life hack videos. You know, drilling a hole through a bolt, so you can put a piece of wire through it to fish things out of things. You know, magnetizing batteries, so you can create a little circuit to light up light bulbs. I don't know. There's tons of these life hacks. You can just watch video after video after video, but those don't cost anything to make. Their peanuts, and if you could take a product and repurpose it to show that you can use product X for Y purpose, you just expanded your market base.
Erik Martinez: This all falls under the realm of content development, right? This is like Content Development 201? The 101 stuff's like we take a photo or we take a series of photos, stage that whole thing. This is like that next step in developing your content. So, Kevin, I want to go back to a question that Tim asked. [00:24:00] Complex environments. Back to your fear comments.
Kevin Weitzel: Yes.
Erik Martinez: Complex environments, right? I've got technology that barely connects by a thread to another piece of technology, which is connected to another piece of technology that distributes all my products out to the customers when they place the order or distributes to the retail store, so somebody can actually buy it off the shelf. Whatever that is. You guys do something a little bit differently with your technology. Tell us a little bit about how you get around some of that complexity of integration.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. So, when you're in the auto industry, Ford rolls out some new device or tech or process that's on their website. It just goes out automatically at the expense of all the auto retailers. It goes out to every single Ford dealer. Well, when you're in the retail world, you don't have that same luxury of the corporation decides to make one solution, and then it gets rolled out to everybody. You have to develop it and make sure that it ties to everything.
So, if you [00:25:00] are a home builder and you want to be able to do a lot reservation. It's not just as simple as somebody at home can click what lot they want. You have to let your sales team know that lot is reserved. You have to take a deposit. You have to have them sign some sort of intent that says, hey, I'm going to commit to buying this lot, but I understand it's refundable if I change my mind, yada, yada.
You have to create products that can API or can connect to other technologies, that they can talk to CRMs, that they can have inbound, so you can have real-time pricing. All that stuff has to be in place. So, you do have to do a little bit of homework when you're going to implement. If you just think that you could just put something on your website and magically it's done, that's not how it works.
Those all have to interconnect in this little spider web of different platforms because what builder X uses on their website for reservations and tying into their CRM is what the very next builder doesn't do. They do something completely different. They have a CRM, but it's from a different company and the API connections are different. [00:26:00] They have a reservation system, but their reservation systems are different, and they take a deposit in a different pathway and require different bits of information.
So, there is some complexity has to be put in place. So, you have to make sure that you establish the foundation. Your foundation being your website, and then from there, you have to put the fundamental tools in place. You have to have commerce. You have to be able to take orders. You have to be able to fulfill orders, and then you have to be able to have pathways to every single step within that process.
Erik Martinez: And therein lies the real problem.
Kevin Weitzel: That is the problem.
Erik Martinez: I run a couple of websites right now for clients of ours and you just hit on the number one problem is we've got all this connectivity activity, but it's all connectivity to do one thing, right? It's to take a transaction. In order to enhance the experience, which is really what we're trying to do, right? We're enhancing the experience. We're trying to build SEO value. We're trying to add more value to customers so that they choose us versus them. [00:27:00] Right? Why shop me versus shopping on Amazon? Or why shop me versus my biggest competitor online? We gotta make sure that we're very intentional about the hooks that we build in so that we can do some of these things.
Example. I've got this client who sells car parts for old British cars. All over their website, they've got, this would drive you insane, by the way. I've heard you talk about the static floorplans on the model pages, right? They just drive you insane. Well, these are engine schematics that are just like that or different systems within the car. Schematics that are all, same thing, and I'm sitting here going, man, I need to turn Kevin on to, you know, turning that schematic into a Matterport style thing that's interactive and it spins and people could drill down into a specific part and then place the order.
Kevin Weitzel: We actually did almost that for an RV company.
Erik Martinez: Did you really?
Kevin Weitzel: We did. So, we did a Matterport for an RV company. Uh, it was [00:28:00] some RV coming. I don't remember. It wasn't my client, but we had an RV company where we went out and did Matterport shoots. I think they're called class Cs, the ones that look like just a little bit bigger than a truck with a camper on the back. You know, that's attached to it with an overhead queen bed above the cab.
It's kind of hard to make those sexy. It's kinda hard to put the selling features in that, but when we shot the Matterport, within a Matterport, that's a 3D environment that's photographed and it takes a series of 360-degree photos and it electronically stitches them together so you can virtually walk through the entire RV from anywhere, from the comfort of your own home.
They have matter tags or these little tags where when you hover over it, you can see that it has pass-through AC. So, when you're contemplating buying this RV to travel down to Mexico, you want to make sure it has air conditioning, but a pass-through AC, you know, how many BTUs does it push? You know, yada yada. You know, the sound system that's in it. You can hover over the sound system and poof, here's a sound system. Or here's the kitchen table and then you hover over it and then poof, poof, poof, it shows you a quick little like animation of how it turns into a bed. [00:29:00] So, we actually did that for that RV company, and it's very easily done and it's not that expensive, and you could do it for those car schematics.
Erik Martinez: What's not that expensive?
Kevin Weitzel: You know, for that RV project, I want to say that those were about $75 an RV, you know, that we went out and did that cause we shot multiple at one time. I think we shot four or five of them at one time.
Erik Martinez: Did you just say $75? Not seventy-five thousand, but $75?
Kevin Weitzel: No, 75 bucks because the technology, it's always coming down. Every tech product out there is a commodity and when it starts off when it's that bleeding edge, we pay through the nose to get it, and then when it's leading edge, the price starts to become more competitive. Once it becomes a commodity, it's a race to the bottom. Who can sell it for the least amount of money?
Honestly, that is the fear that a lot of retailers have. You were talking about what can differentiate. Why does somebody shop on Amazon versus shopping Sears? Well, the can't shop Sears anymore. I think they're gone, but you get the gist.
Erik Martinez: There's a reason they're gone.
Kevin Weitzel: It is amazing that they're gone. The number one retailer in the world literally has to [00:30:00] shutter its stores because they lost sight of how to sell to people. It's ridiculous. Especially the people that started the catalog. They got destroyed by people that literally just went to an electronic catalog. It's that sad.
Let me refocus here. Let's look at Amazon. When Amazon first started, it was about price. It's not about price anymore. You can find the priceless on plenty other places besides Amazon, even brick and mortar. You can go to a brick and mortar and buy, you know, Steve Madden shoes for less than what you can get them on Amazon in a lot of cases. Okay.
However, why do people still shop on Amazon? Two reasons. It is easy. It's comfortable. The process is a piece of cake that even I can do it. Although I don't. I boycott Amazon just for the record. I'm militant about it too. Heavily spoken on, "Boycott Amazon." But also they educate the client, they educate the buyer.
You know, if you look at a typical home, you know, when you're shopping for a home. A home might have a couple of exterior images. They might have a dozen interior photos. That's an [00:31:00] entire house that's hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions. When you look at a blender. That KitchenAid blender is the same blender they've been making for 50 years, and they have 35 photos of a single KitchenAid, blender. They've got video. They even have recipes that you can download recipes for it. It's nuts and all from the website.
So, if you think it's about price, you're fooling yourself. The fear that a lot of people have, and I agree with this is that if you have a differentiated product, you don't want to simply commoditize it because if you commoditize a TI85 calculator, then it really is a race to the bottom. Who can get me that TI85 calculator for the least amount of money?
Erik Martinez: So, let's bring this back up to kind of the strategic level. There's a little tactical component here and a strategic question. The tactical component for me is, okay, we're going to take the $75 Matterport and we're going to create something that's really cool. It's 3D. It can spin it around. I can zoom in. I can hone [00:32:00] in on a particular piece.
For a retailer who's selling, let's say a complicated product like an engine that's really cool. Can they link back to the shopping cart real easily in order to add that to the cart and sell it? Or is it more complicated?That's kind of question one on the tactical part. Second question is if I recall you guys host all this. So, it's like, they don't even have to post this stuff on their website and worry about bandwidth on their website. This could be done and extend their ecosystem, right?
Kevin Weitzel: That is correct. You just have to have a placeholder for it on your website. As simple as hyperlinking a product on the email. Like, If I want to send you to a Zillow listing. I can take that hyperlink, drop it into an email, and send you to it. That's called a responsive open, and you can have that, or you can embed it into a website.
Erik Martinez: Okay. So, here's the strategic question. I'm a retail executive and I'm sitting here going, [00:33:00] man, there's so many cool things I can do with content. I can do these animations. I can do these Matterport things that Erik's talking about. How do I start the process? How do I go about saying, you know, this is something I want to do? I want to make it easy for my team. The goal, the long-term goal, is one, I've added some value to my customers in terms of being able to show and display the product in a lot of different ways, and two, I get some SEO value out of this. So, if I do it right, I'm going to get some SEO value. The last question is, how do I measure it? How do I know this is successful?
Kevin Weitzel: There's several things you can do. One is the more engaging the process, the atmosphere that digital content is on a website, the longer people will engage with it. The more people engage with it, the more likely they are to close, and if they close, then what you do is you've just now converted that into money, and that allows you to fund more products, more processes.
I really believe wholeheartedly that AB study is the way to go. You don't [00:34:00] have to try three, four different companies, but you can try one company and try the product and implement it in two different ways and find out what's the most popular. You could spend some SEO ad spend to focus to where it pops up in a search engines. You know, you can put alt text on your imagery to make sure that people can actually see it and that it is Google searchable.
Those are little tricks that without spending much get you to the top of those search lists, and that's what people do. They go on their phone, they type in the widget, the gadget, and then they get sent to various websites based on the Google ranking. So, once you put it on your website, you want to expand that exposure, and the benefit of having it there is increased engagement.
Tim Curtis: So Kevin, I had a question for you. We've been talking about some examples and, you know, as we mentioned earlier, furniture, home decor. Those are easy examples, right? That doesn't take a lot of stretch or imagination. I've seen In one area of the retail space where I've seen some innovation in terms of how people approach has been in the car parts.
One of which was a retailer [00:35:00] who paid special time and attention to capturing the sound of each muffler. As people were in the interest of different aftermarkets, trying to find or really, you know, tailor their ride to what they wanted it to be. They went a little fast and furious and they sort of created some files where people could, they didn't have to imagine what it sounded like. They could actually hear what it sounded like.
That's sort of an easier example. For those of us who deal in retail, a lot of our clients are in the apparel space and that is less imaginative when it comes to finding virtual reality or augmented reality. Some examples make sense, but where do you think people should start if they're in like an apparel section?
Kevin Weitzel: That's actually a great question because I actually think about this a lot. My body has changed over the years. I went from a skinny cyclist. When I was a professional cyclist, I weighed anywhere from 155 to 165 pounds. That was my fighting weight if you will, and in extreme cases, like at the end of the racing cycle, maybe 145. I'm now 275 [00:36:00] pounds. I am a far cry from that cyclist of yesteryear. What I struggle with this fit of clothing. You know, you can put sizing charts on all day long, but why stop at a sizing chart?
You could literally take, and I've actually seen this and I apologize, I don't remember the retailer, but you could take and have various body types of people, and not necessarily show them trying on the clothes, but you could have a portly endomorphic person similar to myself that literally just puts on outfits. So, now I'm not just looking at just say a static image of a shirt and a static image of a pair of golf pants, but now I see this guy that looks like me. That's built like me with the outfit on and I can rifle through.
What you pay somebody what? A hundred bucks to try on 50 outfits. I don't know if that's a good return or if that's a good paycheck, but plenty of people would love to try it a bunch of clothes and you just take some photographs of them, rotate them around on a pedestal. Done, and you could easily put that on your website and now make it to where, you know, a guy like I'm [00:37:00] rock hard abs. You know, like I've got a keg if you will. So, for those fellow gentlemen that have kegs instead of six-packs, you can actually do a comparative of how those different outfits look and why retailers started that. I don't know.
Tim Curtis: You've got like True Fit which is a platform out there that does some of that, but I think, you know, a really good example, Kevin is, they'll ask you, you know, what size shirt do you wear for this retailer? Oh, well then you should be wearing this size shirt. Really? Is that as sophisticated as we can go here? Because, you know, oftentimes the brands that you maybe wear are not even listed you know, on the site. So, it does feel like it needs to go one step further. I mean, I can actually provide exact measurements, but there's never really a place where you can do that effectively.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, I mean, it kind of came and went, but body scanning was the thing for a little while where you go to a mall and have your body scanned in a booth, and then it would give you a shopping list of here's the stores that we recommend for you, the clothing brands that we'd recommend. I haven't seen that in quite a while. So, I think that might've either been a flop or.
Tim Curtis: Well, it probably made some of us sad, [00:38:00] honestly.
Erik Martinez: Yeah, it's true. I struggle. Kevin and I are more of a similar body type than Tim and the thing that's frustrating for me, I'm a soccer fan. So, I follow the sporting Kansas City soccer team, but if you go buy apparel in one of their little stores, you can't really try it on there. I'll go buy a 2X and it's still too small for me, and I'm sitting there going it's 2X on somebody who's about half my size. It's a real problem. We should be able to solve this. Can we use any of these technologies to solve this? What else can we do?
Kevin Weitzel: What it really comes down to is making the process simple, What's the shoe company? Zappos?
Tim Curtis: Zappos.
Kevin Weitzel: They solved it by just sending you three pairs of shoes. They'll send you three pairs of shoes. You keep the ones you want and send the other comes back. I don't understand how that's profitable, but somehow it's working because they are ranking. That is one solution, be able to send back what doesn't work. Send an envelope, send it back. It seems like it's a lot of wasted packaging, but.
Tim Curtis: Also, now we're talking [00:39:00] about a heightened element is sustainability, and are some of those practices that like Zappos. When Zappos developed some of those practices, sustainability was not at the spearhead of concern for retailers, and there wasn't a lot of pressure for retailers to adapt or modify their practices to be more sustainable. We all know fast fashion, which is a big bulk of what we're talking about here is the largest culprit in terms of sustainability.
So, it seems to me, and again, simple here, I'm just stating the obvious. It seems to be the more that we can focus on the development of these technologies, the more we can help cut down on that unnecessary waste and the extra two pair of shoes, and the freight, the gas, the airline jet fuel, whatever it is. All of that is a carbon emission to get to you.
We're going to have carbon emissions, right? We're just going to be mindful about those carbon emissions, but I keep advocating [00:40:00] for shouldn't there be some sort of lab, a quote-unquote innovation lab, that helps to spend more effort developing these technologies for apparel specifically. Because apparel, you're talking about a lot of dimensions of fit, and here, we are three guys and we're going to each have completely different dimensions from the other.
Erik Martinez: Which is weird, right? Because we talked about women's bodies being the ones that have a lot of variation and they do. They definitely have way more curves and changes than we do, but we do too, and that is definitely an issue.
Tim Curtis: What's the one thing we all complain about?
Erik Martinez: Fit. For sure.
Tim Curtis: Fit of those products, and so I'd love to see, someone like OutHouse, maybe leading a charge and helping to develop some sort of a lab where we can refine and perfect some of these technologies.
Kevin Weitzel: That's tall order.
Tim Curtis: Or taking where Ture Fit has gone and maybe going one step beyond that cause I don't know if you guys have ever ordered. You put in all the information for your True Fit profile and it still doesn't fit. Either the material or [00:41:00] the specifications that the retailer entered are not accurate to the product and there's a difference in the manufacturing process, which is true, or we just got to restart.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, Tim talking about restarting, how do we change where we're at right now, which is you've got the bleeding edge people that are developing this stuff. They're the innovators, and you've got all the replicators. You've got the people that like, hey, that's working for X. Now we need to do it. That's the disease in the home building industry is that one company will come out with something really cool, and because they did it now, everybody else wants to do it.
Whether it's going to work for them or not. They're not even concerned what's the output going to be? Or what's the throughput going to be? It's X does it, we need it with no rationale as to why or understanding of just why they need it. They just know that because X did it, they have to have it. How do we get past that to where people are willing to invest in themselves to make the process easier, more consumer-friendly, more educational, easy [00:42:00] to use, and to where the data can be shared across multiple platforms.
Tim Curtis: It feels like the answer with retail has always been it has to be demonstrated more. Here we are in the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic and, you know, life is generally getting back to normal. You know, People are no longer have to wear a mask on a plane, so we're obviously getting somewhat back to normal, at least for the time being, but retail has always had to have been led to water. Yes, you do have some folks out there who are those innovators. Kind of the serial entrepreneurs that maybe have started different clothing brands and they're innovating around fit.
I think of Ministry of Supply as an example. One that really has taken that and is developing very innovative approaches to that. But I think what you're asking is how do we take what the Ministry of Supply or the UNTUCKits are doing and how do we make that available for the mainstream or make that adoptable that the mainstream begins to embrace that. I think we have to model it and I think we have to educate them.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.
Tim Curtis: [00:43:00] That's the only way that I've ever seen it work in retail.
Kevin Weitzel: And not everything is hip and cool. Not everything is Squatch. Not everything can be a cool hip commercial. You know, of a guy showering out the wilderness, and having catchy phrases for everything that happens. It's just not the reality, but yeah, I think you guys are on it.
Erik Martinez: I think people forget. For every cool commercial out there, how many thousands of commercials died on the cutting room floor? How much work went into planning that commercial and getting it just right. There's a lot of work that goes into all of these things. Really, for me still comes back to, I think Tim's right, some education, but then also, hey, here's some concrete steps to start the process and you can start small. Seventy-five dollars. I'm still blown away by that, Kevin.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. I think it might even have been less.
Erik Martinez: $75 for a 3D rendering interactive thing is just crazy.
Kevin Weitzel: When you're talking about because this question comes up all the time with me. When you ask the question, where does somebody start? The [00:44:00] question that I always get is what does it cost? The rhetorical question I have that comes back, which is what does it cost you not to do it?
So, my direct answer to what does it cost is set a budget 3%, 4%, 7% of your sales, whatever that number is that you can swallow that gets put into development funds, that get channeled toward digital content, channeled toward improving the website because a website isn't a set it and forget it. You don't build a website, and then, hey, I built this website. I spent $25,000. It's done. No, you have to maintain it. You have to keep it updated. You have to keep it fresh.
Just like a blog. If you create a blog and you only put three items on there and then never touch it again, and now it's 2022 and your blog is still dated 2017, it's not relevant. Nobody cares about it. It's a nothing burger. So, set a budget based on a percentage of your sales that you are going to wholeheartedly commit to that marketing spend, whether it be too conventional advertising, digital advertising, [00:45:00], or improving your processes. That's what it costs.
Erik Martinez: Hey, Kevin, I just gotta say, we know you are not in the retail space because you said a website costs $25,000. All of our retailers out there, like how do I get that?
Tim Curtis: Yeah. Times. Times ten, times twenty.
Kevin Weitzel: You know, I was in the retail industry. I actually founded the largest triathlon store in the Western half the United States in 2004, and yeah, my website was considerably less than that, but in the home building industry, yeah. The websites cost a lot more because there's so much more intricate. They have so much more actual divisions of content and they have so much more connectivity to different platforms. So, yeah, that does cost money.
Erik Martinez: Well, awesome, Kevin. Well, thank you so much for coming on today. Is there anyone last thing you'd like to leave our listening audience with?
Kevin Weitzel: Yes. Don't be afraid of two things. Don't be afraid of change. All things evolve. So, don't be afraid of [00:46:00] change. You do have to constantly be improving your product, be improving your processes, and improving your people. We're not talking about that, but you also need to improve that too. The second thing is set realistic budgets. You know, to say that, oh, I'll spend $500 to improve my website. That's not a realistic budget. I don't care how cheap your website is to earmark 500 bucks to arbitrarily cover costs is laughable. Set a realistic budget as a percentage of your sales to commit to improving everything we just chatted about.
Tim Curtis: Well, thanks Kevin again for joining us this afternoon. Appreciate everybody listening. This is Tim Curtis from CohereOne.
Erik Martinez: And Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.