TikTok Shops: The Warm Front in the eCommerce Winter | Jordan West

Today’s Guest Jordan West

Jordan West leaped into the marketing world at 22, transforming a Taco Del Mar restaurant into a sales triumph through sheer ingenuity. He and his wife then nurtured Little & Lively from a quaint home venture to a juggernaut among Canada's top baby brands, showcasing his flair for scaling e-commerce businesses. Off the clock, Jordan swapped business strategies for life-saving techniques as a paramedic, and loved helping people on their "worst day."

TikTok Shops: The Warm Front in the eCommerce Winter

As we navigate through what has Jordan West has termed the 'eCommerce winter', a period marked by chilling challenges and frosty fortunes, it is sometimes difficult to keep the hope of finding improved economic returns. And it seems that we might just find the answer in Tik Tok shops.

Misaligned Incentives: The Crux of the Cold

Jordan talks about the the fundamental misalignment of incentives between agencies and eCommerce businesses. This misalignment isn't a mere inconvenience; it's a barricade to genuine growth and success. Agencies, driven by their bottom line, often propose solutions that serve their interests first. They set a price, a mininimum retainer, and then come up with works to justify it. Ever worked with one?

The eCommerce Winter: A Season of Discontent

And this missalignment is made even more promenant when you think about the eCommerce Winter that we are in. eCommerce companies simply don't have the money they need to pay high retainer fees and ad costs. Sales are harder to come by, customer loyalty is as slippery as ice, and the once-clear path to profitability is now obscured by a blizzard of competition and inflated advertising costs.

The Thawing Promise of TikTok Shops

Enter TikTok Shops, the warm front breaking through our winter of discontent. This platform isn't just an alternative to the established order; it's a radical realignment of incentives, aligning them to benefit both the brand and the influencer. Influencers are rewarded based on the actual success of their promotions, TikTok Shops ensures that only those strategies that genuinely resonate with the audience are rewarded. Sounds like great news, right?!

The Next Era of eCommerce

This evolution towards performance-based marketing is more than just a trend; Jordan reckons that it's the dawn of the next era of eCommerce. Frist TikTok, then Instagram and Facebook. It will change how we buy and it will change influence marketing.

Conclusion: Spring is Coming

As we stand at the cusp of this new season in eCommerce, it's evident that TikTok Shops represents more than just a platform; it's a paradigm shift. This warm front in the eCommerce winter brings with it the promise of a landscape where alignment, authenticity, and performance drive success. For businesses ready to embrace this change, the future is not just bright; it's warm with the potential for unprecedented growth. As Jordan tells us, the eCommerce winter may be upon us, but with TikTok Shops, spring is undeniably on the horizon.

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[EP] - Jordan West

Matt Edmundson: [00:00:00] Okay, we are recording now. Yes, we are. Hello and welcome to the eCommerce Podcast with me, your host, Matt Edmundson. Oh yes, this is a show all about helping you deliver eCommerce well. And to help us do just that, today we are chatting with a man all the way, almost from the other side of the world, it feels close to Vancouver, so maybe not as far away as we think.

Jordan West who is from the West from UpGrowth Commerce, about navigating the new tide, Affiliate Influencer Marketing in the Era of TikTok Shops. Oh yeah, we're going to get into marketing, we're going to get into TikTok and as Jordan said, we can talk about pretty much anything, and we probably will so do stay tuned, grab your notebooks, grab your pens.

Now, if you're new to the eCommerce Podcast, let me extend a very warm welcome to you. Always great when new people join us. And if you haven't done so already, make sure you hit that subscribe button or follow us wherever you [00:01:00] get your podcasts from, because we just love talking about eCom. And I know it is going to be helpful for you and your eCommerce business because I get so many people commenting and just connecting with me and saying, man, that was super, super helpful.

We know it's good stuff, so make sure you subscribe to it. If you're feeling a little bit daring. Go to the website, ecommercepodcast. net, put in your name and email address and we will send you an email every week with the notes and the links from the show straight to your inbox. Oh yes, nothing you gotta do, it's just automatic, it's a beautiful thing so why not give that a shout as well, it'd be great to see you, there's thousands of other people on that newsletter list, you won't be the first, but you will get some great stuff, no doubt about it.

Now. Let's take a brief moment to thank the show sponsor. Oh, yes eCommerce Cohort enables us to bring you the eCommerce Podcast. It's our monthly membership group. It's what keeps us going. If you haven't done so already, check it out, eCommerceCohort. com. I'm in there. We've got workshops. [00:02:00] We've got all kinds of stuff about eCom and you even get to watch the podcast recording live, if you remember.

Why not check it out, it's going to be great, it's going to be awesome. Have a look, as they say. Now let's talk about Jordan. Jordan West leaped into the marketing world in 22, transforming a Taco Del Mar restaurant into a sales triumph through sheer ingenuity. I'm Jordan, just to pre-warn You, my friend. I want to know what sheer ingenuity looks like.

He and his wife then nurtured little and lively from a quaint home venture to a juggernaut among Canada's top baby brands, showcasing his flare for scaling and e-commerce businesses. After the clock, Jordan swap business strategist for lifesaving techniques as a paramedic. A man after my own heart.

We've got some, we're gonna, I don't know what we're gonna be talking about. We've got some commonalities, let me tell you and loved helping people on their worst day. Jordan, welcome to the show, man. Great to have [00:03:00] you. How are you doing? Yep.

Jordan West: not going to lie to you for the last five minutes or whatever that was not talking just listening. I'm like, Oh, what a great exercise. This is really beautiful right now. I'm not going to chime in on any of this kind of stuff.

And even some of the language you were using, I was like, Oh man, okay, this is really nice. I really appreciate all of that. Let's see if I can actually deliver on what that intro exactly was. Everything in it was true, but I just want to make sure that, people understand it's it's not quite as good as it sounds, or I'm not quite as good as it sounds, but I'm going to really try and deliver some good stuff today.

Matt Edmundson: Fantastic. I'm looking forward to it. Now, let's deal with the paramedic thing first. The reason why that caught my attention, and just to let you know, I don't actually read these bios until we do the show, because I like to be surprised by them. And it's always a thing that I do. I don't know why, I just like to be surprised by what's in the bio, and Sadaf puts a lot of time and energy into crafting these things, which is great.

And so I didn't realize that you were a paramedic. Now, the reason why I find this interesting, apart from paramedics are awesome, is I too [00:04:00] worked on the ambulances here in Liverpool, England. I too have seen a fair few things come across people in their worst day. And actually we had a lodger live with us for, she, Jenny lived with us, I don't know, seven, eight years.

It was a long old time and she was a beautiful young lady. She got married. Last year I want to say, maybe the year before, I can't remember now, it all blurs into, anyway, I walked her down the aisle, I did the whole Father of the Bride speech thing and and she's a paramedic, she married an advanced paramedic who drives the super fast cars around the, all kinds of cool stuff, I just love the whole paramedic thing man, so thank you for doing that and thank you for having some fun with that, and thank you for sticking through the boredom with that as well.

Jordan West: Absolutely, it's really interesting thinking about some of the confluence between being a paramedic and the things that I learned in that and business, right? Really, no matter what kind of meeting I go into or, issue that I'm in, I'm like, It's not really scary what's the worst thing?

I've told literally hundreds of people [00:05:00] that their loved one is dead and had to have that difficult conversation with them and had to navigate that, right? And so we're just talking about business. That's okay. Like we, we can do conversations like that and it's just money, right? Like my mentor, he's South African and he's got this, some kind of South African phrase that basically just throws his hands up and is it's just money.

I just had a really good friend of mine, a lawyer friend of mine drop dead with an aneurysm, right? That's life. This is business and it's a lot of fun and so I think it's really nice to still maintain that old perspective. It's been four and a half years since I've done anything to do with being a paramedic and I miss it a bit.

I'm glad that you brought it back up. I was like, yeah, that's right. That was Jordan, 17.0 and we're now on Jordan 25 or whatever it is.

Matt Edmundson: Whatever state we're in now, we don't really know. No, absolutely. It is fascinating. You are right. And when you contrast the two things When you have to deal with people in their worst moments of life, I've never come across anything in business that's that bad. We've had some bad [00:06:00] times.

In context, we're still here, and it's always, it's quite a sobering thought, isn't it? And it's always quite interesting to think about that. So tell me about what was it we said in the bio, I'm just going to pull it up here. So you tackled a restaurant sales into sales triumph through sheer ingenuity.

What was that all about?

Jordan West: Who writes these things, that's what I wanna know.

Matt Edmundson: Great. She's also Canadian, funnily enough.

Jordan West: Oh wonderful. Yeah, let me tell you a little bit about that. So I was 22 years old and I'm now 38. I don't know, you guys are probably thinking like, oh, 38, you don't look like that. You look, don't look a day over 23.

No. I was at the barber yesterday

Matt Edmundson: That's exactly what I was

Jordan West: he showed me the back of my head and let me tell you, I said, sorry, is that skin that I'm seeing through there? Is that what I'm seeing? And he put his hand over top and he said, no, it looks just fine to me. So I know I'm getting, I know I'm getting a little bit older when that's starting to happen.

Yeah, let me tell you about this. I was 22 years old and I [00:07:00] just wanted to get into business. I knew nothing about business. I was, but I knew I wanted to get into business. Why? I don't know. I just wanted to. And I thought, oh, this is a wonderful way to do it. And Taco Del Mar at the time was a chain, I think there was about 200 stores.

And they were actually in a bankruptcy as an entire organization. And we knew that they were going to get bought out of it, but a lot of the stores were struggling. And I thought, I, so I was able to buy a store for about 35, 000 Canadian. And so I was like I know the equipment is probably worth around that.

So what's the worst thing that can happen? The worst thing that can happen is five years of my life, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars and learning so much. And so I was not good at operations. I've never been good at operations. I'm sure you can tell I'm not an operations kind of guy.

We lost a lot of money, but. We ended up tripling the sales over that time and so I was really proud of that, and I feel like we maxed out the capacity and the reason why I think that is because we were almost even with the Subway that was next door to us, and Subway was still in its heyday at that time, and I knew what their sales were, and I knew what ours were, and I thought, [00:08:00] okay, I think we've maxed out what we can do here, and we still couldn't make money and it was a, such a great experience.

It's funny, people will say Oh, two plus exits or two X exits or something. I never considered that an exit. I sold it for 25, 000. At the end of it because I didn't want to renew the lease. But you know what an incredible experience, right? In all of this, I always take these experiences and think who, what do I want to look back on in my life?

Do I want to like, do I want to die with a big pile of cash? Why? I don't know. What I want is to experience things, right? And yes, in those moments, it's hard, right? Like we're actually, I own a bunch of businesses now and some of them are going through some really difficult times and we're having to have some really hard conversations with banks and all these things.

And it's funny, none of it keeps me up. It just doesn't. It's okay what's the, none of it's going to kill me, right? Like I don't have debt to the mafia. So none of it's going to kill me. And if anything, it's just a beautiful way to just continue to experience life. Yeah that's what I got to say about that.

Matt Edmundson: That sounds fascinating. Sounds fascinating. It's [00:09:00] interesting because one of the strategic decisions we've made as a company in the non too distant past is. We've decided that we are going to start investing in other eCom businesses, right? So we've been running, I don't know if I've mentioned this before on the podcast, it's probably the first time I haven't mentioned it actually.

But we've been running eCom businesses for 22 years now, Jesus, it's a long time, oh goodness me, it's a long time.

Jordan West: The birth of eCom.

Matt Edmundson: yeah something like that. And we've been doing it a while. We added up our sort of total worldwide sales, it was over 75 million. Our client's over 100 million.

This is pretty cool. We've learned a thing or two on the way. And so I'm intrigued now to see whether investing in other companies and becoming part of another business, having multiple businesses like that. It's the sort of the next level and I'm, like you say, it's just fun.

The whole idea of it I find fascinating and fun and finding partners that you can work with and just enjoying it, just seeing what happens and why not.

Jordan West: Yes. [00:10:00] Yes. Yes. And I think that's one of the, that's a great question, right? Why not? Maybe it's going to be difficult. It probably will be just cause something's difficult. Does it mean not to do it? And obviously, you're not going to go and bet a million dollars on something that you're like, ah, I don't know.

Let's just do it. But there is a point where you have to take risks, right? And it's interesting because I've been having a lot of lawyer and banker conversations recently and lawyers and bankers are not creative. They're not entrepreneurs, right? They don't know how. What they don't know how to do is creatively solve a problem, right?

What they know how to do is tell you what things happened and what things look like right now, whereas entrepreneurs have this incredible way of being able to create the future. Like we're incredible. As humans, we can somehow imagine something and then it can happen. Like it's magic. Do we not realize how magical.

What we do is, especially as entrepreneurs, right? Like we're creating worlds, right? So that's really important to remember that what you're doing is really important in the world, whether you're, you might just think, Oh, I'm just selling a widget or whatever it is. What you're doing is important.

It matters.[00:11:00]

Matt Edmundson: Totally agree. Totally agree. By the way, I'm loving your little logo behind you. It's not as little is it really, but the clever way of doing the word up, like that, with the heart, very clever. Yeah, nothing related to anything, of course if you're listening to the podcast and not watching it, you're like, Matt what are you talking about?

Just go to the website, Google UpGrowth Commerce and you'll see what I mean. So tell me a little bit about UpGrowth Commerce, tell me what you got, how you guys have ended up where you are now.

Jordan West: Yeah. Yeah. Great question again. And thanks. Thanks for having me on here. This is one of my favorite things in the world to do. I'll tell you a bit about UpGrowth Commerce. UpGrowth Commerce actually started way back in the day. I think it was like 2014, 2015. I started dropshipping. So my very first store was dropshipping hoverboards.

And so at that time I don't know if you guys remember

Matt Edmundson: of. Hoverboards, that kind of back to the future type thing.

Jordan West: yeah like those things like you had to balance and,

Matt Edmundson: okay, I know what you mean. Yeah.

Jordan West: Yeah, those like balance boards, we over here call them hoverboards. And so there was quite a demand for them and I was like, okay, I think I can figure this [00:12:00] out. So I still had my Taco Del Mar restaurant and I was trying to figure it all out.

So I just started running some Google ads and I actually made a lot of money. In, at that time I was like, things were very difficult and I think I made an extra 20 or 30 wow, this is amazing. It was all great until I sold something to somebody just down the street from me and I was drop shipping these from China and they were having issues with it and then other people started having issues with them and I was like, you know what?

I want to own my products. I don't want to sell somebody else's products. I want to own, so everything I do, I want to make sure that it's mine and that I can actually stand behind it. So I just ended up just shutting that down. It was called Hoverboard Authority. If anybody wants the URL, hoverboardauthority.

com, I think I still own it. And it was really fun, and during that time, we, my wife and I had our first child, we have three now and she's ten Daphne, and my wife was a fashion designer but she wasn't really using it much, she was doing some graphic design for a non profit at the time, and she started making sorry, so our, we were trying out cloth diapers, and cloth diapers, worst decision [00:13:00] ever

Matt Edmundson: I feel your pain brother, we made the same decision, we never, yeah, anyway, carry on,

Jordan West: It was only for the first little bit, but it really sparked what happened with our baby brand at Little Unlively because we realized that there was a huge issue. We could not find leggings that would go over top of cloth diapers. They just wouldn't fit and they would sit halfway down. And so my wife was like, Oh, this is an easy pattern to make.

And so she just tweaked the pattern. She got some from Carter's or something and just tweaked it and was like, Oh, I think that this will work. And then people saw them and were like, Oh can I get them? And then a wholesaler called us and was like, Hey, can we get them? And we went to some craft markets and we kept selling out.

And it's incredible because our baby leggings are still our number one seller. That was 2014 and we're in

Matt Edmundson: wow,

Jordan West: There's still our number one seller, which is just crazy. And people come to us from all over the world for these leggings, which is funny because it's a very it's a product that you think would be all out there, but people haven't made this kind of version of it still in the baby space.

And [00:14:00] so from there we found we went on Etsy because we were pretty familiar with Etsy through some other like crafting kind of stuff that my wife liked to do. And then from Etsy, we started to look into different platforms. And at the time, it was not an obvious choice to go with Shopify. It just wasn't.

It was like, we were like looking all over. Now, I wish that I had poured a bunch of that money into Shopify stock at that time. That would have been, oh, what a sweet story that would be right

Matt Edmundson: you and me both yeah.

Jordan West: And so totally and it's interesting because I'm I never mean to be an early adopter.

I never mean to, I just have friends that are early adopters that tell me about these things and I'm like the one thing I'm really good at, I love Clifton's strengths, and one of the strengths in Clifton's strengths is maximize your strengths. And it's really being able to see. It's really being able to see something and Oh, I know what to do with that or that person's strength.

And I know where to put them exactly. That's really the only strength I have. I can never see into the future, but I've got friends who can. So Shopify, we went on there and then we started running ads and People would see our [00:15:00] ads and they'd be like, Hey, can you do that for us? And at the time it was like, sure, like I'll come, why don't I come show you how to do it?

It's really easy. So I would show them how to do that and set up flows. And then, I found Klaviyo at the time or Klaviyo, whatever you guys call it. And and we just started to go from there. And I was just doing all this for free for people. And somebody was like hey, can you run it for us?

I was like, yeah, sure. So I hired a friend and then from there it just ballooned and it just started to take off. And so I realized I love the agency game. I love it more than the brand game. I'm not because I'm not a good operator,

Matt Edmundson: Yeah.

Jordan West: and so that's where UpGrowth Commerce came from.

And it really just came out of the need of number one for my wife and I not to work together every day because that doesn't work in my opinion, like

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, the quickest way to get a divorce is work with your wife in a lot of ways, isn't it? Hats off to people that can do it successfully, but I know exactly what you mean.

Jordan West: yeah, to me, it's not the kind of life I want to live in that sort of way. And also we're both visionaries, right? So when you bring two [00:16:00] visionaries into a group and this is why I love the entrepreneurial operating system, right? Having that language where you're like, Oh, actually.

I'm a visionary, you're a visionary, but we both try and make each other the other person's integrator. Like we both want to have that. And so I had this beautiful vision for the agency of what I wanted to create. And through some hiccups and all of that kind of stuff, we are where we are now at the agency.

And I also have run a podcast for years with the agency called Seekers to Scaling Your eCommerce Brand, where I brought on Lots of just amazing brands over the years and heard about them. And we're in such an interesting cycle right now in eCom, right? Like I hear about, I would say a brand a day going bankrupt right

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. Yeah. It's quite a common thing at the moment.

Jordan West: It's really difficult right now. And so what we're trying to do is figure out like. Where do agencies sit in all of this, right? And, for anyone who can see my sign back here, you can see A and sucks. But really what my big thing that I'm talking about is that agencies suck.

And it's not because I think that agencies [00:17:00] actually do. I think that inherently there is a mismatched there's. There's mismatched incentives for agencies versus brands and what I'm really trying to do and I do a lot of consulting with agencies and it's I think about it almost like the psychological torment where I'm like, agencies suck, hey, come consult with me, so I can tell you how not to suck, but really at the end of the day, I think that there's misaligned incentives in a lot of ways and that's what I'm trying to solve with upgrowth and then also in the greater, scheme of where agencies sit exactly with, specifically with direct consumer brands.

Matt Edmundson: It's interesting listening to you talk because I love the fact that you, your agency was born out of your experience in e-com, right? So I know a lot of agency owners that have never run an e-commerce business, but come to people like me and say, I can make your e-commerce business better, right? And part of me gets it.

Part of me is you're a specialist in this area. I get that. But I love the fact that actually what you do is born out of your experience in eCom in [00:18:00] terms of running your store, we do coaching as a result of what we do in eCom, it comes out of that experience, I'm not trying to convince people or clients to do stuff we've not done and tested on ourselves. There's like an integrity to that. And I love that about your story and what you're doing.

What, when you say that agencies are they've got misaligned targets or misaligned what was the exact phrase you used?

Jordan West: Incentives.

Matt Edmundson: That's the word, sorry. The misaligned incentives, what do you mean by that?

Jordan West: I want to give you an example here. So to actually offer the kind of service that we need to offer for a brand in creative and media buying and strategy and all of these things, we need to charge to break even about 10, 000 a month to a brand, right? So to do that though, right? So we need to start with us first in mind, right?

When we're thinking about offering this kind of service, that right away. Get, gets you misaligned, right? [00:19:00] Immediately we're misaligned because I'm only thinking about what I need, right? And I'm a huge win guy not in the sort of like plithy oh, I don't know, like maybe win oh, let's try and figure it out.

No, really, I need to figure out like what's the win on our side? Because we have to figure out what the win on our side is. So when you start there of what do I need? First, I don't actually think that works. I think that first figuring out what does an eCom brand need, right? What can they afford right now?

We're in this place right now, this eCom winter or whatever we're calling it, where brands cannot afford a 10, 000 minimum retainer. It's not going to work. What kind of return do you have to get on a 10, 000 retainer to make it worthwhile? A lot of money. Like we need to 10x our return alone, let alone if we're spending, on ads and whatever else it is.

We need to have a massive return because I understand, and I think that's the beautiful thing about running this agency, is that I understand and can empathize with business owners and eCommerce store owners being like, the margins are not They're not what everybody thinks when you take shipping and returns and all of this kind of [00:20:00] stuff into it.

I think about one of, one of our brands, I have a 20, 000 a month lease, there's a lot of costs that go into it that people don't realize. And so I think that right away you, you start with misaligned incentives. And so what we're really trying to figure out is Do we have the best kind of incentive that actually aligns with what the brand wants to do?

Also, while realizing a lot of things that agencies do are completely commoditized. Media buying, in my opinion, is a commodity. On Google, Facebook, on TikTok, all those things, it's a commodity. Does it mean that it's not important? Oh it's incredibly important, but it's a commodity. It's not some kind of special skill that you necessarily can't get over, a week.

You can know how to media buy, but it's really important that you actually trust who does that. Trust is not a commodity, right? That is one of those things that is absolutely not a commodity. And so even strategy, with ChatGPT let's be honest, it gets pretty good when it comes to strategizing and coming up with different ideas and all of that kind of stuff.

So that's what I'm talking about when I'm talking about [00:21:00] there's misaligned incentives that. I think what happens is a an agency figures out what they need to charge, and then they create a bunch of things to try to justify that

That's what I'm talking about.

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, that's very good. So how do you do it then? Do you do it how do you do it differently? Yeah,

Jordan West: Yeah, so one of the big things, and this is something huge that we're working on right now of changing everything because I've been seeing this coming and I've been seeing this in the agency space for a while. And so really what we're trying to do is win when brands win. And so what that means is really base everything on performance and so have very low retainers that are really performance based.

Now in the past with let's say meta ads, it was really difficult to do that, especially when attribution was all over the place. How do you? Do that when it comes to that. In my opinion, meta ad buying is a commodity. And so we charge a flat rate for it, a flat, lower fee rate that is like way better than the previous service that we created, right?

So the previous service that we created was all about meeting and strategy and all of these [00:22:00] things really at the end of the day, you need to figure out what ad is going to actually drive traffic. And generally it's one to five ads that are going to drive. All of your traffic that are then going to do the rest on your business, right?

And so what I'm always looking for is what is that next thing that is going to actually help brands? Media buying is something that has to happen. You have to be buying media and you have to be getting new eyeballs on your brand all the time. I'm not saying don't, do not get rid of your ad spend.

Absolutely not. But really think about what exactly It's doing for you and the reason why you are spending that kind of money and enter TikTok shops, right? This whole new world of what things look like, I don't know if you want to get into that yet, but

Matt Edmundson: Yeah, let's go there.

Jordan West: yeah so what I saw coming in the, and let's shift over into the influencer landscape.

So we've worked at the influencers for years at our brand. So we own multiple brands, by the way

We'll see in the next six months how many we own. We are, we're divesting quite heavily right now on that side, just [00:23:00] because of just a lot of different factors for me. I've gone all in at the agency.

I have CEOs that are running everything else or general managers or whatever that is. I. Personally, this is what I want to do. We've actually, we tripled our agency last year, which is great. The only reason we did that is because we actually, tripled the amount of brands that we're helping. And so we want to continue to do that.

I love what I do here. And so I really want to focus on this. And so that's why we're divesting quite a bit of stuff, but all of that to say. Hey, what I saw coming in the influencer space was that the, there was a bubble, right? There's always bubbles and you can generally see bubbles afterwards. I think I've seen this bubble while it's happening in the influencer space.

The reason why is I also, and I don't know if you're in the space too, I also am an influencer in certain ways. I get paid by software companies often to talk about them. And I, again, Everything that I do is based on trust, and so I will only work with ones that I actually believe in, I've tried, I use but they don't [00:24:00] necessarily always pay me for performance.

They'll just pay a flat rate, and sometimes I think, you're paying me a lot of money just to talk about you. Is, does, is this actually a win? And so when you think win, you realize, oh, are they actually getting everything out of this that they could be? And so I love the performance model because you only get paid when you actually perform.

And so I've seen this with influencers. Now let's get into direct consumer because I think this is where it really hits. The amount of times, and I don't know about you, maybe you're a lot more wise than me, but the amount of times that I've paid 1, 000 for an influencer to post and it's done nothing, and we maybe get a piece of content, it's innumerable, right?

Like the amount of times you're like, Oh, this one's going to hit. And so I saw this in the space and I was like, this cannot. This cannot last. Brands are not going to do this. And thus hits the eCom winter where people, these brands just don't have money to do that anymore. And so it started this performance influencer model started to come around and [00:25:00] I started to connect with the guys over at Social Snowball and started to look into, what exactly does this look like?

And then, bing, TikTok shops happen. And when it first happened, people started to talk about it, and I was like, What's the big deal? It's like Facebook shops or Instagram shops Who cares? What's the big deal? The big deal is that it's disrupting everything in the influencer world. That is the big deal.

Because it's all based on performance. The influencers don't get paid unless they perform. That's it. That's the only possible way that they get paid. So when I talk about aligning incentives, TikTok Shops aligns the incentives absolutely perfectly. There is no brand sub 20 million right now that can afford to just pay for posts without it actually doing something.

We cannot do that right now. It's not going to happen. And so now there's this incredible thing, and I'll get into this. I'd love to know. I've, I feel like I've just talked and talked. I don't know if you have any, I'm going to just stop talking for a sec.[00:26:00]

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. No, I'm sucked in. I'm listening to you talk about about influencers. And I totally agree with you. I think this idea of misaligned incentives. Whether with agency, whether with influencers, I see it all the time. I do see it all the time. I was talking earlier about investing in new companies.

That all the time as well. People come to you and think I've been trading for five years. Therefore, my company is worth a million bucks because everybody wants to make a million and then clear out, right? And you're just like, yeah, no, I don't have to tell you this, but no, not at any kind of level.

And so it's interesting listening to you talk about that. And what I'm picking up, Jordan, is actually in your voice, a real excitement for TikTok shops and influencers. It seems like you've stumbled across into something there, which has really lit a spark for you.

Jordan West: Absolutely. Number one at the agency, what brand wants to come and talk to us about ads? There are 7 trillion people who do [00:27:00] that, right? I love anything that's Blue Ocean. I love, right? Anything that's new and even like our new pricing model for ads is the most Blue Ocean thing I can think of.

All these agencies have to charge this huge amount. And what we figured out was Okay. How do we, and I love Alex Hermosi. I know, he's the big, ripped kind of guy. And, he's probably the most brilliant business person out there right now. And in hundred million dollar offers, he's talking about how do you give the most possible value, for the lowest price, especially when you're in a commodity or you're in a red ocean market. That's how you create blue oceans, is figuring that out. And so we've reinvented all of that. We're like, what do people actually want? How can we use automation in certain ways? How can we use all of these different tools that we have to create a better experience, right?

So let's go back to TikTok shops because I'm obsessed with it right now. Now, am I obsessed with TikTok shops in general? Yes, but only because it's the first player In North America, when it [00:28:00] comes to this I was chatting with a friend the other day who's got a friend, sorry, friend of a friend who reports to the C suite at Meta and they are going to be rolling out a pixel for pixel copy all of the TikTok shop experience in Q3.

Matt Edmundson: Wow.

Jordan West: You know that they're going to absolutely crush, right? So I want to be at the forefront of all this, right? Selfishly, like I, it's funny, like I'm going to some events and I was going to do a live podcast at one of them. And I said, dude, put me on the main stage to talk about TikTok shops because that's what people want to talk about.

That's what people want to hear about because everything's changing. It's not the same as it used to be. Let me walk through why it's the most revolutionary thing to come to eCom since Amazon. I really truly believe this and I'm not just saying this because I'm like hyped on it or anything like that.

I am hyped on it, but I'm, I actually believe that is the most revolutionary thing since Amazon.

Let me tell you why. First of all, it's pay to play, right? It's all performance. That is, [00:29:00] that number one is incredible. One of my core values and a core value actually we have at UpGrowth Commerce is we give transparency and visibility.

TikTok has done that. They have done that in the back end. So when you go into Seller Central or Sell, Seller Center in the back end, you can actually see to the dollar amount how much an influencer is driven for brands. So you better believe that I'm going to go to the ones that have already started to drive revenue for brands, right?

In what world that isn't TikTok would they open that kind of data up? And now Meta has to, they're going to have to when they run this, right? So it's not just that, let me walk through why I think it's the opposite funnel of what we used to do. What, this is what I'm proposing at UpGrowth and I will tell you, Matt, the amount of conversations that I am having right now with brands and the amount of people we cannot keep up right now with the amount of conversations we're having at UpGrowth about TikTok shops because this is what people, I think people are starting to realize, oh my gosh, this is why it's so incredible.

I put a webinar on yesterday, I had 160 people attend. [00:30:00] What? Since when has that ever happened? And on a webinar since 2013,

Matt Edmundson: Yeah. Yeah.

Jordan West: like people are hungry and they're realizing, Oh my gosh, this is the new way. So let me tell you the new way. So it flips it completely on its head. So you start with TikTok shops.

So we do a ton of outreach. To influencers, we're really not getting super picky. We're just making sure that these influencers have driven some revenue and they're in there, they're talking to our target demo, that's it. And so interestingly on the agency side, and I hope people understand this, it is a sales play.

And so we did not give up this service. to our operations team at the agency. This is a sales exercise, what we're doing, because you're trying to sell to the influencer. It's not just like a matter of hey, do you want to do this product? Or do you want to rep this product? No, that's not it at all.

It's hey, and so we've got all sorts of great, like initial messaging templates that we're that we've created, where it's like, Hey, Jenny, we think that you'd be awesome. This Lisa over here drove 600 sales for us the other day with [00:31:00] this particular product. I think if you created something like this, you could probably do something similar.

Do you want to work with us? By the way, we want to get usage rights for everything up front. Are you comfortable with that on TikTok? So on Instagram, what would people say? Oh, yeah, for a thousand bucks, I'll give you usage rights on TikTok. Oh, yeah, absolutely. For sure. Yeah, whatever. I'd love to be a part of whatever you're doing. This is the difference, right? They understand the value gap, right? Instagram influencers, there is no value gap. It's probably actually an opposite value gap right now

Matt Edmundson: Do you think that's because do you think that's because it's a generational thing that it, I was stereotyping a little bit. Instagram's millennials, TikTok is Gen Z or Gen Z. And is it a generational mindset shift, do you think?

Jordan West: I don't know. So I'm a millennial. And I don't know, I don't think I think like most Millennials. So I feel much more comfortable in the baby boomer sort of face, like the hard work like, no, you wait like guys, I wake up at [00:32:00] between 330 and five every single morning to work because I love working.

And I love it. Sorry, I don't love working. I love building. And so I don't know if that's, but what I think it is the proliferation of people trying to make money to help people make money as influencers. And so they tell them, know your worth, know how much you can charge. And it's no, your worth, it's zero.

Your worth is zero when it comes to this. Barely even, I don't even know if I want to give you a product. That's what your actual value to the brand is. And I know that's harsh. Don't use that one as a clip here. No, you're worth a zero, but really you're worth is whatever you can generate in revenue for a brand brands. Do not need right now, more awareness, they need sales. That's what brands need in 2024. So I think that's really important to note. And that's what TikTok Shops has done, right? It's said hey, you're gonna make money as a percentage of what you drive.

So what ends up happening is people are actually getting [00:33:00] incredibly creative. And I think that some people are really scared. They're like, oh no it's ruining TikTok, right? For me I think TikTok was ruined when it was created, so it's this mythical beast that somehow keeps you on there for hours at a time and has somehow become the biggest search engine in North America now.

And it's, let's not get into all of that, but how, like, how do you leverage These people they're going to be on TikTok no matter what. But sorry, let's go back to people thought or think that what's happening is oh, it's just like a bunch of like terrible shopping ads that are showing up all the time in my feed.

Yes. But people are going to get better. I saw this great ad the other day for a product called Lemmy. It's like a sleep gummy and the it wasn't even an ad, it was just a post. It had 2. 3 million likes on it. I don't even know how many plays it had on it. And it was the most brilliant non ad I have seen in my life.

And people, creators are going to get better, right? They're going to get better. They're going to create content that's I watched that three or four times, and I was like, [00:34:00] this is brilliant, and then I thought, huh, I've been having a bit of an issue sleeping recently, I should think about that one it was a hilarious ad, maybe I'll just try it out, I have not purchased it yet, I actually think I couldn't get it in Canada, I think that was the issue which is very common by the way, everyone, not being able to get things in our communist society we have here just kidding, I love Canada if you're listening to this.

Don't blacklist me or anything

Matt Edmundson: no, come on to this podcast because I've got some questions for you. Justin, I really have, but anyway,

Jordan West: yeah, I think his approval rating right now is 20%,

Matt Edmundson: is it that high? I just I, yeah, okay.

Jordan West: so anyway, I

Matt Edmundson: Him and Boris Johnson yeah,

Jordan West: yeah at least he was funny,

Matt Edmundson: That's true yeah, he did give you a few laughs along the way. Yeah,

Jordan West: yeah this is, So this is the way now, let me tell you how to leverage it. Cause some people are like what if I don't get any sales on it? I'm like, it doesn't matter because we're getting usage rights, right? So let's just say you're obviously going to get sales on TikTok shop, right?

But even if you don't get a mass amount [00:35:00] of sales, you start to know what drives traffic, right? And so now you don't have to guess on your ad creative because you already know what works, right? What drove traffic on TikTok shop is going to drive traffic on. Instagram, on Facebook, on YouTube, all of these things and these hooks and these triggers are what will drive traffic in other places.

And so the virtuous cycle that we have is we use this tool called Refunnel. There's another one called Archive that essentially just gathers all of this so that we can download all of it. We don't need to worry about any of the usage rates because we've already got usage rates. We don't work with anyone that we don't get usage rates for.

We don't even send product out to them. So now we know that. So our team goes into refunnel, downloads these, we then first take them and repurpose them on the brand's TikTok page, right? So we'll take it, we'll add different music. We'll maybe add a different hook. We'll add there's a fun little one that you can do where you add like some typing at the beginning and that really actually hooks people.

So like a black screen with some white typing or white and black, usually I think black and white is actually the one that works a little bit better. So [00:36:00] we'll just repurpose these videos and they'll go viral again. They'll go viral again because there's some little tweak, but it's the messaging that works and then we'll send them to TikTok shop that way.

Then we'll take it and we'll start to use these ads on all the different platforms to start to drive traffic for them to their direct consumer site or maybe to their Amazon page, whatever their, business objective is at the time. And it's this beautiful. Way that, for us at the agency, we figured out, Oh my gosh, we've aligned our incentives completely.

And I, I also tell people like, we've got some brands that are going to do, three or 400, 000 a month and we're doing a performance deal. And I'm like, don't worry, let's redo the contract. We don't want you paying us 50 grand a month because we're on a performance deal, right?

I also don't think that's the greatest thing in the world because I do understand at the end of the day, then they look at that and they're like I could hire eight people to do that, right? So we're constantly trying to figure out what is that mix where we want to be?

And again, transparency and visibility is so important for us. And so that's what's working right now on TikTok shops. And that's why I think that it's something that, [00:37:00] and I don't even think people realize how much it's going to change behavior. Behavior will be changed on all of these.

There's like millions of influencers that don't realize that they're being disrupted right now. That they are, they no longer have a job. They'll realize in about six months or a year when this all happens on Instagram, right? They'll realize and Oh, I have to change, right? And we always have to change, right?

But this was a bubble and the bubble is over.

Matt Edmundson: yeah. That's super cool. What kind of things do you think are working well in TikTok shops? What kind of products do you see working well on there? Or is it a case of, if you sell a couch, you can sell it on TikTok shop? Or are there specific things that we should think about?

Jordan West: that's, yeah that's a really good question. So I would say that higher AOV products probably are not going to work nearly as well. Now we have some brands that we work with. We have a trampoline brand that we work with a 3, 000 AOV. And we're testing on TikTok shops right now. We have not had great success so far.

Brands in the 50 to 100 AOV range. Oh, they work incredibly well. It has to be something novel. I actually talked to the cool apparel [00:38:00] brand yesterday and they have this product. And they're not working with us yet, but we're in the midst of potentially working with them. They have this really cool product that is like heat activated.

So you put it on say you put your hand on the chest and now you see this handprint. Really cool novel kind of stuff like that

Matt Edmundson: Oh, you mean the global hyper colour t shirts from yesteryear? Do you remember

Jordan West: yeah, totally. Yeah, this is a different brand that's more like in the kind of streetwear world, but really cool kind of stuff like that works incredibly well. Really anything that you can tell a story about, right? As long as you can tell a story around the brand and it's not a commodity brands.

It's not going to work, right? You have to need, you need to be able to tell a story and get someone to do that. A quick story I want to tell you, I had a podcast guest on Secrets of Scaling your eCommerce brand the other day and they were they were in an airport or sorry the bridge in between getting onto the plane and everyone had stopped.

I guess people were putting their luggage up and he looked and there was like a 20, 20 to 25 year old girl in front of him and he looked at her phone and she was scrolling TikTok. Suddenly she stopped. And she saw this [00:39:00] TikTok shop post, went in, and purchased it in 30 seconds. That is the power.

That is the power, and that will happen on Instagram. And then 3 billion people will be exposed to this new world. And so figuring this out now I think is really important and this is why 160 people would show up for a business webinar, because it's, there's a new world that's happening right now and I'm so happy to be, and this is why I'm waking up at 5am every morning because I'm so pumped about what this new world looks like, but it takes a lot of work to get there, right?

And I hope it's helpful for people. I really do. And I'm going to continue to talk about it more and more. It's funny, a millennial guy who has no idea what to do on TikTok, and I'm talking about this stuff, but I just see the opportunity. And don't worry, guys, I've hired a 20 year old absolute. Donner right now, who is taking care of all of the strategy for me and doing all of the stuff in the background. So don't worry about that.

Matt Edmundson: Fantastic. That's the way it should be. That's the way it should be. [00:40:00] Jordan, listen I'm aware of time and I'm aware that I'm getting sucked into this very deep conversation. I've taken two pages of notes already. We've got a lot of notes, which is good. And so if people want to reach you, if they want to connect with you, if they want to find out more about the agency, the podcast, maybe not at three 30 in the morning, but if they want to do that, what's the best way to do that?

Jordan West: Yeah. Podcast is Secrets To Scaling Your eCommerce Brand. I'm talking a lot about this over there. The agency is upgrowthcommerce. com. If you just go there and put a contact form in. All right. Now our website, guys. It's a classic agency website oh yeah, don't look at it for three or four years because we just don't, we're just busy working on everything else.


Matt Edmundson: Like the

Jordan West: just a horrible representation of, yeah. And then I'm really active on LinkedIn and Twitter all the time, so if you just search Jordan West on there, Jordan West Marketer or something like that you will find me. I am constantly trying to you Divine out what I am learning and try to communicate it in a succinct sort of way that people can just take and learn.

My [00:41:00] very favorite thing is when people are bookmarking and sharing stuff around. That is all I want is to be useful in this world. So if you guys want to follow me over there, that would be great. And thank you so much for having me on.

Matt Edmundson: Oh no, it's been an absolute treat, man. I've really enjoyed it. I'm. It's interesting. It's very timely for us because we're playing around with TikTok shops at the moment. And so listening to you talk, I'm yeah, there's a question that you caused me to think about. I've not noted it down.

I'm going to go talk to Jen about that tomorrow, so it's been great having you on. So super stoked, man, to finally get you on the show. Thanks for being so great in terms of value and really appreciate it, man. Genuinely, it's

Jordan West: Appreciate you. Thank you.

Matt Edmundson: There you go. What another fantastic conversation.

Huge thanks again to Jordan for joining me today. Also, a big shout out to today's show sponsor, the eCommerce Cohort. Remember to check them out at eCommerce Cohort. com. And I will see you in there. Also be sure to follow the eCommerce Podcast wherever you get your podcasts from, because we've got yet more great conversations lined up and I [00:42:00] don't want you to miss any of them.

And in case no one has told you yet today, let me be the first. You are awesome. Yes, you are created awesome. It's just a burden you've got to bear. Jordan's got to bear it. I've got to bear it. You've got to bear it as well. Now eCommerce Podcast is produced by PodJunction. You can find our entire archive of episodes on your favorite podcast app.

The team that makes this show possible is the beautiful and talented Sadaf Beynon and Tanya Hutsuliak. Our theme music was written by Josh Edmundson. And as I mentioned, if you would like to read the transcript or show notes, Head to the website ecommercepodcast. net where, like I said, you can sign up to the newsletter if you haven't done so already.

So that's it from me, that's it from Jordan. Thank you so much for joining us. Have a fantastic time fantastic week, wherever you are in the world. I'll see you next time. Bye for [00:43:00] now.