Q&A with Jeffrey Max, CEO of Venda, Inc., a provider of multichannel commerce solutions, which won the Stevie Award for Best Business Service Web Site in the web awards categories of The 2011 American Business Awards. Here we talk with Jeffrey Max, CEO, about convergent commerce and the next evolution in marketing.
What three ways can retailers and brands best utilize multichannel marketing to increase sales?
Nowadays we are seeing a convergence of disparate channels into a cohesive brand and shopping experience. The following are just three of the ways retailers and brands can take advantage of this:
1. Use social media as an engine for the whole shopping experience
Merchants and businesses used to think only in terms of running the different sales outlets for their business—brick-and-mortar stores, online channels, social media—as different and separate entities. The Internet was only used for online sales, whereas today it is the primary channel for social media, brand projection, online engagement, or brand affinity and PR. Companies should now consider social media as an engine for the whole shopping experience, and since people prefer to carry out this activity with friends and family, social media is a natural fit.
2. Make sure your channels are mobile-optimized
The most social tool of all is the mobile phone, which allows customers, devotees, and fans to engage with brands wherever and whenever they choose. Customers used to have to walk into a shop or sit in front of a computer to find what they were looking for. Now engagement can be all-pervasive.
Using the leverage of online shopping empowers customers to shop or purchase wherever and whenever they want. New opportunities utilizing location-based attributes of mobile technology can enable brick-and-mortar stores to engage with the customer and can allow merchants to promote specials, discounts, and new items when the customer is physically in or near the store. Overall, businesses need to think in a holistic way and embrace a range of technical tools, for example linking websites to in-store promotions.
What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
This story is a few months old now, but I was fascinated to learn that when Larry Page returned as CEO of Google back in April, one of the first things he did was to outlaw multitasking at meetings, one of my pet peeves.
Do you have a favorite business app?
From the consumer’s perspective, I like to keep an eye out for shopping apps. One of the most useful is Catalogue by The Find (for iPhone and iPad), which delivers a very usable interface for scanning company catalogs. If you find something that interests you, simply tap on the screen and it will take you to that catalog’s website so that you can purchase it. This app definitely expands boundaries for consumers.
If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
I started out as a professional yacht captain delivering large yachts around the world; I then went on to have a fruitful career as a commodities trader on Wall Street, which morphed into a software and services company providing risk management tools for banks and securities exchanges. While I’ve been fortunate to have already had several exotic and exciting careers, working now in eCommerce offers exposure to a wide variety of organizations—from fashion to government agencies to museums—and at the same time it’s at the forefront of how people interact with technology and how it influences their lives every day. This provides all the intellectual stimulation that I need.
What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?
Integrity, enthusiasm, and execution. A good business relationship is built on trust and execution. Both the provider and the consumer expect us to deliver, while at the same time we expect our customers to operate with integrity.
What do you think is the worst bad habit to have at work?
Multitasking. I’ve already mentioned that Larry Page has banned it from Google meetings, but across my professional career I’ve found more and more that the attention span of individuals is dropping, along with standards of professional courtesy. I find that there are real business benefits to being fully present and engaged when meeting with clients.
As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
Every new day brings new opportunities and challenges. We are working on the creative side of new technologies that are changing the way things are done. Right now the main growth in retail is online, and these new tools are influencing the way people live their lives. So, other than actually saving lives like a doctor or surgeon, being a catalyst for change is highly exciting and rewarding.
About Jeffrey Max
Jeff joined Venda in 2003, and was responsible for establishing the company’s North American operation. A serial technology entrepreneur, Jeff brings the company more than 25 years of leadership and experience creating, growing, and transitioning software and services companies.
Jeff has been a leading voice of innovation in the eCommerce industry, beginning with Venda’s introduction as the first enterprise-scale, cloud-based eCommerce offering in the US, to the Company’s current vision of omni-channel Convergent Commerce.
Prior to joining Venda, Jeff was a principal at PLR Advisors, a capital market advisory firm, CEO of Whitelight Technologies (sold to SunGard in 2003), Director of International Market Development at OptiMark Technologies, and CEO of Systems Development Corporation (sold to Telkurs in 1996). He currently serves on the Boards of several cloud-computing start-ups.
Venda is a global provider of multichannel commerce solutions. Customers embrace comprehensive online, mobile and social commerce, international expertise, end-to-end fulfillment solutions, and transparent pricing that yields superior ROI. Venda customers include industry leaders Tesco, Superdrug, JVC, Urban Outfitters, Condé Nast, and Jimmy Choo. Venda has offices in New York, London, and Bangkok.
What do you think of Jeff's advice for retailers and brands?