The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Manufacturing Authenticity: From Sneaker Drops to Shinola Saving Detroit

Episode Summary

and launching like Yeezy

Episode Notes

We discuss:

And then we test drive the Shinola store.

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Episode Transcription

The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Kurt Elster: Julie sent me a meme that said, and she said, “Is this you?” And this woman wrote on Twitter, “My son got his report card today and academically he did well, but his teacher wrote a note specifying, “He needs to use kind words with friends.” I asked him about it, and he said, “My friends are dumb, and they need to know.”” So, maybe I don’t always suffer fools gladly. I’m working on it.

Paul Reda: Yes. Also describing memes on a podcast, truly the next frontier.

Kurt Elster: I’m so glad that you said the next frontier. Let’s see. Do I have anything for you for that?

Paul Reda: Oh, well there you go. That’s the Final Frontier.

Kurt Elster: We’ve been re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, because we got CBS All Access. You know, now that it’s like pandemic, we’ve beaten TV. There’s nothing left to watch. I’m just trying different ridiculous streaming services. It’s funny, like we cut cable. We got rid of cable TV and instead I just pay for gigabit internet. And now there’s like eight streaming services I gotta pay for. At what point do you just go back to cable?

Paul Reda: Well, the problem is the exclusives, and the-

Kurt Elster: Oh, so I can’t?

Paul Reda: Well, I mean, I think about my entertainment budget. I also subscribe to pretty much all the streaming services, and but given my internet budget is that, and computer games, it’s really not that much. It’s like, “Well, how much do you spend? Do you spend 50 bucks a month on streaming services?” It’s like, “Yeah.” I also don’t drink very much and there’s obviously no restaurants to go to, so what do you want me to do?

Kurt Elster: Okay. Well, I order out a lot, and drink too much, so those-

Paul Reda: Yeah. HBO Max has a ton of movies on it.

Kurt Elster: What’s the deal with HBO and all these… How many streaming services has HBO had or need?

Paul Reda: Well, there was HBO Now-

Kurt Elster: HBO Go. HBO Max.

Paul Reda: Well, Go and Now are done. Now there’s just Max.

Kurt Elster: Oh, all right, so that eliminates some of the confusion.

Paul Reda: Listen. Are you gonna buy the Xbox One S or the Xbox One S Plus, or the Xbox X Plus S? Because even… I pay attention to video games and I don’t even understand this shit.

Kurt Elster: All right. So, this is going nowhere fast. On the-

Paul Reda: We’re boring these people.

Kurt Elster: I got nothing. Just the soul crushing monotonousness that is surviving 2020. That’s all.

Paul Reda: That’s all we got.

Kurt Elster: That’s all I’m down to. But I did… Actually, we’ll save this for later. Okay, so we’ve got… What are we talking about today? This is The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. We need to do this right.

Unofficial Shopify Podcast! And today on the podcast, we’re gonna talk about authenticity in brands.

Paul Reda: Stop it!

Kurt Elster: All right, so I’m your host, Kurt Elster, joined by my co-host, Paul Reda, who did a wonderful job playing Fezzik in The Princess Bride live stream. Thank you so much. I was so impressed by that.

Paul Reda: Anybody want a peanut?

Kurt Elster: Wow! It’s like he’s right there with us. I’m so impressed. I did watch The Princess Bride livestream. I enjoyed it. But it was quite the-

Paul Reda: Yeah, you texted me about it and I was just like, “Hey, who plays Fezzik?” And you’re like, “I don’t know. Who the hell’s Fezzik?” Because you don’t see cultural touchstone movies.

Kurt Elster: No. That’s a very strange part of my childhood upbringing I did not realize was weird until I was an adult.

Paul Reda: I remember I made like a very obvious Wizard of Oz joke to you like five years ago and you were like, “What are you talking about?” And I’m like, “The Wizard of Oz?” And you’re like, “Is that a movie? I’ve never seen it.” You had no clue.

Kurt Elster: Pop culture was resisted in my house. Really not sure why and how that came to be, but it was. So-

Paul Reda: And I was just like, “All right,” and I also did a thing, I said something about this is not my beautiful house, and you’re like, “What are you talking about?” And I’m like, “You know, Talking Heads?” And you’re like, “Who are Talking Heads?” Like you just, you have no cultural knowledge whatsoever. No sports knowledge, no cultural knowledge, you’re just a weird business monster who has no feelings.

Kurt Elster: Correct. I worked and developed feelings starting around 2015. Prior to then, though, probably no feelings.

Paul Reda: Yeah, I’d give you that.

Kurt Elster: So, we’re discussing a series of largely disparate issues on the show, but the running theme is authenticity in branding, authenticity in your brand, and along that topic, we’re gonna discuss authenticity. We’re gonna discuss an idea that you can borrow from sneaker culture if you’re a hype beast like I occasionally am. We’re gonna talk about Nikola, Shinola, Madewell, some wild things in the news that you may have missed, and we gotta mention quite a few things as we go into Q4 here, including our new Page Speed testing tool and some other items that are coming up on the podcast as we wrap up 2020.

It's crazy to think about. 2020’s been a wild year in which it seems like it has been… gone quite a long time, but also like it was just March. I can’t keep track of time anymore. And then finally, we’ll wrap it up by tearing down the Shinola Detroit watch store. At least I think that… They largely sell watches. Maybe they have other stuff.

Paul Reda: No, they’re not watches. They’re just a lot of random, disparate crap.

Kurt Elster: Oh, really? All right.

Paul Reda: Yeah. That goes into their whole story.

Kurt Elster: Okay. We’ll save it then. Some housekeeping items. Black Friday’s around the corner, so we got some good episodes. Arri Bagah is gonna tell us about SMS. I got Kurt Bullock lined up to tell us how we should configure our Facebook ads going into Black Friday, and Ezra Firestone will be back to run us through what he’s going to do to have his best Black Friday ever yet again, and our holiday email guide, I put it back up. It’s available for sale, so people have started buying it. It is still the 2019 version. I’m gonna update it for 2020 and it’s going to include updated timeline, or new dates of course for 2020, and 2020-specific considerations, like logistics and this darn election that is just gonna torture me with anxiety until it’s over.

So, you could buy it now and you’ll get lifetime updates every… Buy it now for 29 bucks and I update it every single year. You will get the update for free. We’ve been doing it three, four years now, and those people have all gotten the updates.

Paul Reda: Yeah, that’s like not good business by us.

Kurt Elster: No, not at all. It’s just idiotic. What am I thinking?

Paul Reda: We should stop giving people free content every year.

Kurt Elster: Well, the podcast is free. The sponsors pay for it.

Paul Reda: We sell ads on it, so we make money on it.

Kurt Elster: Oh, God. The audience is the product. I’m no better than Zuckerberg! Oh no!

Paul Reda: Speaking about being better than Zuckerberg. Financing options.

Kurt Elster: Oh, lastly, okay, kind of exciting, and the native checkout integrations, this is totally unofficial, off the record, but it looks like those native checkout integrations are rolling out soonish. Where previously a subscription app like Recharge or Bold Recurring Orders, or Ezra’s Zipify One Click Upsell had to replace your checkout in Shopify, and as part of that, it could create reporting issues, it can mess with various payment options. It’s kind of a pain. It would be better, ideally, for everybody, if those things, those apps could work in your native Shopify checkout.

Oh my gosh, that’s coming! We’re gonna be able to. We’ll get that, and yeah, they announced that a while ago, but they… When did they announce that? 2018.

Paul Reda: That’s in the-

Kurt Elster: May or June 2018, that got announced.

Paul Reda: That’s in the, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” category.

Kurt Elster: I’m quite convinced we… My bet, and this is again unofficial, my bet is this… All this will be available in time for Black Friday.

Paul Reda: Do they want to screw with everyone’s checkouts before Black Friday, though?

Kurt Elster: Maybe it’s like limited beta, or it’s like, “Okay, here are the people who are allowed to do it.” It’s like, “All right, you can’t, if you’re an existing, you can’t migrate, but if you’re already on it, or if you want to jump into it and start fresh…” I don’t… At this point, I’m just making stuff up.

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: I’m just guessing. So, but if that’s a thing, okay, so the action item is if you were thinking about setting up a subscription system for the first time this week-

Paul Reda: Wait.

Kurt Elster: You probably want to wait. Just wait, see what happens, or if there’s any announcements, at least. Keep your ear to the street. I think it’ll pay off. And let’s see… Ooh, there’s a question that was posted in our Facebook group that seems to be a recurring theme, and it’s been posed to me by all kinds of people. Actually, even Ezra Firestone asked me once about this. And the question is, are you looking it up?

Paul Reda: I’m looking it up.

Kurt Elster: Okay.

Paul Reda: We bring this up not to pick on the person that asked the question, because this question gets asked all the time.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. It’s a common question.

Paul Reda: It’s very common. But they were talking about all of these buy now, pay later apps that people have on their stores.

Kurt Elster: Sezzle, Klarna, Afterpay, Quadpay.

Paul Reda: Afterpay. Yeah. And he says, “It doesn’t sit right with me. I’m getting asked to do this by people and they’re getting refused, and I-“

Kurt Elster: Meaning his customers.

Paul Reda: He means his customers.

Kurt Elster: Are asking him to add this financing option.

Paul Reda: Add financing options to their stores. And he’s just like, “I’m just helping them getting deep into debt and I need to control…” The implication here is the customers are making bad choices, obviously, and I should not allow this in order to not allow them to make bad choices.

Kurt Elster: So, the argument is don’t let people buy your stuff… As a merchant, I have a responsibility to my customers and where does that responsibility end, or I have guilt that I know, that I assume that if they’re asking me for multiple financing options, it’s because they don’t have the cash to buy my stuff.

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Hey, cash is king. I will… When I have plenty of cash to buy something two, three times over, I’ll still finance it. I want the cashflow. And these financing options-

Paul Reda: They’re like zero interest, right?

Kurt Elster: Many are 0%. And it’s not like my hundred dollar good is a 60-month financing at 4%. No. It’s 0% financing over four payments.

Paul Reda: I mean, these are actively better for the end consumer than credit cards.

Kurt Elster: Yeah.

Paul Reda: Credit cards are what, 22%? Mine’s like 22, 24.

Kurt Elster: My lowest credit card interest rate, 10 and a half percent, but most of them are like 15 to 20.

Paul Reda: Yeah. And so, this idea of, “Well, if I offer them Sezzle, they’re just getting deeper into debt and they’re too dumb and I need to take care of this for them.” If you actually felt that way, stop taking credit card payments.

Kurt Elster: That’s the catch, is yeah, if you don’t like the financing options, fundamentally you really should not be accepting credit cards. Like if that’s the moral argument.

Paul Reda: And whenever we say this to people, it always immediately shuts them down and they’re like, “Oh, well, I’m not gonna do that.” It’s like, “Oh, I thought you were the king of morals, but all of a sudden when we show that you’re not the king of morals,” well, “Never mind, I guess it wasn’t that bad anyway.”

Kurt Elster: Well, I think no one… Credit cards are just such a part of American life that you wouldn’t think twice, that you don’t think twice about it. Versus these financing solutions are really quite new, and so I think that’s part of it. In this particular instance, though, so we’ve had this conversation separately with multiple people many times, but in this particular poster’s defense, he had a screenshot of a website that had-

Paul Reda: Oh, they offered three different ones.

Kurt Elster: They had three different financing options and then he inferred like, “Well, if you get declined for one, you go to the next. If you get declined for that one, you go to the next.” And I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s simply people who use those, once you’re already registered on one, it’s just easier to keep using that one. So, I think it was really just, “Hey, we’re just offering you multiple options.” And as an inbound traffic strategy, many of those financing solutions will be like, “Hey, here’s all our merchants, like a searchable list of our merchants that accept this.” So, if this is your preferred payment provider and you’re looking for an item, okay, here’s the list.

Paul Reda: But also note how that page, the items he was showing were $20 pieces of clothing, so if you’re like, “These people are wrecking their financial futures.” It’s like, “It’s 20 bucks, dude.”

Kurt Elster: Yeah, making four $5 payments at 0%. And what we have found with those financing options is they tend to work better in stores with average order values under $100, because over a certain amount, the financing people don’t want to deal with it, and the consumer’s more likely to just use a credit card. But no, I don’t… I have no ethical or moral issue with these financing services.

Paul Reda: Well, and I think it’s frankly unethical to… I mean, if you can somehow concoct a universe where you’re like, “Well, I need to make sure that these people can actually afford this.” It’s like who the hell are you? Who do you think you are?

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Certainly, at no point was Tesla like, “Look, can you afford this car?”

Paul Reda: Well, and with cars, they do a credit check on you because they’re giving you a giant loan. If you come in and pay, that even… They don’t want to lose their loan payments. That’s different.

Kurt Elster: Well, and with these financing options, I don’t think there’s any recourse if you don’t, like if you just drop the payments.

Paul Reda: It’s not like they can come, they’re gonna repo it.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. They’re not gonna come get their $20 t-shirt.

Paul Reda: They just hit your credit or something.

Kurt Elster: Truthfully, I’m sure it changes depending on which solution, but I remember hearing, and I could be wrong, take this with a grain of salt, that when it’s four payments or less, that does not require credit reporting. And that’s part of why they’re all four payments or less, is because it streamlines the entire process, but does so at the risk to the financier. So, again, another point in favor of these financing solutions.

Paul Reda: Just talking about it now, you know what it makes me think of? Pizza Today.

Kurt Elster: What’s Pizza Today?

Paul Reda: Remember that-

Kurt Elster: Oh, Pizza Today. All right, tell them the Pizza Today story.

Paul Reda: So, I love industrial magazines, which is like niche magazines for a very specific market.

Kurt Elster: Trade publications.

Paul Reda: Trade publications that no one outside of the trade… It’s all just full of weird inside lingo and problems.

Kurt Elster: And these things really exist so they can just build a list of a very niche industry.

Paul Reda: So, my brother works in the restaurant industry, and he had a-

Kurt Elster: He’s a Coke dealer.

Paul Reda: He’s a Coke dealer.

Kurt Elster: He sells Coca-Cola.

Paul Reda: He sells Coca-Cola, but he had a copy of a magazine laying around called Pizza Today, which is the official magazine of pizza place owners.

Kurt Elster: What was the infamous op-ed piece in Pizza Today that we read, and I’ll never forget.

Paul Reda: It wasn’t in the op-ed section it was in the letters section. A guy was like, “What do I do?” Because he was mad, because he slaves over his pizza that he makes for people, and then these fuckin’ hooligan Visigoths take-

Kurt Elster: These dilettante pizza eaters.

Paul Reda: Pizza eaters take the red pepper shaker and the parmesan cheese and the oregano shakers and shake it all over the pizza that they bought, and-

Kurt Elster: What were they thinking?

Paul Reda: They destroy his flavor profile.

Kurt Elster: My flavor profile!

Paul Reda: And he can’t stand seeing it. He just can’t stand it, so what should he do? And he was thinking about maybe getting special tops where the holes are too small, where it requires too much shaking to get out too much, so that people eventually give up and don’t wreck the pizza he just sold them.

Kurt Elster: You just ruined my flavor profile! Ignoring that taste is subjective.

Paul Reda: Well, and so the answer is you sold them the pizza, asshole. Your job is to sell them the pizza. Then they eat the pizza and they get to eat it however they want.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, now that I own the pizza I get to do with it what I want.

Paul Reda: And so, your job is merely to sell the pizza, not control how they consume it. In this case, your job is to sell them the bralettes ion your store. The store in question here, like the underwear. Your job is to sell them the underwear, not determine how they pay for the underwear, not question their finances for the $20 piece of underwear you’re selling them. Just sell them the underwear and ship it to them. You got enough to worry about.

Kurt Elster: At the same time, I do… I appreciate the empathy and the responsibility taken there, but ultimately just because of the insidiousness of credit cards, it’s very… The argument just rapidly falls apart.

Paul Reda: It’s funny how you see it as empathy, and I see it as like incredible nosiness and presumptuousness. Like who the fuck are you to say I can’t buy this? Like fuck you! That’s kind of what’s happening here.

Kurt Elster: But at the same… They’re doing it at their own cost, so I really, I do, I think it is ultimately altruistic. All right, moving on from there, we’ve got… I hate to even report on it, but it made national news. There was a Shopify data leak.

Paul Reda: But it was interesting.

Kurt Elster: It was interesting. Less than 200 stores were affected. They put out a statement. I think they handled it really well. They’re working with the FBI and I think ultimately this is just gonna lead to Shopify going HAM on security.

Paul Reda: See, I don’t think… I think you’re wrong there. Because the contours of this leak was we determined, I’m quoting here from their thing. “We determined that two rogue members of our support team were engaged in a scheme to obtain customer transactional records of certain merchants.” So, two rogue Shopify support people got access to the records of 200 merchants they were targeting. Maybe those were the only ones they had access to. I don’t know. And were getting the customer data.

Kurt Elster: They were exporting, yeah, the customer data, with the assumption it was to sell it.

Paul Reda: But it says that they didn’t get payment information.

Kurt Elster: They want to build an email list out of it and sell it. Or like you export all those emails, you make that a custom audience in Facebook, now I can retarget those people.

Paul Reda: Oh, well that’s-

Kurt Elster: And then I start a similar store.

Paul Reda: But it’s like complete-

Kurt Elster: Again, this would be just complete guessing as to why you would want to do this.

Paul Reda: Complete payment card numbers or other sensitive personal or financial information was not part of the incident, so it’s not like they were stealing their credit cards.

Kurt Elster: No, this was not financial fraud. It’s data fraud.

Paul Reda: It’s data fraud, but so this thing where you’re like, “Shopify’s gonna go crazy on security now. It’s gonna be everything’s gonna be two factor. It’s gonna be crazy.”

Kurt Elster: Well, this is a violation of GDPR. Like in Europe, this is a real problem.

Paul Reda: But it’s an internal Shopify issue, though. It wasn’t like on the end users.

Kurt Elster: So, I think their processes will get… I’m sure they’ll tighten up internal processes and security controls. But my hope is, so Shopify has this internal change log, but it’s fairly limited in its reporting. I would love, just so you could do nonstop finger pointing as to who broke what, right? Like, “Here is just one universal log for the store of who touched what when in the store.” And then that would also… That transparency also enforces some honesty in that like, “Hey, why’d you export all my customer data, individual contractor?” And then they’ll be like, “Uhh… It was an accident?”

I don’t know, that’s if like I asked my kids. “Uhh… Mom said it was okay?”

Paul Reda: I have a weird question here. In the thing that they stated these people, “We immediately terminated these individuals’ access to our Shopify network and referred the incidents to law enforcement.” Does the phrasing, it doesn’t say that they fired them, mean anything? Because to me, does that mean they were just contract, like support contractors, and not official Shopify employees?

Kurt Elster: Well, you know-

Paul Reda: Or am I just reading too deep into it?

Kurt Elster: I think you’re reading too deep into it.

Paul Reda: Okay.

Kurt Elster: Like whether they were… In the U.S., it’s like, “Well, are they 1099 or W-2?” And I think in this instance, who cares?

Paul Reda: That’s true, but I just feel like… Oh, it’s a worse look for Shopify if it’s like, “Yeah, it’s our support team, which is like this center of freelancers that we outsource to,” and those people have access to all the customer data, like eww. They weren’t even official Shopify employees in the building.

Kurt Elster: Well, everyone’s-

Paul Reda: Everyone’s working from home. Metaphorically in the building, you know what I mean.

Kurt Elster: Everyone’s working from home anyway. I think that’s subjective, but for me personally, I don’t think it makes a difference.

Paul Reda: All right.

Kurt Elster: Also, I’m in a position where I like contractors. And I am a contractor.

Paul Reda: I’m not saying it’s bad. You know what I mean.

Kurt Elster: Yes. No, I don’t think that. I don’t think that has any bearing on it. I think the important part is they were entirely transparent about it, they immediately put out a statement, detailed here’s exactly what happened, here’s what we’re doing about it. And that’s like when you have an incident like this, what more do you want?

Paul Reda: And none of the credit cards got out.

Kurt Elster: No, it was… I really think this was about the value is… The core value in an internet business is the list, and misguided as these individuals were, they saw that and stole, and said, “Well, okay, let’s take… We can sneak the valuable part out.” It’s just a CSV. Who cares? We just need that. It’s okay. It’s fine.” And no, now… I’m sure they justified it to themselves and now the FBI is like, “How you doing?”

Paul Reda: Oh yeah.

Kurt Elster: You know, the worst part is I had a sound effect on the soundboard that was a guy going, “FBI! Open up!” And I’m like, “When am I ever gonna use this?” And I took it off. And I shouldn’t have.

Paul Reda: That’s definitely the worst part.

Kurt Elster: That’s the worst part about this. 100%.

Paul Reda: Yeah. Was that you have a sound you weren’t able to use.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. You know what I replaced it with?

Darth Vader: You don’t know the power of the dark side.

Paul Reda: Do you just… I realize we’re working from home, so we’re taking things a lot easier. Do you just spend time just uploading things to the soundboard all day? Is that most of your day?

Kurt Elster: So, my-

Paul Reda: Are you on like the CompuServe .wav file forum? Because I spent a lot of time on there back in ’93. ’92-’93.

Kurt Elster: I will now think to myself like, “Oh, X theme, like brand, license, whatever, or X fandom probably has cool soundboards.” And now I’ll Google them. So, I had Googled Star Trek soundboard, Star Wars soundboard, Rick and Morty soundboard, and that’s… I’ll also just look like, “What are some top sound effects?” And I’ll try and get those, too. I just… I want to keep it interesting for you, all right? And the thing is too fun. It’s not gonna stop.

Soundboard Voice: Resistance is futile.

Kurt Elster: Still on the Star Trek. I’m so sorry.

Paul Reda: A guy got arrested. I don’t know who this is or anything about it. You were very-

Kurt Elster: All right, so this is unrelated to the data breach we just discussed.

Paul Reda: You were very excited about this. I had no clue.

Kurt Elster: Moving on from the data breach, the NS8 founder, Adam Rogas, got arrested. So, NS8 was amusingly, or ironically, it was an anti-fraud solution for Shopify to try and… Well, for several platforms, I think, but Shopify was one of them. And it was a big deal, because oh, they had the biggest valuation, and they came out of nowhere. It felt like they came out of nowhere, so clearly this is like the big anti-fraud solution, and the founder, co-founder, Adam Rogas, got arrested and charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and fraud in the offer of sale of securities. The FBI’s the one who arrested him, so we got federal crimes here. Defrauded investors of $123 million. That is the charge. The claim.

Paul Reda: And this is yet another securities fraud person that you’ve hung out with?

Kurt Elster: So, I talked about infamously my lunch with Ken and Carrie Courtright from The Income Store, and then they are now… They’re in litigation with the SEC. In New York, I spoke at Shopify Pursuit, as did Adam Rogas from NS8. As Adam from NS8 spoke there and I… We both spoke the same day and I talked to him a little bit. So, not quite the same.

Paul Reda: Was he like, “I got a sweet investment opportunity for you.”

Kurt Elster: No, I was not. He did not pitch me on a tremendous investment opportunity.

Paul Reda: That’s good. Well, I mean it’s like anytime… I think Shopify and eCommerce is definitely in a gold rush stage still.

Kurt Elster: That’s what’s going on.

Paul Reda: And anytime you have that you just have scammers coming out of the woodwork. I mean, we talked about this, geez, almost a year and a half ago, maybe almost two years ago, about all the drop shippers, and all the gurus trying to con people, and now the con… Those are like individual cons of individual people’s amounts of money. Now we’ve reached into high level securities fraud cons.

Kurt Elster: Yes. And that is just by virtue of having a hot industry, it’s going to happen. In March, when we were… In February and March, when we were worried about what’s going to happen with the pandemic, one of the things I would tell myself so I could sleep at night is in business, you want to go where the money is. We are already where the money is. Unfortunately, if you’re a criminal, or you’re a sociopath, you have exactly the same thinking. If you’re gonna rip somebody off, go to where the money is. Right?

And it’s just it’s unfortunate timing that these things happened within I think a week of each other, but entirely unrelated and unfortunate, but no, just be careful, I suppose.

So, you largely, I was like I’m not… I’m gonna take 10% credit for this. We were talking on the phone and we were joking about page speed, about the Page Speed Insights tool, and we decided-

Paul Reda: Well, I forget, I think you made a crack or something about like we need to make an anxiety tool or something. It’s like, “They just need to see the numbers go up.” It’s like, “Oh, the number was high, so I feel better now.” Because that’s all it is.

Kurt Elster: Yes. Well, there’s a tool that’s giving you… The issue with page speed as a metric for store speed is if I want a great metric for your store’s load time, I could literally figure out how long it takes to load. I just ran one today. A store that got 17 in page speed loaded in 1.1 seconds and had a 3.5 meg homepage. That’s excellent.

Paul Reda: Yeah. Why are we using a proxy instead of just… a proxy for store speed instead of just measuring the store speed?

Kurt Elster: Actual literal store speed. And on top of it, those page speed, when you score it like that, those are like worst case scenario, because it’s cold load. Usually, there’s at least parts of it that are cached that don’t get loaded, so it ends up loading faster. Anyway, we joked about we should make our own page speed tool that’s the page speed anxiety regulation tool, and you did it, and it was very funny.

Paul Reda: Yeah, so we cranked that out in about 90 minutes. I made a tool that you can put your URL into, and it’ll help relieve your page speed anxiety.

Kurt Elster: Yes. So, a couple days ago I became aware that there is a LEGO Adidas brand collab in which they’re going to release LEGO sneakers. Adidas is making LEGO sneakers. I am very excited about-

Paul Reda: They don’t sound very comfortable.

Kurt Elster: Well, they’re not actually plastic. They’re not LEGO. They have the LEGO studs on there and the LEGO logo.

Paul Reda: Oh, on like the bottom?

Kurt Elster: It’s like in the back of the heel on the outside.

Paul Reda: Oh, the bottom should be LEGO studs.

Kurt Elster: You know, I didn’t look close. Maybe it is.

Paul Reda: That would be cool.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, it’s pretty sweet.

Paul Reda: Anyway, these are like cartoon shoes. You sent me a link to them.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, they’re like… They’re like nineties dorky dad type shoes. They’re normcore. I like them. But the way, if you’re not familiar with these limited edition sneaker drops and streetwear fashion culture, a lot of stuff now is… Everything’s like a brand collab and it’s limited edition, and often these brand collabs are based on fandoms, where it’s like, “Okay, I know you like sneakers and I know you like the Simpsons. We’ll just make Simpsons sneakers.” Actual thing. If you go to Vans, you can buy Simpsons sneakers right now. And then they only do it, they’re like, “We’re just gonna make X number. It’s gonna run from this time to this time.” And that’s the end of it.

And for some of the really hot stuff, you know, because it is hyper limited, it creates scarcity. And obviously, this is all engineered. If you want to just keep making them because they sell, I’m sure you could just run the license. But that’s not how this culture works. It’s got a clear start and end to it, and for the really big stuff it sells out immediately and then you can’t buy it again. Like if you want Kanye’s shoes, Yeezys, that are also made by Adidas, and you go… You have to go in the Adidas app, search Yeezy, it will not show you a single shoe. It’ll just be like, “You can sign up to be notified if we release these again.” Oh, geez. That makes it… You want it that much more! Like, “Oh, I gotta have it!”

And so, the way these LEGO sneakers, the way they do it, the only way to buy them, I had to download the Adidas app. I then had to agree to push notifications. That’s like… I’m pretty sure that’s part of the requirement. Pre-purchase, and then I showed up late, but you would get a notification when you’re available to enter. Pre-purchase the shoe in the app, and then days later, so it’ll be last Friday when this airs, they’ll have done a drawing and you’ll just find out like either you got charged and you get the sneakers, or you’re out of luck and they’re already all sold out. Isn’t that bizarre?

Paul Reda: I hate this.

Kurt Elster: It’s very strange. And they don’t do it with everything. They do it with like these select limited editions or collections, where you’ll get a really high end designer who would do them, and when we’re discussing just the level of demand this creates, the Yeezys, the Adidas Kanye West shoes, Yeezy Boost 350, those were… I think they were $200 was retail, and if you get them on eBay or StockX, you’re paying $500 to $1,000. Probably like $600 to $800 is where it’s gonna sit. And then infamously the off-white Air Jordans, if you wanted, those were… I don’t know what they were new. $100, $200. $2,000 is what you’re gonna pay in StockX, likely, which is an eBay-ish site entirely just devoted to streetwear. Huge culture.

And you get sucked into it, so after I’d already potentially prepaid these shoes, I then signed up for notifications for the next limited one, which were Boba Fett Star Wars sneakers for 100-something bucks. So, that’s like… I know 100% what’s going on and completely fell for all of it. Very much a trap here. My point, though, is you can apply… You can leverage these ideas. And I keep thinking more and more about it, especially after this Adidas thing.

Paul Reda: Well, Hoonigan does this, don’t they? These limited drops?

Kurt Elster: Hoonigan does this. Yeah, Hoonigan does it. That’s a good example. We’ll run through that and how you could use that for Black Friday. And Adam’s Polishes.

Paul Reda: Oh yeah. Totally.

Kurt Elster: They do it to a phenomenal degree. And I posted this in the Facebook group. They did a full homepage takeover of their limited edition pumpkin spice detailing supplies.

Paul Reda: Does it smell like pumpkin spice?

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: Ugh.

Kurt Elster: So, it’s got like a pumpkin spice label, and pumpkin spice scent. On some of them, they change the color. And the advantage here is like fundamentally, cleaning supplies are a commodity good and a consumable good, so you’re very reliant on repeat customer purchases. If you can do a special edition or limited edition version of your best-selling products that you know your best customers are very likely to already buy, then you have given them the excuse, and opportunity, and reason to buy the same thing twice. Especially on a consumable good.

So, I have fallen in love with this idea and concept. I think it’s great. And Adam’s does a really good job with it. They make it fun, where it’s like a full homepage takeover, like the logo, the header background, everything on the homepage changed to this really fun, fall, pumpkin graffiti theme that just looks super slick. And like they have the wonderful advantage of having great designers and a strong brand, but at it’s core, still, consumable commodity good. But they brought all this excitement to it. And they’re leveraging those ideas from sneaker culture, from streetwear fashion. And having seen them do it, I now think just about any brand could do this. And you don’t have to go to the extreme they did, but just any limited edition brand collab that makes sense, why not? Because it gives it… It just creates urgency and scarcity in a legitimate way.

I’m all on board with it. I like it.

Paul Reda: Yeah. No, I totally agree.

Kurt Elster: Hoonigan-

Paul Reda: I agree with doing it in that it clearly makes money. I’m just saying personally, as a consumer, I hate it. The problem-

Kurt Elster: Well, you had an experience.

Paul Reda: I hate the ultra limited thing. Hoonigan is doing it that they’re like… I’m sure Hoonigan and Adam’s has enough that they’re selling it for… A significant portion of the people are actually getting it.

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: Whereas a significant portion of the Adidas people are not getting it.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, the chances are I’m not gonna get my LEGO sneakers.

Paul Reda: I mean, I had this too. Nintendo announced a thing where they were… You know, it’s like the 35th anniversary of Mario, and so they released Super Mario 3D All Stars, which is like Mario 64, Mario Sunshine, and Mario Galaxy. They’re releasing them on the Switch. So, I bought that, because I’m like, “I love those games and I’m just gonna buy games I already own again.” And so, I saw a thing they had on their website that was like, “Oh, well, we have all these sweepstakes and whatever, but we have these five little pins.” It’s a pin set of the Mario 2D cartoon, like how he looked in Mario 3 and on all the boxes in the ‘80s, like how Mario was depicted.

And they were like, “And you have to do these five things,” and the hardest one was buy Mario 3D All Stars. So, I was like, “Well, I’ve already done that one, so the rest are just like go on our website and click on this poll.”

Kurt Elster: It’s funny to think of the curmudgeonly Paul Reda as being like, “I want these Mario pins.”

Paul Reda: I do. I did want the Mario.

Kurt Elster: And I’m gonna go and I’m gonna jump through some hoops to get the Mario pin. It’s just so off brand for you.

Paul Reda: I already did the hard one, so the other ones where it’s like, “Click on this link. Read. Listen to the Mario Music Mixer. Download a big JPG of your favorite Mario.”

Kurt Elster: At this point, there’s so much involved to do it, I’m already thinking-

Paul Reda: No. It was literally click on five different links. That’s all it was.

Kurt Elster: Okay.

Paul Reda: So, I did all those things and they were like, “All right, well, it’s gonna take a couple days for us…” So, the pins don’t unlock until two days after Mario All Stars is released, so you might have to wait a couple days before you can claim them. So, I was like, “All right, cool.” And so, I just waited, and then finally the day it was supposed to go, I that evening was like, “Oh, I wonder if I can claim those Mario pins?” I went and logged in and they were like, “Oh yeah, those are all gone. What are you talking about?” And I looked, and I Googled on Twitter.

Kurt Elster: You Googled on Twitter?

Paul Reda: I Googled on Twitter. And apparently-

Kurt Elster: Google’s like Kleenex now.

Paul Reda: Yeah. So, what happened was they didn’t announce the exact time that it was gonna be released. They did it at like 2:00 central, and the entire Nintendo website crashed, and all the pins were gone within the first hour. So, if you didn’t just randomly check it at the right time and click on the link to get your code to get the pins, you didn’t get the pins. They made an hour’s worth of pins.

Kurt Elster: That’s brutal.

Paul Reda: And I was so pissed.

Kurt Elster: Right. Okay, so that’s where this gets a bad rap, is because it is such… It’s because of those… The scarcity creates this insane demand, and then rarely can they ever actually meet it. For them, it’s like, “How much does a pin cost?” Pins are extremely inexpensive.

Paul Reda: That’s the thing. I was super mad. If you were just like, “Paul.”

Kurt Elster: Did the make 100 pins? 1,000? We don’t know.

Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s like, “Oh, do you want $10 worth of Mario pins?” I’m like, “I mean, I’m not paying 10 bucks for them.” But like, “Well, do you want to maybe get free Mario pins?” Well, of course I do. And you’re like, “Cool.” They just turned around and went, “Oh, by the way, you’re not getting them.” It’s like, “Well, I wanted them though.”

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: Like you can’t-

Kurt Elster: No, and I think the danger is that if you go to the extreme experience that we’re used to with a brand like Supreme, where it’s like, “Oh, push notification or SMS that the sale opened. And a whole bunch of scalpers used automation tool…” This is why all the sneaker drops are in apps or done by random drawing, is because people wrote… People would write scripts to just instantaneously buy it the moment it was available, as many as they could get, so that they would just turn around and then flip. They’d wait a month and sell them on eBay for 5X markup. It’s crazy.

Paul Reda: I mean, I agree with the way Hoonigan and Adam’s do it, and that they’re like, “We’re doing a special limited edition. Buy it now, because at some point in the near future we are going to stop selling it.” I do not like, “We’re doing an ultra secret sneaker drop that you need to jump through 12 hoops to get. Oh, by the way, you didn’t get it.” That… And you’re not Adidas, you’re not Supreme, you don’t have the cachet to do that, anyone listening to this.

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: So, don’t try it that way.

Kurt Elster: Or if you are going to, make it clear up front.

Paul Reda: Yeah. If you’re only making 10, say you’re only making 10.

Kurt Elster: Go, “Hey, I made 100. I got 100. When I sell out of 100, that’s the end of it.”

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: And that way you set the expectation. And so, if you wanted to, you could apply this to Black Friday, and the way Hoonigan did it that I thought was really brilliant last year, and I think I’ve given this as an example several times now because I love it so much. They did free gift with purchase, so it’s like any order over $50 gets this limited edition lapel pin. The lapel pin could only be… You could only get it as a free gift with purchase. There was no way to buy it from the site. There was never. And even better, every single day the pin changed, and they told you in advance like, “Hey, it’s a different pin every day.” But you didn’t know which day it was gonna be.

So, now doing these limited editions, where you really build up the hype in advance, and now they’re rolling, like let’s say you’ve got different colors of a sneaker, you could do like a different color each day. And then by doing that, you really extend out that hype machine, and that’s what this is about, is just like let’s all just get excited about ultimately a silly tchotchke, but that’s the fun of it. Especially now, where we need that distraction and we want that retail therapy. I think this kind of stuff will work better than ever this year.

Paul Reda: Oh, I think so.

Kurt Elster: Yeah.

Paul Reda: I mean, if you do like… If you could think of five things and do five different weird things every day leading up to Black Friday, I think that would just like… People need something to focus on. They need something to think about.

Kurt Elster: We got when this drops, 35 days till the election, I think.

Paul Reda: Well, but the election will be over by Black Friday. Fingers crossed.

Kurt Elster: Fingers crossed. If we’re really unlucky, it won’t be over till January. No, I think by Halloween, I’m gonna be planning out my doomsday bunker.

Paul Reda: I went to the weed store. Got a lot of weed.

Kurt Elster: I’m sorry, you went to the cannabis dispensary?

Paul Reda: To the legal cannabis dispensary here in Illinois.

Kurt Elster: The legal cannabis dispensary.

Paul Reda: Yeah, and I got some ultra-

Kurt Elster: The one that Jim Belushi was at the opening for?

Paul Reda: Yes. And I got some ultra indica chill-out, and I’m gonna chill out.

Kurt Elster: All right, let’s move forward. I want to briefly discuss authenticity. We’ve touched on it. And then we will dive into a Shinola teardown and wrap it up. So, with authenticity in brands, if I tell you a story about my life as a person, and it is just wildly or factually incorrect, you would say, “That guy is a liar.” At some point, if a brand becomes big enough, they just get a free pass and they could do what Nikola did. If you’re not familiar with Nikola, it is a-

Paul Reda: It’s not Tesla.

Kurt Elster: I know. That name is ridiculous.

Paul Reda: I mean, that’s part of their scam.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. So, Nikola is a Tesla competitor that was gonna sell a hydrogen fuel semi-truck and they showed up out of nowhere and raised a bunch of money.

Paul Reda: They signed a deal with GM. Like a co-working deal with GM.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, and they said they’ve got, when they announced the truck, they said, “Hey, it works.” And it turned out it didn’t quite work. How did they actually achieve the demonstration of their semi-truck?

Paul Reda: Well, the first demonstration where it was on like a table or whatever.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, it was on the stage with a guy.

Paul Reda: It was on the stage with them. People looked very closely at the photos and there was like a cable running underneath.

Kurt Elster: A power cable!

Paul Reda: Yeah, so the car was plugged in to something that it was running off of, and then they were like, “No, no, no. We’re gonna release a video that shows our truck.” And so-

Kurt Elster: But when we say truck, this is an 18-wheeler.

Paul Reda: It was an 18-wheeler. It was a semi. And so, there was a video and you saw the truck going down the road. Note how very specific I am being in my language here when I say it was a video of the truck moving down the road.

Kurt Elster: And it didn’t turn out that this was CG, or a green screen. No, even better. How did the truck drive, Paul?

Paul Reda: They put the truck on a slight incline and then just like-

Kurt Elster: Pushed it!

Paul Reda: Put it in neutral so it just rolled across the screen. And then when-

Kurt Elster: Of course it was a silent-running vehicle.

Paul Reda: Yeah, it had no-

Kurt Elster: It was rolling downhill.

Paul Reda: It had no engine in it. And when they-

Kurt Elster: But they swore up and down that this was a real, working vehicle from the moment they unveiled.

Paul Reda: And so, when people called them out on that, they were just like, “We never said the car was running.”

Kurt Elster: Yeah. We never said it was propelled under its own power. That’s like rules lawyer stuff like my kids do. They’re like, “Well, you never said we shouldn’t bungee jump off the third floor of the house.” I’m like, “Okay, I didn’t think I had to.”

Paul Reda: But this is a very… But Nikola is like someone’s going to jail for that company, like that’s different.

Kurt Elster: All right, so when we say be authentic, we’ve established Nikola, like that’s fraud. That’s inauthentic. No good. Bad. All right. We’ve got that one and the NS8 guy. That’s inauthenticity, that’s fraud. At least they had a working product, though.

Paul Reda: Yeah. Did they?

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I believe so.

Paul Reda: Okay.

Kurt Elster: I’m gonna go with yes. But then you get a brand like Madewell or Shinola, and Madewell is… They sell denim, and it’s this storied brand, with this family history of denim.

Paul Reda: 1937 we were founded.

Kurt Elster: Selvedge denim since 1937. When it turned out the reality is… Who was it? I believe it’s J. Crew?

Paul Reda: J. Crew. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. In 1937, this guy writes in a Inc. article that I will link to. Yeah. Wait, which is it? Buzzfeed. I’ll link to this. “In 1937, my great-grandfather started a workwear company in New England called Madewell. In 2006, 17 years after the factory shut down, J. Crew relaunched a women’s clothing company with the same name and logo, based on a 50-year history in which it had no part.”

Paul Reda: Well, and part of it is Madewell, and that it was literally made well in Massachusetts, and like it’s just 50 years of denim and workers’ wear, and then the company went out of business, and J. Crew bought the dead brand name.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. The CEO of J. Crew, Mickey Drexler, acquired the logo and the trademark from this company that was founded in 1937.

Paul Reda: And now it’s just regular Chinese crap, but it’s like they’re authenticity washing it by working it through, being like, “Oh, well, remember the factory in Massachusetts in 1937? And it was built on a dream. And blah, blah, blah.” It’s just like it’s just the Chinese crap that J. Crew sells everywhere, but they have an authentic logo and company name on it, so now you pay more.

Kurt Elster: Their website used to be

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: That was how… Everything was just about the fact that this brand was from 1937.

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: And the question is like, “Well, is it?” Because it really… It’s like the brand name is, but their whole thing was pushing the story like it was theirs, and it really wasn’t. And so yeah, it’s authenticity washing. It’s not… It wasn’t true. But is that fraud? No, probably not. It depends on how they’re presenting it. So, this is where it gets squishy.

Paul Reda: I mean, this is shittier than selling things with Sezzle I think.

Kurt Elster: Yes. Yes. Yeah. But-

Paul Reda: And so, before we-

Kurt Elster: Is it criminal? No. It’s not criminal. Is it unethical and immoral? Probably.

Paul Reda: Is it gross? Yeah, I think it’s gross.

Kurt Elster: Yes, it’s gross. For sure.

Paul Reda: And Shinola, so now we’re gonna talk about Shinola, which is we’re gonna do a teardown of their store, but I mean… Shinola’s, “Detroit, Detroit. Made in Detroit. We’re bringing Detroit back.”

Kurt Elster: That was their whole thing. It’s all you heard about.

Paul Reda: All right. Well, the reason it’s Detroit is because they, before they started the company, they had a focus group where they were like, “All right, will you spend…” I don’t remember. It was like a belt. It was some piece of… It was a wallet. They were like, “Would you spend $5 on this wallet, period.” And they looked at the numbers on that. Then they said, “Well, would you spend $10 if it was made in the USA?” And oh, that got good numbers. And then they went, “Oh. Well, would you spend $15 if it was made in the USA in Detroit?” And that got even fine numbers.

So, they’re like, “Oh, Detroit. Detroit’s the winner.” And so, then they bought the name Shinola, which was a shoeshine company that went out of business in 1960-

Kurt Elster: Hence the American phrase, “You don’t know shit from Shinola.”

Paul Reda: Yes.

Kurt Elster: Literally referred to this brand.

Paul Reda: That your grandpa would say to you.

Kurt Elster: Okay. Yes. Yeah. Certainly, neither of us are running around saying it.

Paul Reda: Went out of business in 1960, so then in like 2011 a finance guy pretty much was just like bought the name Shinola, gonna slap Detroit on everything, now I can sell it at 3X markup, or like 3 times the markup I normally would, because people like the idea of that. I mean, it has no connection to any of it whatsoever.

Kurt Elster: Is the company in Detroit?

Paul Reda: The company is in Detroit. They got busted by the FTC because they were like, “Made in Detroit.” It wasn’t made in Detroit.

Kurt Elster: Oh, so the FTC actually came down on them.

Paul Reda: They FTC came down on them. If you note the header on the website when we look at it, it just says underneath it, “Detroit.” And doesn’t say, “Made in Detroit.”

Kurt Elster: Right. There’s quite the implication there, like we’re in Detroit. Detroit.

Paul Reda: They buy stuff from overseas. In some cases, the final assembly occurs in Detroit.

Kurt Elster: It’s like… That would be like if Apple said, “Well, the iPhone is made in America.” No, it’s not. Maybe final assembly occurs.

Paul Reda: No it’s not. None of it is.

Kurt Elster: I’m sorry. They say… I don’t know if they still do. They say-

Paul Reda: They say, “Designed in California.”

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Cupertino on the back.

Paul Reda: But, so yeah, this whole thing, like, “We’re saving Detroit. We’re amazing and saving Detroit.” It’s like I think I read 100 people work there. It’s like, “Okay, 100 people.”

Kurt Elster: You gave 100 people jobs.

Paul Reda: You have a final manufacturing facility that gave 100 people jobs. You’re not saving bullshit. This is all just, again, authenticity washing of a fake brand name that you bought with zero history, claiming you’re saving a city where 99% of your business actions do not occur in.

Kurt Elster: All right, so if I’m… Well, they Inc. Magazine described this, and I’ll link to this article, the article is entitled The Real History of America’s Most Authentic Fake Brand. And the subheading, A Mogul From Texas Uses the Country’s Least Aspirational City as the Backdrop for His Next Global Lifestyle Company. Shinola, the $225 million experiment in manufactured authenticity.

So, why go through all this effort? Why buy these old, resurrect these old brand names, just to borrow some story, and then try and gussy it up as this generational, artisanal, handmade thing? Whether it’s denim, or timepieces, whatever. It’s because stories sell. People love stories. And what always baffles me is when I interview merchants on the show, it’s like, “Tell me your story. Tell me your journey.” And those journeys are often very interesting, and when I talk to merchants on the phone for the first time, I’ll say, “Well, tell me about your business. How’d you get here? How’d this happen?” And they’ll tell me this really interesting story.

And then I’ll go on their website and I’ll check the about page, and I’ll check the homepage. The story isn’t there. They completely leave it out. Whereas these very… Well, Shinola, $225 million invested, they see the importance of a brand story, and they’re willing to spend the money to get a brand story that they can say is theirs. And so, I think the takeaway is as a merchant, you don’t have to go through any of these shenanigans. You have your story. Just tell your story.

And I’ve mentioned in the past, StoryBrand is a really great framework. You can find their workbook and go through it to try and develop your brand story, because I think it’s important. Any closing thoughts on authenticity, Mr. Reda?

Paul Reda: We’ll say don’t lie, but apparently you don’t receive any punishment for lying, so why not lie?

Kurt Elster: No! Well, this is not great PR. We were able to easily find the truth of these things and then talk about it in here.

Paul Reda: Yeah, true.

Kurt Elster: And go, “That’s not great.” And Madewell’s website used to be Madewell 1937. Now it’s just Madewell, so I don’t know how much-

Paul Reda: It’s probably just an easier domain. They probably just didn’t have the original domain.

Kurt Elster: Oh, I was gonna give them the benefit of the doubt, but you’re probably right.

Paul Reda: No, no benefit of the doubt for giant conglomerates.

Kurt Elster: For J. Crew? Okay. Just don’t lie. Your own story’s probably pretty good. Just tell that story. It’s these brands that don’t have one, like J. Crew doesn’t have a story to tell, so they’re gonna adopt somebody else’s. Let’s do a Shinola teardown. And do we know what platform this is on?

Paul Reda: It is not Shopify.

Kurt Elster: It’s not Shopify based on .html being in these URLs.

Paul Reda: Well, yeah, I looked at view source. There was no /shopify anywhere.

Kurt Elster: Okay, so yeah, not Shopify, but we don’t know what it is. And landing on the site, I am thrilled to see extremely clean main menu and header. And they have… Their promo is a watch about voting?

Paul Reda: It’s to show that you voted.

Kurt Elster: So, you buy a watch?

Paul Reda: I don’t know.

Kurt Elster: Wait. Does that say Detrola on it?

Paul Reda: Detrola is one of their collections. It’s like Detroit type stuff.

Kurt Elster: So, we’re really just going deep on Detroit.

Paul Reda: Well, again, people were willing to pay $15 for the pen instead of $10 because you added Detroit onto it.

Kurt Elster: I see. So, the title, Shinola Detroit. The logo, Shinola Detroit. The watch itself says Shinola Detroit. The implication, of course, is that everything is made in Detroit, and it isn’t the case.

Paul Reda: It’s assembled in Detroit by up to 100 people at any given time.

Kurt Elster: So, on the homepage, it’s not a video, but it’s very bold, it’s colorful, it’s highly stylized, and it’s like a slideshow.

Paul Reda: Oh, I mean I’ll call it a video. I mean, it’s like an animated .GIF, but I mean-

Kurt Elster: It looks good.

Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s movement, which is good, but it’s not a slideshow. It’s a different thing. But it still has movement. I think that’s where we come down. Homepage movement, good. Slideshow, bad. Because it’s giving you one thing and taking another thing away.

Kurt Elster: Yes. And then scrolling on down, they’ve got… They try and segment people, which I always think is smart. Men’s Watches, Women’s Watches, with two featured promos. They really keep it to just a two column grid, and at any given time, they’ve made the element so big, you really just have… You only have the one decision at any time as you scroll through the homepage. And so, first they try and segment us. Now they’re gonna show us their featured collection. I wish they’d showed us that first. I want more products.

I think their watches are good looking, so why not lead with that? I always find it very baffling when you’re on an eCommerce website and you have to hunt to find a product photo. That should be what you lead with, right? And then finally, like I’m over halfway down, now I get to best sellers, where I can see their best-selling stuff. It’s in a slider. I’d prefer it be a grid. But it’s there at least and looks pretty good. There’s a wish list. I can wish list this stuff.

And a little bit of social. The final thing on here is social proof, where they’ve got a quote from what I assume is a shopper, but who knows? And a very clean footer. That’s a very nice footer. Just Helvetica. Black and white. Looks nice.

Paul Reda: Well, but also note the quote from the person is… She’s from Detroit.

Kurt Elster: Oh, she is.

Paul Reda: And it’s such a great expression of Detroit.

Kurt Elster: It’s a symbol of confidence, a badge of honor, and an expression of the place I grew up in.

Paul Reda: As someone who grew up in Chicago and have gone to many Chicago Blackhawks games, I believe I am obligated to declare Detroit sucks.

Kurt Elster: I see.

Paul Reda: Detroit sucks.

Kurt Elster: Okay. Please direct your emails to Paul at

Paul Reda: I’m sorry. I would get kicked out if I didn’t say it.

Kurt Elster: Don’t you live in the suburbs?

Paul Reda: It counts. Cook County.

Kurt Elster: It’s Cook County. You’re right. All right, fine. As the actual Chicago residents are like, “This guy sucks.” All right, going back up to that header-

Paul Reda: Better than Detroit.

Kurt Elster: They’ve got if you hover over, men, women, supply. It’s a main menu.

Paul Reda: Good mega menu.

Kurt Elster: It’s a mega menu. But it’s clean, it’s nice, it’s easy to navigate. One subtle thing they did here is it is all left aligned, so my mouse goes straight down from the main menu to the stuff in the mega menu. And a lot of mega menus have an odd issue where you’ll hover, and sometimes they’ll close on you, and that can be frustrating. This one does not appear to have that problem, so well executed, and they break it down like first by broader collection, by intent, so it’s like Men, Women, Supply, and I really don’t know what the difference is there.

Paul Reda: Supply is like not gendered. Like there aren’t like women’s clocks.

Kurt Elster: You’re right. Well, under women there’s a clock section, so there’s some overlap there, which is fine. Men, shop by category, so which… Clearly men’s watches are their thing. Should we try and shop for some men’s watches?

Paul Reda: Sure. And we’re gonna by the Runwell Sport Chrono. It’s got that panda dial which I am into.

Kurt Elster: You are a sucker for panda dials on chronometers.

Paul Reda: I’m definitely a sucker for a panda dial.

Kurt Elster: So, when you land on the collection page, they’ve got a lovely featured lifestyle image that shows me three watches. I think that’s smart. It kind of sets the tone and it does a better job than a product on a white background, which is what you would typically see in the collection grid. So, I like to have these lifestyle images in at the top of my collections, especially for a lifestyle brand, something where you’re selling a fairly expensive item, like these watches are starting at 400 bucks and going up to over a thousand, so non-trivial.

On the left side, they’re not doing filtering, but it’s got like a breadcrumb thing. I don’t know that I… I would heatmap it to see if people use it, and then I got filters hidden, then I got my sort, and if you open them both, it kind of breaks. You get two Xs. Got a little strange on me. And there’s just… There’s a lot of filter options. Honestly, I would prefer the way this worked was we just have regular breadcrumbs, which people do use. You should have breadcrumbs. And then in that sidebar, do all my filtering down the side where that extraneous, weird navigation is. But you wanted… You like a chronometer, right?

So, let’s see. Can I use the filters to figure that out?

Paul Reda: I just want that panda dial, man.

Kurt Elster: You know, I actually can’t. Yeah, these filters-

Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s just like the Runwell Watch. The Monster Watch. Well, the Runwell Sport Chrono.

Kurt Elster: You gotta get on mic.

Paul Reda: I’m on the mic.

Kurt Elster: There you go.

Paul Reda: This is getting picked up.

Kurt Elster: That one’s very directional.

Paul Reda: Well, blah.

Kurt Elster: All right, so Runwell Sport Chrono 48mm is the one you want, right?

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: All right, when you hover it over it, it has an add to cart button. I think that’s a misstep. There’s no way I’m just like arbitrarily adding a few things for $900 from the collection grid and then buying it. I do like that they’ve got this new arrival text. I think it looks nice. And so far, this whole site, really clean, and they’ve paid careful attention to typography, content, everything’s very consistent.

Paul Reda: No, it’s really good.

Kurt Elster: Once we land on this thing. Whoa. What I love about this product detail page… This is the first page where it’s really, that it has impressed me, that I like, is the product detail page, where they’ve got this huge, wide landscape image, where I can really see the details on this watch. It’s nice.

Paul Reda: Yeah. The image is really big, really clean, really great, and I mean it’s got that thing where when you scroll down, there’s all the information, extra sales information, but it keeps the product form is position sticky and will just stick there to the top of your screen.

Kurt Elster: We see that a fair bit on these very premium sites.

Paul Reda: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s really good. You don’t have to go back up.

Kurt Elster: This watch weirdly has no reviews. That’s suspicious.

Paul Reda: It says new on the… It said it was new on the collection page.

Kurt Elster: New and they haven’t shipped any? Did we just happen to land on the site right when this thing came out?

Paul Reda: It says new arrival. Well, maybe it takes a while to get reviews.

Kurt Elster: I see… It’s such a rough look when you don’t have reviews. Maybe they should have given a few away and got some reviews that way. I suppose they don’t have to. The Amazon sellers know all about that one.

Paul Reda: What are the reviews gonna say? “Don’t keep time good.”

Kurt Elster: But they do… This product detail page, they do a good job where we have alternating images left right as we scroll down. When you’re selling a watch for $900, you need to go into the details and justify why this thing costs 900 bucks, and they do that with these beautiful macro photos, and pretty good text descriptions. Really broken up very well. Makes it very easy to scan and read. And for presentation, it includes a lovely wooden box. And then finally, anything else they need to tell you, they put in a tab description at the bottom, where it goes, “Details, specs, reviews.” It’s pretty nice.

And then you’ve got on the side, you permanently have that product form with another product description in there.

Paul Reda: And we could pay $77 a month with Affirm.

Kurt Elster: Yes, or 0% APR, as low as $77 a month with Affirm.

Paul Reda: So, less bad than a credit card.

Kurt Elster: Now, it does say starting at 0% APR, so that implies there are… For less qualified buyers, they’re gonna get hit with interest and I don’t know what it is.

Paul Reda: Also, note the movement in the details is made with Swiss and imported parts. Hmm…

Kurt Elster: That’s a little vague.

Paul Reda: Thought it was made in Detroit.

Kurt Elster: Movement, it’s a quartz movement?

Paul Reda: Yeah, they’re all quartz.

Kurt Elster: For $900?

Paul Reda: That’s part of the scam. Because you’re made in Detroit, you’re paying extra.

Kurt Elster: For a quartz watch?

Paul Reda: Yep. I looked. So, the Monster watches, that’s like the Monster collection, those are like their dive watches. Those are the Rolex rip-offs. Those have a mechanical thing, but they’re like 2 grand.

Kurt Elster: The face on the dive watch, that is straight up a Tudor, which is one of Rolex’s brands. What’s interesting, on the product form, it’s got the add to cart button and they say, “Free 2-day shipping to the U.S., free returns.” And if you click it, it links to a… It looks like a Zendesk help desk article about shipping and returns. I would probably make that a tooltip.

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: They’ve got the add to cart button.

Paul Reda: Or just a popup.

Kurt Elster: The add to cart button has no hover state. I think this is an opportunity to really polish this thing up, make it shine. Put a nifty animation. A subtle but nifty animation on the add to cart button. And then there’s a note, that’s interesting, right underneath the add to cart button, this item ships internationally. Hmm…

So, if that’s a common question for you…

Paul Reda: That might imply to me that some items don’t ship internationally?

Kurt Elster: I had that thought. Yeah. And then once they add it to cart they’ve got this lovely drawer cart. It says, “My Cart,” is the title. I like that. It’s got all my info and they did a cool thing of you can add gift options to the individual item, it looks like. And as an upsell, I can… It has a link to compatible watch straps.

Paul Reda: And when you click on it, it’s really good. I mean, just looking at the URL, obviously again this is not Shopify, but you could do this in Shopify. Strap compatible case, 48mm Runwell Sport, so these are truly only the straps that will work on that-

Kurt Elster: Oh yeah, it looks like it’s like the equivalent of filtered by tag.

Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s these are only-

Kurt Elster: Or they made a collection. Oh no, it’s a filter. I can see it’s a filter applied. That’s clever.

Paul Reda: Yeah. These will all work on that one.

Kurt Elster: Oh, they say, “Hey, let’s increase this average order value on this $875 watch by $50 to $225,” which is an outrageous sum for a watch strap. So, that’s smart, but when you’re buying a watch strap, the agony is, “Well, is it going to fit my watch?” Especially for 200 bucks. And so, they’re saying, “Hey, add compatible watch straps.” They’re suggesting it and removing the objection. It’s smart.

Paul Reda: I want that dark cognac leather strap with the light stitching, but it’s sold out.

Kurt Elster: Oh no. I can’t. Do they-

Paul Reda: Also, it’s not-

Kurt Elster: Do they have like a back in stock?

Paul Reda: It’s also 95. I can join the waiting list by giving my email.

Kurt Elster: Okay, and I think that’s smart. I like any kind of back in stock notification system. I think that’s always bright. And then they say in here, they’ve got some conditional logic. Your order qualifies for complimentary two-day shipping. This is a thing we do in Shopify stores on like a weekly basis, where we add a little bit of Liquid logic, like if I know your free shipping threshold is 50 bucks, then we put some Liquid logic in like if cart subtotal over $50, then display message, “Your order qualifies for complimentary two-day shipping.” Right. So, you could borrow this in Shopify.

Paul Reda: Oh, the gift options are just a message. It should just say, “Add gift message.”

Kurt Elster: You’re right. It should.

Paul Reda: Instead of, “Add gift options.”

Kurt Elster: All right, and then when I get to the checkout, it’s a two-step non-Shopify checkout, so I lose interest. But what I think is interesting about it is I would suspect that they said, “Let’s make it look like Amazon’s checkout.” Like have you got to the checkout?

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: That’s totally Amazon’s… This is inspired by Amazon, right? It feels like it.

Paul Reda: I couldn’t tell you.

Kurt Elster: I think it is.

Paul Reda: It’s a good site.

Kurt Elster: It is a good site.

Paul Reda: It’s a really well done, clean, easy site. They’re not doing anything crazy. They’re just presenting you with the stuff. Great imagery. I think that-

Kurt Elster: And for as much as we hammered them on the story, in going from homepage to buy, we never encountered the story.

Paul Reda: We never encountered the story. The story is go all the way to the footer, company, about us, then click. There, you’ll get the story. But other than that, no story. It’s sort of like Nikola where it’s like it’s the things you don’t say. If you don’t say anything, no one can tell you that you lied to them.

Kurt Elster: Well, maybe this was… the stuff was here, and then they went, “You know what? Because of the criticism, let’s get rid of it. Let’s get rid of our stolen Detroit valor.”

Paul Reda: We need an easier to say word than authenticity washing.

Kurt Elster: You know, it does in fact… Authenticity washing is great. I like it. It’s accurate, at least. Today, Shinola employs over 500 people with an average of 100 in manufacturing at any given time. We proudly design all our products and globally source the best components. Seasoned manufacturers both in the U.S. and around the world. You’re right, so I suspect that this was much more… Because I remember when this brand came out and it was like, “Yeah! Manufacturing’s coming back to Detroit.” It was very clear, this was like Detroit, start to finish.

Paul Reda: I remember they had a big ad during the Oscars that they were just like, “We’re saving Detroit.” Like, “Yeah! Yeah! America!” And I was just… It smelled bad to me and I remember Googling it and I found that Inc. article.

Kurt Elster: Okay.

Paul Reda: And one of them, Peter Farrelly mentioned it. When Peter Farrelly won best director or best picture for Green Book, he frickin’ mentioned it during his acceptance speech.

Kurt Elster: What?

Paul Reda: He’s like, “I got a Shinola watch. They’re bringing…” Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Oh, man. Crazy. And it turned out we’re just reselling. We’re in Detroit, but not everything it claimed to be. But you’re right, I think that clearly… They’ve walked that back, it seems like. All right, let’s wrap it up there.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode. Please join our Facebook group. Search The Unofficial Shopify Podcast Insiders on Facebook. Come talk to us. We would… Maybe you can ask a perfectly innocent question and then we’ll go on a 10-minute diatribe about it on the show. Doesn’t that sound fun for everyone involved?

Paul Reda: Don’t you want that? You want that to happen.

Kurt Elster: Of course you do. It’s kind of fun. Or comment on YouTube or however you get this show. Anyway, we will be back next week with lots more excitement. Thank you for listening.

Paul Reda: Bye-bye!