Wheels up, friends – it’s time to talk marketing, digital, e-comm, and brand again.

Hey gang,

We’re hopping back on the regular newsletter train, with a couple of key changes from 2019:

•    Less pontificating
•    More helping

The plan is to send one out every few weeks with notes on what we’ve been seeing, thinking, and doing. The spark to bring this back was largely driven by seeing what Melissa and Jonathan Nightingale, Sarah Stockdale of WNTTAT, and the Bright & Early newsletters have been consistently able to produce. All three are regular, local newsletters in the tech, life, and HR spaces that do a bang-up job of dropping doses of knowledge in helpful, earnest, witty ways, and are well worth subscribing to.

So why not aim for something similar, focused on the crazy, interesting, ever-shifting overlap between branding, messaging, e-commerce, marketing, and the web?

As you can probably tell, this will also be a little bit more first-person in tone, as it’s written by me (Stuart, Stack’s Founder & Creative Director). As time goes on, we may pass the baton to some of our team members to share their own insights and knowledge as well.

In that same spirit, I invite you to reply with any thoughts, feedback, comments, pros, cons, loves, hates, or so-so’s that you feel. Much like marketing as a whole, a newsletter is inherently a one-way channel – but only for the first step. The magic comes when dialogues build. If we produce something you agree with, can’t stand, or have more context on and feel like chipping in, feel free to reply – or heck, even pitch your own response to go out in the next issue 😉

Stuart

– – –

What We’ve Been Seeing

Shopify made headlines last week by becoming the most valuable company in Canada. Stock price aside, they’ve certainly been busy:

  • The number of new stores set up on Shopify between mid-March and mid-April was up 62% (from the latest episode of The Unofficial Shopify Podcast)
  • They’ve released a new POS version with curbside pickup and better inventory management, further tightening up their online/offline integrations
  • Just yesterday, they announced a retail card reader for in-store usage, setting them up for even tighter integration as stores re-open in the months ahead
  • They also just released (!?!?) Shop, an iPhone app that brings (I believe) all Shopify stores into one unified app for shopping and tracking. In short: order on the website or in-app, and then seamlessly track your delivery in-app.  Worked like a charm for a Great Lakes Brewery delivery I ordered last week.
  • They also moved their previously-in-person Shopify Unite conference online next week as Shopify Reunite, with one stream for a wider audience and another for Shopify Partners.
  • God only knows the other 210371237 things they’re working on internally. Their product roadmap meetings must be wild.

Having a website has been a no-brainer for 20+ years. Having a website that allows you to process purchases, directly own the relationship with your customers, integrate into one unified inventory and POS system, and scale up or down depending on your business and needs…well, it’s now a no-brainer for virtually any business that sells distinct products or services to end users. Onwards against Amazon.

What We’ve Been Thinking

There’s been quite a lot of chatter recently about how many people might elect to work from home forever once COVID has passed.

I don’t doubt that will be the case for some. But like with anything, the answer lies in balancing the two extremes of always-in-office or always-remote.

The agency we’re building is one that’s allowed remote working from day one, and that will always be the case – but I can’t foresee us becoming a fully-remote-all-the-time agency.

Building your company’s operations on a cloud-based infrastructure has been standard practice for years now, and having workplace ethics and policies that allow flexibility for any staff member to work from home as needed, without judgement or impact to their daily productivity, workplace connections, or chances for progress, is just as essential.

But on an emotional and human level, we’re social beings.

Slack and video calls help a bit – but I can’t help but think we’re all missing patios, random chats, and the certain magic that can come from getting a few people in a room together to come up with something new. Not to mention team lunches, presentations, brainstorms, pitches, 1:1s, venting sessions, and all the other elements of daily working life that take us out of the uncanny valley of digital communications and back into the physical space we’re in.

Digital continues to embed itself deeper into the bedrock of our society, and in the areas of data, health, voting, and media, that will only continue to change – and I welcome that, as if it can continue to be safely and equitably managed, it’s a huge area of societal progress and much-needed hope.

But when it comes to how we spend our average Tuesdays, it ain’t enough.

What We’ve Been Doing

  • We signed up as an agency to be a volunteer partner for the City of Toronto/Digital Main Street/Shopify initiative announced earlier this week, to help get thousands of Toronto businesses online rapidly, for free. If you know a small business who needs digital help in the e-commerce space, send them to Digital Main Street.
  • Balancing the Grind is an online blog dedicated to exploring how creative types manage work/life balance – and they brought me in for an interview!
  • If you’re curious what kind of vibe we’re trying to build here at Stack (including more thoughts on remote/in-office), give it a gander.
  • We’ve updated our website with clearer, crispy copy and imagery, as well as an Emetti newsfeed, a product created by our friends at SmashLAB out in Vancouver.
  • We’ve started working with a couple of new clients, on a rebranding project as well as a new website design. Keep you posted as the work goes live 😉