by Andy

MyStoreCredit Interview

We talk to Brian Lawe, co-founder and current CEO of about the company's services MyStoreCredit and Personalized Shipping Maps.

Tags: Interviews

WR: Where did the idea for MyStoreCredit come from?

It all started with my wife! She bought our children's car seats on eBay. Once she got the seats, she never heard from that seller again. She figured she was spending about $1,000 a year on children's items and it amazed her that the seller never bothered to ask her if she wanted any other items. At the same time, my work in marketing strategy for the parent company of The New York Times was pushing me to conclude that price competition online would develop like price competition in the airline business.

As you know, in the airline business a seat between NY and London is the same seat no matter what airline you fly – so people buy the lowest price ticket. With one exception: frequent flyer programs were developed to differentiate an airline in ways other than price. Tabbatha, my wife, was patient enough to listen to my work and one day put the two ideas together to create the foundations of the MyStoreCredit loyalty program. It took two years to refine the concept and now we've got a thriving business.

WR: How does the MyStoreCredit service compare to eBay's "Sellers Top Picks" and Store Newsletters?

First, we believe sellers ought to use any service that can help a seller build a relationship and grow sales with a buyer. Those eBay tools are good but don't really create a relationship between the seller and his/her buyer. The relationship remains with eBay, as described in eBay's policy: "...the seller will never see your name, email address, or any other personally-identifiable information." If a seller wants to own the relationship, our service is more appropriate. Plus, our service is much richer than simply email.

We combine:

  1. A seller's opted-in emails; with
  2. The use of a future store credit on a repeat transaction; and
  3. Each email is personalized using intelligent cross-merchandising.

Our service gets your buyer's opt-in permission for you. Buyers opt-in to our program at a rate higher than anything in the market place – by a factor of four to eight times higher! Second, in our program your buyer gets a future store credit that is applied on their next purchase. That store credit is a powerful incentive that gets the buyer to make a repeat purchase.

Did you know repeat customers are more profitable than new customers? It's true. Our emails are automated and always personalized for each buyer. Our system intelligently cross-merchandises items in emails based upon the buyer's past purchases. Your golf buyer sees top golf items. Finally, our click-thru rates and repeat purchase rates from the emails we send are tracked and consistently show outstanding improvements in repeat sales for our sellers. We are very results oriented.

WR: Do you have many customers outside the US?

We do – international is the fastest growing part of our business. We currently have sellers from 22 countries around the world and our loyalty service supports transactions in US, Canadian and Australian dollars as well as Euros, Pounds and Yen.

Our customer map service is specifically designed for anyone who sells internationally. Here's a fact: 11.8% of all eBay sales are between a buyer in one country and a seller in another. The most important thing that international buyer wants to know is: Will the seller get the item to me in my home country? Our customer maps are the perfect tool to answer that question while merchandising the seller's relationships in that country.

WR: Sellers can advertise in MyStoreCredit emails on a pay-per-click basis. How effective is that?

It is very effective, but let me say only a portion of our emails contain ads. Seller's make that choice. Many sellers run emails with no ads. However, in both cases, the emails produce terrific click-thru rates from the targeted buyers.

Our Loyalty system uses intelligent key-word and category matching to optimize the items merchandised in each email. Say a buyer purchased golf shoes, our system selects the seller's golf related items to promote in the next outbound email -- automatically. eBay buyers respond to our combination of intelligent cross-merchandising and the bonus offer of a store credit. It shows in our numbers: Our average click-thru rates from emails is about 18.5%. That compares to an industry wide email click-thru rate of only 7.7%.

WR: What are you working on next?
BL: We are never short of ideas – and we try to incorporate ideas we get from our sellers into our existing services. However, as you see in many other areas, sellers are aggressively exploring other selling platforms and we'll follow our sellers wherever they are going. If executed properly, the buyer/seller relationship should supersede any one platform.
WR: Thank you for your time and best wishes for MyStoreCredit.

Discuss this interview here

Article Added: 8 August 2005
Last Updated: 8 August 2005

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