Mitto on the Street – Los Angeles

Welcome back to Mitto on the Street; today, we’re in Los Angeles, taking in a beautiful summer day from a public golf course in Venice Beach. We wanted to enjoy […]

Welcome back to Mitto on the Street; today, we’re in Los Angeles, taking in a beautiful summer day from a public golf course in Venice Beach. We wanted to enjoy the weather and learn how local Angelenos use omnichannel communications in their daily lives. Hopefully, we’ll make some birdies (or, realistically, some pars) while hearing about use cases that are helping actual people. FORE!

Small Business – Direct to Consumer: Marketing


First, we meet Jonathan. Jonathan is a beekeeper from Orange County and has been making his own brand of honey for over 40 years. In addition to local farmers markets, John distributes in Los Angeles grocery stores (such as Von’s and Ralph’s) and finally got into Whole Foods about seven years ago.


Jonathan: It was a massive deal for me when I first got into Whole Foods. I spent those first six months cultivating relationships in stores, merchandising, and doing everything I could to incentivize local stores to feature and push my product. It worked very well; I would see the monthly sales reports, and the trends were always up and to the right. When Amazon took over, however, I lost the ability to do all of this. They wanted me to pay to see analytics, I wasn’t allowed in stores in an official capacity, and Whole Foods was incentivized to push its own private-label honey. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot more time in the farmer’s markets and on my website, where I’m trying to build a more direct-to-consumer approach.


Mitto: How is omnichannel communication helping with these efforts, and what channels are you leveraging?


Jonathan: Farmers’ Markets operate as a more personal customer experience. I can chat with individual customers and do tastings, but I can also build a contact list. I have people sign up and opt-in to my SMS database, where I can then send notes about restocks, new flavors, and our upcoming farmers market schedule. The goal is to eventually get them to order from my website because that is much more scalable than selling at a market.


Mitto: And once you can get these customers onto your web platform, what additional ways are you able to support customers with omnichannel?


Jonathan: Once I have folks on my website, I’m also asking them to opt-in to SMS, but now we’re providing order tracking and support; also, smaller grocery stores that are interested in my products can get notifications about wholesale pricing. Just like I’m using multiple communication channels to speak to customers, I’m using multiple sales channels to build my business. You know, I started pretty small selling out of the back of my truck 40 years ago, but with these newer communication channels, I’ve been able to expand to 12 states, and I’m hoping to go national by the end of next year. I even send cart abandonment reminders and holiday specials now. I’m trying to make honey the thoughtful gift of 2023; someone can always use a jar of honey!


Mitto: And I see we have your son here today. Is the honey empire a family business?


Jonathan: Well, I envisioned it that way, but John Jr. doesn’t like being stung, so it’s just me these days.


Mitto: I think we can all appreciate John Jr.’s opinion on that; thanks for your time, Jonathan.


Resellers – Restock alerts, Cart abandonment reminders, SMS marketing


The aforementioned John Jr has just hit a 7-iron into the middle of the green on the par 3 5th hole. At 25, he is the youngest member of our foursome and the only one that would fall into the Gen Z demographic. As someone who grew up with the internet, he is tech-savvy and is always looking for ways to turn his internet knowledge into a quick buck.


John: Ya, I help on the bee farm sometimes, but I do hate getting stung. You know beekeeping might sound glamorous and exciting, but it’s hard work. There are a lot of easier ways to make money without breaking a sweat.


Mitto: Care to explain?


John: Well, we’re talking about SMS and how it relates to eCommerce, right? Here’s a perfect example. I have a lot of friends in construction, you know, general contractors, subcontractors, the people you might hire to renovate your home or just build a new deck. I set up a construction reselling operation where I will source materials directly from distributors and resell them to local construction companies. My prices, even after I collect my profit, will still be lower than those of Home Depot or Lowes, so everyone wins. My clients also like the personal touch they get from me. I’ll drive directly over to a construction site and drop off the materials they need.


Mitto: And how does the communication piece fit in here.


John: So I’m subscribed to all of the large brands, and I’ll get texts for hot deal alerts. An example from this morning is 100 neon safety vests for $70. That’s 70 cents per unit. Not that I know I can turn around and sell those for $4 per unit to my customers. That’s a profit margin of about 4x. Furthermore, I’ve learned from some of these brands that if I add something to my cart and forget about it, I might get a coupon offering an additional 10% off. At the end of the day, it’s a game of math, just like golf. I just wish SMS could fix my putting.


Mitto: I did actually get an SMS ad about a new putter this morning.


John: Well, there you go; SMS can even improve your golf game.


Distributors – Shipping notifications and SMS Marketing


Dave is the last member of our group. He’s an international importer/exporter of stadium supplies. He’s showing me a concept of a new disposable beer cup that is going to change live events forever.


Dave: So you’re at a concert, right? And you go to get a beer for yourself and your wife. But you also want a hot dog. You’re screwed, right? You only have two hands. You obviously can’t stack a full beer on top of itself, but what this prototype does is you can stack the handles so the drinks are facing opposite, and you still have a free hand for your food. You can actually stack up to four of these at a time; it’s a real win for product design and the customer experience.


Mitto: Is that what you’re usually looking for in your line of work? Innovations in design?


Dave: Not really; I’m more interested in economies of scale. The stackable cup is a premium product, but if you think about live events, our bread and butter is the items like napkins, plastic cutlery, and burger wrappers. I’m buying hundreds of thousands of these at a time, sometimes at a unit cost of less than a penny. I am dependent on restock notifications from my vendors worldwide because often the difference in a couple cents can be big money when I’m purchasing in such bulk. Think about an event like Coachella, right? There will be several million napkins for those two weeks, so I am negotiating for fractions of a penny.


Mitto: So you’re using omnichannel on the vendor side, but do you also provide similar services to your customers?


Dave: Of course, I’m working with events all over the world. Clients like Formula 1, Anheuser Busch, and Goldenvoice. So let’s say I have a music festival in California, a beer festival in New York, and an F1 race in Budapest. I need to give these event promoters up-to-the-minute notifications of where their product is. Events move at a breakneck speed compared to the traditional food and beverage industry. If Burger King doesn’t get a shipment of coffee cups, they probably have some backup stock. But events start with a beginning inventory of zero and have a hard deadline for delivery. I keep my customers up to speed on precisely where their order is and when it will arrive.


Mitto: That makes sense; a beer fest without any beer cups doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.


Dave: When you work in logistics, there can be some sleepless nights. Remember that ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal? I had five million packets of salt on that boat. Fortunately, I always have a backup plan.


Dave drives a ball directly into a fairway bunker and looks back at me.


Dave: Honestly, nothing is more stressful than this stupid game.


Mitto: That’s something we can all agree on. Thanks, Dave.


Tee up your audience with omnichannel communications


As you can see, people love omnichannel, and whether they use it for their business or in their personal lives, it’s never too far from their minds. Are you ready to start providing a better customer experience? To learn about how to implement the best omnichannel solution for your business, contact Mitto today.