Andrew Youderian on Mobile Payments, Industry Consolidation, and the Joys of Outsourced IT

By automating business writing, our Wordsmith platform is changing the way people do their jobs. But Wordsmith isn’t the only technology changing the way business gets done. For a broader perspective, we’re interviewing big thinkers for their take on the future.

Andrew Youderian started his first e-commerce business to get away from what he describes as a “life-consuming job.” Today, he runs eCommerce Fuel, a private community of hundreds entrepreneurs with  six-and-seven-figure e-commerce businesses.

As he says on his podcast, Andrew wants to help entrepreneurs “build amazing companies and incredible lives.” We asked him to look at the industry and tell us what’s next.
32Ab45C 300X300
E-commerce is changing fast. What’s one big change that’s not getting enough attention?

I think the biggest change I see is probably mobile payments like Apple Pay and similar solutions for Android. I think these are going to be enormous in the sense that they’ll be able to enable much easier transactions via mobile and open up what’s probably 50% of most merchants’ traffic to much higher conversions rates, because they’re going to reduce friction of purchasing.

I think once you see Apple Pay come to native browsers, versus just being able to use it in app, that will be a big deal because most merchants don’t have their own app. When you can have a seamless transaction experience on a phone using the native browser without any other work, I think that’s going to be a big deal.

What’s one thing you can’t believe many e-commerce professionals are still doing (a trend/technology you would have assumed would be over by now)?

I would have to say cold pitching people via email in terms to ask them to promote your website, your content, or your product without any kind of existing relationship. It blows me away that people do this.

I get tons of emails from people saying, “Hey Andrew. I thought you might love X, Y, or Z. Would you let people know about it or share it? Thanks so much.” I’ve never heard from these people ever before, and unless it’s something revolutionary that fits exactly with my interests, there’s a 99% chance I’m just going to hit delete.

Will industry and technological changes mean more consolidation, or will they create more opportunities for vendors of all sizes? In either case, what will determine who survives?

I’m going to go with Amazon being the biggest driving force in eCommerce, and I’m going to say they don’t create opportunities for vendors of all sizes. I think the tech changes and the industry changes that Amazon is pushing are going to really hollow out e-commerce. You’re going to have giants on one side that are enormous and can operate very cost effectively to win. You have to be either big and amazingly streamlined or you’ve got to be really small, focused on a particular niche, and able to offer some kind of advantage that Amazon can’t.

I think middle retailers are going to have a really hard time because they can’t offer either of those advantages. I think they are going to get really hammered in the next five to ten years.

Our Wordsmith platform automates product descriptions and other written copy by effectively scaling and multiply the work of one person. What specific tasks are e-commerce professionals doing today that they will have (or should have) automated in three years?

In three years almost all independent merchants – say, under five million dollars in revenue – will be strongly considering moving their cart to a hosted platform like Shopify, like BigCommerce, something like that.

Obviously, the self-hosted open-source platforms give you more customization. But for merchants under five million in revenue it makes more sense to outsource all that IT work and focus instead on your products and your marketing. Additionally, hosted carts and solutions like Shopify continue to evolve and mature, becoming so much more robust and versatile with what you can customize.

Finally, you run a private community for six and seven figure e-commerce store owners. What’s the best advice for somebody trying to get into that club?

I would say do one of two things. Either find a product that you can authentically get behind, something you’re really passionate about. Or identify a really compelling reason in your life to build a business based around a product need. Either be passionate about the product or be passionate about the idea of creating freedom for yourself.

Then dedicate 12 to 18 months to focusing exclusively on promoting and marketing that business, especially by mastering one marketing channel. When you start out, don’t try to do Facebook ads and SEO and paid advertisement and Pinterest and content marketing. Pick one that you can really, really focus on and do that non-stop, assuming you’re seeing some early traction, for at least a year and a half.

That gets you to the six and seven figure range. If you want to grow meaningfully past a million dollars, you’ve got to start diversifying and being able to effectively bring in customers from lots of different channels.