One of our favorite parts of being connected in the Shopify ecosystem is getting to have thought-provoking conversations with other leaders in the space.
Smartrr’s co-founder and CEO, Gaby Tegen, recently sat down with one such thought leader, Keith Matthews of Milk Bottle Labs — Ireland’s most popular Shopify agency. In Milk Bottle’s latest podcast episode, Gaby and Keith spoke about Gaby’s journey to eCommerce, as well as how Smartrr works to elevate subscriptions and recurring revenue in order to strengthen relationships with loyal customers.
We’re recapping Gaby & Keith’s conversation, but you should also give the podcast episode a proper listen.
Milk Bottle Labs is an Irish Shopify agency founded by Keith Matthews. The agency is primarily dedicated to helping Shopify merchants grow their brand at any stage of the process — whether that means designing your store, managing a migration, installing an integration, overseeing product uploads, or something else.
In Milk Bottle’s eCommerce podcast, Keith speaks with merchants, developers, agency owners, and other Shopify experts in order to discuss a range of Shopify tips & tricks.
Gaby was raised in New York by a single mother who owned a real estate company. As such, she spent her Sundays showing apartments throughout her childhood and naturally found herself in the real estate industry post-college. After spending some time at a real estate media and events company called Bisnow, Gaby unexpectedly pivoted into sales at Reonemy — a role she never envisioned herself doing.
Despite having a negative perception of the nature of sales, Gaby quickly grew a strong appreciation for the communication and ability to foster strong relationships that sales demanded — both of which laid the early groundwork for what would eventually become Smartrr.
And then: Covid hit.
Stuck inside (as we all were), Gaby started to brainstorm what her next journey was going to be and noticed the trend of brick-and-mortar businesses shifting to eCommerce in the wake of the pandemic. Partnering alongside a couple of other people, Gaby did what her sales background trained her to do so well: she had meaningful conversations with DTC brands to get to the root of these companies’ pain points.
The most interesting thing to come out of these conversations? Nearly every brand was in alignment that subscriptions were a significant headache, which meant there was a prime opportunity to revolutionize and strengthen recurring revenue.
Thus, Smartrr was born.
Building a company from the ground up is no easy task, and Gaby and Keith both spoke about the importance of surrounding yourself with the right team.
“[People] are the foundation of a company,” Gaby explained. “Good ideas come and go, competitors will take your ideas, someone will have better ideas — that’s such a variable… The best thing you can do is have a core group at your company that is with you on this journey for years.”
A big reason to put so much investment into effective hiring is to help create a stable and secure environment to protect against layoffs, especially in today’s tech climate. Gaby spoke about the immense responsibility she feels to create sustainable work for her people — and an important element to ensuring this secure work is conservative hiring.
Smartrr’s beginnings were ultimately rooted in subscriptions and recurring revenue — but, as Gaby put it, those two things in isolation just aren’t that interesting. The real opportunity for impactful growth comes from taking a step beyond repeat revenue to instead tap into consumer engagement and relationships. Ultimately, the game revolves around fostering connections.
“What gets me going and what gets the team going and our investors going and our brands going is the mission that we’re on — which is to ultimately redefine what that buying journey is for repeat buyers.” - Gaby Tegen
So what does this look like? Well, instead of having engagement end after a monthly repeat purchase, brands can dig deeper to encourage more customer interaction. This can take on many different forms, like the use of loyalty rewards or referrals, the ability to gift the next order, or the chance to customize a bundle. Each touchpoint deepens a brand’s relationship with the subscriber, increases customer LTV, and ultimately boosts the likelihood that these subscribers will transform into active brand champions. Because when we love a brand, we tend to talk about it.
In other words: the most lucrative route a brand can take is to focus on driving loyalty rather than driving revenue — because loyalty will drive more revenue in the long run.
A big part of ensuring customer engagement is by making sure Smartrr is as robust as possible, which also makes it much easier on Shopify merchants who are sometimes using as many as 100 apps to run their shop. With a wide range of both tech partners and integrations, as well as strong offerings of our own like loyalty and referrals, Smartrr’s goal is to help remove major tech clutter and create a more cohesive flow.
“Smartrr is, as the Irish would say, a breath of fresh air.” – Keith Matthews, Milk Bottle Labs
Shopify was and still is built on small businesses. In addition to supporting and growing enterprises, as Gaby put it, a core part of Smartrr is also to make sure we are fueling and empowering smaller brands by making our platform highly user-friendly and accessible.
This means that Smartrr’s pricing is flexible and aligned with these small brands’ budgets (with options to upgrade to more robust plans). With our self-serve option, brands can install Smartrr on their own — and we are regularly making updates and improvements to continue to offer even more robust features without any dev work required.
Of course, we have also invested in a strong in-house implementation team for brands who want that white-glove onboarding process. Whatever experience you’re envisioning for your Smartrr implementation, we can help make that happen.
While we’re lucky to work directly with a range of talented and flourishing DTC brands, two brands in particular that have been seeing impressive success are Remi and Jolie. Not only have these two Shopify businesses experienced immense growth from their subscription offerings — but they are also fueled by effective and strategic leadership, which Gaby made a point to praise.
Be sure to give Milk Bottle Lab’s podcast a listen to hear Gaby dive into her history and see how Smartrr is revolutionizing engagement for Shopify brands by going beyond recurring revenue.