SBD TECH PARTNER: Jon Pruitt
Welcome to our ‘A Day in the Life at BigCommerce’ Blog Series! Here at DigitlHaus, we understand and promote the importance of collaboration and open dialogue within the eCommerce community. That’s why we wanted to highlight some of the most talented individuals making a difference at BigCommerce.
Through these interviews, we’re looking to dive deep into the daily grind of hard working people that are pushing the envelope and actively influencing the industry at various levels. We promise we’ll get into the nitty gritty with questions, but can’t promise some of these interviews won’t end in severance packages (totally joking, but we’ll see).
Our first interview is with SBD/Tech Partner, Jon Pruitt, who is doing amazing things with merchant integrations at BigCommerce. Take a look at our interview with him below.
1. What is a BigCommerce Strategic Business Development aka SBD / Tech Partner?
SBD and Tech Partners are made up of hundreds of third-party technology providers that help extend the functionality of the BigCommerce platform. The significant difference between SBD and Tech partners are that SBD partners are typically partners that BigCommerce has chosen to build native or native-like integrations into the BigCommerce platform. A couple of examples of this are PayPal powered by Braintree and Avalara.
A Tech Partner will build, maintain, and market their solution within the BigCommerce App Marketplace. Often a merchant will see several options in each partner category since we know that it’s not a one size fits all for most apps. Some partners may be better for emerging businesses, while others are better for a more established business. Our goal is to provide merchants with options at all stages of growth and business needs.
2. What is your involvement with BigCommerce partners? How could you assist them in a sale?
Partners like DigitlHaus are on the front lines of the merchant conversations. Potential clients come to you with a vision and ask you to make it a reality. For that reason, our team has to have an open dialog with agency partners and your Channel Account Managers to understand what third parties are needed to prospective merchants. We also rely on feedback from agency partners to fully understand if specific integrations are standing out from others and why. When we know there is a technology needed to close a deal, we work to find the right solution for the merchants to assist in the sale.
3. What is your involvement with Prospects and Clients?
During the discovery process with prospects, our team is often relied on when a merchant has a need that is not out-of-the-box functionality for BigCommerce. The sales rep and SE regularly consult with our team to help determine the best partner or partners to solve the needs of the merchant. From there, we help make the proper introductions, and similar to the last questions, we can have a member of the BD team recruit new partners to help solve the need. This is very similar to how we work with agency partners.
SBD isn’t just made up of only partner managers and business development representatives. We have a team of Client Development Executives that reach out to merchants to offer site audits and make recommendations of third-party tools or internal services that help the merchant accelerate growth.
An example might be that we uncover in the audit that the merchant has not integrated a marketing automation/email marketing tool. This is something that every merchant should have, so we often suggest a few partners based on their size and goals. They may also take the time to discuss services such as AdWords and additional strategies.
4. What is the best part of your job, the part that makes you come back to the office the next day?
Two things keep me coming back every day.
The first is seeing our technology partner ecosystem grow. Over the past twelve months, we have seen tremendous growth with the types of partnerships that we have created, especially in the mid-market and enterprise space.
The second reason and most important, I love to see merchants grow and push the limits of eCommerce. They continue to drive our team to find the best technologies out there to fuel their growth.
5. What other BigCommerce teams do you work closely with and how?
Our team interacts with much of the organization at BigCommerce. Merchants often reach out to our support team when a partner’s app might be giving them a problem. When needed, we will help connect the merchant to that partner’s support team and work with them to resolve the issue.
We also work directly with marketing daily to support content for Tech Partners, manage the App Marketplace, and create co-marketing campaigns with those partners that have been identified as Preferred or Elite Tech Partners.
Our team is also very close to the product and engineering team. BigCommerce has always had a partner-centric focus, and our goal is to build and sustain a partner ecosystem that offers best-in-class solutions, rather than developing solutions that compete with our partners. The product and engineering teams often work directly with partners to test new API’s or build solutions like BC Shipping. To gain access to those partners, they rely on our team to do the initial homework and recommendations of partners that can power a joint solution or have been looking to gain access to more data point in the BigCommerce system.
6. If there was one application that you wish could connect with BigCommerce, what would it be and why?
I feel very confident about the partners that we have in the marketplace today, but in a small number of cases, a partner may have decided to use a connector to integrate into BigCommerce. As our merchants become more sophisticated, they are starting to demand more data, and the best way to get there is with more robust integrations. For the partners that have built first-party apps, I want to see them take advantage of the new API’s that our engineering team has been releasing. I think a perfect example of this is Klaviyo. These guys continue to innovate their app, and it’s showing in customer satisfaction and adoption of the app.
7. What is the most popular application used by BigCommerce customers?
It’s dependent on the vertical, geography, and size of the merchant, but the most popular categories include marketing automation/email marketing, shipping tools, and advertising / retargeting apps. Other popular app categories that are very popular include merchandising, search and navigation, reviews, and loyalty. Some of the more popular apps include Justuno, Privy, Smile.io, Shogun, dotdigital, and Klaviyo, as mentioned earlier.
8. How does your team stay on top of the technology trends, ensuring BigCommerce has the latest and greatest solutions?
We rely on the BigCommerce Community for feedback much of the time. Sure, we attend conferences, read publications, and follow trends on LinkedIn and other social media sites, but sometimes, asking partners and merchants for feedback is the most effective tool we have. We love hearing the ideas and the “what if.”
9. If a software or service wanted to become a BigCommerce technology partner, what does that usually consist of and how long does it take to become listed?
The first step is to become familiar with our development tools and understanding the different types of apps that a developer might build. If the partner plans on building a single-click integration, they must apply and approved into the Technology Partner Program. My advice is to provide as much detail in the application as possible about the app or apps you plan on developing for the BigCommerce marketplace. Doing this makes it easier for our team and speeds up the approval process.
Once accepted, we expect that the partner plans on submitting their first app within 90 days. You can find a list of requirements for app submission here. After an app is submitted, it will go into a UAT process run by our Marketplace Product Team. Our goal is to have these apps approved within 3-4 weeks; however, this is all dependent on the responsiveness of the partner and the number of apps in the queue to be reviewed. I have seen some apps approved and launched in as little as one week.
Post app launch we recommended building a marketing and sales strategy to drive adoption of the integration. Don’t be afraid to create content, push merchants to check out your listing, post on social media. Make sure to let BigCommerce know about the success that your merchants are seeing!
10. What is your favorite BigCommerce application?
Every app partner brings unique value to BigCommerce merchants in their own way. I am not sure that I have just one favorite, but coming from the marketing automation and personalization space, I love to see companies that are investing more and more in creating a one-to-one conversation with shoppers. I am also a big fan of the partners that are enabling merchants to scale their business faster and with less effort.
11. Are there any cool applications that will be part of BigCommerce in 2019?
Launched earlier this year, the BigCommerce Shipping App is exceptional. For those merchants that are processing 1,000 plus orders a month, they can gain access to substantially discounted shipping rates. The great thing about it is that it’s free for merchants.
Salsify, who is a PIM + DAM solution, recently launched an app for BigCommerce merchants. We feel this is going to be an excellent addition for the mid-market and enterprise merchants.
We are also going to be spending more time looking at the B2B space and providing more tools to those merchants. A great example recently is Punchout2Go, which allows our B2B merchants to integrate into spend management platforms and procurement platforms.
You will see more cool apps coming soon to the marketplace. So, keep your eyes open!
So there you have it! Thank you to John Pruitt for your detailed answers and insights. SBD/Tech Partners aren’t only important at BigCommerce, but also for agencies like us at DigitlHaus who rely on their expertise and efforts to make sure that the best integrations work for eCommerce merchants at every level of growth and development.
Make sure to check back soon for our next, ‘A Day in the Life at BigCommerce’ interview!