Four Things I Learned From Customers This Year

As we round out another year at Stitch, I feel especially grateful for our customers. We get to work with some incredible brands: Chubbies, Topo Designs, and Bombas, to name a few. The people behind these brands are open, collaborative, and kind—each a SaaS vendor’s dream customer.

In addition to helping us improve our product and find more customers like them, they constantly remind me why I do what I do. They are the type of company I want to help as well as the type of company I want to build.

To sum it up, they are admirable, and they exemplify values that apply to almost any business.

Vision

The internet primarily rewards two types of businesses: niche businesses with differentiated products and massive businesses that operate at scale.

In the US, Amazon has essentially won third-party ecommerce. If you’re selling other people’s stuff online, competition is fierce and margins are thin.

Our customers win by finding an unmet need and addressing it better than anyone else. They start small, but they stake their claim and work to win more people over to their way of thinking. In other words, they lead.

Focus

Focus means doing less, better. By outsourcing things that others can do well (technology to SaaS platforms like Stitch and Shopify, fulfillment to 3PLs), our customers can master the things they must do well (design, acquisition, merchandising, customer experience, etc).

For a B2B SaaS startup, focus means helping a specific type of customer with a specific problem set. It means less context switching and more opportunity to be great at what we do: better leads, a more repeatable sales process, streamlined implementation, fewer support cases, simpler designs, deeper feature adoption, and much more customer value. All with less product.

By focusing, we and our customers do what startups do best: learn and deliver faster than anyone else.

Differentiation

Not everyone who needs a pair of shorts will want a pair of Chubbies. Not everyone who needs inventory management will say yes to Stitch. These are good things. Trying to please everyone is a sure path to pleasing no one.

When you stop trying to satisfy everyone, you can offer a product that meets a specific need better than anything else out there. You can be as proud of what your product isn’t as you are of what it is.

For our customers, that means distinctive products that people notice and tell their friends about. Our best customers own their margin because no one else has what they have.

Care

Like many of our customers, we’ve learned that you can’t scale through a narrow focus on acquisition. People need to stick around, buy more over time, and tell their friends.

This means being customer-driven, obsessively optimizing customer experience, and celebrating repeat revenue as the only real measure of success.

While these values are timeless, the internet greatly amplifies their importance. It also forces a striking alignment between online brands and the SaaS vendors who serve them: our blueprints for winning are remarkably similar. It’s not surprising, then, that we feel such a shared hustle and shared DNA.

For us and our customers, there are easier ways to make money. We could all find safer harbors. We choose instead to build something new. It’s an insane, intoxicating challenge that can make us weary beyond comprehension. But damned if there isn’t romance in it.

To all our customers: thank you for your business, partnership, and inspiration. We’re glad to be on this journey with you and are so excited for what comes next.

 

[ Dec 2017 ]