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Q&A With Platter: The All-in-One Solution for Shopify Brands

 By Noel Oduory

Platter is a New York based e-commerce solutions provider that bundles various functionalities for Shopify brands to help improve profitability. The company builds the most popular app functionality around marketing and conversion into one solution to unify the app stack, support teams, and expenses, and to make the website faster, thus increasing conversion. Their platform is specific to brands building e-commerce websites on Shopify. However, any other tools or systems that brands on Shopify use can seamlessly integrate with Platter.

To learn more about Platter’s innovation and role in the e-commerce ecosystem, The FutureList had a conversation with Ben Sharf, the company’s Co-Founder.

The FutureList: What inspired the development of this particular innovation?

Ben: The business is built around a couple of core theses. The first one is that a lot of apps in the Shopify ecosystem are features, not products. Therefore, when brands scale, they get stuck with too many apps, too many support teams, a bloated tech stack, and a slower website, which results in a decrease in conversion rates.

The second piece is the misalignment between development agencies and brand owners, where development agencies get paid for their time. So it’s in their best interest to sometimes drag things out, complicate matters, and present a storefront to a brand owner in such a way that the brand is essentially beholden to them because it’s overly complicated, thus having to continue to pay them more money. 

The third piece is that there’s a huge drop-off in terms of the utility of many of these applications after the core functionality. What I mean by that is brands are utilising only the first 10% or 20% of these solution applications, yet the last 80% goes untouched, which is what many vendors use to justify charging more money for using them. 

So to bring this all together, if Platter is successful in five years, it’s because we will have debunked the myth that building a high-converting storefront is really expensive and time-consuming, because we don’t think that is true. So what we have done is natively built much of this most popular functionality into one solution. So instead of it requiring a year and $150,000 to build a high-converting storefront, we can do it in a matter of weeks for a fraction of the cost.

The FutureList: How does the innovation address a unique need or challenge in your industry?

Ben: We’re pulling many functionalities that brands typically utilise through adding a bunch of different point solutions into one product suite. So instead of having 20 different apps to achieve 20 different functionalities, you can use the Platter suite to accomplish a lot of that under one roof. That could include mega menus, bundle builders, cart drawers, checkout extensions, sticky CTAs, upsells, incentive progress bars, and more. The value proposition from an innovation perspective is the consolidation of technology into one solution. So if I can give you new wireframes that adhere to best practices around increasing conversion rates and average order values, and I can also build you a store that has a lot of that functionality built into it, what I can do is provide you with a solution that, if you tried to build it elsewhere, would cost you six figures and take six months to a year, but at a fraction of the cost and much faster. Because what we’ve done is consolidated everything into one solution and productised that. 

So from the perspective of innovating to address a unique need or challenge in the industry, it’s really around simplifying and unifying technology. This idea of fragmentation with a ton of point solutions is just causing many issues for brands. What we’re doing is trying to break out of that by putting everything under one roof to simplify the process and make it cheaper for brands to build a high-converting e-commerce storefront.

The FutureList: Are there specific design principles that have guided the development of the product?

Ben: Our entire design system that we use when building new e-commerce storefronts is built around conversion rate optimisation (CRO) best practices. So everything in there serves a purpose, firstly. Secondly, it is to optimise the consumer journey in the conversion funnel, effectively making it as easy and frictionless as possible for a new user to land on your website, all the way through to when they actually make a purchase. What I mean by that is thinking about different principles and ways to increase conversion rates. That would be as nuanced as putting add-to-cart and quick buy buttons on pages to reduce the number of clicks needed to go through the conversion funnel. Because if you can reduce the number of clicks it takes for someone to go from landing on a page to purchasing something, for every click you can remove in that conversion funnel, you’ll likely see an increase in conversions.

The FutureList: What distinguishes Platter’s operational and revenue model and what strategies are employed for competitive advantage?

Ben: We have a very interesting business model. The way that it works for brands that want to work with us is there’s a one-time upfront fee. That fee basically goes into the design and implementation process of the initial build of the new website. And then we have a monthly subscription model, where every quarter we release new features and functionality that you get access to free of any incremental charge. And so that allows you to basically benefit from the economies of scale that come from the fact that we’ve been building this technology for several years. So instead of you trying to build everything from the ground up out of the box, you get access to everything for a fraction of the cost, because the monthly subscription fee stays the same, but the value only increases over time. 

The second part of our strategy for competitive advantage is that because we serve as the base infrastructure of the storefront right above the Shopify layer, which basically means we power the store, we have very low churn rates. This is because in order for you to churn and leave us, you’re essentially having to rebuild the entire store from scratch. And so every day that goes by where you add new functionality, new code, and new features to your Platter store, it just makes it incrementally more expensive for you to try to leave our platform. And then the third piece is that we do have a services arm of the business, so for brands that are using our product and they want extra customised work done, they can utilise our agency services. The reason that this services offering is really intriguing for us is because we charge brands to use that agency model, but we’re actually getting paid for research and development. This is because if a brand pays us money to build a custom feature bespoke to them, and if it’s an interesting and valuable new feature, we can take that and roll it into our core product for everyone to benefit from. And so in many ways, because we have this profitable R&D model, it allows us to grow and build out our product without having to raise tens of millions of dollars in venture capital.

The FutureList: Looking ahead, what are you excited most about in the near future?

Ben: We’re planning to launch another product, a self-serve software product, in the next couple of months, which is super exciting. Additionally, we’re spending a lot of time exploring how AI can be integrated into the core products, or any part of the process of iterating, on design wireframes, that could use it to build the most optimal version of a storefront. We are also exploring different ways that we can utilise AI to constantly be iterating on the storefront experienced, always make sure that we’re presenting the best possible UI UX to a customer based on who they are to increase the likelihood that they’re gonna buy something.

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