Nature’s Variety Gets Visibility Into Competition

When I was in school, I had to endure a barrage of math and writing tests nearly every year. At the end of the school year, we got our results. The important number we looked for was the score, of course, but even more important were the percentiles — how we performed relative to our peers in our age cohort. The rationale, so we were told, was to determine whether we were reaching certain developmental benchmarks. Were our teachers doing a good job, and were our developing brains absorbing the material on schedule? If we weren’t, a prescription to remedy the situation was swiftly executed.

The same basic principle applies to business, specifically to marketers. Naturally, you want increase your customer base and revenue by extension, but how are you doing relative to your competitors?

Stackline, a new startup based out of Seattle, is trying to lift that curtain of mystery by making that business intelligence available, merged with a data management and analysis.

The company began with just three employees in an apartment, and an idea that seemed out of reach at the time. “In the very beginning, I had this very big, epic idea about the type of technology [Stackline] needed to be. I didn’t know if it was even possible to build it,” said Michael Lagoni CEO and founder.

“There’s the eCommerce space, which is a much, much more fast-pace space than traditional retail…there is more information, more data, that brands have to work with, interpret and make decisions from.” Lagoni intuited that it needed to be easier and user-friendly for brands to be able to understand not only their campaign performance, but to also have insight into the granular components of their products, campaigns, and prices. This takes all the guesswork around constructing campaigns and the often tedious process of rounding up data to compile and analyze (which if we’re honest, is more like wading through it sometimes.)

Instead of taking the traditional startup route of pitching venture capitalists for money and then working on a product that is supposed to meet or even exceed the lofty standards, he had a different idea. He was able to get revenue from brands by offering data analyzing and management services, and used that to build his software platform. The whole process took about two years, and formed a secure foundation to build out his company in a more innovative direction. Now, Stackline users have knowledge at their fingertips that can inform their business strategy.

“You can look up any product, any brand, any category and see all the historical retail sales, market share, prices all online. And so it gives you full transparency, not just with how your business is performing, but how is your business performing in the context of other competitors that you’re up against?”

Jen McKnight of the pet food brand Nature’s Variety agrees wholeheartedly. After coming across Stackline at a marketing tech conference (par for the course, McKnight told me over the phone) she decided to take a risk and partnered with Stackline for a free trail last November. They converted to a paying user, and she couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Even though Nature’s Variety has been using Stackline for a little over a quarter, they’re not planning on changing their direction anytime soon.

“Stackline for us was transformational,” McKnight said, after switching to Stackline from a previous vendor. “For the first time we had the ability to see what our performance was like relative to key competitors, and overall category, down to the ASIN and UPC level.” She went on to explain eCommerce giants like Amazon can share a brands specific data, they won’t share the data of the market segment or category, a huge blindspot that Stackline has now eliminated.

Not all technology platforms are created equal. It’s important for marketers who wish to take their data platforms to the next level to know what they are trying to achieve. Everyone wants more profit and more customers, but it’s not immediately obvious how to get there. If your current technology doesn’t support your current marketing strategy, then it may be time for a change. With competitors charging the field with faster and better marketing technology, how does your stack measure up?

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