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Martech Interview with the Chief Executive Officer, Searchspring – Peter Messana

Peter Messana's headshoot
By Peter Messana - CEO

Peter Messana from Searchspring shares staggering 2021 E-commerce predictions along with discussing its rise & how sellers can bounce back in the post-COVID era.

1. Tell us about your role in Searchspring?

I really only have one main job, that is to hire great people and help them prosper. When you hire great people and empower them they will accomplish just about anything. Of course, there are other key objectives like setting strategy, fostering a very inclusive environment, and building a strong foundational company culture. All of this starts by creating and implementing a solid hiring process – one where all employees understand the overall mission, the values we stand for and help to hire people who embody those same traits. In the end, I am here to empower my employees by ensuring they understand their job, how it contributes to the company’s bottom line, are happy with their work and are striving to win.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
My ecommerce journey started 16 years ago when I co-founded Austin Kayak. With over a decade of retail experience, I’ve gained a firm understanding of the market I now service. In fact, the value I place in search and merchandising goes back to when I worked on Austin Kayak’s website. While we had a home-built ecommerce system, the only piece we outsourced was search and merchandising, and it made all the difference in the world.
From working on the customer-facing side at Austin Kayak to overseeing the day-to-day operations at a SaaS search company before coming to Searchspring, my unique perspective and understanding of the market has offered me insights on some of the problems and pain points retailers face daily.

3. How do you think technology is upgrading the marketing Sector?
Well, you see, I think that technology is important in all sectors, and I am excited to see what can happen in the marketing sector as technology continues to further advance.

4. How has data-driven approach empowered ecommerce sellers?

Using data allows ecommerce sites to get the right product in front of the right person at the right time.

You have to find a way to mimic the in-store browsing experience, you don’t get to hide the milk in the back of the store or put that special buy on an end cap, but instead you have to find ways to get in front of the customer. We are all very used to being suggested products and services that we likely want. Netflix, YoutubeTV, Amazon, etc. have mastered getting the right product in front of us and our retailers’ customers are no different. In fact, they now expect it and so the more we know about a shopper and their journey the more we can predict purchase intent.

5. We recently covered a news of Searchspring’s Client Advisory Board, can you explain how will it help in accelerating the growth of the company?
This isn’t about accelerating growth as much as it is about building the right solutions that our clients want and need. It is easy to sit back and speculate on what retailers need and their pain points, or you could just ask them, offer ideas and get real feedback from those who would actually be buying and using your product. We believe that our clients hold the key to our future features and what the market really wants.

6. According to you, what features on your platform have helped Searchspring earn a spot on the G2 Grid Report?
We never stop investing, growing, and innovating our search and merchandising product offerings. While I think all of our features used jointly is what has made us continued leaders on the G2 Grid Report, our customer value proposition is our award-winning customer service. At Searchspring our mission is to listen to our customers, identify their needs, and provide them with a solution – our customer success team will walk the walk with our clients, from onboarding onwards, to ensure a swift backend experience, and a high-converting shopping journey. 

7. What are your martech predictions for 2021? Some tips for e-commerce sellers to bounce back?
My forecast is that 2021 will be the year to invest in optimization tools, like ours. 2020 was the year of demand and retailers were scrambling to deal with elevated sales and in many cases, forced into ecommerce. 2021 will be the year of optimization as sales will start coming down from super elevated levels. Personalization will also be key, with everything tying back into getting the right product in front of the right person at the right time.

My tip for ecommerce sellers to bounce back is be different. You have to figure out a way that you can provide a service that nobody else can.

You most likely can’t beat Amazon on prices or delivery speed, but you can get them on service and building raving fans. Find out what makes you different.

8. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
Do not assume that your great product will just sell itself. The best products are not necessarily the most successful companies. It is more about the go to market strategy coupled with hiring great people who can help build the company. Invest time in your people, build a great company and know that early adopters trust your product all while keeping in mind that the mainstream needs more than a hope, they need proof. This is where your go to market strategy and building a strong marketing team is vital to the success of your company and company growth.

9. What work-related hack do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
I wake up early and get to the office when it is quiet and I can think clearly. I read a couple chapters of a book, I might listen to a podcast and I look at my to-do list and try to clear as much as possible before meetings start, which tend to get in the way of the day. You must devote time to deep thinking, which I believe is very important to success.

10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
We aren’t really going too deep into AI right now. Our view is that AI cannot replace humans with what we are providing. While there isn’t necessarily an ‘art’ to what merchandising does, it is clear that teams are not looking to replace their thinkers and turn over the merchandising to AI. We are constantly looking at Machine Learning on our data side but we are not building our neural networks to replace merchandising decisions. Anytime we automate or make computer generated decisions we expose them, or as we call it “No Black Box AI”. We want you to know why we made the decision and allow you to take over if needed.

11. What major developments are you planning in real-time?
We continue to plan to invest in our product, we have scaled our engineering team up 7x since I started and we are investing millions to ensure we continue to deliver the best product, best service, and best support. We are also always looking at ways we can expand through acquisitions for products that are tangential to our current offering.

12. What inspires you the most?
Watching the company grow and be successful. It probably sounds cliche but when the company is successful it allows the team to be successful. You never see a sports team celebrating in the locker room after the loss, you see them pouring champagne over each other when they win. Everyone loves winning so I want to constantly be winning.

13. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
I am so grateful for the culture we’ve fostered at Searchspring. I’ve actually written a blog recently about why our culture is so awesome. Not only does each and every employee contribute to the success of the company but also to the overall culture, mission and values we continue to strive for. Our team is very close knit – regardless of distance. We do regular team bonding activities, including virtual happy hours, coffee dates, and game nights that allow team members to know each other on a human level – whether they are in Poland, Colorado, Toronto, Sydney or San Antonio.

14. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
NYT Crossword
Candy Crush


Posted by on March 16, 2021, 7:24 pm