Managing SMB Ecommerce Just Became … Manageable

In this podcast, Mikel Lindsaar, the founder of StoreConnect, talks about how the idea of StoreConnect came to his mind and how it operates as a digital transformation solution. He identifies the difficulties small business owners encounter when it comes to digital transformation and how StoreConnect’s integration with Salesforce can serve as a solution. The interview highlights the importance of saving time for small business owners, which is a critical aspect of StoreConnect.

Also a big shout out to Allant Group for sponsoring this episode of Customerland!

Mikel Lindsaar came up with the idea of StoreConnect in mid-2017 while working on custom e-commerce applications in his previous company. He identified that small business owners were unable to do digital transformation due to the lack of time, which was a fundamental issue with modern SaaS products. Upon realizing Salesforce’s programmable system and its potential for triggering events, alerts, and utilizing reports, Mikel decided to build an e-commerce platform using the Salesforce data model.

Mikel identified that Salesforce was misunderstood, especially by small businesses, and its potential for small and medium-sized businesses was hidden. He created a product that would allow small business owners to input their customer data and product data into Salesforce and then use it as a CRM. The next step was to publish the data as a website and e-commerce solution through StoreConnect, which is a platform that saves customers’ time and helps them save money.

The primary benefit of StoreConnect is that it saves time for small business owners, which helps them to focus on investing the saved time and money in marketing, business expansion, or other essential areas. StoreConnect also integrates with Salesforce, making it easy for small business owners to use Salesforce as a CRM, and then publish their data as a website and e-commerce solution.

StoreConnect’s uniqueness lies in its ability to use Salesforce’s data insight to run websites and e-commerce directly from Salesforce. Although Salesforce has its own commerce solution, it is primarily for enterprise-level businesses, and StoreConnect fills the gap in the market for small and medium-sized businesses. Although there have been similar products in the market, StoreConnect’s features and pricing make it a unique and more accessible option for small business owners.

StoreConnect is a digital transformation solution that saves small business owners’ time and money. Mikel Lindsaar created StoreConnect to help small business owners utilize Salesforce’s potential to function as a CRM and to publish data as a website and e-commerce solution. StoreConnect is a unique product that fills a gap in the market and is accessible to small and medium-sized businesses.


Mikel Lindsaar – StoreConnect

I guess Store Connect came out of an initial idea. I had it about probably, I don’t know, mid 2017, so what’s that? Almost six and a half years ago now of small business owners don’t have any time, and this is. The sort of elephant in the room of all these modern SaaS products and everything that’s being done to push small businesses into the technological age and they have to do digital transformation and you know, that’s all well and good, but the, the poor guys working or girl is working, you know, 20 hour days and barely figuring out how to brush their teeth in the morning, let alone how am I going to do a digital transformation migration.

And I was looking at this because we were developing a lot of custom. E-commerce type and custom web applications in another company of mine. And we were integrating these directly with Salesforce. And, and during that process I started to really understand Salesforce, which is a, a fairly misunderstood product, I think, especially in the small business sector.

And what I realized was that Salesforce is a CRM, a customer relationship management system, but it’s also a completely programmable system. And what I mean by that is it can trigger things and it can create events and alerts and it can do stuff with the data that’s in it. 

And I thought, well, what if I, what if I built eCommerce on top of that and use that underlying data model and that underlying programmability and that underlying reports ability?

Because pretty much every small business is gonna have to go e-commerce at some. At some level, you know, I mean, even your business, you could sell a half hour, how to talk to the press seminar. You know what I mean? Like every business could go online. So I thought, well, that’s a pretty genius idea if I do say so myself.

And then I went and had a look and Salesforce had of course already done it with their enterprise solution, but then I looked a bit deeper and it was an enterprise solution. It was way, well, 

Mike Giambattista – TheCustomer

I don’t know what you meant by, it’s the fact that it’s misunderstood, but, but even if there is a small to medium size business proposition within Salesforce, it’s hidden. It’s hidden to the SMB world. 

Mikel Lindsaar – StoreConnect

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And I just saw this as a wide open market and what I realized I think, was that that whole, let’s spend the time well aspect was also missing. You know, everyone was trying to do a full digital transformation and Right. What I tried to do was create a product that yet Salesforce and you put your customer data in it and you put your product data in it, and now your sales team have something to use as a CRM.

But then step two is sort of, publish that as a website and an e-commerce solution, and that’s what StoreConnect does. It takes all of your data in Salesforce that you want to have public and publishes it. So like our homepage is completely running on store connect, just, you know, if anyone goes and has a look.

So, and that’s not an e-commerce site particularly. I mean, you can buy some StoreConnect branded merch if you want. You’re welcome to it. We’ll put a proper code at the thing down the ballroom. But, you know, it’s, it’s very much a how do we save our customers? And if you save them time, you’re saving them money.

And if you’re saving them money, it means that that small business owner can spend money to make more money, which is basically what every small business owner does. Yeah. If you save $10,000 on something, you’re gonna invest it in marketing or business expansion or something much more often than you’re gonna go blow it on a night out somewhere, you know?

So. That’s, that’s really where StoreConnect came from, and, and that’s fundamentally what it is. We run your website and your e-commerce directly out of Salesforce using that data insight. 

Mike Giambattista – TheCustomer

When I was first introduced to the idea of StoreConnect, it seemed to me like a really obvious idea. So obvious that this has to have been done by somebody somewhere. And, and. It doesn’t sound like it has been. 

Mikel Lindsaar – StoreConnect

Yeah, and I look, I’ve been waiting to find that other product over the last five years. It’s been really funny. You know, this whole development process. I’ve sort of been waiting for the, oh yeah, no, that’s already been done. It’s over there moment because it was one of those obvious ideas.

I think it has been done a few times. So Salesforce in various ways, Salesforce have their own commerce solution on top of Salesforce. I mean, that, that does exist, right? It’s definitely not for the small business market. You know you are, you are looking at, you’d have to be doing 50 to a hundred million revenue before you really look at it.

You know, that’s just, you could probably go down to 10 maybe, but, but what a lift if you have. Yeah. That’s an overwhelming proposition. It is an overwhelming proposition. And, and, you know, So that was already there. And then there are a lot of connectors to Salesforce. Like you can boot up a, a Shopify app and look, you know, if you’re a really small business and you’re Sian StoreConnect is probably not the right product for you and, and go launch a Shopify store and prove your product.

And that’s, you know, that’s an amazing product. But the problem that you run into is as you start to. And, which we hope you will, right? As you start to scale, you start hitting these barriers of expansion where you have all these sort of disconnected systems. So you might have your Shopify and your HubSpot and your Zendesk, and you know, your Zero and your mini ERP system or DERP or something, and all these services are running around the place in your chat bot, in your help desk.

And what you’ll start hitting – an expansion problem where you are starting to pay humans to talk to computers and, and that’s just such a phenomenal waste of money that it’s mind blowing, but it’s also hidden. 

Mike Giambattista – TheCustomer

You don’t, it’s not a line item on your balance sheet. Right. That doesn’t become, become, Visible until after the fact.


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Mikel Lindsaar – StoreConnect

Yeah. And then you suddenly, you, you hit sort of like a thousand orders a week and you just can’t grow for some reason. And then if you start looking into it, you, you go ask the shipping person, well, what’s the problem? They say, well, you know, you know, I, I have to log into Zendesk to find out if they’ve got the right customer address cuz that’s the source of truth.

And then I have to check the payment details and Shopify and. Hasn’t synchronized from Shopify until three o’clock. Cause that’s when the sync happens. But then when it’s synchronized from Shopify, it’s overwritten the correct address. I just pulled in from Zen. You know, it’s just crazy. Right. And this is where I would say 90 plus percent of our customers start their store connect journey from.

We actually have quite a few customers that have literally started their business from day one on Salesforce and store Connect and. You know, you can do that at, at price for less than Shopify Plus, you know, all your Salesforce licenses, all your Stock Connect licenses, you can start from under a Shopify Plus price.

Mike Giambattista – TheCustomer


Mikel Lindsaar – StoreConnect

They will. Yeah. So the minimum list price, I think I, I worked this out for someone yesterday, I think it’s like $815 a month. And that gets you two Salesforce licenses and a store connect small plant. So this company that we started, they’re a, a plumbing company in Australia. They sell plumbing suppliers, both retail and to.

And they’ve been able to install this whole product on Salesforce and StoreConnect. They, they signed up for Salesforce, I think at the start of the month, and the whole site was live mid the following month, including their Salesforce setup. 

Now, what they can do is all of their, and this is an example of time well spent and which is our motto, you know, time well spent, they are able to now do things like they enter the product, they upload the images, they do all that craft that you, it’s a pain in the ass running E-commerce. I’ve gotta say, you know, like anything we can do to reduce the pain is, is well worth it. 

So they enter all this data around the product and, and images and content and SEO and all this stuff. And then what they do is they enter a retail price from Salesforce and then they enter their account level one and account level two. And that’s it. 

Mike Giambattista – TheCustomer

Meaning wholesale and resale? 

Mikel Lindsaar – StoreConnect

Wholesale and retail. Well, yeah. Like they’re good, good B2B customers, and they’re even better ones. Right? Right. And then they’re done.

Because what can happen now is that store connect will show the retail price. If you’re not logged in. And if you’re logged in as one of the B2B customers, it changes all the pricing to that second tier. Right. So they don’t have to go and duplicate that whole store and all of those products into a B2B store.

Now we, we have another customer that is currently running – we just counted it yesterday, which blew my mind. 46 different stores in across 23 brands in three currencies in four countries. Right. All running off the one Salesforce account and one store connect license. Wow. You know? The time savings on that.

Like they’ve got 23 brands. Some of those brands have three stores, one in each country, right? So they enter the product once and they just give that product three currencies on the price book entry. Right? And they’re done. You know, and it, and it’s just published across all of those sites and all the orders come in together, all the currency conversions done in Salesforce, cuz Salesforce is multicurrency and it supports all of that.

And their CEO can log in and click update on their d. And get up to the second reporting on their sales across the world. You know the, it’s mind blowing. We were talking to a customer that had 83 stores and they’ve now signed up and they’re in the process of migration migrating, but they had 83 stores and all 83 stores across four countries and we’re running different e-commerce. So I think across the 83, they had five that were on the same platform. 

Mike Giambattista – TheCustomer

And what was their headcount to run that? 

Mikel Lindsaar – StoreConnect

They had four or five full-time staff that were doing basically nothing but trying to keep it up to date. They, they failed. And one of the reasons they came store connected, they said, look, you know, it takes us three or four days to launch a product and they’re an import export business.

And they look after, I think, 21 brands or 17 brands or something like that. A brand would release their winter catalog and, and they would spend weeks trying to get that catalog up to date across all of their systems. Right? And I said to them, how are you running your business? And they go, we’re, we’re really, really good at Excel.

You’re not wrong. No, we’re replacing all of that again, one Salesforce account and one store connect license, and that’s gonna run the whole business. So, Yeah, it’s all about time well spent, and you can probably pick up, I’m pretty passionate about this. I, I’ve been a small business owner for the last 10 years and I know that the last thing I have is spare time.

Mike Giambattista – TheCustomer

Yeah. It doesn’t exist in this world. Not at all. So, so where’s the threshold, just to get a little bit in the weeds? Where’s the threshold where an e-commerce operation would need to scale up to, to the next level in Salesforce or StoreConnect?

Mikel Lindsaar – StoreConnect

You mean after that sort of eight 15? Yeah. Well, the eight 15 level gets you two licenses for Salesforce.

And this is probably, you know, so Elephant in the room. Salesforce is expensive, right? So, but it’s expensive because, cause it’s only expensive if you’re not using. To generate income. So to answer your question directly, and then I’ll go back to this expensive aspect, I think the, that $815 gives you two licenses in Salesforce, plus the small plan in store connect the small plan in store connect can scale.

There’s no limit on the number of transactions. It comes into a limit on the amount of images and content. How good you want your database and the support levels and this sort of thing. If you don’t want to really scale your store connect environment to one of our more expensive annual plans, you don’t have to but most do because you know, they’re now generating a lot of business out of this.

They wanna make sure it’s up, they want higher support, all that sort of stuff. So we’ve had. Clients running multimillion dollar annual revenue off one of our small plans quite happily. You know, there’s no problem with that. The next level, you know, jumps up another 10 brand a year or something. For us on the Salesforce side, it’s how many users do you want to have logged in to store, into to license thing.

You just add them as you go, but you don’t have to add the full license. Salesforce user. You know, if all you want is someone to manage the content of all the orders, you can actually get cheaper licenses for those. And you know, if all you want is someone to do the website updates, they can actually get a platform license, which is even more cheap.

So there’s lots of ways to manage that. But the Salesforce side scales linear, linear linearly with your staff. Count as you grow the store. Connect scales much. In fact, you know, with your volume. So store connect to a, we have a fixed annual fee, which sort of determines how big in terms of images and database storage and stuff your site is.

And then we have a per transaction fee, so half a percent of every sale that goes through. And the reason we charge that is we handle all of the synchronization between your store and Salesforce. We handle all the servers, all the scaling, the uptime, all of that sort of stuff. And that half a percent transaction fee puts us in gives us direct interest to make sure your site is up running and selling as much as possible.

Okay. So there’s a, for example, that was doing 3000 orders a month, so about 36,000 orders a year. And this, this is on our website if you wanna read the (article) and it’s called “Can Store Connect Scale?” And they’re doing 3000 orders a month. And then one day, three days after Christmas new Year’s Eve, on New Year’s Day, they put rapid antigen tests online for sale in Australia when you couldn’t buy them anywhere.

And in a day and a half they did 36,000 orders. And we were like, without telling us or awarding us. Right? Thanks. But the, because we’re incentivized. To make sure they can sell all of our systems. Just scaled up, handled the load, and scaled down at the other side with no, not a single order dropped.

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