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Insights from the Bristol Ecom Collab Club Air Fryer hotseat!

Written by
Luke Green
February 2, 2023

Earlier this month I got the chance to sit in the Agency Airfryer hot seat at the Ecom Collab Club in Bristol. We chatted about Inspira Digital and the ups & downs of our near 15 year journey so far. Learn more about the Ecom Collab experience plus some insights from our answers to the great questions.

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Photo Credit: eCom Collab Club
Photo Credit: eCom Collab Club

The Ecom Collab Club Experience!

On January 1st, I don't think any of us in the industry don't expect some challenges. And no, I'm not talking about your hangover. Therefore, what better way to approach things than on a positive note. Get the ball rolling on multiple fronts, in person. 

No matter what time of year it is, if making great connections is your goal, you should check out the Ecom Collab events. That's exactly what they deliver, in spades.

The Ecom Collab Club is the brainchild of the self titled “Hairy Bikers of E-Commerce” Pete Gardener and compare extraordinaire Adam Pearce of Blend Commerce. The event is a brilliantly structured jolt of face-to-face networking and fireside chats.

The format is pretty straightforward.

Turn up and consume the delicious pastries and beverages, while dusting off those social skills. Then it’s directly into the events, which in Bristol, is the inspired choice of a Cinema. Once you pick your spot on the comfy Cinema seats, there's a quick round up of news from the audience. Here anyone can grab the mic to announce news, recruitment positions or crack a joke!

This is quickly followed by a couple of interviews, one with a Shopify technology partner. The second is the Agency Airfryer. Many awesome insights later you are then whisked out to the networking room and to the mercy of Adam and his horn!

Now for those of you introverts who avoid networking events like the plague (I count myself included) this cannot be recommended enough. Brilliantly split in 10 minute segments, everyone gets to jump between tables, with a random selection of people. It's effectively the networking equivalent of speed dating.

It’s so fast paced, everyones in the same boat. Which means it removes all that awkwardness usually associated with “networking”. You genuinely come away having met and crossed paths with some great contacts. 

A couple of pro tips. Adam uses his horn indiscriminately so be prepared to jump out of your skin at least once or twice. The second is to make sure you have your LinkedIn QR code to hand, you’ll need it for the speediest way to exchange details. 

In the AirFryer Hotseat!

For those of you planning to do the Airfryer, if you're like me, you're bound to feel some nerves. However remember by default you’ve done most of the prep, simply by living the experience of running your business or your team.

Having now been in both the audience and in the chair. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in business for 5 months or 15 years, your unique perspective will be welcomed. Just be prepared for some slightly out of the blue questions!

In the run up to the event I peeked back into Inspira’s history. It led me to find old photos, and relive some key moments with the team. There was plenty of laughter and some “why the hell did we do it that way” situations.
Inspira - Luke, Mike1 & Mike2 in the Western Morning News.
Inspira's first custom desk & office when we were just 4 in 2009 (this was my old bedroom!)

Luke's desk circa 2009

Mike's desk circa 2009

But if one thing stood out to me from this process. Even though we had made a shit ton of mistakes, especially in the early days. Importantly they had shaped the way we learned, and then improved as a team for the better. 

Below are some of the hard won learnings and answers to the great questions… and yes I did get an Airfryer!

Photo Credit: eCom Collab Club

Chat GPT Thoughts…

AI is certainly on our minds this year. I think it’s clear to see it’s going to be making huge strides in our everyday lives going forward. I was asked about my thoughts on this. Especially with regards to the sensation that is Chat GPT. 

I won’t go into huge detail here other than to say what can be achieved with it is truly astounding. Whether it's writing film scripts or articles in bulk. Right through to writing and debugging code. It can seem that Chat GPT is coming for all our jobs! 

What’s hiding behind all these incredible claims though, is the importance of the input into Chat GPT. It’s simply a tool. And the results will vary depending on the skill of the user. 

Scary though progress is, it's important to realise we will slowly incorporate these tools and skills into our workflow. Because ultimately it is simply that, a new and exciting toolset that (at least for the foreseeable future) can increase our productivity, but still requires the value of our input!

The biggest f-up!

Now I’m sure there's something to be said about the fact that you learn the most from the things you do wrong, not the things you do right. So for the record, here's some detail on my answer to this question!

I’d title this under the personal lesson of "always make sure you know your client really well”. 

It’s not something we like to mention often but it's a little known fact that we were the team behind some of the early builds of Gymsharks website between 2013-15 before they took their ill fated leap over to Magento, even using one of our designs for that new Magento site. 

A small part in a big storey!

At the time I was in direct email contact with Ben, most days of the week. He was always moving at the speed of light and constantly improving the Gymshark site. Yet I never ultimately got the chance to meet him. Had I created that opportunity, perhaps I would have learned a little more about the future sensation this brand was about to become!

I repeat, and it seems so simple and so very obvious, but make sure you build full 360 relationships with your clients. Be aware of what they are planning, where they want to go, their goals, their dreams for the business.

Because ultimately it allows you to better serve that client. And put your focus where there is real opportunity.

Advice for agencies starting out…

When I was asked this question, a huge amount of things went through my mind. There are of course, many micro and macro things to get right when running a business. 

Whether it’s the ability to find and bring the right people along with your vision, or securing new business. Yes, these are indeed critical to your success. However, the absolute top of my list was simply, great communication.

When you have great comms, wrapped around solid processes and structure. Then at least in my experience, this really unlocks the full potential of your team.

In the early days we ran things in a very fluid, non-structured manner. This was great when there were just 3 of us. However it plainly didn’t work as we grew. Especially as we onboarded new people into the team. As a result we have developed clear lines of responsibility, a friendly, supportive culture of accountability, diligence and respect within the team. 

Boring as it may seem, solid processes and great comms allows us to work smarter and not harder. It frees us up to be more creative. It means we are not stressed out and chasing our tails. Allowing our effort to go directly towards the most important metric of all - delivering value for our clients.

Advice for Tech Partners looking to grow…

One of the key questions that was raised towards the end of the Airfryer was; how is it best for technology partners to support agencies to use their products and services? 

Interestingly with our involvement in the Alvio B2B Platform, we have a view from both sides. Both as an agency working with technology partners. While also in the early stages of being a technology partner to agencies. From this perspective we have a great deal of skin in the game, to understand how to get this right.

Some key thoughts on this are…

  • Show us (the agency) consistently how we can add value to our clients. 
    - How can we use your solution to generate new income streams and provide value both as an agency and for our clients? 
    - What’s the 3 way win? (Agency/Partner/Client)
  • Have awesome documentation, support and examples of how we can implement your platform both at the technical level for devs and at the sales level for client managers. 
  • Have contacts who we (the Agency) can openly talk to. Build a relationship with and work together to solve our clients challenges.
  • Have a great community. So developers, vendors and partners can easily share knowledge and provide insights to help move the platform forward.

Summing Up

So far this is my second event and my first in the AirFryer hot seat. It was a great experience and I can’t recommend it enough. The Ecom Collab Club has great people, a great atmosphere and is structured to perfection. Our Alvio & Inspira teams always come away feeling energized, with a bunch of potential to follow up. Not only that, I've found that taking part helps hone your thoughts, review your progress and set goals for the future, whilst helping you strengthen your networks.

So, here’s to more Ecom Collab Clubs. It has been great to play a small part in such an awesome event and contribute to a great ecosystem of people and businesses.

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See you at the next event...

We look forward to seeing who's on stage next time and hopefully get a chance to meet some new peeps in London, If you want to join us - Book now for the next eCom Collab Club event in London

Thanks for reading, we’re Inspira Digital.

We launched the 123rd store on Shopify, today we are one of the most experienced Shopify Experts in the world, delivering industry-leading Shopify services for fast-growing ambitious brands. We have helped build 100s of successful stores and have delivered 1000s of individual projects for Shopify and Shopify Plus clients globally.

Clients that work with us know we work passionately, to make sense of your commerce business, so if you want to talk to a team of experts about how best to take advantage of the Shopify platform, then let's talk.

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