Trying to buy better data management at SaaStock 2018 (yum yum more dog food please)

There has been an explosion of Sales and Marketing SaaS tools recently October 16, 20183 min read

There aren’t many industries where a not even decade old company can start to feel old but SaaS (Software as a Service) is certainly one of them. What is SaaS? It’s a business model whereby companies build products and then ‘rent’ those products to customers usually for a monthly or annual fee. AirPOS is an absolutely classic SaaS company and we were the first SaaS company in POS. Now there are hundreds of companies in the space.

In fact SaaS has got so big that it’s now possible to run a huge conference made up exclusively of SaaS companies exhibiting, demoing, pitching and hustling their way around Dublin. SaaStock as it’s know has slotted in beautifully to the Web Summit shaped hole in Dublin’s tech calendar since Paddy and his crew elected to leave their native city and take their mega conference to Lisbon.

SaaSStock is absolutely proof positive of Ireland’s status as a serious tech destination and we of course love the fact that it’s only an hour and a bit from Belfast. So we caught the train…

Firstly the scale of SaaStock is similar to the Web Summit, in fact change the logo and you’ve a lot of the same elements. Usually when AirPOS has been going to a tech conference we’re going a seller, looking for good partnerships or on the off chance that savvy retailers have gone looking for a software solution (this rarely happened but when it did it was great.)

This time however we’re here as a buyer. As we’ve grown we’ve used a number of tools to handle our customer interactions, from support, to marketing and sales and beyond. We were a very early adopter of Intercom and became one of their earliest paying customers. We’ve used it since 2011 and in many ways it has underpinned our business and helped us to grow however at present we’re pretty frustrated with the fact that Intercom are pushing forward with chatbots, AI, answer bots and all these magical future-facing things while singularly failing to fix simple issues in their interface, bugs that have been around for years, making us adhere to rigid ideas about the customer phases in the CRM that we can’t change and worse charging an arm and a leg with a completely obscure (and constantly changing) pricing model. And reports! For God’s sake guys would you please focus on the reports! Data is all about insights and we’re getting none, unless we move our data into other solutions which sort of defeats the purpose.

We’ve gone through a few iterations, sending the data from Intercom to Hubspot which was all a bit too manual. Using Mailchimp to send email campaigns as opposed to Intercom as we seem to get better delivery rates with Mailchimp (and yes you’ve guessed it much better reports.)

We also used Zoho CRM way back, OnePageCRM and even dipped our toe into Marketo but we’ve yet to find a consolidated platform that meets our needs. We’re still not convinced that there is one, and it may be a case of using a few solutions to satisfy our goal.

Of course you’ll know that at AirPOS our whole mantra is about how our retailers can use our platform to learn about their business and to make better decisions. In hunting for the same thing ourselves we’re most definitely eating our own dog food as they say in the tech world.

What we’re seeking is first a place for all of our data, a canonical source that feeds the tools we use to gain insights. That could be a bunch of things. Intercom will be part of the mix but we likely need to think beyond it. Paddle looks interesting (and their marketing pencils that you can plant and they’ll grow into trees are absolute genius.)

Paddle’s pencil tree marketing flyer is the stuff of genius. 
Keep the usable pencil for a year at room temperature and then plant it and it will grow into a tree! Great idea.

We might use Continual.ly again now that they’ve built out their platform a bit more and have a bit more road testing behind them. Get Response look interesting. We’ll be getting a visit from Segment. In short we’ll be doing what it is that we advise our customers to do; namely using our data to make better decisions and to grow our business further. And then we’ll be taking what we’ve learned and feeding that into our own thinking and product development in AirPOS.

We’ll keep you well informed as we move our data project (CODENAME: Cesar) along…