Nicholas Shucet: On Partnering with Sellers to Navigate the Turbulent Waters of E-Commerce
The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the power and importance of E-commerce. Online shopping in some sectors have grown by as much as 400 percent.
All of 2019 saw a 14.9 percent increase in online shopping, reaching $601.75 billion. In the second quarter of 2020 alone, e-commerce has grown by 49 percent.
Image Credit: Bazaarvoice
But not everyone knows how to make lemonade from the pandemic lemon.
That’s what RomansTide helps you do.
Partnership is Your Leverage
I recently spent almost forty-five minutes grilling the founder of RomansTide, Nicholas Shucet.
Shucet helps e-commerce businesses get results. They even tie their payments to the money they can make for you. If they don’t make you money, they don’t get paid.
You’ll find question 22 very interesting. There, Schucet promises to help you with a free listing optimization on Amazon or a free niche analysis.
My Discussion with Nicholas Schucet of RomansTide
1. Hello, please introduce yourself
My name’s Nick Shucet. Virginia Beach is where I live. I’ve been here for about 20 years. I used to live near Pittsburgh when I was younger.
I moved down here when I was around 12 years old. I fell in love with the beach, love to surf. That’s one of my favorite things to do.
But I also like other outdoor sports like snowboarding.
I’m married and have three kids. A seven-year-old son, a year and a half old daughter, and we have another baby boy that’s just a couple of weeks old.
2. What other names did you consider before choosing “Romans Tide,” and what does “Romans Tide,” the name, mean?
When I started my company in 2015. I called it Prime Deals 247 LLC, and that’s still my business. That’s my main entity.
A couple of years into the business, I wanted a website. So I worked with some guys who weren’t really good at building a website, but they were good at building a brand.
They were like, “Well, fill up pieces of paper with things you like, words you like” and stuff like that. And as they asked, they got to know me a little bit and they came back at me with this name.
My firstborn son’s name is Roman. And I like to surf.
I love being out on the water. So they added the tide part and came up with RomansTide and what I really liked about it is that it definitely did represent everything I love in my life. Everything I do and why I do it.
You know, my family and what I love to surf. That was a big reason why I wanted to work for myself. Of course I had surfed before I had kids.
I was excited by the idea of being able to surf when the waves were good. That was the biggest thing that sucked about having a job. Like when you wake up, the waves are good and you’ve got to go to work.
I don’t want to live like that really. And I think a lot of people have that in their lives.
For me, it’s surfing. For you, it’s something else. For someone else, it’s something different.
o the name just began to represent everything that was important to me. And when I see that name, it reminds me of that. It keeps me motivated to be the best I can every day at work. It represents business.
3. What personal experiences or realizations inspired Romans Tide? Please give us a brief history of Romans Tide.
It really is tied to me on a personal level because my business allows me to live the life that I want to, personally. That’s important to me. And it is valuable for me to be reminded of that; experiences that shaped that.
You know, when I was younger, I grew up with separated parents. My dad was always at work. I wasn’t close with my family growing up. I’ve got a couple of sisters and brothers and a bunch of aunts and uncles, but I don’t really see them or anything like that.
I didn’t want my children to grow up that way. It was important to me that I build a business that allows me to pick my son up from school, go eat lunch with him, or if some crazy virus attacks the world and you know, I’m already home anyways.
So, um, that’s really what shaped the business and how we operate. Definitely how we operate. We outsource a lot of work. We use a lot of third party providers because that’s what allows us to be remote and doesn’t really lock us down to any location.
4. Of all the business challenges faced by businesses and startups, Why is helping e-commerce businesses acquire long term customers your priority problem-to-solve?
I wanted to pick something that wasn’t really tied to me, like on that personal of a level. Because I like the idea of building multiple businesses, right? So I don’t really want to get too emotionally attached to one of them. Right now, at least.
Selling online just kind of happened. In 2015 we started selling on eBay and that went okay. And then we started selling on Amazon and that just took off. And, in the next few years it was us just kind of learning and working hard and documenting a lot of stuff, and building standard operating procedures to run the business. So I could remove myself from it.
I have an idea to build a brand around surfing, and be involved in that and that would be great. And I liked the idea of it, but that’s probably something that I would do in the future. Because I don’t want to make wrong decisions financially that will affect the way that we’re living right now, just for the sake of doing something that I would like to do.
5. On your site, you said “Selling online without a great partner can feel like a never-ending tidal wave of problems.” What are these tidal waves and how can partnering with Romans Tide bring stability?
Online, things are always changing. There are multiple marketplaces that you sell on. Even with Shopify, people think that they have full control over their stores on Shopify. But you don’t, you know, Shopify is shutting stores down right now for people selling hand sanitizers at too high of a price.
You’ve got to know the rules and regulations being imposed upon by the government, by the marketplaces, by platforms like Shopify and things like that are happening every single day.
If you’re on a wide variety of marketplaces on the internet, and probably every single day something is happening that you should know about, that someone in your organization should know about.
When you’re able to partner with someone who specializes in one area, that’s what really allows you to excel in a certain area.
When you leverage the right platforms and you work with the right people, you’re able to get excellent results. It’s important that people and businesses don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s best to do things on their own.
Now you might want to say, I’m going to hire an in-house person to be our Amazon strategy guy, but who’s going to train that guy?
So then maybe you bring in a consultant that trains him for two weeks, and now you have an in-house Amazon guy.
The important part here is that the guy is taught where to find good information that is accurate and up to date so that he can continue to stay in the know when it comes to that position. It’s just important to partner with the right people at the right time to accomplish the goals that you have for yourself.
Specifically when it comes to Amazon, there’s just so much opportunity there. Unfortunately we reach out to a lot of brand owners who don’t want to sell on Amazon. They don’t want to work with Amazon, but they’re already on Amazon.
Like you can’t stop it. That’s how big it is.
Image credit: Techcrunch
6. Building and sustaining a business is not an easy task. What challenges did you face while developing Romans Tide? How did you manage those challenges?
It’s definitely been a work in progress and you know, five years later I feel like I’m taking a step in the right direction. I’m confident of where I’m going and I have a plan. It took a long time and a lot of mistakes to get here.
The challenge is hiring. I think getting help is one of the most important things to consider when you’re selling online. You’re not selling to the people in your city alone.
Since you’re selling to the whole nation, things can scale pretty quickly. You have to be ready to hire people.
I was hesitant because I didn’t trust people and I didn’t have documented processes. It’s a big deal to document all your processes because it’ll help you build your business and manage it as it gets bigger. When it comes to hiring, you just really need to have a good interview process.
I would recommend something like this[a video interview].You’re looking at them and you have things you want them to do. You can see them.
Especially if you’re hiring in the Philippines, this is a great way to test their internet connection. If you don’t want someone with slow internet, you get them on a Zoom call and you’re going to know right away. It’s unfortunate, but you know, I’ve got a family to feed.
Unfortunately, I can’t have people working for me unable to load a web browser. I wish I could send him a computer and hook them up with a great internet, but it’s not the case. So I’m hiring good people and it is important.
I’d highly recommend it if you had it in your budget, to use a pre-screening service. I use Criteria Corp.
To some, that’s a bit pricey, but you can create a Google Forms with some questions to test your applicants. When they take the test, you can pre-screen by looking at the answers. It’ll help you perceive and decide on who to interview.
You gotta have a plan for getting good people into your organization and then using the right tools to communicate. We use Slack to talk, we use Zoom for conferences, Google Drive to store documents, and ClickUp for project management.
Then have a detailed process for using those systems. In that way everybody’s on the same page on the programs you use in the business.
That has also really allowed us to just take on whatever challenges come our way. We’re able to collaborate on it and overcome it pretty quickly.
7. Customer Reviews are important for every growing business as they influence the perception of online shoppers. Can you tell us about Romans Tide’s Review Assistance feature and how it helps boost brand integrity?
We just target customers. If we were working with a yoga mat or something like that, we would target customers locally.
We might go to yoga gyms and offer a yoga mat and give it out as a rebate, a product test, or something like that. Then a couple of days later, we’d just follow up and say “Hey, what do you think of this product? Is there anything you’d like to tell us about it? Anything you don’t like, anything you do like.”
And what we found is that we’re able to work within the terms of service of all the marketplaces.
These people will just naturally leave feedback. They appreciate that we’re giving them a good quality product, free basically, or at a heavy discount.
It’s getting the products to the customers — into the right hands — then following up with them. Hopefully, getting them into some type of social media sequence or email sequence where we then feed them content on a regular basis to keep them around, to keep them involved.
8. How can brands leverage on Romans Tide Search Engine Optimization tactics and other optimization services to boost website listing and ranking?
So we don’t do like general SEO, but unlike marketplaces, we know how to optimize listings to get the best results there. For anything that is off Amazon, like working on Google or something like that, we use services that will do SEO or content. It falls back to using people that specialize in their industry and not only specialize, but are passionate about it.
We just partner with the right people so that we can bring that value to the partners that work with us also. But if it’s on Amazon or eBay, then you know, we actually do that work ourselves. We’re really good at optimizing Amazon listings to boost your impressions.
9. We discovered that Romans Tide supports merchants on Amazon, eBay, and Walmart, are they planning on expanding to other platforms or countries?
We definitely focus on the bigger channels because that’s where the customers are. But we don’t ignore any channel. We sell on Mercari, Poshmark, eBay, StockX — everywhere. It’s just more data for the business. It just really allows us to stay on top of customer habits.
10. Tell us about Romans Tide PPC Ad Placement feature, how can it boost brand representation and revenue generation? How is this PPC program different from its competitors?
When it comes to PPC, it’s really all about just having a process for staying on top of it. It’s really not super difficult stuff. You just need to have someone in there looking at it every day. Things like removing negative keywords, putting more money into keywords that are giving you the best results, and removing keywords from campaigns that really aren’t giving you good results.
It’s just the campaign structure. The way we set up our campaigns really allows us to just identify what’s working and what’s not.
With Amazon, they have a bunch of different places you can put ads, so you can be found in multiple different places in Amazon search results. Then they have the DSP advertising where, you know, they’re displaying your products to places all over. Like on Amazon prime, on TV shows, and things like that.
11. Do you help all your partners (like manage their accounts and run their PPC campaigns) directly or do you just make recommendations?
There are actually two ways we do business. One, we just manage it. If we were talking about Amazon, we’d just completely manage the account. Everything would be completely outsourced to us.
The second way we do business is that we sell your products under our accounts. We still do provide a lot of value when people let us sell their products.
We still do a lot of things like MAP enforcement and listing optimizations and PPC. Even if we’re just like a distributor for a brand. We do some a la carte services, like if someone wants just a listing optimization, or just some PPC consulting.
12. What improvements are you making at the moment for Romans Tide users?
Just continuing to build the team really. My goal with our business is to really leave my touch on a lot of aspects of the business. Even though I won’t actually be responding to that customer’s message or having a conversation with a potential client.
I still want my principles and my values to be found throughout the business.
Right now it’s a lot of prestige we are building; reviewing and analyzing those and making sure they’re up to my criteria. Then hiring the right people to represent the company the way I want it to be. That’s what we’re working on right now.
I’d love to build some software in the future or something like that. But, right now we’re just trying to be the best at what we’re currently doing.
13. Beyond ad placements, what gives Romans Tide an edge over other e-commerce support services and platforms?
I think what makes us different is we don’t try to do things we’re not good at. We’re not trying to reach everybody. We don’t work with everybody.
It’s gotta be a good fit.
There’s gotta be something in it for the both of us and the result needs to be good. Because we want good feedback. We want good results.
So, we’re focused on what we’re good at and we over-deliver usually. And, you know, little things — show up on time, do what we say we’re going to do. I found that the little stuff that you think people would be doing anyway, if you just do that, you’ll set yourself apart.
You know, there are so many people that just don’t come through on projects. They don’t show up on time. They said they’re good at something, but actually they suck at it.
14. How is Roman Tide responding to all the big trends in e-commerce right now? For example, voice commerce is growing as US and UK buyers will spend $40 billion with it in 2022. Retailer AI spending is going from $2 billion in 2018 to reach $7.3 billion in 2022. Retail eCommerce will exceed $4.9 trillion next year, 2021 and cross the $6.5 trillion just two years after.
It’s being on multiple channels on the internet. We call it being an Omnichannel. It allows us to see what the customer is doing. We see these numbers. We say retail e-commerce will exceed 4.9 trillion and then cross six and a half billion in two years.
That’s huge. But where?
Where are those customers going online?
A big chunk of it is Amazon. There’s eBay, there’s Walmart, there’s Target, and there’s Best Buy.
You’ve got all these slices of the eCommerce pie and the only way you can know where they are is by being on there yourself. That’s why we sell there. That’s why we’re active.
That’s why when brands tell us, “No, we don’t want to sell there.” If we can’t convince them why it’s a good idea, then we don’t want to work with them anyway. Because they’re not catching up.
People want to see different stuff. They want new content, they want something that feeds them new things on a daily basis.
Right now Amazon is doing the best job of that. So, that’s why we spend the majority of our time on Amazon.
Now you’ve got things like Walmart, they’re launching a fulfillment network. Shopify is launching a fulfillment network. We’re going to be involved in those things. And staying on the social media platforms that customers hang out on is also important.
15. If someone who’s never used Romans Tide gets curious and reads this interview, what would be your best advice to them on using your solutions to achieve their business goals?
The best thing they could do is just reach out to us and tell us what their brand is, what type of products they sell. And then we’re able to kind of go in, see what the market looks like, what the revenue looks like, and who’s doing the best. Where they can improve and things like that.
We don’t have any secret Ninja tricks or anything like that. It’s just hard work.
16. Okay. But do you ever reject brands? Like the brand comes to you, you take a look at what they have. You knew that this isn’t gonna work. Does that ever happen?
For example, we had a brand recently. They didn’t want us to sell their products on Amazon. Their method of controlling their distribution on Amazon was to sell on it themselves and sell at such a low price that anyone else would lose money.
I was like, well, you’re driving down the value of your brand on one of the biggest marketplaces in the world. That’s not a good idea, that’s going to affect everywhere else that you’re selling these products. They just weren’t open to it and their side didn’t make sense.
So, I told them to close the account. I said, “Well, you guys can just close my account. I’m not going to buy from you guys. I don’t want to work with you guys.”
So yeah, we do because, we’re innovative, we’re doing new things. There’s always going to be people in the world who don’t like that, they’re comfortable where they’re at, and they just want to hang out there for a little bit and ride it out. Those people usually don’t fit well with us because we like to test things, try new stuff.
17. Are any Roman Tide features or pricing arrangements limited by geographical region or not available to some users everywhere? If any, why the limitation?
Right now we’re focused on brands in the United States. For Amazon, we sell in Mexico, Canada, the UK, and we have access to other marketplaces in Europe also. We do sell products in other countries. But right now, we’re only really working with brands on the amazon.com website.
18. Tell us about your pricing and why it’s ideal for small businesses?
For our Amazon’s services, it’s a commission on your revenue. The rate depends on their sales per year. Our success is tied to their success directly. We create more sales for them and then we get paid off of the work that we’re doing. It’s very performance-based. Which is usually pretty simple for small businesses.
19. For someone reading this, who has no prior e-commerce background and wants to signup with RomansTide. How can you help?
I used to do that a lot when I first started because that’s how I started. But now, I’ve got three kids and a wife and multiple businesses. So I have to be more careful with my time.
And with me targeting bigger businesses, it kind of doesn’t make sense for me to target someone who’s just starting a business.
But what I will do, if anyone’s on this call or listens to this or reads this, they can reach out to me. I will do free work, like a free listing optimization on Amazon, or like a free niche analysis or something like that. I’ll get an idea of where I can give them the best value.
So say they’re on Amazon, they’ve been on there for a few months but they’re struggling. They’ve had some success, some sales, but they don’t know how to take it to the next level. Then I’ll come in and look at what they’ve got and I’ll be like, okay, you need this — this will give you this result.
I’ll do it for free in exchange for a LinkedIn endorsement or a testimonial or some feedback or video feedback. Because that’s very valuable to me and it’s valuable to them. And it’s a good use of my time.
Unfortunately, the biggest reason why I don’t help people get started is because most people don’t end up doing anything.
I’m like, man, I just invested like eight hours of passionate teaching. I would get all excited about it. Like hell yeah, I’ll help you start an ecommerce store. I’m like let’s go man, you get all pumped up about it and then they don’t do anything. That’s another big reason that I don’t do it.
I really want to see someone get a result. Targeting someone who’s had some success but not enough success is a good way to do that.
20. What is the big picture, where would Roman Tide be in the next five to ten years?
Yeah, so my goal with RomansTide is to be a brand management company that has its own brands – brands that I’ve created, and manage brands for other people also.
Romans Tide provides e-commerce solutions to brands, to boost their sales revenue and distribution reach. Romans Tide’s visibility cuts across several e-commerce platforms. As an omnichannel retailer, they serve as the A-Z for listing brands in multiple marketplaces. RomansTide provides services such as Listing Revisions, Competitor Niche Analysis, MAP enforcement, PPC Ad placement, and Review Listings. Their team has been able to generate incredible profit, while decreasing counterfeit listings for their partners. Romans Tide’s partners include Disney, Nintendo, Panasonic, and other known brands.